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World’s First Modular Green Roof System

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Sunday, February 12, 2017

World’s First Modular Green Roof System

Modular Green Roof System

Green Roof Professionals around the globe often wonder or speculate how and when the commercial modern Green Roof industry really took off. There are many opinions and alternative facts out there but only a few really know that the hot spots with patents were in Basel Switzerland and in Stuttgart Germany for seamless or wall-to-wall Green Roof systems.

The World’s first modular (or tray) system has been developed in Stuttgart by Brecht and Hämmerle, mainly known as the Brecht System (if one doesn’t consider terracotta pots on roofs as a modular system).

The Brecht System was a basic polystyrene box with a three-layer Green Roof system. The system was available in extensive, semi- intensive and intensive planting depth. With this simple three-layer system the inventor combined many benefits in one box. All systems had a water reservoir for maximum water retention – more than any other Tray system currently on the market and more than any fabrics, foams or mineral wools, and the boxes contained standard nursery soil for a healthy fast growth and to lower costs.

There were different options for covering the less attractive boxes, with either wood or metal (aluminum). Today we call these frames around the boxes: Edging.  

Based on the polystyrene, the boxes were very lightweight and easy to install. Actually, they fitted into each other to create different heights and different planting depths. I would describe them as a Modular –LEGO-like planting system.

Unfortunately, any polystyrene as a limited lifespan when exposed to UV or biological activity and so many of these roof gardens had problems after 5-10 years. Further, many of the plants rooted out of the boxes (drainage holes) and penetrated the waterproofing.

Around 1992 the last Brecht System was removed and replaced by wall-to-wall or seamless Green Roof systems. All of these Green Roofs are still existing - if the building still exists.

The Brecht Modular Green Roofs system had also other issues that are similar to the currently existing systems. However, nowadays the tray systems use metal, other plastics, and mainly with irrigation systems. This makes them last longer, but as often only delays the point of failure. The roots of plants and the biological activity on healthy Green Roofs are often underestimated as well as the functional lifespan of foams, polystyrene drainage mats, and mineral wool products.

Urban Planning in North America

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Urban Planning in North America

Most American Cities like to have a diverse, sustainable, and thriving city of neighborhoods as the economic and cultural driver for the region.

In reality, these urban planners fall for nicely presented prestige projects that maybe have some green elements like bicycle storage, a solar panel, or living elements like a little green wall in the entrance area or roof terrace with some tomato plants. A little decoration of green is always trendy – whether it remains green or not. Important seems that the building is shiny, the investors and tenants have good names, and that it increases the prestige level of the city.

Urban planning in North America has hardly anything to do with long-term perspectives, environmental, people, or social aspects. “Urban” planning does not go further than maybe two or 3 blocks in a city. North America is a big continent with many tunnel-view urban planners, and since many of these planners have not much to do, they write daily blogs about “great ideas” of new ways for urban developments. It seems they write a lot and they do not do much.

In Europe, urban planning is almost on a helicopter- view basis, long-term with environmental and social aspects. Europe’s great urban planning doesn’t stop at the city or county line and it greatly reduces destructive urban sprawl. Being an urban planner in Europe is a tough job – they have no time to play on the internet posting great ideas. They just do it.

The picture below shows a neighborhood in Munich, Germany from google Earth. The development of this area started in 1994 and it is still going on. Developing an area like that over 20 years required a comprehensive urban planning long ago and with on single goal: minimize the environmental footprint.

1.  The area is connected to a large park with sport arena, pools, gyms, and recreational facilities including beer gardens.

2.  The community garden on the north allows people to grow their own flowers and vegetable.

3.  Most roofs are covered with green roofs, some are used of recreation or growing flowers and food. Most buildings have balconies where plants grow up (extensive green walls).

4.  Open space for socializing, playing games, walking dogs. Typically these areas are above underground parking garages.

5.  Solar Garden Roof that combine solar with green roofs to max-out the environmental benefits.

6.  Houses are entirely covered with PV.

All buildings have very easy access to a dense public transportation network and many office buildings can be reached within walking distance or by bicycle.

Natural Blow Job

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, May 30, 2016

Natural Blow Job

Like an endless army of parachutists released from an airplane, seeds and fruits travel the wind currents and gentle breezes of the earth, possibly colonizing a distant mountain slope or fertile valley potentially 1000 miles from their origin. Literally hundreds of species in many plant families have adopted this remarkable method of dispersal and make the promoters of native plants look like a fool.

Imagine a little parachutist seed can fly 1000 miles in ten days it still takes probably 20-30 generations and 15-20 years getting around the globe. Seeds found in hail or high altitude air samples confirm that this is not a fiction.

Plants have very limited mobility and consequently rely upon a variety of dispersal vectors. Wind is only one and there are many other smart ways. The easiest might be humans. If a plant gives humans a trade-off (nice flower, fruit etc.) they can carry them as far and nowadays in a much short time.

Relocating to a faraway location isn’t always successful but it is necessary for the specie to survive in evolution where natural and manmade forces might eliminate the original place. Especially under fast changing climate conditions it is important for specie to stay flexible or to mix with similar species to create more resident ones.   

Comparing to this smart and self-sustaining way of plants, many humans make themselves to fool by either helping to transport the plants or by categorizing plants into native and non-native.  Doesn’t it sound like schizophrenia when you get a LEED point for native plants on a 500sf Green Roof downtown Manhattan and at the same time(GMO) corn is grown on almost 100,000,000 acres across the US?

There is no question that the worlds Gen-pool of all organisms must be preserved but the way as it is approached seems in most cases unprofessional and desperate.  Being 45 years a gardener, I understand that nature has its own way – we can be part of it but we can’t be the director of it.

 

First Extensive Green Roof in the Dominican Republic

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, January 21, 2016

First Extensive Green Roof in the Dominican Republic.

More than 12 years ago my friends Miriam and Buschi decided to settle in Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic to educate the local people and tourists about animal welfare and a better interaction between humans and animals.

An awesome story that has grown and created support from all around the world. Universities, veterinarians and engaged individuals from North America and Europe spend their free time by helping them with hard work and donations, making a better life for animals and humans.

 

Beside their endless efforts for animal welfare their home has two large extensive green roofs that flourish since 12 years. It is quite an effort finding the right plants that can survive on less than 3 inch of soil mix. A thick, flexible, non-bituminous and root resistant waterproofing is the only German product of the green roof system. All other components were sourced locally and evolved over the years.

 

These green roofs are the first in the Dominican Republic and represent the basics of modern green roof technology – simple and effective without plastic elements or pre-planted containers.    

http://www.amigos-de-lucky.org/

https://www.facebook.com/Amigos.de.Lucky


 

Fireworks, Green Roofs and Happy New Year!

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, December 31, 2015

 

Fireworks, Green Roofs and Happy New Year!

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 there 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 moisture 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 its natural moisture content.

Potential fires or leaks on roofs caused by consumer or display fireworks can be prevented if the building has a fully functional green roof.

A fire on any roof is the worst-case scenario. I many cases smoldering firework parts (and cigarettes) are causing leaks on unprotected roofs that are discovered much later. These problems are unknown on fully functional green roofs. When a green roof prevents a leak or even a fire it is typically not recognized but will save expensive repair or even loss of a building.

Nature is (literally) so cool.

Happy and successful green 2016!

 

The A-Team Comes to CitiesAlive

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, October 01, 2015

The A-Team Comes to CitiesAlive



Industry veteran Jörg Breuning to showcase 
innovative vendors at Trade Show


The annual CitiesAlive Green Roof & Wall Conference is happening next week (October 5-8) in New York City. This conference hotspot is the place for green roof and green wall professionals to learn and discuss the latest technologies.

Every year at CitiesAlive, the 36-year green roof veteran Jörg Breuning and his company Green Roof Technology present innovative products and people that help make your project successful, affordable, and maximally environmental-friendly. “I like to share my experience, horticultural knowledge, and understanding of nature’s principles,” says Breuning, “to help people prevent wasted time, money, and frustration.”

This year, Jörg Breuning will present: 


Optigreen. World’s largest manufacturer of green roof products and system solutions engineered for use in any green roof application.


Clement Soga Associates. The first North American operator using drones to map and 3D model (via AutoCAD) current site conditions.



Geocell. World leader in foam glass gravel, a 99% recycled product that substitutes for manufactured foam insulation in green roof construction.



  

Solar Garden Roof. A non-roof penetrating, solar energy and green roof solution that combines the best of both options.




ALT Global, the world leader in advanced cold liquid applied membrane systems. 

Prior innovations introduced by Jörg Breuning include introduction of the German FLL Green Roof Guideline. “The guideline is the foundation of all current green roof standards, guidelines, and most specifications, and its continued use among green roof professionals demonstrates its success,” says Breuning. 

He has also fostered many North American green roof experts in their early days, including Ed Snodgrass (green roof plant grower and author of Green Roof Plants: A Resource and Planting Guide), Charlie Miller (Roofmeadow), Kurt Horvath (Green Roof Solutions), and Michael Furbish (Furbish Company).

Come mingle with Jörg Breuning and the A-Team at the Green Roof Service LLC/Green Roof Technology booth (307, in the middle of the Trade Show floor).

 

The 2015 Trade Show opens with an evening reception on October 5th at 7PM and is open on October 6th


 

Contact for tickets: info@greenrooftechnology.com


Leading Green Infrastructure since almost 150 Years!

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, July 10, 2015
 Leading Green Infrastructure since almost 150 Years!

Stuttgarter Nachrichten

Picture: Stuttgarter Nachrichten


Living Green is not just an empty phrase for City of Stuttgart, Germany.  The history goes back almost 150 years as the “Stuttgarter Verschönerungs Verein” was founded. A powerful Association with an authority comparing to today’s City Department of Parks and Recreation. Even during the Nazi-Time the Association was entirely independent and was able to protect historical buildings, Parks and to increase living green with new parks and living green recreational areas.

Based on this history it was no accident that Stuttgart is the pioneer of an unmatched progressive Green Roof program in the 1980’s and the City of Stuttgart is still the leader with the most Green Roofs in the world.

Just recently the City revised the Building regulations for the entire State Baden-Württemberg that every building owner has to implement more living green. A controversial discussed item in politics because some people understood that as forcing Green Infrastructure – but it was meant to inspire building owners to value Green Infrastructure as an investment for the future with related high savings for operational costs.

In an newspaper article of Stuttgarter Nachrichten the new building requirements are explained including the benefits for the local infrastructure and the lasts high demand for well trained and educated Landscape people.

I was very excited to see that they used a current picture of a Green Roof project I installed in 1999/2000.

This Green Roof is a demonstrating project at a landscape company and covers their truck parking. The depth of the Green Roof reaches between 4 inch to 12 inch – from Sedums, perennials, shrubs to trees that grow over 15 feet. Since it is on a roof the reflecting pond is rather shallow, has a water feature and is lit up at night to create a private out door space for the company owner. The City of Stuttgart, Germany is a place where ecology and economy is closer together than in any other place on Earth I know.

2001all rights Jörg Breuning
Picture: Jorg Breuning taken one year after installation

SRWA Conference 2014

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Sunday, October 19, 2014

Next Generation of Sustainable Buildings

 

Baltimore, MD / Hershey, PA --- The Sustainable Roofing and Waterproofing Alliance (SRWA) hosted its fifth annual fall conference from October 8-11, 2013 in Hershey, PA. The event brought together a global audience of architects, roof consultants, green roof experts, building design professionals, contracting firms, and building owners. This unique program featured in-depth educational courses and hands-on demonstrations designed to inform and advocate for advanced green building practices.

Enhanced moisture control of super insulated, high performance buildings envelopes in each climate zone on Earth is the key for long-lasting, low-impact and healthy buildings. Proper solutions will maximize the payback of investments for building owners and drastically reduce the environmental footprint of building structures at the same time.

The speakers at the SWRA Conference paired common sense with decades of scientific research and developed best management practices for any building envelope application.

“With over 200 attendees from 19 countries around the world the fifth SWRA conference set a new milestone for building professionals”, said Jorg Breuning, Green Roof Service LLC – Green Roof Technology, “vegetation on top of buildings are the ultimate transition from manmade structures to the natural environment.”

Effective, economic design and maintenance principals of modern Green Roof Technology was presented and discussed by Jorg Breuning. With over 34 years of experience, Jorg Breuning demonstrated that thinking outside the box or a ridged modular grid will separate the wheat from the chaff.

The SRWA team led by Samir Ibrahim, Director of Design Services at Carlisle did a phenomenal job to make this conference happen. 

Mineral Wool on Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Sunday, September 21, 2014

 Green Roof Innovation

 Mineral Wool on Green Roofs

 Green Roof Technology Reveals Latest Study about Mineral Wool on Living

Since their first commercial production in 1871 (Georgmarienhütte, Germany), mineral wool found its way in many applications like thermal insulation and soundproofing. Mineral wool, mineral fibers are typically referred to synthetic materials like fiber glass, ceramic fibers and stone or rock wool.

Two main types of mineral wools are on the market – water repellent (Hydrophobic) and water adsorbent (Hydrophilic). For horticultural purposes, only the hydrophilic type is useful. Many patents were granted for simple Hydroponic systems or the germination of seeds with mineral wool in the early 80’s.

In modern green roof technology the first green roof systems came on the market around 1985 in Germany at a time as the German green roof industry gained tremendous momentum. As a lightweight solution with high water retention, mineral wool seemed an ideal material. The higher costs and the higher carbon footprint - comparing to lightweight aggregates – were argued with easier installation and higher water retention.

Extensive research over more than 5 years at the University of Geisenheim and on numerous buildings confirmed the high water retention properties. However, in the mid-run these tests also revealed that the performance and the health of the vegetation were far below conventional green roof systems with standardize green roof components. Mineral wool manufacturers and green roof system suppliers stepped away from the idea of using mineral wool as a growing component for green roofs.

“Today we can see a revival of mineral wools in the green roof industry,” says Jorg Breuning, CEO, Green Roof Service LLC,” in countries with hardly any green roof experience, mineral wool is getting rather popular with potentially fatal results in the mid and long-run.” 

Especially in the United States, the market is growing rapidly for mineral wools on green roofs, disregarding existing studies and without extensive long-term tests. It isn’t even proven whether certain fibers can cause health problems, leach out chemicals or whether these components can be recycled when the green roof doesn’t perform anymore.

In 2012, the lack of performance of mineral wool as a vegetation carrier resulted in a major green roof restoration at Amsterdam International Airport. 90,000 square foot of green roof – built with mineral wool - had been taken off and replaced by a standardized green roof system. At this point, this was the largest green roof restoration in the history of mineral wool on green roofs. Costs that could have been avoided.


Doing it right in the first place.

Green Roof Revolution in Sydney

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, April 21, 2014

By: Samantha Yurek

On April 7th, 2014, the City of Sydney, Australia approved a Green Roofs and Walls Policy. The Policy will be carried out by the Strategic Planning and Urban Design Committee of Sydney. A three year plan, its main goal is to raise awareness of the importance of green space in urban areas as well as promote the implementation of potential green roofs and walls.


                                   Pinpointing Green Roofs in the City of Sydney

Sydney is already in the lead of the green revolution, with a total of 83 green roofs and walls throughout the city. In addition, 50-70 likely projects have been approved to construction and should be underway soon.The Green Roof Meadow at the Prince Alfred Park Pool is one of the largest in Sydney. Complete with 2,000 square meters of green space, including over 35,000 seasonal and native grasses.


                            The Green Roof Meadow at the Prince Alfred Park Pool

The city is also home to One Central Park residential towers, featuring the world's tallest vertical garden at 33 stories. These gardens consist of 190 native Australian plants as well as 160 exotic species. Although it may not be the tallest for long - Shri Lanka is now in the running with plans to build a 46 story residential building, with multiple vertical gardens, proposed to be completed by the end of 2016.


                                        One Central Park Towers in Sydney

Lucy Sharman, Sydney's Green Roofs and Walls Senior Project Officer explains, "With higher-density living and a growing population, we need to accommodate people in a healthy way and use urban space as wisely as possible." And it seems that advocating for a greener city is working. "We receive more than one development application each week for a green roof or wall," says Sharman.


                                            One Central Park Towers in Sydney

The Green Roofs and Walls Policy isn't their only attempt to create a cleaner and healthier environment. The city has been working on many movements, such as 202020. Working towards 20% more green spaces in urban places by the year 2020. 

If you're interested in, you may check out the whole Green Roofs and Walls Policy here.


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