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Green Roof Technology Blog

Designing for Resiliency in an Age of Uncertainty

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Resiliency was the motto of the 11th Cities Alive conference held in San Francisco last week. With more than 100 speakers, the conference demonstrated once again that modern green roof technology and living architecture are essential to address resiliency by adapting to urban environmental changes and climate change. Large scale extensive green roofs without permanent irrigation or solar garden roofs are the most sustainable solution for reducing the continuously mounting costs of disasters that are weather or climate related.  

The conference disclosed many new details about cutting edge designs and it is now time to see how these can be implemented, how effective and how economical they are. Especially in cities where we created habitats for ourselves with asphalt and concrete. The conference showed refreshing trends for more natural environments. It isn't known whether rooftop farms (urban farming) are a solution, but these efforts create awareness, recreation and educate about living organisms and the importance in reducing food waste.

In different presentations, the combination of solar (PV) and extensive green roofs were marked as the most efficient roof top addition with the highest payback for the owner and the environment. Our solar garden roof fits perfectly into this future trend.

Great conference and great people, thank you GRHC.

Solar Garden Roof Study

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, October 17, 2013

Solar Garden Roof Study and ROI

An extensive study about the fully integrated Photovoltaic and Green Roof solution is finally available in English. Green Roof Service LLC / Green Roof Technology performed excellent work that demonstrates all the features of a Solar Garden Roof and Sun-RootTM module.

Successful implemented on European projects over more than 5 years, the Solar Garden Roof can now catch-up in North America. “I am often wondering, why the American market is hesitating in regards of living green innovation,” says Jörg Breuning, "the savings or payback potential of green living technologies is in the US so much higher than in any other country of the world."

It is estimated that Washington, DC alone has a potential of over 2 Million square feet of green roofs combined with PV in the next 24 month. This could reduce the stromwater run-off by over 25 Million Gallons per year and produce over 26 Megawatt hours of electricity in only 12 month. Most of these smart rooftop solutions would actually payback in less than 5 years.

A bare roof with exposed water proofing has no payback.

Interested developer, architects and planners are welcome to visit two demonstrations projects – one in New York, Randal’s Island and another one in the DC area at Prospect Solar.

The system will be also presented at Cities Alive in San Francisco next week.   

Cities Alive Annual Green Roof and Wall Conference

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, September 27, 2013

October 23rd to the 26th San Francisco will be alive with Green Roof Professionals. Our very own Jörg Breuning will be featured in a lecture series at the Cities Alive Annual Green Roof and Wall Conference. The topic, Design with Maintenance in Mind, will highlight four sub-topics - one of which Jörg will be explaining the how the Solar Garden Roof System works, specifically highlighting the very first project installed on Randall's Island in New York City.

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: info@greenrooftechnology.com

SustainableGreenTrendsWorkshop

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

Yesterday morning, Jorg Breuning spoke at the Sustainable Green Trends Workshop at Holiday Inn Midtown, NYC. 

Jorg, along with William Foley of Tremco Inc., presented a 4-hour lecture titled "Planning, Implementing, and Maintaining a Green Roof System for Sustainable Projects."

The presentation explored the many ways green roofs can help develop sustainable design solutions.  Listeners learned how green roofs aid in stormwater management and the compelling reasons to design and implement green roofs in all types of construction environments.  Practical advice, plant selection, the history, and proper detailing of a green roof were covered as well.


Reflective Surfaces on Buildings are an Environmental Nightmare!

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, September 16, 2013

Reflective Surfaces on Buildings are an Environmental Nightmare!

 

A new building on London's skyline nicknamed the Walkie Talkie has been blamed for melted car parts due to the intense sunlight reflected from its glass exterior.  In a broadcast for Sky-News (movie) one reporter proves that it is possible to fry an egg in the reflected sunlight.  Developers say they are working to rectify the problem by coating the windows with a less reflective material.  The skyscraper's magnifying glass effect will continue for the next few weeks until the sun's elevation in the sky changes.  

 

Reflecting sun light from building reaches  up to 192°F ! Good to fry eggs.

While white roofs are not  typically curved and are less reflective than the glass clad skyscraper, the physics behind these surfaces are exactly the same. They both are designed to reflect a high amount of the sun light back to the atmosphere.  And by doing so, the reflected sun light has a second chance of being captured by particles in the air, increasing atmospheric temperatures surrounding the buildings.  Certainly London’s Walkie Talkie skyscraper is an extreme example due to the unique shape of the building.  However, it shows very clearly the physics of reflective surfaces, the damage they cause to the surrounding environment and a lot about the lack of common sense of architects, researchers and self-promoted experts.

With this last example, the discussion of high albedo building coverings (above Albedo 0,55) as being environmentally friendly should be at an end.  Governments (e.g. EPA, LEED) should ban reflective surfaces on buildings immediately if they are serious with their environmental programs.  Whether they were blinded by incomplete research, spoiled by the Dollars of manufacturers or simply think they can trick physics,  it does not matter at this point.

Green Roof and Greens Walls (with low albedo) are the better and most advanced choice - naturally.

Recommended: Cools roofs, cool façades are not cool – never have been.    

 

 

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!

The Oldest Existing Green Roof in the World

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, August 09, 2013

By: Samantha Yurek


Photo Credit: Flickr - Michel Rodriguez

Located in the city of Lucca, tucked into the rolling hills of Tuscany, Italy, you will find a most magnificent scene. The medieval architecture of the city is gorgeous, but one tower stands taller than the rest.  Attracting more attention as a consequence of the oak trees flourishing on the roof. Seven oaks were originally planted on the roof of the Torre Guinigi back in the 14th or 15th century. Although replacements have been planted over the decades, the seven residing today are still said to be hundreds of years old. Their roots grew together, penetrating the ceiling and creating a more sturdy structure. Oak trees were specifically chosen by the Guinigi family to represent renewal and rebirth. If visiting Italy, this is a great place to visit, for a few Euros you may climb to the top and see this view for yourself! 


Photo Credit: Flickr - Sidstamm

Urban Heat Island and Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, July 25, 2013

By: Samantha Yurek

With the heat index well into the triple digits lately, it is only appropriate to talk about the urban heat island. A metropolitan area which is significantly warmer than its rural counterparts, the urban heat island effect creates a more brutal environment, especially during these sweltering summer days.

Cities are dense and compact places. Most surface materials in urban spaces are good at absorbing heat, and have no means to transpire. Sunlight heats up these surfaces during the daytime, to temperatures higher than the air. In addition, impervious surfaces are prominent in city landscapes.

Many issues stem from the urban heat island effect, including increased energy consumption, resulting in elevated pollution emissions, compromising human health and comfort. Also, hotter surfaces create warmer runoff, endangering the local bodies of water; rapid temperature changes can be fatal for aquatic life.


Photo Credit: Dustin Phillips

Now we understand the urban heat island phenomenon, but is it easily resolved? 

Unfortunately with the amount of people residing in urban areas, the energy released will always be greater compared to rural areas. Although, there are ways to mitigate the hotter temperatures. In rural areas, temperatures are moderated through evapotranspiration, with vegetation being the main aid in cooler and healthier environments. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, "Trees, vegetation and green roofs can reduce heating and cooling energy use and associated air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, remove air pollutants, sequester and store carbon, help lower the risk of heat-related illnesses and deaths, improve stormwater control and water quality, reduce noise levels, create habitats, improve aesthetic qualities, and increase property values."

By increasing vegetation in urban areas and the surrounding commercial belts in the form of street trees and green roofs, we can help create a cooler and healthier environment for ourselves. Not to mention a much more attractive landscape.


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