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IDS 2012 - Interior Design Show in Toronto Goes Green

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, January 30, 2012

By Kat Harrold

Photo by ~ Jorg Breuning

Four days and nights Canada's elite designers graced the halls of the Toronto Convention Center for the 2012 Interior Design Show.  Exhibitions of conceptual and ground breaking designs in interior design and industrial design challenged the we live and create the space around us.  While going green has come into vogue in the design world, none showcased this concept better than Green Roof Technology.  

In collaboration with Jill Greaves Design, Green Roof Technology created a seamless transition from the comforts of the interior space to the interactive green space of the urban balcony.  The green roof balcony featured a lush sedum carpet of blues and greens accenting the simple yet elegant lounge and table by Avenue Road.  The design is a perfect marriage of form and function creating a place of beauty for relaxation with the environmental benefits of a green roof. 



The Unheard Conversation Between Noah and God

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, January 18, 2012

By Kat Harrold

The ‘Sun-Root’ Living Roof System—Green Roofs embrace Renewable Solar Energy

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, January 13, 2012

Green Roof Technology today announced the ‘Sun-Root’ solar-living roof system, the first fully integrated, non-penetrative solar and extensive green roof system in North America.  The ‘Sun-Root’ living roof system is the most advanced green roofing technology available on the market.  The ‘Sun-Root’ living roof system was unveiled for the first time in North America on November 30, 2011 at Cities Alive 2011 in Philadelphia, PA.    

Green Roof Technology has been at the forefront of green roof innovations for over three decades and remains the leading authority on green roofs in North America.  With unsurpassed experience, Jörg Breuning, Principal of Green Roof Service LLC, and his dedicated team of green roof experts are proud to once again push the North American industry to new heights.  

“The ‘Sun-Root’ living roof system is a breakthrough in green technology,” said Kat Harrold, Green Roof Technology’s senior green roof designer.  “The combination of solar and green roofing technologies produces a harmonious system that benefits each technology equally.”  

The ‘Sun-Root’ living green roof system optimizes photovoltaic (PV) element energy production by creating a cooler surrounding micro-climate through evaporation and evapotranspiration.  “Heat is the enemy of energy production.” said Jörg Breuning.  “Any time atmospheric temperatures on a roof begin to rise PV elements lose their efficiency and can shut down if temperatures rise too high.  We sought a way to counteract this negative phenomenon by combining solar modules with an extensive green roof.  People have been using green roofs for centuries to keep their roofs cool in the summers and warmer in the winter.  It was a no-brainer combination.”

The ‘Sun-Root’ system officially goes on sale January 13, 2012 and is exclusively sold through Green Roof Technology’s website, or by phone at 443.345.1578.   

A video demonstration of the Sun-Root™ System

Chimes Solar Plan Needs Better Location

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, January 11, 2012

By Andrew Cole Yanders

Photo by ~ Jorg Breuning

There is undoubtedly an unpleasant knee-jerk reaction whenever you hear someone criticize a NGO whose sole purpose is to provide humanitarian assistance to people in most need.  We all admire their work and generally feel better about living in a community who supports them and their activities.  So when the The Chimes, a Dixon Hill-located nonprofit, announced at a community association meeting their desire to install an array of ground-mounted solar panels on their property, the opposition to their plan may seem harsh and unwarranted.  The Chimes is an admirable organization whose commitment to cleaner, renewable energy should be above repute.  Every intention in The Chimes’ plan is correct, except for the location of the solar panels.  

Residents were right to question the location of the panels and infer the detrimental effects they would have on the landscape if they were installed.  Installing a ground array of solar panels is completely counter-productive to the intended goal of good stewardship of the neighborhood.  This type of system replaces a functioning ecosystem, which provides the life essential mechanisms of oxygen production, pollutant remediation and stormwater mitigation, with a clear-cut lawn that exacerbates stormwater runoff.  Removing trees and other plants from the area will only intensify the stormwater runoff from the site and overwhelm existing measures to deal with the stormwater problem.  Any storm damaged trees that must be taken down should be immediately replaced.  

If the ground is not a suitable location for the panels then The Chimes should look to the roof tops for a suitable location for their panels.  Most of the homes in Baltimore’s oldest suburban neighborhood are not a suitable location for solar panels, but any buildings in the neighborhood with a flat roof are an ideal location.  Located very nearby on Thornbury Road is such a building.  The building on Thornbury Road is an ideal location to install a solar living roof.  The combination of high-efficiency solar panels with an extensive green roof enables The Chimes to produce clean, renewable energy as well as help alleviate the stormwater runoff problem affecting residents lower down on the hill.

Necessary Winter Maintenance for Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, January 06, 2012
By Andrew Cole Yanders



A diligent maintenance schedule is a principal we take very seriously.  Without proper maintenance a green roof has no chance of thriving and looking its best.  There is even serious threat of long term damage to the underlying roofing materials when maintenance is neglected.  There is even a likelihood of an overall failure of the roof’s main purpose, to keep the building’s interior dry.  Because of the grave consequences of not properly maintaining a green roof we continue to insist on a strict maintenance schedule with all our clients. 

Here in the Northeast of the United States winter is upon us and we are eagerly awaiting the first blanket of pristine white snow.   There are 4 key maintenance aspects we wish to highlight that are essential for the health of the roof during the winter season.  

1.    Clearing Drains & Gutters:
Clearing roof drains and gutters is important all year round.  During the winter months moisture accumulates in large volumes on your roof and when the snow and ice melts it places a particular high level of stress on the waterproofing.  If the drainage system of the roof is not operating efficiently, water will find its way through the weakest points of the waterproofing.

To maintain a properly draining roof, roof drains and gutter must be inspected and all debris removed, especially if the green roof does not have inspection boxes.  Because drains without inspection boxes are much more prone to clogs, we believe inspection boxes are absolutely necessary for any green roof system.  

2.    Snow Removal:

Similar to any typical roof, when snow begins to accumulate heavily on a green roof make sure it is evenly spread out; snow drifts should be mitigated to avoid exceeding load limits.  

In areas where snow accumulation on the roof is a hazard particular attention must be made not to damage the green roof during snow removal.  So far as we know, there has been no literature on this subject and no recommendations have been made.  We are recommending a 4 inches, 20 cm, buffer layer of snow.  To remove any more snow allows for the potential to disturb plants and dig into the growing media.   

The best method for removing snow from a green roof is to shovel the snow onto a blanket and drag it over to the edge of the roof, always remembering to leave of 4 inch layer of snow over the green roof.  


3.    Waterproofing:

The early months of the winter is a good time to check the nooks and crannies of your roof’s waterproofing.  Check the caulking and look over all the access areas and make sure they are all sealed properly.  Additionally, before any snow has begun to accumulate on the roof, check all areas of the green roof for wind or water erosion.  Alleviating these problems areas in the winter allows for rapid vegetation covering to occurring in the spring and protects the waterproofing layer from any deterioration due to exposure to the elements.  

4.    Pruning & Cutting Vegetation
We are never pleased when grasses are cut in the fall or early winter.  Besides providing a decorative look to an otherwise dormant field, leaving the dry seed stalks provide protection for the core of the plant and its new growth.  

Green Roofs vs. Reflective Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, January 06, 2012

By Kat Harrold


Photo Courtesy of A3C

There are a number of debates swirling around the roofing industry these days, possibly none more so than the green roof versus reflective white roofs debate.  Numerous factors go into the decision making process when deciding which roof best suits your needs.  Short term cost is a no-brainer discussion, but the environmentally friendliness and long-term investment debate is a bit more complex.

The environmentally friendliness debate is typically discussed within the context of energy savings and heat-island mitigation.  To accurately assess the differences in energy savings between the two roof types for a specific building a mechanical engineer, who is familiar with the thermodynamic properties of the various layers of green roofs and how they work together with the existing building, would need to be consulted.  However, to gain a general idea of what temperatures are at play, below are graphs showing the differences in temperature on various types of roofing surfaces.



The illustrations above show that the green roof is the most even keel choice out of the group, providing heat insulation during colder temperatures and cooling the roof during the warmer periods.  As shown above, a cool roof provides more cooling effects than a regular tar roof; however, it is still considerably warmer than the green roof during the warmest times of the day.   Conversely, the cool roof is the coolest of all the roof types when the temperature dips.  

You might say to yourself, “Well the cool roof may not be as effective temperature wise as a green roof but it’s cheaper.”  Wrong.  While the initial installation of a cool roof may be cheaper than that of a cool roof consider this; according to “Green Roofs vs. Cool Roofs” in March 2011, cool roofs may reflect up to 90% of the sunlight the first year however it quickly loses this capability to only about 70% from UV damage, pollution, dust, and exposure to the elements unless meticulously cared for.

The other price tag to examine is a cool roof like any other regular roof will need to be replaced after about 20 years.  A properly designed and maintained green roof should last 50 years or more.  Consider this the next time you need to re-roof.  

Green Washing

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, January 04, 2012

By Kat Harrold

IDS12: Toronto Interior Design Show 2012

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, January 02, 2012
By Andrew Cole Yanders

Photo Courtesy of

The party begins on January 26.   Toronto’s largest contemporary design fair kicks off with a party Thursday night with local DJ Karim Rashid spinning tracks.  The 4 day event will showcase the best and brightest from Canada’s flourishing design scene.  In addition, leading designers from all corners of the world will be exhibiting their newest creations.  Green Roof Technology has the special privilege of collaborating with Jill Greaves Design to create a stunning rendition on ‘How do you live’?  The exhibit will focus on the style of urban living.  Where green is the new black, green roof technologies will be taking center stage as the latest in eco-chic. 

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 

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