Search
Back to Home Page
Home   |   Contact Us Ph: 443-345-1578

Green Roof Technology Blog

Green Roofs and Facades: A Habitat Template Approach

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, September 30, 2011

by Jeremy T. Ludholm

 

Review by Kat Harrold GRP

Great article on using the potential our built environment presents for plant life rather than trying to turn it into an environment it simply is not.  This article explores how we can use plants adapted to rocky surfaces and windy areas to green our cities and our green roofs.   

Are there any rocky areas in a park near where you are?  What kind of plants do your find growing there and how might you be able to create a habitat for them in your built area?


Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, September 27, 2011

By Kat Harrold GRP

Photo courtesy of greenroofs.com

Today was a long but exciting day in the green world.  At 7 am (est) the world of greenroofs and green walls just got a little greener as leaders in the eco minded community gathered together for a summit that no one had to drive to. Linda Velazquez started off the summit with a lovely introduction and welcomed key note speaker Charlie Miller of Roofsmeadow.

Charlies' opening broadcast was very informative perspective on the evolution of green roofs in the US and how there have been some misconceptions about the feasibility of these living structures.  One very interesting and key thing to remember from his talk was that while there may be a certain level of guilt about our built environment and the nature that it has displaced you simply can't "bring back" the landscape that originally occupied the city.  The geographic location may be the same as it once was but the micro-climate of a city roof on a windy street is drastically different from that of a deciduous forest floor.

Other presentations that followed were a very inspiring and entertaining discussion panel with Christine Thuring, Nathalie Baumann, Gary Grant, and Dusty Gedge.  Very excited to see so much research done on the older roofs and the long term ecological benefits and community's one can encourage.

Ralph Valazquez from Tremco gave a great presentation on corporate social responsibility.  I find that there are times where it seem that businesses and corporations have more power to change the quality of life in an area than the government.  Kudos to you Ralph for leading such a community and socially responsible organization and for encouraging others to do the same.

Chris Walk gave a refreshingly honest and informative presentation on Ranking Energy Benefits by Mission, Climate and Construction.  Through careful analysis of elements effecting a building's energy usage Chris examined several different types of buildings in various climates and how green roofs effected their energy usage.  In short far as the question "How much energy can I save with a green roof?" is concerned it's all relative.  In general green roofs can save energy for a building but that amount depends greatly on the construction of the building and location.

Nigel Dunnet gave a stunning presentation on options for designing ecologically diverse green roofs with a large visual impact.  Many times while the function of a green roof may be successful often it is visual boring or sterile.  Nigel also provided many wonderful approaches for maximizing seasonal and visual interest while still providing a richly diverse environment and functioning green roof.

The last presentation of the day was done by the Portland Ecoroof Program.  For anyone looking to start a green movement in their area this is a wonderful presentation for inspiration.  This presentation explored the history of green roofs in Portland and how the Portland Ecoroof Program grew from one green roof on a garage to over 30 acres of green roofs across the city.

Very nice presentations and much needed topics for the industry.  Tomorrow is sure to be equally as exciting!  I can't wait to see what green wall artist Patric Blanc has in store!








Harford Glen Recieves Donated Green Roof

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, September 20, 2011
By Kat Harrold

 

Photo by ~ Kat Harrold

Despite flooding and hurricane winds Harford Glen Environmental Education Center completed it's demonstration green roof.  The demonstration green roof was donated by Green Roof Service LLC and features a regular black rubberized roof adjacent to an extensive green roof.  Designed at an angle, this green roof is set up to allow for visibility for students of all heights that visit Harford Glen.

Harford Glen is a critical resource in teaching school age children about the environment and the great out-doors.  Amanda Koss, one of the teachers at Harford Glen and lead advocate for this project, was a tremendous help with this project and so excited to finally have a green roof for the school.  This demonstration green roof will be a helpful hands on aid as part of their out-door class room lessons.  From this set up students can learn plant identification, stormwater management, heat island effect, green roof technologies, and ecology.  

The demonstration green roof sits on a "reclaimed wood" platform with an EPDM waterproofing membrane.  A protection fabric covers the green roof portion, followed by a drainage board, filter fabric, and extensive growing media.  The growing media was graciously donated by Skygarden.  Two drains are were also installed, one on the green roof side and one on the regular roof.  

The plants are a mix of sedums and herbaceous plants.  Some of the herbs consist of oregano, thyme, and chives.  A potential tasting addition to a school lunch!  

 

 

Photo by~ Jorg Breuning

Extensive Green Roof Maintenance

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

 

Extensive green roof being planted - Kat Harrold 

 

By Kat Harrold GRP

A common misconception with green roofs, especially extensive ones, is that they require no maintenance.  While some green roofs may be fairly self-sustaining and require little maintenance there is still some regular maintenance required to keep the green roof as a system working to it’s fullest. The three main things to consider are the plants, media, and timing.

Plant selection is very important in determining when you need to fertilize and weed.  Also deciding what is a weed is very important.  A weed very often is as subjective as beauty; often it is simply within the eye of the beholder.  Newly planted green roofs will need more weeding than established roofs to cut down on competition of resources while they try to get a foot-hold.  

Green roof media blended properly should have very little organic matter.  While extensive green roofs generally don’t require much additional nutrients they do need a balanced low-level fertilizer with micro-nutrients applied twice a year.  Do NOT use an organic fertilizer such as manor or compost.  The organic material can break up into very fine particles, which over time could clog the filter fabric and cause drainage problems.  Specifics on fertilizer content for green roofs can be found in the translated German green roof guide the FLL.

Timing is very important in terms of preserving both plants and your sanity.  On an establishing extensive green roof be sure to weed once every 2 months for the first year.  You can cut back your weeding to 3-4 times a year once the plants have established.  Taking extra care in the springtime and after a heavy rain can save a lot of time weeding seedlings instead of full grown weeds.  Grasses should be cut back in late winter to early spring.  FLL specified fertilizer should be applied once in the spring and once in the fall for the first year.  Have a professional check your roof after that to advise how much is needed there after.  

The Sky is Falling: A Critique of Failed Sloped Extensive Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, September 06, 2011

By Jorg Breuning


As of late we have been receiving more and more calls from building owners in distress about their green roofs.  The most serious of these complaints being erosion problems on their sloped roofs.  Sloped green roofs are a bit more complicated to design, install, and maintain than flat roofs and as a result people who disregard or don't know of the established FLL guidelines for sloped roofs, have created dangerous and costly situations ranging from mudslides to roof collapse.

One of the most infamous of these rooftop blunders was last winter in St. Charles, Illinois.  The project was designed to be the largest sloped roof in the US and during a heavy snow storm the roof collapsed.  Fortunately no one was hurt however the damage was devastating.  

Why did the roof collapse?  The problem lies in the drainage.  Snow is frozen water and where you have more water accumulating on a roof you will also have greater amounts of snow accumulate.  This insufficient or clogged drainage system and poor growing media is the most likely culprit in areas that held water or snow.  All this added weight during an extreme winter put the roof way beyond its capacity.

Sadly, this situation and others like it could have been avoid simply by hiring a true expert and checking their performance history for similar projects.  To read more about the dangers of improperly design sloped extensive green roofs and how to avoid them click here.

Below the renovated roof after it collapsed. Suddenly the green portion shrinked by at least 1/4.


Follow Us!

RSSGreen Roof Tech Blog
RSSGreen Roof Plant Blog


Recent Posts


Tags


Archive

Latest Blog Posts
  1. Best Green Roof Solution Green Team at Green Roof Technology, 02-Oct-2017
  2. Health Care and Green Infrastructure Green Team at Green Roof Technology, 01-Jun-2017
Facebook   Twitter   LinkedIn   Google+   YouTube
Testimonials
"We sought Mr. Breuning as a lecturer because his company represents one of the most successful, technically advanced, and progressive businesses associated with green roof technology in the USA."

Duncan H.
Program Manager
New York Botanical Garden
Go To Resources Page