Back to Home Page
Home   |   Contact Us Ph: 443-345-1578

Green Roof Technology Blog

Only Natives on Green Roofs?

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, February 17, 2014

By: Jörg Breuning

In 1999 North America discovered that modern green roof technology is more than just an exclusive garden for a few wealthy people on top of a building. Experts understood very quickly that there are unmatched advantages of bringing back nature into locations where it was before.

With this enthusiasm, a lot of environmentalists and environmental organizations started to notice various opportunities to improve, simplify or promote themselves in many ways. Some of these ideas might sound glamorous, but the bigger picture concerning nature, is often disregarded.

In a previous blog post we reported about the ridiculous reductionist research of comparing reflective roofs with green roofs. Today we want to focus on the hype of native plants for green roofs:

Many Americans call a living organism native if these organisms have been on this continent before North America was discovered by European settlers. In their naivety, they have completely forgotten how the Natives have discovered and have lived on the land hundreds to thousands of years before.

So called Native people did the same as any organism; they expanded from their original locations to secure the species. While migrating and expanding over continents, all living organisms will change their environment accordingly. Microorganisms like bacteria or macro organisms like humans follow in the same footprints in evolution. The migration of European settlers did that as well and eventually became 'native'.

For most American people (as mentioned on Wikipedia) the opposite of native is "invasive". This discrimination is completely ignorant to the fact that something must be introduced first before it is invasive, encroaching, or just simply trespassing. 

It is even a bigger discrimination and ignorance of God's creation or evolution (whichever you prefer) when these people ( a lot of them call themselves experts) tell us that approximately 1,000 hectares of Bamboo scattered across the USA are a problem for when they call native species. However, at the same time, 1,000,000 hectares (1,000 times more) of genetically modified corn is not a problem. On top of this blatant discrimination, these 'tunnel-view' educated people (including LEED™) are pointing out that roofs are an ideal place for what they deem native plants.

Rooftops might be a stepping stone environment for plants that have been in North America for many thousands of years but when we try and set them up in a new place it is like a conversation of a narrowed down selection of species and disregarding the entire picture. It is obvious that history repeats itself - there are still existing reservations for Native Americans and we all know what effort this was, how discriminating this was and how much diversity, knowledge and inspiration we have lost. We are essentially treating native plants in the same way and that has nothing to do with environmental protection.

These so-called native plants must have a so-called native environment and require all the natural players (other living organisms) to thrive.

* Jeffersonia diphylla for example depends on ants to spread and what building owners want to have colonies of ants?

* The big family of Trifolium (stamped as a weed by nurseries) requires the stiff hair of animals to fulfill their natural calling - how many deer of bears do you want on your roof?

* Or shall we shoot all the birds that spread seeds from introduced trees?

The point of this blog is that any type of nature is better than covering the ground with impervious surface areas like asphalt, concrete of ground mounted solar factories. All our environmental issues are caused by the loss of natural environments. It is also much cheaper to protect these natural environments where they are and avoid relocation into reservations (such as rooftops). Simply by reducing footprints of man-made structures and concentrating human settlements to specific location allows these so-called natives organisms to thrive and to continue their journey of evolution.

An Upstream Battle for Green Roofs?

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

By: Jörg Breuning

Every now and then we find studies comparing green roofs verses white roofs. It seems like and up-stream battle for the green roof industry against the big profits that are being made in the roofing industry with reflective water proofing membranes. All manufacturers of roofing material know that a reflective membrane will sell easier and with a higher profit than a traditional black tar roof. It is cheaper in production, and with the right crew, easier to install as well. In addition, because of the environmental benefit (discovered by LEED), the pricing can be more expensive.

Covering this membrane with a green roof should increase the profits - so we think. In reality, it isn't the case because the lack of horticultural understanding and human's natural fear of nature make it a high risk factor or even a potential lawsuit. Stockholders and risk managers for large roofing manufacturers offer green amenities (because this is good for their image), but never pressure these offers. Unfortunately, for roofing companies, protecting the revenue and profits is of higher priority over the environment and real sustainable practices.

It is no secret that selected manufactures support Universities in order to preform research on reflective membranes verses green roofs. These manufacturers tell the researchers precisely what to say and do so their reputation thrives. Since research jobs are not plenty full and Universities have the same economic pressure as roofing manufacturers, the results of this research may be questionable.

In an older selective or reductionist study at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the so-called scientist went a step further. Writing a paper, clearly motivated by manufacturers, they described their data as somewhat sparse - does that mean worthless?

We still try to understand the words that are used in this study:

"Somewhat" = to a moderate extent or by a moderate amount

"Sparse" = thinly dispersed or scattered

We at Green Roof Service LLC/Green Roof Technology don't need simplyfied research that says "maybe yes" and "maybe no" in one sentence without considerations of the entire picture. Many people in the green roof industry don't have a scientific backing, but it is a great gift that they have common sense and understand that bringing back nature to where it previously resided is way better than covering the earth under a white burial shroud.  

The bear in the stream catching the battling salmon can't extinguish the species - as long as the water is clean. If the water is polluted because of the lack of nature in our built up Cities, there won't be any salmon left and the bear will shortly become extinct as well. Responsible research and researchers can help keep our waterways and neighborhoods clean - or address a topic holisitc.

See also our blog post: 

White Roofs are Better than Green Roofs!


White Roofs are Better than Green Roofs!

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, January 24, 2014

By Jörg Breuning

According a study from prestigious researches at LawrenceBerkeley National Laboratory, One Cyclotron Road, Berkeley, CA 94720, United States and School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, reflective roofs have a higher value for building owners than Green Roofs.

Julian Sproula, Man Pun Wanb, Benjamin H. Mandela and Arthur H. Rosenfeld developed a study that clearly explains the monetary benefits of reflective roofs v.s. Green Roofs v.s. traditional roofs. In their reductionist research, the outcome for green roofs is not good.  In a press release they stated:” The researchers acknowledge that their data are somewhat sparse but contend that their analysis is valuable in that it is the first to compare the economic costs and energy savings benefits of all three roof types.” It isn’t the first time – I have seen many worthless studies before…  

I am anchored in the Green Roof Industry since 1980, I roll my eyes and shake my head about counterproductive statements and studies like that. In the yellow pages they would have found somebody who could have told them differently and how to spend the generous money from the industry (other than green roof industry) much better – actually in building a Green Roof. Even when building a Green Roof doesn’t help the building owner (according their study) it would have helped the environment.

Bringing back nature into a location where nature was before is simply the best you can do!

My advice: Don’t start covering your Green Roofs or entire nature with a white piece of plastic – just don’t believe every written word on the internet or commercial reductionist research – Use your gut feeling and think out of the box!

This blog post represents the opinion of Jörg Breuning. If you have another opinion please feel free to contact me.  

Here is a link to the Study.

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

Hudson Street Green Wall Completed

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, November 04, 2013
2714 Hudson Street in Canton, Baltimore, MD.

2714 Hudson Street's exterior greening was completed today.  The project involved two main components, the green wall and four new tree pits.  

Three large custom-made galvanized steel planters were installed below a Carl Stahl 'Green Cable' System to create the green wall.  Each planter was planted with a variety of perennial vines, shrubs and grasses, including Wisteria, Lonicera, Clematis, Rose and Pennisetum. 

Special thanks to Elemental Metalworks and Flying Colors for their excellent help with the construction of the planters.  

Four large tree pits were dug and planted with Chanticleer Pears.  The soils were replaced with an urban tree pit soil blend from Stancills Inc.

If you happen to be in the area, stop by and let the people at great people at Green and Healthy Homes Initiative know how awesome their new greenery looks.      

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.

New Instant Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Joe’s Paint Releases: New Instant Green Roofs

Our favorite environmental expert and green roof research specialist Joe is up to his old tricks.  Joe hit the PR circuit again this week releasing a full range of new roof greening products. 

Not satisfied with only offering a green roof in a can, Joe is now offering a full line of instant green roofs.  His new products include a highly reflective white paint for roofs and façades. The can comes with a pair of sun glasses and two cartons of greasy sunscreen (SPF 90) for an entire neighborhood.   

The best green roof and green wall product is already successful on the markets: An artificial grass mat that can be rolled out.  Joe has the fake grass in multiple colors to create Blue Roofs, Brown Roofs and Red Roofs. The good thing is, that after a season you can also fill-up the landfills with toxic waste and contributing your part to a healthy growth of the economy.

 Grass Test

Joe is very excited about the new product line and promises: “Next year we come up with an entire line of fake honeybees, polyethylene spiders and colorful plastic butterflies with remote control. Just before Christmas we will also see artificial flowers and Christmas trees (comes with a fake turkey). “



 All fake grass products are tested under real conditions. 

If you want to walk on grass without having a green roof we recommend the grass Flip-Flops. Retaining almost 100% sweat and you can’t run-off.


We all love Joe here Green Roof Technology because he is constantly pushing the green roof industry and green technologies to new heights. 

Orders and feedback:

Solar Gardens Made Easy

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, September 12, 2013

Here at Green Roof Technology we are actively helping commercial, municipal and not-for-profit clients generate renewable energy and control stormwater for a cleaner tomorrow.

The Solar Garden Roof System is rapidly growing in popularity.  The benefits of our combined solar and green roof system are unmatched.  Additionally, the Solar Garden Roof System can be 50-60% less expensive than a 4" extensive green roof.

We provide a number of services for our clients.  They include the following:

  • Provide professional designs and engineering,
  • Maintenance programs for your Solar Garden Roof,
  • Secure 25 year Roof and Solar Warranties,
  • Help secure commercial solar financing,
  • Offer SREC brokerage,
  • Perform leak detection,
  • Assess roof membrane condition.
  • Utilize local professional labor resources,

Call us today for a Free Estimate & Analysis:

Using satellite imagery, we analyze factors that affect your Solar Garden Roof design such as south-facing roof location, shaded areas and available roof space.  We will also study your monthly energy usage and future energy plans so that we can create the best system for your needs.

Additionally, business owned PV systems are eligible for tax advantages, such as accelerated depreciation and a thirty percent Federal solar investment tax credit.

Call us today to see if a Solar Garden Roof System is right for your roof.  

Hudson Street Green Wall

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, August 26, 2013

The Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning has recently renovated its headquarters in the Canton neighborhood, Baltimore, MD.  A much improved exterior is soon be pair with an entirely new interior.  Next month, Green Roof Technology will be installing a series of custom planters that will support a variety of vines that will adorn the walls of the Hudson Street Garage Building.  A steel wire trellis system will provide the support the vines need to grow about the walls.  Three new street trees will also be planted out front of the building, adding to the greening objective of the Coalition.  

We are all looking forward to beginning construction in September and we will be sure to post a few pictures for you all to enjoy.

Protection for Honey Bees

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, August 23, 2013

By: Samantha Yurek

Photo Credit: Demetrius Freeman - NY Times

Recently making an appearance on the front page of TIME Magazine honey bees are really starting to stir up popular interest.  But why all of the sudden? About a decade ago honey bees started dying off an alarming rates.  This past winter, nearly one third of honey bee colonies in the United States died or disappeared.  In June over 25,000 honey bees were found dead in a Target parking lot in Oregon.  Cause of death: an insecticide which contained neonicotinoids - a topic I covered back in May when the European Union took a stand and banned these killer pesticides.


Recognition of the significance of this issue is finally surfacing.  Although started back in 2009, National Honey Bee Day was a more popular holiday this year. A grassroots effort by beekeepers and interest groups to promote community awareness on honeybees, this holiday was celebrates this past Saturday August 17th.  The theme this year: "Beekeeping - Ask Me How to Get Started."  Farmer's markets and nature centers among others all over participated, educating the public on honey bees. 

All this commotion about these buzzing little creatures is beginning to pay off. The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered a reduction in the use of widely known pesticides and a change in labeling on pesticides to educate the consumer on the harm to certain pollinators.

Photo Credit: Jörg Breuning

Honey bee efforts have been popping up all over the country. These efforts have not only been seen on rural farms, but even on rooftops in the city! One example perched seven floors up, 100,000 honey bees buzz busily, hard at work to keep a Manhattan green roof flourishing. Green roofs are a great place to start an undisturbed honey bee colony. Let's not forget how important these little creatures are in our ecosystem and how essential they are to our food production. Take some time to learn more about the amazing honey bee!

Green Roof Technology doesn't allow the use of herbicides or pesticides on any green roof project since 1980!

Follow Us!

RSSGreen Roof Tech Blog
RSSGreen Roof Plant Blog

Recent Posts



Latest Blog Posts
  1. Sustainability, Resilience: Green Team at Green Roof Technology, 09-Feb-2018
  2. Health Care and Green Infrastructure Green Team at Green Roof Technology, 06-Feb-2018
Facebook   Twitter   LinkedIn   Google+   YouTube
Go To Resources Page