Green Roofs
Published by Long Island Compost on November 03, 2021

Green Roofs & Solar Power: A Study in Efficiency

Green roofs may improve the efficiency of solar panels, thereby increasing energy production.
Solar panels on a green roof with flowering sedum plants


The installation of solar panels and green roofs are often treated as separate initiatives. Building owners committed to preserving the environment and protecting their bottom lines frequently invest in solar panels to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions. On the other hand, green roof development is soaring as a means of combating climate change, creating urban green spaces, and reducing energy consumption.

While solar panels are often installed on conventional roofs and green roofs frequently lack solar arrays, pairing the two can optimize your setup. 

The Effects of Green Roofs on Solar Panels

In a recent study, the outputs of energy from the solar arrays of two adjacent buildings were compared head to head. One building had a traditional roof, while the other had a green roof. The study found that the green roof’s solar array generated a daily power output of 39 kW, which was 13.1% greater than that of the conventional roof. 

While these two buildings were in a similar location, had similar builds, and were subject to similar environmental conditions, the building with a green roof was more efficient. 

So why is this?

Traditional concrete roofs heat up during the day, and solar panels tend to underperform when they overheat. In contrast, green roofs typically regulate temperatures significantly better, supporting the proper functioning of the solar array. In some instances, the green roof in the study was as much as 20°C cooler than the concrete roof. 

In addition to lowering temperatures during hot weather, green roofs can also insulate against extreme cold. Since solar panels usually perform best between 59°F and 95°F, regulating rooftop temperatures may be valuable for solar panel efficiency year-round. 

For their part, solar panels can also be a valuable addition to a green roof. Most roofs are fully exposed to the sun, limiting the number of plant species that can flourish. Incorporating photovoltaic (PV) panels adds areas of shade, to support greater biodiversity. 

Why Solar Panel Efficiency Matters

Enhancing solar panel efficiency increases energy output, without taking up more area. Rooftop space is inherently limited. You cannot indefinitely add more solar panels to generate more and more energy. Focusing on efficiency upfront can make the most out of your limited space and maximize the impact of your investment. 

While some solar panels are more efficient than others, maintaining them and promoting optimal conditions remain valuable components of supporting strong performance.  

The Rise of Biosolar Roofs

Solar panels and green roofs are often seen as separate entities, but biosolar roofs have gained traction throughout Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. Biosolar designs integrate solar panels and green roofs to simultaneously increase system efficiency and foster biodiversity. This integrated approach can be retrofitted to existing buildings, or included in new constructions. 


Through carefully engineered bulk soil, Long Island Compost helps green roofs across the New York metropolitan area thrive. The right organic blend supports plant life, which in turn helps reduce the ambient temperature to increase the efficiency of your solar panels. Contact us today to discuss the best solutions for your green roof project.

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