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Green Roofs and Fireworks

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, December 30, 2016

 

 Green Roofs and Fireworks

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 any difference to dry organic materials. Some products are equipped with chemical fire retardants that could decrease the risk of spreading fire, unfortunately not the risk of leaks cause by heat and impact.


The living vegetation of fully functional and well-engineered green roofs contains 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 – even when the natural moisture content is not considered.

Fires or leaks on non-vegetated roofs caused by consumer or display fireworks could have been prevented if the building would have had a fully functional green roof without mono-culture vegetation, or if conventional roofs would be well-maintained (regular removing of organic debris from the roof and gutters).

 

Certainly a fire is the worst-case scenario; however in most cases smoldering firework parts (and cigarettes) are only causing leaks on unprotected roofs that are discovered much later and relate to costly repair. Roof warranties typically don't cover any sort of mechanical impact and they are -again- worthless. See blog post from 2014.

 

Any sort of fireworks damages or many other mechanical impacts are unknown on functional green roofs. Green roofs prevent leaks or even a fire and so it is the best payback is right there.

See also Fire Safety on GreenRoofs

Nature is (literally) so cool.

Happy New Year!

 

How to Maintain a Green Roof During Holiday Season

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, December 19, 2016

Green Roof Maintenance During Holiday Season

Do it like Santa Clause!

During Holiday season, Santa Clause and his Reindeers simply enjoy their Green Roof. Certainly, every Green Roof requires project specific maintenance and when this is well organized, professional, and done by experienced people, there is no reason to be concerned. Something the Easter Bunny even knows while he eats the fresh lettuce on a roof top farm.

In the southern hemisphere, the year-end is during summer and all above applies as well.

The reason why this works around the globe: Plants cannot read a calendar. They are much more advanced and able to adjust to the current conditions in no time. They take every day as it comes and with a row of days they “know” in what direction they have to adjust and prepare.

If there is a problem on a Green Roof, it is typically caused by humans and their desperate conception of tidiness or hopeless desire to control nature. Whether they try doing by squeezing many plants in a tiny plastic box, using endless “engineered” layers, use materials that might serve a different purpose, or run an irrigation system whenever they see a weather application alarming them on their smart phones.

Sometime people like train plants to do what people want and create a dependency of the plants on humans. If you are such a control freak you might have a lot to do during the Holiday Season.

Green Roof Service LLC – Green Roof Technology does what the plants need and want. We understand the plants. Hence, our clients and we can lean back during the Holiday Season and enjoy this fabulous time with friends, family, and our pets – in house, outside, or on the Green Roof.

Happy Holidays!

Solar Garden Roof team and

Jorg Breuning and GRT-Team

see also:  Winter Maintenance for Green Roofs

The Best Green Roof System

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Saturday, August 01, 2015

The main purpose of an extensive Green Roof is stormwater retention and delaying stormwater runoff amongst many other added values.

Above: An Irrigated thin layered Green Roof System – without irrigation it would be dead.

In the last decade in North America, we'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 thin-layered systems, pre-planted boxes (often called modular systems or hybrid systems), Green Roof Systems from roofing manufacturers with ineffective components, single source warranty-systems, or design intents without consideration for the needs of plants. Typically these systems much more costly (whether thin or thicker) and the mid to long term results are often far below systems that are assembled in place with common sense.

 

Thin-Layered system with irrigation - doesn't work and doesn't retain much water

We all 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 permanent irrigation systems. In some areas this might be helpful when operated correctly but in all cases this advice is defeating the purpose of an extensive Green Roof (water retention). In almost all cases any type of irrigation caused a spiral of failures and it is wrong to irrigate extensive Green Roofs in areas with limited water for the cause of just having a green roof (Green Washing). Most company sponsored experts don’t see the entire picture or they only see the short term profit and commission (“Mow-Blow-Go”).

If a problem occurs and since many Green Roof system developer lack the proper and specific green roof 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 hardly experienced or misinformed green roof professionals. They rely heavily on technology to fix any issues 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 location and climate.

Thin layered, super lightweight systems or systems with “innovative” components are just by physics not meant to retain “more” stormwater for the plants or they retain too much water for specific plants. As a matter of fact the costs for retaining stormwater in thin layered systems are extremely high comparing to a standardized extensive Green Roof with a thickness of 4-6 inch (depending on location). Besides the initial costs the lack of water retention (don’t forget all studies are done by the companies!) won’t support any significant bio diversity plus the operational costs (because of the required irrigation) are tremendous over time. Typically these Green Roofs never pay back with they are not utilized for “Green Washing” purposes in advertising.  

Irrigated extensive Green Roofs and/or thin layered, super lightweight systems (below 25 lbs/sf) will increase the nutrient pollution in runoff, require higher fertilization application, have hardly any tendency for self-healing, and may increase the pressure of unwanted plants and have a high risk for failure. Irrigated extensive Green Roofs are not environmentally friendly in most loactions!

Green roof designers and green roof professionals must understand that certain advertising, studies, White Papers or project references are all assembled by specific manufacturers and their goal is to make money – unfortunately on the back of a very advanced technology and on the back of their clients.

When we advise our clients they get the full picture because we have seem all solutions in the last 35 years, we have tested them and we are currently working millions of square feet where these systems require upgrades, reinstallation or massive repair (around 20 million in damage so far).

We also help our clients doing it as efficient as possible and to get their money back from prior failures through warranty claims and sophisticated lawsuits. This might help to standardize the function of Green Roofs and helps to get the black sheep out of the market. The building owner has a right that things are done right from the beginning.

Never irrigated in the last 10 years.

Green (Roof) Washing

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Baltimore (I-Newswire) June 25, 2014 - Baltimore, MD. Green Roof Service LLC - Green Roof Technology offers the most reliable and cost efficient vegetated roof solutions to meet all challenges of growing vegetation on impervious locations. With efficient and ingenious solutions Green Roof Service LLC - Green Roof Technology successfully designed and engineered multi-million square feet of green roofs across Europe and North America since 1980. Their custom tailored design is even installed on 5 Celebrity Cruise Ships sailing around the world under permanent changing climate conditions.

"I have seen everything", says Jorg Breuning CEO at Green Roof Service LLC, "but what currently happens in the United States can be devastating for an entire industry". Green Roof Service LLC receives weekly calls from clients with green roofs that are not performing as promised.
All of these underperforming green roofs are designed and installed with a lack of experience at any stage of a project or they were compromised in the engineering or construction process.

Especially permanent installed irrigation on extensive green roofs (shallow, light weight functional roof for stormwater retention) is causing increasingly problems with maintenance and operational costs. "Permanent irrigated extensive Green Roofs should not get any incentives from Government, State or Cities", suggests Jorg Breuning. "They don't reduce the stormwater issues of human settlements and they require high amounts of nutrients that can also pollute our water ways."

Irrigated extensive green roofs are often recommend with expensive pre-vegetated green roof systems that are delivered in metal or plastic boxes (often called trays or planters) and then simply placed on a rooftop. "With these solutions and additionally combined with irrigation, sustainability goes literally down the drain," warns Jorg Breuning, "this is green (roof) washing for quick bucks".

Green roof Service LLC - Green Roof Technology introduced low impact modern green roof technology to North America based on experience and common sense. Their clients truly manage environmental issues without using precious resources, at incredible low operational cost and without any risk of failure.

 

Single Source - Multiple Problems

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, January 10, 2014

By: Jörg Breuning

2013 was another very successful year for green roofs and the green roof industry. However, at Green Roof Service LLC/Green Roof Technology we discovered a trend that might affect the industry in the long run. 

The quality of green roof installations didn't improve as much as the industry grew. We have received more calls about poorly installed or poorly functioning green roofs than ever before. Most of these (green) roofs were installed in the last two to three years and the lack of proper engineering and maintenance has caused issues. These issues are time consuming to fix, require replanting, and the installation of additional growing media or even a permanent irrigation system (even in a wet year like 2013!).

The majority of these under-performing green roofs were under a Single Source Warranty and so our first response was: "Go back to your warranty provider." For green roof owners, this was typically the start of a long odyssey. Odysseus never gave up- but with all the issues presented, my clients were quick to give up because the Single Source Warranties are well-phrased and manufacturers are more likely to argue than take action. Arguing with a piece of paper, written by attorneys, twisted and tweaked by companies' legal departments is an uphill battle. No wonder these numerous stranded people decide to call us.

If the client would have taken his money to the bank, rather than spending it on the warranty (typically $1-$3 per square foot) things could have been much easier and cheaper. On top of that, our costs for designing, engineering and overseeing the installation and maintenance would have saved additional money and no problems to start with.

 

In any construction process we are meticulous with our details, quality of materials, craftsmanship and maintenance. We also offer low bureaucratic, simple and efficient solutions to make your green roof last far beyond three decades. Our green roofs wouldn't need any artificial irrigation, and will prove to not cost as much initially, as well as having the potential to be paid back in less than seven years.

It is our goal for the future to support the growth of the green roof industry (and the plants), one by one making our clients happy. Only happy clients can help us - and the green roofing industry.

Yamato Cockroach Found in NYC High Line

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Periplaneta japonica, otherwise known as the Japanese cockroach or Yomata cockroach, was recently found in the United States for the first time.  Exterminators working on the High Line in New York City found the unusual insect around stones and planting material.  Many of the ornamental plants installed on the High Line were imported from Asia and it likely that the some of these plants were infested with eggs or nymphs of the Japanese cockroach.

The Japanese cockroach,  unlike the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, is adapted to cooler northern climates.  It has a flexible univoltine or semivoltine (one or two year) life cycle, depending on the timing of its hatching, and is unusual in being able to spend two winters as diapause nymphs before reaching maturity.

Nymphs have been observed in the wild hibernating in sub-freezing temperatures during winter months in snow-covered habitats. Overwintering nymphs were able to survive laboratory supercooling experiments in the -5 °C to -8 °C temperature range, enduring twelve hours of tissue freezing, as well as recover from burial in ice.

The Japanese cockroach is primarily an outdoors species, though some populations are adaptable to living indoors in houses and buildings where food is stored, prepared, or served.  This is in contrast to the American cockroach that is not adapted to living outdoors in the winter and will immediately move indoors when the cold weather begins.  

source Wikipedia

Akron University Green Roof Sees Season's First Snow

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Located on top of the Sydney L. Olson Research Center, Akron University's first green roof is an 18,000 sf extensive green roof with over 15 varieties of perennial plants.  After its first full growing season, the plants are well established and ready for a winter nap.  Initially planted in October 2012, we established this roof without ever irrigating and only lightly fertilizing at a rate of 5 g / m2 (0.0164 oz / ft2) pure Nitrogen.  As you can see from the pictures below, the green roof is growing in very nicely and is home to a variety of insects.



Back in mid-September:  Nearly 1 year of growth. 





Green Roof Pest Control and Maintenance

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Insects, spiders and other arthropods on green roofs are not uncommon.  Actually, long term studies show that arthropod colonization on green roofs, whether one-story tall or 20-stories tall, mimics ground level colonization, sometimes with even greater diversity.  Arthropods are a vital component for any healthy ecosystem and their diversity in an ecosystem keeps pesky and damaging arthropods in check. 

However, infestations on green roofs do occur.  Last Fall, we helped Swarthmore College diagnose and treat a white grub infestation on one of their green roofs.  By recognizing the infestation signs early, the college’s professional horticulture team was able to control the grub problem through organic pest control methods.

Recently, a red spider mite infestation was reported in a school in the UK with a 12-month old green roof.  The infestation on the green roof was allowed to go unchecked for so long that the bugs made their way into the school via air ducts.  When children began complaining of bites the school had to close down for several days to fumigate.    

Naturally, all green roofs are susceptible to infestation.  Red spider mites are a common household and nursery pest.  Spider mites thrive in hot, dry conditions.  Being aware of their preference for hot, dry conditions and the effect they have on infested plants is vital information all professional green roof maintainers must possess. 

It is important to remind installers that all nursery plants arriving on a project site should be checked for possible disease and pest infestation.  Green roof installers and maintainers must be able to recognize the early signs of infestation and know how to control their populations first through non-chemical methods and finally with a targeted plant-based, non-toxic pesticide if necessary.

Akron University Green Roof Update

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, August 08, 2013

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! 

Herbicides in Green Roof Runoff Polluting Drinking Water

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, July 23, 2013

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.

Since the issuance of Patent US 5672568 A, there has been a series of scientific papers published reporting the leaching of biocides from bitumen waterproofing.  They can be found here, here and here

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.  


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