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Upcoming Case Study Announcement: The Podium Roof Garden at Toronto City Hall

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, December 14, 2011

By Andrew Cole Yanders

 

Photo by Jorg Breuning

The focus of this academic exercise will identify a few of the leading psychological tendencies that drive up the costs of green roof installations.  In a previous article we highlighted an impractical design that led to a “snowballing effect” of errors and costly mistakes.  During the course of a green roof design and green roof specifications, decisions are constantly made that affect the final installation cost as well as future maintenance expenses.  In any green roof design, it should be the goal to keep project costs for installation and green roof maintenance as low as possible without sacrificing the function.  Experience, practical designing and resourceful engineering can make a dramatic impact on reducing the average market cost of installing a green roof.

Instant green with pre-vegetated mats or tray systems are always much more expensive than built-in-place. Instant green requires much more maintenance to adapt the plants to the location or keep them in perfect conditions.

The City Hall in Toronto has already begun to loose the originally designed pattern of the tray system in the first year.  The main cause for this is due of the lack of experience in maintaining this system. Judging by the transformation that has already taken place, the green roof will convert to a meadow style green roof in the next two years even when maintenance efforts are drastically increased.

A monolithic or built-in-place, seamless semi-intensive / extensive green roof on the City Hall of Toronto could have been installed for approximately half of the costs of the current modular system and would have had the same visual aspect today but with much less maintenance, no irrigation and less fertilizer.

A fraction of the cost (approximately $1,000,000.00), more water retention and no irrigation needed an in-place system would be much more environmentally friendly.  A monolithic or built-in-place system would be a highly efficient extensive, semi-intensive green roof according modern green roof technology.   

Saving taxpayers money for the installation and the savings for required maintenance over the next decades should be the priority of responsible and experienced designers and planners.  With the saved money – just from the installation - the city could have installed another 40,000 ft² green roof and which could have retained additional 614,295 gal of rain water per year that doesn’t need to be processed expensively in a treatment plant.

As soon as the Case Study is complete it will announced on our blog and available for download on our Resources page.

Click here for an emailed copy the case study upon it's release 

Easy as ABC - Bronx Week 2

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, November 07, 2011

By Kat Harrold 

Photo By ~ Kat Harrold

It has been a long and exciting journey as we reach the homestretch of this project.  What started out as a question of whether or not a green roof on a warehouse is structurally possible has blossomed into a its first week of construction. 

In the beginning we worked with the structural engineer and determined that the best design for the roof was to have the vegetated area cover 12’ wide sections on the support beams.  Given the unique character of the planter like beds created by this design root barrier was added to the layered system.  

After the design phase we helped the Sustainable South Bronx acquire materials for the roof and construction.  Working with Sustainable South Bronx is always a real treat for us.  Having helped train their initial in green roof installation crew, we have the joy of seeing old friends and the peace of mind knowing that the roof is in good hands.

Last week after some weather delays we were able to bring the growing media onto the roof and into its respective planting beds.  It was a dirty job but somebody had to do it.  Despite the gritty nature of the work it was visually relaxing seeing the roof begin to resemble a garden more than a roof.

This week the planting will be finished just in time for the plants to settle in and prepare for a long winter nap.
Once the roof is done a weather station as well as precipitation and temperature sensors will be added to monitor the green roof and regular roof.  

This green roof will be open to the public for educational tours.

 

ABC Carpet Goes Green Week 1

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, October 18, 2011

By Kat Harrold GRP


 

 Photo~ Jorg Breuning

After much anticipation and preparation, the ABC Carpet and Home green roof has officially begun construction!  We met with Construction Manager, Micheal Cluer, and Forewoman, Collen Loft, yesterday at ABC to check on the progress and to discuss project details.

The first few days consisted of meticulously cleaning the roof so as to remove all debris, such as nails and small stones, that might damage the waterproofing.  A thorough examination of existing roof conditions was also performed to check for any preventable trouble spots.  While the weather had called for only 10% chance of precipitation with sunny skies Monday, that 10% decided to make a visit early that morning which turned the sweeping into more of a mopping procedure.  On the bright side the roof will be squeaky clean and puddles were quick to evaporate.  

The next step after cleaning the roof will be to find the support beams and mark out where the green roof segments will go.  Once this is done, edging will be cut and assembled to frame the green roof planting areas.  Because of all the pipes present on the green roof there will be some areas that will be segmented so that they can be built around the pipes.  

Check in next week as we get into the dirty business blowing the growing media onto the roof.  For those of you not familiar with what that entails just think of a snow machine.....but one that blows dirt instead of snow.

 

 

 

The Sky is Falling: A Critique of Failed Sloped Extensive Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, September 06, 2011

By Jorg Breuning


As of late we have been receiving more and more calls from building owners in distress about their green roofs.  The most serious of these complaints being erosion problems on their sloped roofs.  Sloped green roofs are a bit more complicated to design, install, and maintain than flat roofs and as a result people who disregard or don't know of the established FLL guidelines for sloped roofs, have created dangerous and costly situations ranging from mudslides to roof collapse.

One of the most infamous of these rooftop blunders was last winter in St. Charles, Illinois.  The project was designed to be the largest sloped roof in the US and during a heavy snow storm the roof collapsed.  Fortunately no one was hurt however the damage was devastating.  

Why did the roof collapse?  The problem lies in the drainage.  Snow is frozen water and where you have more water accumulating on a roof you will also have greater amounts of snow accumulate.  This insufficient or clogged drainage system and poor growing media is the most likely culprit in areas that held water or snow.  All this added weight during an extreme winter put the roof way beyond its capacity.

Sadly, this situation and others like it could have been avoid simply by hiring a true expert and checking their performance history for similar projects.  To read more about the dangers of improperly design sloped extensive green roofs and how to avoid them click here.

Below the renovated roof after it collapsed. Suddenly the green portion shrinked by at least 1/4.

Tellus 360 Reclaims its Roof

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tellus 360 green roof days after planting - Jorg Breuning

During one of the hottest weeks in the summer a couple of Irish lads with no fear of heat stoke began the challenging task of putting a garden on their roof.  

Joe Devoy and Martin Donnelly are the proud owners of the Irish antique and furniture store Tellus 360 in Lancaster, PA.  The store is an incredible treasure trove of home goods and furniture crafted from reclaimed wood.  Thier slogan "old wood, new story," beautifully describes not only their products but also their roof.  

The roof at Tellus 360 was in disrepair and needed replacing.  After finding out about possible funding for a green roof through Live Green in Lancaster the search was on to find a suitable candidate to make this green roof a reality and affordable.  Green Roof Service met the challenge and was able to work with the grant program providing a comprehensive design while staying on budget.  

Being a store full of hand crafted products it only seemed fitting that the lads at Tellus 360 get their hands dirty and build the green roof themselves.  Under the supervision of Green Roof Service the lads of Tellus 360 managed to beat the blistering heat.  Despite temperatures of around 110, they managed to get everything up and assembled on the roof to a very fine quality indeed.  With a beak from the heat as added motivation they were even able to complete the project in record time.   

One of the most challenging parts of the project was keeping the plants happy while they were waiting to be planted.  The extra efforts to keep the plants shade and in the ground as soon as possible were rewarded though.  While we were setting up our sprinkler system to help the plants establish, mother nature decided to lend and helping hand dropped what felt like the equivalent of a small lake from the sky.

It has been a few weeks now since the install the plants are doing great.  The roof is also much cooler and more bearable thanks to the greenery.  It took a while to get a permit for the patio area, but it is in and a design competition will soon follow!  Before long the project will be complete and a lovely bar with the best view of the city will be in place.  Sounds like a perfect way to end a strenuous day of shopping in Lancaster. 

Leaky Roof Insurance

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, May 23, 2011

Testing a roof for leaks using an Electric Field Vector Mapping system 

It's been a tough week in terms of trying to get working conditions dry enough to do anything let alone put up a roof.  If your are planning on putting up a new roof and or green roof, be sure to consider getting a waterproofing membrane that is compatible with an electric field vector mapping system (EFVM).  This beauty can be installed before or after a new waterproofing is assembled and can find leaks that wont show up in a traditional flood test.  A leak may be in one section of the house however, the water may travel several feet before coming through the ceiling and playing a nice tune in your pets water bowl.  Having one of these systems prevents you from turning your roof into swiss cheese or a patchwork quilt trying to find and fix that illusive leak.  This also saves your green roof from total annihilation by knowing exactly what area to dig up.  In the long run this saves time and money and is cheaper than most waterproofing membrane insurance.  

Natural, Less Fat and Dirty Jobs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Saturday, March 20, 2010

Nothing can top a cozy evening on the sofa with some Chunky Chips Ahoy cookies and watching my favorite show on Discovery Channel – Dirty Jobs. Usually I don’t buy Chunky Chips Ahoy cookies but while at the groceries the box promised “Less fat than the originals” and that was good with me after all these Christmas food. Well, after I finished more than a quarter of the box I decided to read the label and discovered that the serving size is one cookie (yes, 1). I am not sure who eats only one cookie but I was getting curious and started some research on the web. I learned that the “old” Chunky Chips Ahoy cookies had exactly the same nutrient facts as the one I just enjoyed. However they reduced the serving size (not the recipe) and as by wonder they suddenly have less fat!

This reminded me of many misleading statements in the green roof industry. There are suppliers who sell garden-like, rich blooming and nature-like green roof systems on their web sites which weigh less than 14 pounds per square feet. Once you worked yourself through all the specifications you learn that specifically the 14 pounds per square foot green roof is only a 2 inch deep system which requires regular irrigation, periodically nutrients and supports only a few Sedum species – far away from the earlier seen rich and colorful diversity. In other words it is much less of what you thought at the beginning. In the fine print you might also find that it depends on the location, availability of materials, organic content, saturation of the media and many other things including the unpredictable weather. As an architect or designer you can get lost just before you even started with the idea of implementing a green roof - unless you don’t care.

I also like RUFFLES® Natural Reduced Fat Sea Salted Potato Chips. However during my research I also learned that there they are not even close to healthy and probably from gene manipulated potatoes of vast chemical treated fields, naturally.

rooflite® Certified Green Roof Media is no dirt and so the Skyland USA LLC guys also can’t do any dirty jobs. They have only a few products and you easily will find the information you are seeking for. Their product line and production is definitely State-of-the-Art. Jörg Breuning and Peter Philippi had the idea long before anybody in the US thought about highly standardized products so Skyland USA LLC was founded in 2004 with a nice green roof project at Swarthmore College. Rooflite® is the most preferred and reliable green roof growing media through out the US and the owners of Skyland USA are known as the most experienced professionals for green roof technology in Europe as well as in Northern America. They truly care about the quality of the product, your project and a sustainable and honest growth of the entire green roof industry.

Top Ten misleading labels in the food industry


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