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?
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!
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
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.
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.
Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, August 30, 2011
By Jorg Breuning
Recently I read an interesting article in the BusinessCredit of the National Association of Credit Management regarding “Pay-if-Paid" and “Pay-when-Paid” clauses in contracts. Parallel to this article the topic was discussed in the “Construction Advisory Today”.
In the green roof industry there are good opportunities for people to start a new company or to switch jobs. Once in this new industry many find themselves caught in a shark tank. The sharks (prime contractors or general contractors) identify fresh blood immediately and bargain for the lowest possible price because of the desperate need for references. This is common practice in the construction industry and there is nothing to complain about. However it is also still common practice that the sharks try to make you sign a contract with a “Pay-if-Paid" or “Pay-when-Paid” clause. Roofing manufactures or roofing companies especially stick to one of these clauses like a bug smashed on the windshield.
Once the subcontractor has signed a contract with “Pay-if-Paid” clause he might soon feel like a bug smashed on the windshield. In other words if the prime or general contractors do not get paid, the subcontractor doesn’t see a Penny. The subcontractor carries full risk when problems such as insolvency somewhere in the “food chain” occur. The subcontractor also has no realistic chance to solve any payment problems on a higher level and so the little fish will be swallowed by the sharks. Thankfully many States discovered this serious problem with “Pay-if-Paid” clauses and have outlawed the use of this clause. Whether it is legal or illegal in your State don’t do it. It is an unjust rip-off and doesn’t hold any responsibility for the prime or general contractor. To prevent a “Pay-if-Paid” agreement the subcontractor may contact the prime/general contractor’s client and notify them that this bad practice can be solved elegant and quickly.
“Pay-when-Paid” – according to my knowledge – is legal in all States. In a “Pay-when-Paid” contract there is a realistic chance that you will get money after a reasonable period of time. This looks like a safe contract but my experience has told me that most GC’s take advantages of the situation “reasonable period of time”. All payments will typically come later – much later than expected.
The guaranteed payment with a “Pay-when-Paid” clause appears to be the only advantage in this agreement for a subcontractor. However the subcontractor must still add costs to his proposal that consider delays of payment, time spent finding out whether the GC is paid, and to pre-finance materials over a much longer time.
Green Roof Service LLC’s division Green Roof Technology stays away from both types of contracts because this increases the costs, makes the entire construction process less efficient, and is great breeding ground for unnecessary tension between the contractors. All things that will influence the final quality, service, and timeline are not in the interest of the investor in a “Pay-if-Paid” or “Pay-when-Paid” contract.
Make contracts with clear payment term and conditions –it is as simple as that.
Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, August 11, 2011
Cliffbrake Fern (Pellaea glabella) at Franklin and Marshall College - Kat Harrold
Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster PA already has a reputation for being green as it sports a large collection of green roofs. During the installation of their latest green roof on Schnader Hall, a "green wall" was discovered. Clinging to a shaded brick support wall on the roof a collection of tiny ferns were found. Upon further examination these plants were discovered to be Pellaea glabella, commonly known as smooth Cliffbrake Ferns.
The Smooth Cliffbrake fern is a small evergreen fern with fronds reaching 2 to 8 inches long. The Smooth Cliffbrake fern is native to the US and parts of Canada. True to its name, these ferns are commonly found on limestone cliffs and ledges. A rather rare species, the Smooth Cliffbrake is also considered endangered in Connecticut and Maryland, and is classified as threatened in New York according the USDA.
This just goes to show that sometimes you don't need a fancy set up to have a green wall. From a mockery stand point, this "green wall" is maintenance free, requires no fertilizer schedule, or irrigation system, and uses exclusively native plants. Sometimes mother nature just has the best system.
Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, August 11, 2011
Tellus 360 green roof days after planting - Jorg Breuning
During one of the hottest weeks in the summer a couple of Irish lads with no fear of heat stoke began the challenging task of putting a garden on their roof.
Joe Devoy and Martin Donnelly are the proud owners of the Irish antique and furniture store Tellus 360 in Lancaster, PA. The store is an incredible treasure trove of home goods and furniture crafted from reclaimed wood. Thier slogan "old wood, new story," beautifully describes not only their products but also their roof.
The roof at Tellus 360 was in disrepair and needed replacing. After finding out about possible funding for a green roof through Live Green in Lancaster the search was on to find a suitable candidate to make this green roof a reality and affordable. Green Roof Service met the challenge and was able to work with the grant program providing a comprehensive design while staying on budget.
Being a store full of hand crafted products it only seemed fitting that the lads at Tellus 360 get their hands dirty and build the green roof themselves. Under the supervision of Green Roof Service the lads of Tellus 360 managed to beat the blistering heat. Despite temperatures of around 110, they managed to get everything up and assembled on the roof to a very fine quality indeed. With a beak from the heat as added motivation they were even able to complete the project in record time.
One of the most challenging parts of the project was keeping the plants happy while they were waiting to be planted. The extra efforts to keep the plants shade and in the ground as soon as possible were rewarded though. While we were setting up our sprinkler system to help the plants establish, mother nature decided to lend and helping hand dropped what felt like the equivalent of a small lake from the sky.
It has been a few weeks now since the install the plants are doing great. The roof is also much cooler and more bearable thanks to the greenery. It took a while to get a permit for the patio area, but it is in and a design competition will soon follow! Before long the project will be complete and a lovely bar with the best view of the city will be in place. Sounds like a perfect way to end a strenuous day of shopping in Lancaster.
Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, August 11, 2011
Silhouette alcoves and lawn club - Jorg Breuning
Despite the down economy people are still flocking to cruise ships for their vacation getaway. This year Royal Caribbean's Celebrity Cruises came out with yet another ship and this one features an actual lawn. The Silhouette is the fourth ship by Royal Caribbean in the Solstice class to offer a lawn. However, this one is a little fancier and offers some added features.
In addition to the field games such as bocce, croquet and golf putting offered on previous cruse ships, the Silhouette features luxurious alcoves with adjustable canopies for shade. These alcoves provide comfortable seating on the lawn area and come stocked with an iPad 2.
There is also a grill area where you can cook your own surf and turf with the expert guidance of one of their chefs or you can just enjoy the show and have them cook it for you.
The lawn club also feature a collection of hammocks perfect for taking a nap after a long day at port. The lawn has become a favorite place for people to gather and picnic whether the ship is at sea or in port.
Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, May 23, 2011
Testing a roof for leaks using an Electric Field Vector Mapping system
It's been a tough week in terms of trying to get working conditions dry enough to do anything let alone put up a roof. If your are planning on putting up a new roof and or green roof, be sure to consider getting a waterproofing membrane that is compatible with an electric field vector mapping system (EFVM). This beauty can be installed before or after a new waterproofing is assembled and can find leaks that wont show up in a traditional flood test. A leak may be in one section of the house however, the water may travel several feet before coming through the ceiling and playing a nice tune in your pets water bowl. Having one of these systems prevents you from turning your roof into swiss cheese or a patchwork quilt trying to find and fix that illusive leak. This also saves your green roof from total annihilation by knowing exactly what area to dig up. In the long run this saves time and money and is cheaper than most waterproofing membrane insurance.