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ROEF redefines green roofs with solar integration and one-day installation

Green, living roofs have been around for ages. They benefit biodiversity, home insulation and water retention, but can be costly to install, especially on pitched roofs. A construction company in the Netherlands has been working on a solution: ROEF. It's a smart, modular system combining vegetation with solar panels and can be installed in one day with minimal preparation.

Plants, mainly sedum, are delivered in trays made of sugarcane bioplastic. They're clicked together within roof frames, leaving room for solar panels. Incorporated into each roof — of a modest row house — are eight nesting boxes for birds. Insect hotels can be lodged among the sedum.

Transportation and logistics were factored in from the beginning of the design process, so just one truck drives into a neighborhood carrying the roof panels, photovoltaics, skylights and plants. Everything is packed in to be unloaded by an electric crane in the correct order for speedy installation. Once they're done, installers remove old roofing material for recycling. All that's left is a new roof that will subtly change with the seasons, attracting insects and birds, cooling down densely built-up neighborhoods and insulating homes against heat and cold.

According to its creators, ROEF is suitable for 99% of single-family homes in the Netherlands owned by housing associations — the market it's currently targeting — and costs are only marginally higher than traditional roof renovations with solar panels. Next year, the company aims to make the product available to individual homeowners, too.

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True sustainability is usually about fixing more than just one problem. Take electric vehicles — an excellent choice for eliminating fossil fuels and tailpipe emissions, but what about raw materials for batteries, sufficient clean energy generation, higher vehicle weight...? When ROEF's parent company, Knaapen (a family business founded in 1652!), decided to tackle roofing, its team took an entirely holistic approach, rethinking every element of design, logistics and installation to make their new product as environmentally responsible as possible.

Similarly, the resulting ROEF system addresses multiple pressing challenges by generating renewable energy, increasing insulation, boosting biodiversity, retaining rainwater, counteracting urban heat island effects and adding natural elements to (sub) urban neighborhoods without sacrificing street-level space. All while ensuring the product is affordable and scalable. One to be inspired by, the next time your own brand opts to create or redesign a product or service?

Innovation of the day

Spotted by: Liesbeth den Toom