News / Calgary

Company wants to reclaim native prairies and make Calgary more beautiful

Green solution can save money for homeowners

Alex Court stands on the green roof of her building – an initiative she hopes will catch on and break up the city’s grey.

Aaron Chatha / Metro

Alex Court stands on the green roof of her building – an initiative she hopes will catch on and break up the city’s grey.

Imagine a romantic moonlight stroll through the prairies, with your only concern being the starlight in your lover’s eyes – and not accidentally toppling over the edge onto the street below.

Calgary company Native Roofs has begun a pilot project to create green roofs for Calgary homes and businesses. Alex Court, operations manager, said it’s becoming a popular initiative in big cities around the world, but hasn’t caught on in Calgary yet because of the city’s cold winters.

Their answer: native prairie grass. Unlike that snooty, imported Kentucky Bluegrass – which takes constant work to maintain – native prairie grass doesn’t need much watering or fertilizer.

“You don’t have to do that with native plants,” said Court. “They’re able to survive the cold weather because they’re meant to do it.”

Court said it also helps reclaim the endangered grass – only 10 per cent of Canada’s native prairies remain intact.
For businesses and homeowners, the roofs also help the houses look nicer and reduce heat loss by 10 to 30 per cent.

Native Roofs has had a green roof since 2007, which Court said has saved them $3,600 over the course of a year in energy costs.

“Having a green roof also actually increases the lifespan of a roof membrane,” she said, adding the conventional roof lifespan is about 15 years, but a green roof can extend that to about 40 years.

It works on sloped roofs as well and can be customized to become a habitat. Court said wildflowers can bloom in the summer, logs and branches can be added for birds to perch on, and residents can create bat boxes or bee habitats, directly above where they sleep at night.

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