From reducing the heat island effect that is found commonly in the urban areas to minimizing water ponds on flat roofs in regions that receive heavy rain fall to handling the weight of snow and moisture – we expect roofs to do all of that and more.

The recent times have seen experiments in green roofs, cool roofs, roofs with solar panels, vegetable patches on rooftops, and swimming pools on rooftops – all challenging the traditional concepts of roofing. As these innovative ideas gained momentum, there have been various issues that surfaced with each experiment.

Green roofs have come in for criticism as over time they don’t always look as nice they did in the architect’s presentation. Lack of regular maintenance can leave the green roof looking shabby and over time can also cause damage to the entire structure.

Cool roof is the concept of painting roofs white to deflect the heat from the sun and keep the roof from absorbing heat. Several municipal authorities worldwide are insisting on implementation of cool roofs not just in new buildings but also during reroofing of older structures.

Roofs with solar panels are quite popular today with efforts underway to make the solar panels visually more attractive. The effort to reduce energy consumption has led to solar roofing designs and concepts that help achieve net zero energy buildings.

Corporates from New York across to Tokyo are encouraging their employees to participate in rooftop organic farming programmes where employees care for the farms and also consume ‘office-grown’ organic produce.

With all these various experiments, the roof is expected to deliver at various levels. This has led to several technological developments in roofing systems with introduction of liquid membranes, the comeback of metal roofs and use of varied acrylic and glass panels for solar panel purposes.

The latest technology being used in roofing systems is the use of drones to collect data from inaccessible rooftops to get a better understanding of the state of the roofs and the maintenance required. While this is still in the early stages, the buzz from around the world indicates this could soon become an important aspect of roofing system maintenance in the coming years.

From serving as rooftop gardens and farms in residential and commercial spaces, to being equipped with solar panels to help save on a building’s energy consumption, rooftops are multi-tasking. In cases of traditional flat roofs, from liquid membrane coatings to metal roofing systems, lots is being done to improve roof capabilities in areas of water proofing, insulation, longevity and aesthetics. New technologies such as drones, satellite scans and 3D printing are setting new more efficient trends in roofing systems and solutions.