12 Unique Green Roofs in Locations You Wouldn’t Expect

There are many benefits to installing green roofs. They also don’t carry many prerequisites. Typically, all that is needed is a flat or lowly sloping roof, a decent amount of sunlight, and vegetation conducive to the regional climate where it’s located.

Unique Green Roofs

When we envision a green roof, often we think of one atop a building. Although this is usually the case, there are a plethora of other locations where one could find and install a variety of unique green roofs. It is my hope to shed some light (no pun intended) and highlight a few innovators that are creating successful green roofs in spots that might not come to mind right away.

1. Sheds

“You can make it a feature, rather than an eyesore,” says Alan Titchmarsh in a video by the Waitrose Garden demonstrating how to plant a green roof atop of a shed. Not only does this replace the habitat originally lost to the shed, it extends the garden area allowing for more plants to be grown. A certain type of irony exists in having a garden right above the site where all of your gardening and landscaping tools are stored. However, in urban settings where greenery is often scarce, why not strive to make every square inch on your property productive?

How To Build a Green Roof on a Shed

If you are interested in building a shed with a green roof, Living Roofs Inc. sells detailed plans that will help you build one yourself. The Red Rose Forest in the United Kingdom also offers great do-it-yourself instructions for building your own green roof shed.

2. Chicken Coop

Got chickens? A symbol of what it means to live sustainably, chickens can provide us with breakfast, compost, and plenty of joy as we watch them roam around in our backyards. Some clever chicken keepers have elevated what it means to be sustainable by building custom chicken coops that have green roofs above them. Rebecca Nikols from The Garden Roof Coop highlighted many unique chicken coop green roofs on the Community Chickens blog.


How To Build a Green Roof on a Chicken Coop

Want to build your own green roof chicken coop? Check out the instant-download plans for the Herb Garden Coop and Green Roof Coop offered by DIY Chicken Coops.

3. Dog House

Just like a chicken coop, dogs can live in a green roof shelter too. If your dogs spend time outdoors, sprucing up their doghouse might be a fun project for you to undertake. Robin Plaskoff Horton covers a variety of eco-friendly pet houses including doghouses with green roofs on the Urban Gardens blog. The green roof on top of your pet’s shelter will also keep them cool during those hot summer days and warm on those cold winter days.


4. Gazebos

Maria May Fleming, a blogger from Ireland, detailed on her blog how her family built a gazebo with a green roof made completely from reused and low-cost materials. She touts that their project cost them less than €100 (≈ 115 USD) and they use it for everything from meals, music, hangouts, and even homework. So, if you have the space and energy, this project might be more than worth pursuing. A homemade, gazebo green roof could become the staple of your backyard!


5. Pavilions

The Enviro Club at Lakeland College in Vermilion, Alberta, Canada constructed the Green Roof Pavilion with the intention of not only sprucing up their campus with a new hangout spot, but also testing out the feasibility of green roofs. This is great value to the students since it beautifies the campus. However, green roofs in a university setting add a different kind of value since they can be studied and scrutinized for replication elsewhere. Check out this time-lapse video of the construction of the Green Roof Pavilion.

Green Roof Pavilion

6. Dumpsters

Who enjoys the sight of dumpsters? I would say probably not many. Although there is not much evidence to back that statement up, some evidence does exist in the city of Grand Haven, Michigan. There, residents decided that their dumpsters were not something they preferred to look at from their condominium windows.

Knowing though that dumpsters were somewhat of a necessary evil, landscape architect Teresa Nelson made the suggestion to enclose the dumpsters and install a green roof above them. Now, for me I see dumpsters outside every establishment I visit including my daily walk to one to throw out my trash.

Could you imagine the benefits that could arise from installing a unique green roofs above each one? Not only would we be ridding ourselves of an eyesore, we would be cleaning up our local air and water.


7. Train Station

In Tokyo, Japan, the East Japan Railway Company has created a series of rooftop gardens above five train stations. Rail commuters can purchase a 3-square-meter plot (with all materials included) for the hefty price tag of $960 per year. Demand must be there because the company has plans to expand to more train stations in the future. If the rest of the world could get all aboard on this initiative, certainly we’d be a healthier and happier society.


8. Bus Stop

The City of Philadelphia collaborated with Roofmeadow in 2011 to install a green roof above its bus shelter on 15th and Market. The prefabricated kit is designed to fit all of the bus stops around the city and could easily be replicated in other metropolitan areas with large public transportation systems such as New York City, Boston, and Chicago. In addition to being an educational tool for people waiting to ride the bus, these green roofs will be paid for by advertising revenues rather than tax dollars. Talk about a self-sustaining endeavor.


9. House Boats

Probably out of price range for most, any wealthy sustainability advocate would surely love to live in one of these luxury houseboats with unique green roofs. One can dream.


10. Vehicles

Buses, vans, cars, and food trucks are all but a few examples of vehicles that have green roofs rather than sunroofs. Landscape artist Marc Granen has created the world’s first garden bus utilizing technology called PhytoKinetic, which uses condensation from the vehicle’s A/C system to water the plants on the roof. Ironically, the upper deck of the bus, previously used for smoking, now improves local air quality. Granen also created a garden van using the same technology.

A green roof food truck in St. Louis takes farm-to-kitchen to a whole other level. Lulu’s Local Eatery is the business behind the idea and they specialize in producing all-natural, organic, vegetarian dishes. In their truck rooftop garden, they grow strawberries, rosemary, lavender, mint, mustard greens and other herbs to use in their meals. How cool is that?

green-roof-busfood truck

11. Train Car

The City of Ghent in Belgium has committed to be “climate proof” by the year 2030. As a signee of the Mayors Adapt, Ghent is one of 126 European cities implementing sustainable infrastructure in order to adapt to the effects of climate change. Ghent, striving to incorporate the history and character of the area, recently constructed a blue-green roof system on a refurbished train car. Watch the video of its construction below.

12. Carousels

This one really knocked me off my horse. On Pier 62 in New York City, a carousel powered in part by solar energy is also home to a green roof canopy. The carousel is powered by solar panels and the green roof keeps riders cool. Although it is technically not on the physical roof of the carousel, this was way too cool to omit.


Although all of these unique green roofs are in different locations, the one important thing to take away is that they are all replicable. Green roofs can be anywhere and everywhere and the impact they could have on the planet is immense. If green roofs were more widespread, it would be tremendous. Between human creativity and ingenuity, I am more than confident that we will think of more cool places to put green roofs. After all, they are the future.

Click here for more information on the layers of a green roof. 

Featured Image: Houseboat with Green Roof. Image via Inhabitat.

About The Author

is a graduate from LIU Post with interests in sustainability, genealogy, business, politics, and making a difference in the world.