Cover story: Green roof movement goes domestic

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“Most people who buy houses do so because they want a green footprint,” she said. “They have an urge to plant something. So the idea of a vegetated roof and why it’s good for the environment would appeal to most people, if it was properly marketed.”

One local house tested that theory this summer. Called the Passive House, this recently completed and sustainably designed house in South Arlington, developed by Eric and Roger Lin of Southern Exposure Homes in Burke, features a green roof over the garage. Before being rented to a family of four this month, the house and its green roof garnered positive comments from visitors during open houses, Roger Lin reported. The roof features a modular scheme that combines shallow square trays of plants with same-size decking tiles, so the design can be shifted around as the residents desire (or the plants warrant).

“When we researched green roofs, we decided to go with the modular tray system because if there is a leak or some other issue, you can lift up the tray and solve the problem very easily,” Mr. Lin said.

For now, most residential roofs are still covered in shingles, not plants. But that may change as time goes on.

“As with the native-plants movement, green roofs will become more popular as people become more familiar with them,” Ms. Udani said. “We have to retrain our eyes to find beauty beyond clipped hedges and aggressively green lawns.”

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