Rooftop gardens have become a trend in today’s urban living society. Since property values have gone up, buyers who want a garden may not necessarily have the space for them since all square footage comes at a premium. While buyers may be able to find a mortgage for a property with a garden to be affordable, they may also avail themselves of other options to avoid having to buy extra property. Rooftop gardens are an environmentally friendly thing for buildings to have and offer a variety of different benefits.

Reduces Electricity Usage

One of the primary benefits of a rooftop garden is that it increases energy efficiency in the building. Specifically, vegetation on the roof can act to provide shade to the building. This can absorb some of the heat that is directed at the building by the sun. In the summer months, this can mean that you will not have to run the air conditioner as much. This will lower the carbon footprint of your home and will lead to lower power usage. At the same time, vegetation on the rooftop will also help a building retain heat in the winter. As a result, the building will need to be heated less during the winter, also cutting necessary electricity costs. One should keep in mind that, as the vegetation on the roof freezes, it will be less effective in retaining heat and more electricity will be necessary. It is in the summer months where the benefits of the rooftop garden will be realized the most.

Gardens Cool Down the Entire City

In general, rooftop gardens can now only cool down your home, but they can help entire cities. Given the prevailing lack of vegetation in the city, the urban area can become warmer since the sun reverberates off of the concrete in the city. This is known as the Urban Heat Island. This is due to the concrete and the fact that the heat has no place to be absorbed and remains trapped. Just like rooftop gardens’ heat absorbent powers can protect a home, they can also help lower the temperature in the entire city. Not only can a rooftop garden reduce electricity consumption in the underlying home, but a prevalence of them in the city can reduce the carbon footprint in the entire area. In fact, a 2001 study showed that reducing the effect of the Urban Heat Island can save a total of $10 billion in costs if this was adopted throughout the U.S. Similar savings could also be realised in European cities.

Pollution Reduction Benefits

Most important is that rooftop gardens can help reduce pollution in major cities. Vegetation and plants improve air quality. The plants can act as an air filter. When a plant goes through the photosynthesis process, it takes in an removes various air pollutants from the surrounding air. The plants can also help remove smog from the air by absorbing it. This has many positive effects, including the reduction of global warming. Of course, one rooftop garden cannot save the earth on its own, but the totality of many gardens can make a positive impact. For example, the Environmental Science & Technology journal reported that greening all of the rooftops in Detroit would be the functional equivalent of removing 10,000 SUV’s from the streets for an entire year. These gardens would reduce the carbon footprint by reducing the net amount of carbon in the atmosphere.


A rooftop garden is a worthwhile investment that can have many positive effects. While it may not be paid back dollar for dollar in tangible benefits, the intangible benefits will be measurable, both for the building as well as the environment. This is one improvement that can be made to a home or a building that can both improve aesthetics as well as lower costs, at the same time that it contributes to the overall common good.

Elliot Preece