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

Green Roof Technology Blog

Green Roof Performance

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, May 29, 2013

By: Jörg Breuning

 

Extensive green roofs are a thin layer of high performance components that allow a wide range of plants to grow on them. These plants have adapted over thousands of years to extremely harsh environments and are typically found in alpine regions, on natural rock debris (scree), deserts or tundra. Besides the extreme climate conditions in these areas, there is a very inconsistent supply of water or lack of water retention because of missing components in the soil (no fines, no organic).

In other words, these are typically locations where plants have to be very specialized. Once they have adapted, they are awarded by less competition of other plants - plants that require deeper, richer soils with a fine granular distribution line or high organic content.

Plants from these extreme conditions have not learned to compete with plants that we typically prefer for our gardens or our farms. Experienced horticulturists and plant collectors understand very well what it takes to grow these survivors, in locations other than their natural habitat. These experts are able to create an environment that supports these plants to prosper. These man-made environments are an example of modern green roof technology via extensive green roofs. Natural coarse, porous aggregates (pumice, lava rock) prove to be the most successful way to accomplish a proper environment. The porosity of the materials allows high water retention with simultaneously high air content. Also, this can be done very inexpensively and on a large scale. Modern green roof technology is engineered to ensure that every raindrop will penetrate the this soil layer immediately - soils with high organic content take too long for water to penetrate, resulting in standing water and consequently erosion. 

Some people may try to get around some of nature's principals, essentially reinventing the wheel in regards of extensive green roofs. They may also try and maximize other potential benefits (including personal profits), but end up sacrificing something else and in the worst case plants will suffer and possibly die.

The plants, whether they were intentionally planted or not, are an indicator for the performance of any green roof system. If any extensive green roof system becomes high maintenance, requiring irrigation or extra nutrients, the whole purpose of the green roof is defeated. Understanding these complex synergetic effects don't take a PhD, green roof professional training, or the internet - it takes decades of experience in the field, the patience of gardeners and common sense.

Modern green roof technology - as described in the FLL guideline - combines all these decades of experiences and makes things as simple as possible for novice green roof applicators - but it sure doesn't try to simplify the process. Einstein had some good advice on the subject, "Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler."

Jörg Breuning welcomes people who want to learn from decades of green roof experience - askjorg@greenrooftechnology.com

We Are Moving to Hampden

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, May 23, 2013

 

I am pleased to inform you that Green Roof Technology will be moving to a new location. On the corner of Roland Avenue and 37th Street in the heart of Hampden. We have acquired more space and a delightful location!

We will be relocating June 1st. Please feel free to stop by and check out the new place! Our phone and fax numbers will remain the same.

3646 Roland Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21211

Green Roofs Don’t Work or People Don’t Work ?

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, May 22, 2013

By: Jörg Breuning

 

Information spreads like wildfire in today's world; between the internet and numerous social media sites. It has become extremely easy to access relevant information anytime, anywhere. This is a fantastic technological advancement, with one weakness. Anyone can "publish" anything. 

Since the internet makes everything very easy to spread any kind of information around the globe in seconds, it seems that the quality of information provided to the public dropped at accordingly the same speed as it's distribution. Some people jump to conclusions; they are quick to talk and other are quick to responds via text and in most cases these are not the same people. I get the impression that one group is too lazy to write and the other group too lazy to think. They have a desperate need for attention - I like to call it Recognition Deficit or RD for short, which unfortunately results in misleading and false information to the reader. Many people in the audience often find it necessary to then add their own opinions and re-post the article, making things even worse.

An excellent example of RD was recently posted in the American Scientific. I believe this certainly affected their reputation in the scientific world and hopefully leads to better supervision of the people who have permission to post. Their article was copied and pasted onto numerous other websites, regardless of the comments left on the original page. In this instance, RD wasn't the only symptom, a combination of ignorance and laziness was also thrown into the mix.

Modern green roof technology is a well-established technology around the world. If some researchers think that there is room for improvements, they should consider previous research from around the world in addition to what might be sacrificed along the way. Focusing on one aspect of the issue won't work in a complex ecosystem. There are no defining traits of complex ecosystems, where Mother Nature undergoes consistent changes. Having a tunnel view sometimes helps, however we can't afford to lose the bird's-eye perspective of the decades of experience and hands-on professionals.

To all the skeptics out there, let's make a long story short:

Green Roofs do work, but many people don't!

The Time is Right for a Natural Swimming Pool

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, May 21, 2013

by Andrew Yanders

Another beautiful weekend has passed us by.  The sun was shining high in the sky and it was very warm, bordering on hot.  Thankfully Memorial Day is just around the corner and pools all across the country will be opening.  Cooling off will simply be a dip away.

Like many of my friends, traditional chlorine pools no longer interest me in the least.  They are actually a thing to be avoided.  I am lucky to be from central Pennsylvania where fresh mountain-fed streams and lakes are abundant.  Whenever I’m home in the summer, my first thought it to go to the mountains and find an ice cold stream or ‘dam’ to swim and relax in.  The water is refreshing and the complete immersion into nature is just what the soul requires. 

Unfortunately, this level of natural luxury isn’t available to all, whether due to geography or downstream pollution.  For those who do not have easy access to streams and lakes, a natural swimming pool is the next best thing.  Natural swimming pools can be designed for sizes ranging from single-family backyards to public town pools. 

Natural swimming pools are a careful orchestration of various plant types that work together to filter the water to pristine levels.  This system is cared for much like a water garden and is great for those with sensitivity to chlorine.  Natural swimming pools are naturally filtered and cleaned, providing an unparalleled swimming experience in the comfort of your own garden

These fantastic pools are stunning all year round, during the winter they can freeze without a problem and during the spring and summer the plants put on a glorious display of blooms.

Green Roofs and Stormwater Fee

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, May 17, 2013

Green Roofs Can Reduce Stormwater Runoff, Reduce Stormwater Fees!

By: Rebecca Gullott

Not many Marylanders are happy about paying the new stormwater fee or “rain tax” as it has come to be known. The county imposed fee is based on the amount of impervious surface such as rooftops and driveways on each property (cost-by-cause principle). In Howard County alone there are over 19,000 acres of impervious surfaces that contribute to pollution of local streams and the Chesapeake Bay. 19,000 acres are almost 30 sq miles or 11% of the counties size- more than double the size of all water ways in the county! No wonder that Stormwater runoff is responsible for over 20% of pollution into the bay.

Those wishing to lessen their stormwater fee can reduce the impervious surface area on their property through smart design and management practices. Howard County is providing instruction and incentives for citizens to do just that. Howard County Stormwater Management Division has partnered with several organizations including the University of Maryland Extension to help citizens take control of their environmental impact. Rainscaping workshops will be offered this summer to show residents how to plant and maintain rain gardens and native species; as well as compost waste and use rain barrels to collect roof runoff for use in lawn and garden irrigation or car washing. Howard County is offering free rain barrels at the Alpha Ridge Landfill select Saturdays April through September. Other Maryland Counties have similar programs so check your county’s website to see what offerings are available.

Property owners can receive credits for on-site improvements that reduce impervious surfaces. Whether it’s establishing a rain garden in the yard or incorporating planted areas or green roofs into the company’s parking lot, these incentives may encourage citizens to take control of their environmental impacts. These changes may help to reduce the need for future stormwater fee increases and promote a healthier Chesapeake for years to come.

The possitive impact for the environment by implementing cost-by-cause fess is very effective in many other counties and States in the US and over decades in Europe.

Ryan Miller featured in Solar Power World Magazine

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ryan Miller was recently interviewed for the Solar Power World Magazine, focusing on our Solar Green Roof Sun-Root™ System. Solar Power World is written with a focus on technology, installation and development, reaching tens of thousands of industry professionals. "Four Questions with Ryan Miller of Green Roof Technology" is featured in the May issue of the Solar Power World Magazine. The online version can already be viewed on their website.

Here is a snippet of the article with Ryan:

SPW: What is the concept behind the Sun-Root™ System?

Miller: As a green-roof company for more than 30 years, we have seen many innovations to modern green roof technology that makes it more marketable and affordable. When you sit down with clients, they want to know how much they are spending and what is their return. The payback of a green roof lies somewhere between 15 years to 25 years in most cases, and for many building owners that is not something  that excites them. So we look for ways to shorten this payback period while still meeting our goal of increasing the world's green spaces.

If interested, please learn more by watching a video of the solar panel green roof combination.

Green Roofs and Native Organisms

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, May 10, 2013

Green Roofs and Native Organisms

 

It is all about perspectives, experience and evolution. Any organism has a right to exist.  It is the intention of each organism to multiply, spread and adjust to the surrounding environmental conditions.  This adamant approach has also helped humans to develop and thrive over ten thousands of years.  The word native has become a stereotype of certain organisms like plants that should be growing only in a particular region – that is what humans think.

Exceptions seem only allowed with human approval and when they support human development – this is one reason why nobody has a problem with Gen manipulated corn for “bio fuel”. When our ideal of a functional environment gets out of balance there is always a solution from clever people with a weapon (solution) allegedly reversing the discovered issues. Sometimes an issue has to be created first to offer a solution to gain some popularity and attention. A few of them are even henchmen for big companies that intend to increase sales for an existing product in a new market. The system works in all levels but it is questionable when I see these paramilitary battles on TV commercials against a dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) what is a “native” plant and it is clearly classified as a beneficial weed.

The Solar Boom

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, May 08, 2013

By: Samantha Yurek

 
Photo Credit: The Solar Foundation

It is obvious the solar industry has been growing steadily, but an ongoing study by the Solar Foundation has uncovered to the extent in which the industry has expanded thus far. Solar workers now outnumber many of our larger occupations in the United States. Currently, we have more solar workers than coal miners in America, and the industry hasn't seized growth yet. The Solar Foundation released an interactive map naming the top three states with the most solar jobs as California, followed by Arizona and New Jersey. Most of these jobs are listed as installation positions, but others include manufacturing, project development, sales and distribution.

The new integrated Sun-Root™ System can help achieve both clean energy production along with additional benefits of a green roof. The Sun-Root™ System is the most advanced system solution that considers both enhanced water storage for the green roof plants and optimized evaporative cooling for solar panels.

 

Irrigation on Extensive Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, May 02, 2013

By: Jörg Breuning

The main purpose of an extensive green roof is stormwater retention and delaying stormwater runoff amongst many other added values.
 
Above: An Irrigated Green Roof 

In the last decade, I've seen many green roofs where the intended plants never really flourished. I estimate that in the US at least 50% of the green roofs are not performing to their fullest potential. This can be observed by simply looking at the most obvious of indicators, the plants themselves, regardless if they were planted on purpose or somehow found the space to take root.  Most of these less healthy extensive green roofs are pre-planted boxes, or commonly known as modular systems. Not only are these systems much more costly, the mid to long term results are often far below systems that are assembled in place and at the time of installation.

I know that the transition from being a common nursery-grown plant (including pre-planted boxes) to the extreme environment of a rooftop poses severe challenges. Green roof plant nurseries typically have "great" advice and recommend the installation of temporary or more permanent irrigation systems. This advice is defeating the purpose of an extensive green roof and shows that asking self-appointed experts can cause a spiral of failures. Since many green roof installers lack the proper horticultural knowledge, they may not be able to identify problems by simply looking at the indicators (the plants). This could cause the problem to gain momentum. In addition, the false conclusion that technology (Google search, Apps, synthetic growth media or sophisticated soil moisture control devices) can fix the problem supports my theory of less experienced or misinformed green roof professionals. They rely heavily on technology to fix any issue and miss the big picture. Nature has the ability to take care of itself, as long as the appropriate design, materials and plants are used in addition to being familiar with the immediate climate.

Green roof designers and green roof professionals must understand that less is often more when it comes to extensive green roofs. No building owner wants to irrigate their roof in short, mid or long terms. There is no need to make a green roof more complicated by using multiple synthetic or plastic layers. LEED™ certification supports using gray (recycled) water for green roof irrigation; but what is the point of watering an extensive system when it's main purpose is to retain stormwater? Common sense and experience are the only two things that will aid in planning the perfect green roof.


Above: An Unirrigated Green Roof

Implementing irrigation on an extensive green roof is a clear sign of not understanding the basic principles of horticultural techniques or the laws of nature. Irrigation reduces the water retention, increases the nutrient pollution in runoff and requires higher fertilization application. Irrigated extensive green roofs are not environmentally friendly, not economically feasible and have hardly any payback for the building owner.

I tell my clients if they have an offer or design for an extensive green roof that includes irrigation - be cautious!

 

Europe has Banned Potent Pesticides

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, May 01, 2013

By: Samantha Yurek

Honey bees are the most significant pollinators on earth. They are responsible for pollinating approximately 80% of our flowering crops.  "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left."  It may be questionable to whether this quote came directly from Albert Einstein himself, but it is indisputable that the honeybee population is essential for maintaining the quality of life we enjoy so much.

Yesterday, the European Union stood up for the honeybees and banned a group of potent pesticides classified as neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are commonly used to prevent pests on plants such as soy, corn, canola, sugar and wheat. Evidence has surfaced that these pesticides are responsible for the honeybee decline or Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon that appeared in 2006. Neonicotinoids are known to agitate the honeybee's reproduction processes, communication and navigation skills, along with weakening their immune systems. 

 

We take pride in avoiding herbicides and pesticides at Green Roof Technology. A green roof is an excellent habitat for all pollinators, especially honeybees. Watch a video about beehives on rooftops in Baltimore or learn about the plants you may choose specifically to lure these fuzzy creatures to your green roof!


Photo Credit: Green Roof Technology


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