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Solar Living Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, December 15, 2011

By Kat Harrold


Photo courtesy of Optigrun

Roofs offer a variety of uses other than just keeping your house safe and dry.  If your not using your roof for open space or a place to watch fireworks on the 4th of July, one of the best ways to utilize this space is to add a green roof with solar panels.  While the green roof can provide excellent stormwater management, protect your roof, and keep you building cooler in the summer it can also host solar panels.  The cooling benefits that your building and surrounding environment enjoy also prevents the solar panels from overheating, allowing them to run more efficiently during summer's scorching months.

The main concerns about combing the two were damage to the green roof during installation of the solar panels as well as roof penetrations.  Fortunately there is a solution.  Using the latest in solar/green roof technology, this drainage board also acts as a stand for the solar panel.  Instead of punching a hole through your roof to secure the solar panel, it attaches to the drainage board which uses the green roof as ballast to keep it in place during high wind events.  

Similar to the set up of a regular extensive system, you have you protection mat over the waterproofing followed by the drainage board.  The combined drainage board captures water like a regular drainage board and has a gravel strip area underneath the drip area.  A filter fabric covers the top of the drainage board and a capillary mat moves excess water out of the gravel strip reservoir and into the rest of the drainage board where the vegetation can absorb it.

For more details and images on how this set up works visit our solar page.    

 

Upcoming Case Study Announcement: The Podium Roof Garden at Toronto City Hall

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, December 14, 2011

By Andrew Cole Yanders

 

Photo by Jorg Breuning

The focus of this academic exercise will identify a few of the leading psychological tendencies that drive up the costs of green roof installations.  In a previous article we highlighted an impractical design that led to a “snowballing effect” of errors and costly mistakes.  During the course of a green roof design and green roof specifications, decisions are constantly made that affect the final installation cost as well as future maintenance expenses.  In any green roof design, it should be the goal to keep project costs for installation and green roof maintenance as low as possible without sacrificing the function.  Experience, practical designing and resourceful engineering can make a dramatic impact on reducing the average market cost of installing a green roof.

Instant green with pre-vegetated mats or tray systems are always much more expensive than built-in-place. Instant green requires much more maintenance to adapt the plants to the location or keep them in perfect conditions.

The City Hall in Toronto has already begun to loose the originally designed pattern of the tray system in the first year.  The main cause for this is due of the lack of experience in maintaining this system. Judging by the transformation that has already taken place, the green roof will convert to a meadow style green roof in the next two years even when maintenance efforts are drastically increased.

A monolithic or built-in-place, seamless semi-intensive / extensive green roof on the City Hall of Toronto could have been installed for approximately half of the costs of the current modular system and would have had the same visual aspect today but with much less maintenance, no irrigation and less fertilizer.

A fraction of the cost (approximately $1,000,000.00), more water retention and no irrigation needed an in-place system would be much more environmentally friendly.  A monolithic or built-in-place system would be a highly efficient extensive, semi-intensive green roof according modern green roof technology.   

Saving taxpayers money for the installation and the savings for required maintenance over the next decades should be the priority of responsible and experienced designers and planners.  With the saved money – just from the installation - the city could have installed another 40,000 ft² green roof and which could have retained additional 614,295 gal of rain water per year that doesn’t need to be processed expensively in a treatment plant.

As soon as the Case Study is complete it will announced on our blog and available for download on our Resources page.

Click here for an emailed copy the case study upon it's release 

A History of Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, December 13, 2011

By ~ Andrew Cole Yanders

One of the life’s great pleasures is the act of discovering an idea in a book that fundamentally changes the way you see the world.  This dynamic relationship between your life and the world of ideas is where creativity is sparked and dreams are made.   Often times you do not even understand what you are looking at but you recognize that it is different and fundamentally how things should be.  Today we are inundated with ontological debates, and possibly no more so than in how we view the structures we live and work in.  The image below of a classic Norwegian cabin speaks to my unconscious sense of how things should be.  Albeit a crude dwelling, it is awesome because of that fact.  Looking back into history for examples of how we used to strive to live in harmony with nature can provide the spark of inspiration we all need to find modern solutions to our most daunting challenges. 

  

The classic sod roofs of Scandinavian homes have many of the essential benefits modern green roofs have today such as insulation and stormwater control.  Well designed and constructed sod roofs have proven to last centuries.  We hope that 100+ years from now, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will look upon our green roofs the same way we look at these awesome Norwegian sod roofs.

Here at Green Roof Technology we are proud to house the largest green roofs archives in the United States.  Because our history with green roofs began way back in the mid 1970’s in Stuttgart, Germany, we have had the privilege to collect government and trade publications for almost four decades.  We thought the rest of you would enjoy taking a peek back in history too.

In the early 1970’s, Germany was the epicenter of a revitalization of roof top gardening.  Technologies and techniques were created to waterproof large flat roofs and shield them from root penetration.  Intricate irrigation systems were devised to support large woody perennials.  Roof gardens became a status symbol of wealth and prosperity during an age of rapid urbanization.

The next evolution in green roofing began in the 1980’s when light-weight extensive roofs were developed.  Popularized by their low costs and huge environmental benefits, the bird’s eye view of many German cities quickly changed in the subsequent decades.

Pictured below are a few covers from our collection and one page from a 1984 publication by the Baden-Wurttemberg government outlining intensive and extensive green roof systems.

For more green roof information take a look at our Resources Page. 

 

 

Cities Alive - Philadelphia 2011

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, December 12, 2011

By Kat Harrold

 

Photo ~ Kat Harrold

Last week the North American Green Roofs for Healthy Cities conference was held in the rapidly becoming emerald city of Philadelphia.  The conference was a very rich event in terms of contacts and the latest and greatest in developments in the green roof and green wall industry.

This year brought some new technology with us to show off one of the best solutions for combining solar and green roofs.  The black plastic component resembling as shark fin that took center stage at our booth is one of the latest developments in drainage boards world wide.  The drainage board feature a built stand for the solar panel allowing the weight of the green roof to ballast the solar panel stand.  By utilizing this set up one can take advantage of the stormwater benefits of the green roof as well as the energy producing benefits of the solar panel.  The other added benefit of this set up is that the green roof keeps the solar panel cooler preventing it from over heating and allowing it to produce energy more efficiently during the cooler months.  This new development was very popular this year and we look forward to the promotion of solar green roofs in the future.

Aside from the trade show there were also very high quality networking events and informative lectures taught by some of the industries finest.  One of my personal favorites was a lecture about green roof mapping in Germany by Professor Manfred Kohler.  By using ideas from this lecture, if we could map and stay current with green roofs being built in North America we could better monitor the health and performance of these roofs to truly document and take advantage of their stormwater benefits.  This could also be very useful in trying to create green ways for migratory birds.

Over all it was a wonderful conference and the solar drainage board made it back safely despite the wind's best efforts!

Can't wait to see everyone at the 10th Cities Alive conference in Chicago!

 

 

 


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