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Green Roof Technology Blog

Leave Only Footprints, Take only Memories

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, April 09, 2014

By: Samantha Yurek

 

Many people wouldn't think twice when gathering a lovely bouquet of flowers while out for a hike. But maybe this is a lesson we should all be practicing and passing down generations, when out enjoying the great outdoors. Transporting flowers for your own benefit is erroneous and punishable in certain situations. 

Although the United States doesn't have a specific law protecting wildflowers from being violently up-rooted, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 does cover all of the plants that are slowly vanishing.

Many states have specific laws regarding plants. For example, North Carolina's Plant Protection and Conservation Act states that it is unlawful "to possess any protected plant, or part thereof, which was obtained in violations of this Article or any rule adopted thereunder." If caught, fines can rise as high as $1000.

There are many reasons why you shouldn't pick wildflowers or take plants from the wild. Not only does it reduce the vibrancy of the location, but it also can be damaging to the environment. The USDA explains it perfectly, "We don't often realize it, but wildflowers support entire ecosystems for pollinators, birds, and small animals on a micro scale. Butterflies and other insects, small birds, and animals depend on seeds, nectar, and pollen for their food supply and life support system. In addition, some pollinators are not very mobile or have very small home ranges or depend on just one species of plant and die once their habitat has been destroyed."

In some cases, transporting flowers from the wild can also aid in the spread of invasive species.

 

It may not be your first reaction when someone goes to pick a few flowers, but just keep in mind that they are a living object as well, attempting to survive and reproduce just like the rest of us. And is it really worth picking these plants, only to have them wilt in a matter of hours or days? Especially when you could be enjoying them all spring and summer if you were to simply let them be.

So my advice to you is, instead of pocketing flowers from Mother Nature's garden, it is just as easy to take a short trip to your local nursery. Not only will there be a great selection on plants to choose from, you will directly be supporting your local community.

       Let me reiterate: 

MD Bill 207

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, March 31, 2014

MD HOUSE BILL 207

Today I we received an email by the USGBC requesting to oppose the MD House Bill 207. In the last decades the USGBC grew dramatically. Beside their originally great intention, LEED increased the costs of buildings super proportionally to the benefits for the environment.

In our opinion it is now necessary to naturally develop sustainable practices, solutions and technologies that can be much easier adopted and implemented by environmentally conscious people. With very simple tools (“rain tax”, higher taxes on energy, and responsibility for costs to reduce the negative environmental foot print of buildings etc.) the government now has a great opportunity giving back to builders and building owners the freedom of making their own decisions without the overwhelming pressure and costs from LEED.

Bill 207 helps to increase environmental consciousness of all American individuals and gives them back their freedom and responsibility in making their own decisions.

What is described as a setback by the USGBC is just a desperate reflex and fear of losing revenue and influence. USGBC must learn this lesson and USGBC has to prove that they are still competitive once Bill 207 passed.  

If the USGBC can’t take this as challenge they are worthless to start with.  

We support MD House Bill 207

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!

http://www.greenrooftechnology.com/green-roof-blog/white-roofs-are-better-than-green-roofs

 

Teaching Sustainable Design

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Saturday, January 25, 2014

DPC Continuing Education, Inc has recently released their 2014 Future Green Trends Workshop schedule. These workshops focus mainly on rainwater design, green energy, green roofs and green materials.

Next up will be at the Holiday Inn in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. Held on Wednesday February 19th.   

And following February will be March 12th, at the Hilton Garden Inn, located in Troy, NY.  

Our very own Jörg Breuning has been a guest speaker in the past during these workshops and will be appearing again. Workshops dates to be announced. 

For an extended schedule or more information, you may visit the official DPC website

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.


Green Roofs in Singapore

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, December 23, 2013

By: Samantha Yurek

In Southeast Asia. one island-city is rising above the rest. Singapore has been working on a greening blueprint of the city since 1992. Their ultimate goal: to evolve into a city within a garden! With approximately 272 square miles and 4.6 million people, the biggest challenge faced is space.

 

With 148 acres of vegetated roof space, Singapore has already made it a priority to promote green space. Careful planning has helped to conserve 9% of their total land mass to parks and nature reserves. In 1986, only 36% of Singapore was green space, compared to almost 47% known today.

 

The Parkroyal Hotel, opened earlier this year, is covered in green roofs and walls. Totaling 15,000 square meters of green space all together.

The School of Art, Design and Media at the NanYang Technological University in Singapore sports a curving green roof, giving the building a sleek look. As buildings continue to green, Singapore will grow closer to their goal of becoming a garden with a city nestled inside rather than a city with a few gardens.

Many companies have been involved with the green in of Singapore. To name one, Verditecture LTD, has been in the building and construction industries since 2003. A partner of Optigreen, they have been focusing most of their time on skyrise greenery. 

Sustainable Green Trends Workshop

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, November 26, 2013

On Tuesday, December 3rd, Jörg Breuning and Bill Foley will present at a Sustainable Green Trends Workshop at the Holiday Inn in East Windsor, New Jersey. The topic: Planning, Implementing and Maintaining a Green Roof System for Sustainable Projects. The session will start at 1:40 pm, directly after the complimentary lunch and will last until 5:40 that evening. 

The Sustainable Green Trends workshop is one of many programs held by DPC Associates in order to promote sustainable building practices in the northeast. 

Cool Roofs Might Increase Air Pollution

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, November 25, 2013

Cool Roofs Might Increase Air Pollution

Picture: welt.de

Approximately 35 years ago I learned in horticultural chemistry class how plants utilize the energy of sunlight.  This process is called Photosynthesis and is an everyday example of Photochemistry, a sub-discipline of chemistry or the study of chemical reactions that proceed with the adsorption of light by atoms or molecules.

Other examples of Photochemistry are the degradation of plastics and the formation of Vitamin D with Sunlight.

  Skin aging: caused by 80% of the Sunlight

Over the last half century, it has been well studied that heat and sunlight have a tremendous effect on air quality.  Both, and independent from each other, heat and sunlight can transform the atoms and molecules in the air around us into other chemical combinations that are often harmful for human health.  The same photochemical transfer occurs also with most other particles and substances in the air and increases the chemical cocktail in the air we breathe substantially.

In a recent study of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) it was confirmed that at night – without the energy of sunlight – nitrate radicals naturally help cleanse the atmosphere.  Acting as a “janitor” of the night sky, the nitrate radical scrubs away air pollutants such as volatile organic compounds that would otherwise form smog and ozone.  The cleansing compound only works nightshifts, however, since sunlight destroys the light-sensitive molecule.  The study suspects that the street lights in cities reduce this cleansing effect.

It doesn’t take much to understand that Cool Roofs or Reflective Roofs multiply the light energy in the air, reducing not only light-sensitive molecules but also converting most other atoms, molecules and particles in the air into potentially more harmful chemical combinations.

This can be proven by many simple observations:

  • Photovoltaic (PV) elements increase their output with higher light intensity because of the energy in the light (more photons from sunlight increase the electromagnetic interaction).
  • The human skin reacts on intense sunlight with a photochemical reaction (often ending in skin cancer).
  • Sunlight changes the composition of most natural of man-made materials – typically degradation.
  • Plants change their appearance when exposed to excessive light – often they die.
  • Plants “suffocate” when exposed to sunlight 24/7.

Sunburn on plant leaf.

Nowadays numerous studies (typically sponsored my manufacturers) focus only on the surface temperature making everybody believe that cool roof, or so called reflective roofs, are environmentally friendly because of the lower surface temperature.  Isn't it worth to look at the bigger picture of what happens when reflecting sunlight off of roof tops – i.e. polluting the air with additional sunlight?  I am not suspecting that they were paid to ignore this dramatic effect but it shows to me that the responsibility of researchers is in some cases is questionable.  My countryman Albert Einstein would have said: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

"Cool Roofs" or  "Fool Roofs"?

Installation of reflective roofs requires additional protection for workers.

Meet Jorg Breuning at ASLA 2013 Annual Expo

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, November 06, 2013

American Society of Landscape Architects is holding their annual meeting and expo this year in Boston from November 15th until the 18th.  

On Monday, Nov. 18th at 8:00 am, Jorg Breuning and Rob Tilson will hold an education session titled "Solar Panels and Green Roofs Fully Integrated - The Smart Future Development." 

The collaborative presentation between Green Roof Technology and Tilson Group will showcase two of the leaders in the green roof industry pushing the boundaries of their field.  

The benefits of combining green roofs with solar panels is well documented.  The two technologies have been used together for many years, beginning in Germany nearly 30 years ago when both technologies were only first being developed.

Over the decades both technologies have advanced greatly.  Today, fully integrated green roofs with solar panel systems, known as Solar Garden Roofs, have been developed that maximize the two technology's beneficial synergistic effects.  

The Learning Objectives of Jorg and Rob's discussion are as followed:

1) Learn about an integrated technology that combines renewable energy with vegetated roofs, multiplies benefits and significantly reduces cost.
2) Understand the key elements and flow chart evaluation of whether this technology fits a project.
3) Acquire extensive product knowledge including weight, size, potential power output, maintenance, and warranties.
4) Compose proper specifications for construction and define the intersection of the different tasks with lessons learned from past project successes. 

You can take a sneak peak at Jorg's presentation by downloading a pdf on our Resources page -- available here.


One Size Fits All

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, October 30, 2013

By: Samantha Yurek

Or does it?  We're not talking about baseball caps or a pair of mittens here. Green roofs are a living system that on their own should thrive heartily in the environment in which they reside. Not all green roofs are similar, nor should they be. Diverse climates call for various approaches in construction a green roof to handle precipitation efficiently. The vegetation for any green roof should reflect local climate and growing conditions.

Uniform systems will most likely work out fine, but depending on the region, may need constant maintenance to uphold the health of the green roof. At this point, the question is if the green roof is actually doing its job. A green roof is supposed to thrive naturally, as a part of the ecosystem. It defeats the purpose when an irrigation system is put in place or the green roof is over maintained to avoid natural diversity.

Each green roof should be unique in a way that works most efficiently for that particular location. Here at Green Roof Technology we strive to create a living space that will thrive under specific conditions. There should be very little need for additional time, effort and money once a green roof has been put in place.


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