Construction Going Up – Ecology Going Down?
From 2010 to 2015 warehouse new construction in
the US tippled from around $5 Billion to $15 Billion with all the economic benefits.
15 Billion in new construction equals around 1000 new warehouses every year or approximately
250 million square feet rooftops plus the same amount of infrastructure
provision. Annually, 500 Million square feet or 8800 football fields of lost nature
by building new warehouses in the United States alone.
With some of the existing warehouses, this
translates to a potential of at least 1 Billion of square feet of new extensive
Green Roofs every year that could retain the volume of Lake Constance that is
surrounded by three countries (Germany, Switzerland and Austria) or over the
double volume of Lake Powell (UT/AZ)!
Assuming that these Green Roofs are done right,
maintained by professionals and without artificial irrigation, the natural and
controlled succession of these Green Roofs would allow a unique habitat for
many endangered species over the upcoming years.
These green roofs can also reduce the re-roofing
costs by multiple billion Dollars with a related relieve for landfills and a huge
reduction in energy use.
however is the climate effect.
surround any large city in North America. These warehouse belts with endless
impervious areas actually preheat the air that is conveyed into our cities by
the wind. In the worst-case scenario, these large warehouses have reflective
roofing membranes that might cool the building but also increase – due to reflection
– the heat in the atmosphere substantially.
around cities are like a forced air heating system in a building only on a much
larger scale – Warehouse belts are a wasteful forced air heating system for
thinking and large scale long-term research hardly exists in the US, so it is
no wonder that experts are likely to miss the entire picture.
Currently in the US there are no significant
requirements or ecological considerations in master plans that address this
counterproductive climate habits towards our cities. Actually, it seems that warehouse
belts grow faster than Green Roofs!
North American ecological organizations, LEED, or
other industry associations are also missing the bigger picture. They often
work locally – from one block to the next, they are focused on one or two rare
plants, on a distinctive bee species, butterflies or other human pleasing critters
as long as there is an instant payback in popularity. It seems worth more
having a highly unsustainable fully irrigated Green Wall in the cafeteria, a
nice green plaque on the wall, or growing some carrots on the roof to
demonstrate social and sustainable responsibility. Most marketing efforts for
green washing are beyond the costs of a simple highly efficient extensive Green
Roof that helps the future generations.
The United States is a great country and North
America is a large continent where thinking big was always wanted and welcome.
Now it seems people are getting lost in their little plastic boxes, made in
China with some nice flowers and a watering can next to it.
It is very romantic but also very embarrassing.