By: Samantha Yurek
Photo Credit: Flickr - Sidstamm
By: Samantha Yurek
Photo Credit: Flickr - Sidstamm
Right before Superstorm Sandy came roaring into our lives last October, Akron University had just installed their first green roof. Located on top of the Sydney L. Olson Research Center, this 18,000 square foot extensive green roof has approximately 15 varieties of perennial plants. Grown by seed and sedum cuttings, these perennials made it through the storm and flourished on top this Ohio roof. Without any irrigation systems and very little fertilizers, the green roof is starting to finally show its true colors during these summer months!
The Goodman’s authentic Norwegian log house and accompanying log cabin are located in Great Falls, Virginia. Set deep in the woods of Fairfax County near the Potomac River, the Goodman’s enchanting home transports you back to a simpler time in the old country. Both buildings were imported from Norway in 1971 and were reconstructed with authentic sod roofs.
By 2005 the guest cabin still retained its sod roof but the log house roof had been converted to terracotta tiles by a previous owner. When the guest cabin’s roof started leaking in 2004, Mr. Goodman decided it was time to upgrade both roofs with modern green roof technology. A sloped, single course, extensive green roof was installed on the log house and cabin in August 2005. The goal of the new green roofs was to establish stable, natural looking vegetation with a high biodiversity that through successive change would mimic the surrounding forest.
An upside-down green wall. Parthenocissus quinquefolia, commonly known as Virginia creeper, has established well on the roof and now cascades from the roof, creating a beautiful ethereal green wall.
By: Samantha Yurek
With the heat index well into the triple digits lately, it is only appropriate to talk about the urban heat island. A metropolitan area which is significantly warmer than its rural counterparts, the urban heat island effect creates a more brutal environment, especially during these sweltering summer days.
Cities are dense and compact places. Most surface materials in urban spaces are good at absorbing heat, and have no means to transpire. Sunlight heats up these surfaces during the daytime, to temperatures higher than the air. In addition, impervious surfaces are prominent in city landscapes.
Many issues stem from the urban heat island effect, including increased energy consumption, resulting in elevated pollution emissions, compromising human health and comfort. Also, hotter surfaces create warmer runoff, endangering the local bodies of water; rapid temperature changes can be fatal for aquatic life.
Photo Credit: Dustin Phillips
Now we understand the urban heat island phenomenon, but is it easily resolved?
Unfortunately with the amount of people residing in urban areas, the energy released will always be greater compared to rural areas. Although, there are ways to mitigate the hotter temperatures. In rural areas, temperatures are moderated through evapotranspiration, with vegetation being the main aid in cooler and healthier environments. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, "Trees, vegetation and green roofs can reduce heating and cooling energy use and associated air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, remove air pollutants, sequester and store carbon, help lower the risk of heat-related illnesses and deaths, improve stormwater control and water quality, reduce noise levels, create habitats, improve aesthetic qualities, and increase property values."
By increasing vegetation in urban areas and the surrounding commercial belts in the form of street trees and green roofs, we can help create a cooler and healthier environment for ourselves. Not to mention a much more attractive landscape.
The issue of root penetration is known to most in the green roofing industry. The relatively complex world of roofing membrane compounds and organic chemistry has resulted in most green roof professionals defaulting to local instructional manuals, which default to FLL testing records. But just because a material is effective does not mean it is not harmful, e.g. lead in paint.
In 1997, Bayer Aktiengesellschaft was the assignee of Patent US 5672568 A titled “Root growth inhibitors for building materials comprising monohydric alcohol esters of mecoprop.” Root-resistant bitumen mixtures were soon marketed.
This past week the Berlin Senate’s Department for Urban Development and Environment and the Berlin State Office for Health and Social Affair published a series of recommendations for the prevention of environmental pollution due to the release of the herbicide Mecoprop from root-resistant bitumen membrane sheets.
The statement reads:
Investigations at the Swiss Federal Institute for Water Resource and Conservation (EAWAG) on behalf of the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) have shown that Mecoprop under natural weather exposure is released from the bitumen sheets and the precipitate is washed out.
Rain water contaminated with Mecoprop can pollute combined sewers or surface waters. Due to the low rate of elimination in sewage treatment plants results in a particularly high risk potential. In a decentralized rainwater infiltration system there is a risk of soil and groundwater contamination. (Translated from the German)
The report goes on to make simple recommendations. The first says the use of bituminous membranes impregnated with Mecoprop should not be used unless absolutely necessary for structural reasons. Second, they should never be used in protected water areas.
Green Roof Technology is against any use of herbicides in green roof construction or maintenance. For more information on how to protect your building against root penetration without the use of poisonous herbicides please contact our office.
Taking place on Tuesday July 23rd, this evening workshop hosted by the Anacostia Watershed Society will be sure to expand your knowledge on green roof systems. Located at the Todd Gray's The Watershed Restaurant in Washington DC, the event will run from 3pm to 5pm.
Agenda will include:
3:00 - 3:10 Michael Lucy, AWS
Welcome & DC's rebate program and speaker introductions
3:10 - 3:35 Jörg Breuning, GRT
Green Roofs 101, Lessons Learned from Germany
3:40 - 4:00 John Hillis, Prospect Solar & Waterproofing
Increasing a roof's return on investment using green roof integrated solar
4:00 - 4:20 Oscar Warmerdam, SemperGreen
Instantly greening your roof with sedum mats and how to care for them
4:25 - 5:00 Q & A, Panel Discussion
Hope to see you there!
Sponsors of the event are as follows:
On July 9th, three more small extensive green roofs were installed a top the Academy’s High School Building in Newtown Square, PA. The High School has a number of glass walled hallways that look out over unsightly black rooftops. The glass walled hallways provide a spectacular viewing area for the green roofs. This year we covered almost three times as much roof area as we did last year, bring the Academy’s total green roof count to five.
Once again, Micah from Urban Ecoforms joined us to lend his experienced hand at installing green roofs. From the picture below you can see that Micah was in rare form and simply thrilled to be freed from his recent solitary confinement atop his current project in West Philly.
While we were installing the green roofs, we could not help but stop and admire the incredible lushness of the green roofs we installed last summer, especially when last July was brutally hot and dry.
Practically all dry organic materials are combustible at relative low temperatures. Roof shingles or many waterproofing membranes on roofs are typically petroleum-based products (including Asphalt) and they is hardly a difference to dry organic materials. Some products are equipped with chemical fire retardants that could decrease the risk of spreading fire, not the risk of leaks cause by impact.
The living vegetation of functional and well-engineered green roofs contain high moisture contents and most plants (especially succulent plants on large extensive green roofs) have a fraction of the energetic potential comparing to all other components used in a building. The green roof growing media (soil for the green roof plants) is a blend of different mineral components with an organic content of typically less that 15%. It is practically impossible to set this material on fire – not even considering the natural moisture content.
Many fires or leaks on roofs caused by consumer or display fireworks could have been prevented if the building would have had a fully functional green roof or a well-maintained conventional roof (regular removing of organic debris from the roof and gutters).
A fire is the worst-case scenario; however in most cases smoldering firework parts (and cigarettes) are causing leaks on unprotected roofs that are discovered much later. These problems are unknown on functional green roofs. When a green roof prevents a leak or even a fire it is typically not recognized but the payback is right there.
Nature is (literally) so cool.
Photo courtesy of Elkus Manfredi Architects and BHC Architects.
Green Roof Technology is proud to announce their partnership with BHC Architects to design the largest Solar Garden Roof in North America. The Solar Garden Roof will rest atop the new, soon-to-be build Exelon headquarters in Baltimore, MD.
Exelon’s office tower will be the tallest building in the upcoming Harbor Point multi-use business park, scheduled for completion in Fall 2014.
The Exelon headquarters rooftop will house a 40,000 sf green roof and an estimated 400 Sun-Root™ Modules, which will generate approximately 120,000 kWh’s a year. This will be the largest Solar Garden Roof in North America.
For more information about the Solar Garden Roof System and to see a short video of how it all comes together, please visit: http://www.greenrooftechnology.com/solar-green-roof.
Green Roof Technology has successfully settled into a new location in Baltimore, Maryland. We are now located on the corner of Roland Avenue and 37th Street in the heart of Hampden. We have acquired more space and a delightful location! We relocated in the beginning of June. Please feel free to stop by and check out the new place! Our phone and fax numbers will still remain the same.
3646 Roland Avenue
Baltimore, Maryland 21211