Sustainable Green Roof: Fostering Nature and Energy Efficiency in Urban Development

Site photo taken at one of Sunseap's clients in Singapore

By Janice Hoo
March 23, 2021

As environmental studies continue to show that global warming is intensifying and affecting more and more people, addressing climate change has undeniably become a top priority. This sobering reality of our planet's health has escalated the need for sustainability comprising 3 main areas which are interlinked: Economic, Environmental and Social.

The recently-launched Singapore Green Plan 2030 outlines the nationwide initiatives to achieve the target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, and notably, one of the key areas of focus is Nature. The Garden City is setting aside more land for nature parks and this is a nett increment of 50% by 2030. The eventual goal is for every household to be a 10-minute walk away from any park or green space. This is a definite plus for individuals and organisations who campaign passionately for the environment.

Another way to tap into the benefits that Mother Nature can provide is by putting the green back into concrete jungles and maximizing the otherwise underutilised roof space. This can be done with what is known as a green roof.

What is a Green Roof?

A green roof system is a technology to implement nature on a superstructure.

This emerging technology beautifies the building's rooftop by allowing it to be partially or entirely filled with curated vegetation that requires minimal maintenance. More importantly, besides the high aesthetic value, green roofs are also known to bring functional benefits to the environment as well as cost saving. It is applies to existing or new buildings, residential and non-residential.

Green roofs support the main pillars of Sustainability:


The first green roof recorded in history, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

No one green roof is identical but they do have common elements: a waterproofing membrane, growing medium, drainage system and vegetation. These elements work together to bring about a whole bundle of benefits.

Besides the high aesthetic value, green roofs bring functional benefits to the environment and, more importantly, there are cost savings.

As an additional layer to the roof, green roof systems aid in prolonging the lifespan of waterproofing, reduce its degradation and related maintenance cause. It also creates a fire-resistant layer for the building. Underscoring its sustainability merits, green roofs can cut down building heat transmission by up to 90% as it lowers the ambient and indoor temperature. Air-conditioning systems no longer need to work as hard, reducing energy consumption and by extension, the carbon footprint.

Besides tangible costs savings, green roof owners can also benefit from the elevated building value. Moreover, green roofs also help purify the surrounding air. Collectively, green roofs can mitigate the urban heat island effect, wherein urban areas register significantly warmer due to human activities.

Green roofs impact positively on a social level too. The increase in productive space gives green roof visitors relaxation and stress relief. Green roof systems are designed to be self-regulating with minimal maintenance needed. The irrigation for a green roof also prevents pooling of water on any surface which makes it impossible for pests such as mosquitoes to breed.

Types of Green Roof and their considerations.

The green roof system is an inclusive technology and its flexibility and versatility adds to the overall appeal. It can be installed on most, if not all, building rooftops including public or private residential, commercial, and industrial properties, regardless of whether it's existing or new buildings. When it comes to selecting the types of vegetation or plants, you will simply be spoilt for choice.

Common types of Green Roof in Singapore.
Common types of Green Roof in Singapore.

Ensuring that the system is installed properly to allow it to thrive is a top priority, and this means that choosing the right partner for a lasting green roof installation is of the utmost importance.

Optigreen (Optigrün/Optigruen) Green Roof and its Benefits


Green roofs were already used to provide shade and cooling of buildings in ancient times. Today, Germany is known for spearheading the infrastructure and policies of modern-day green roof systems which are more efficient.

While history has some very famous examples of green roofs (eg. The hanging gardens of Babylon), the modern-day green roof systems, equipped with sophisticated irrigation, were established in the 1960's.

One of the more prominent green roof pioneers is Germany's Optigreen. Besides being a major market influencer, Optigreen is also a founding member of the FLL or, in full, Forschungsgesellschaft Landschaftsentwicklung Landschaftsbau eV. The FLL is one of the world's longest-standing green roofs standard organization. This ensures that all aspects of the green roof technology is consistent and comply with sustainability principles.

Besides the aforementioned sustainability benefits, opting for a green roof deserves consideration in Singapore due to its commercial benefits and competitive advantages. The Optigreen green roof systems support the following:

1. Bonus gloss floor area (GFA)
The Singapore government rewards developments with more greenery it incorporates and this is applicable to both new and existing buildings.

2. Elevate building value

Besides reaping sustainability benefits, having access to a piece of nature easily promotes healthy living for the occupants and the surroundings. The installation could also earn points in the BCA Green Mark Certification. Overall, a building with a green roof aligns with Singapore's roadmap to a smarter and greener nation.

3. Strong financial support (up to 50% cost grant)

To encourage the installation of more greenery, grants are readily available to support both residential and non-residential building owners, up to 50% of the entire cost.

4. Tangible cost savings

Green roof systems are effective in lowering the temperature of a building by solar radiation absorption, reducing roof heat transfer and evapo-transpiration. In turn, cooling energy consumption and electricity are reduced. This technology also helps prolong rooftop waterproofing, reducing maintenance cost.

Optigreen further scores sustainability points with its zero-waste potential; Optigreen's products are designed to have a high capability of being recycled. Moreover, these products are also made from recycled materials. To date, there are active Optigreen green roofs are 40 years old and still going strong. We are confident that Optigreen's expertise can be applied anywhere in the world, and Sunseap Solutions is proud to be the trusted consultant and regional distributor of Optigreen Green Roof Solutions.

In support of Singapore's stated goal of sustainability and through related technologies, it is also imperative to explore complementary concepts such as green roofs. After all, every little bit counts towards making a real impact on the urgent climate change issue.

Reach us at for more green roof details, grants and incentives.

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