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A brief stop at the Baltimore Convention Center Roof Garden

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, July 25, 2012

by Ryan Miller

This past Friday I traveled into the heart of Baltimore City to visit the roof garden atop the Convention Center.  On the second floor huge floor to ceiling windows frame the roof garden and encourage visitors to take a step out into nature.  With benches and tables scattered throughout the garden, you can tell the owner's intent was to bring people outside, not only to look onto the city surrounding them, but to sit down and enjoy the unique natural environment.

The roof garden was completed in 2010.  Initially, the Convention Center was only going to receive a new waterproof membrane, but the roofing company, Barrett Company, suggested the owners go above and beyond the traditional upgrade and take part of a growing trend, bringing nature back to our urban areas.  I for one am glad the Convention Center owner had the foresight and courage to install a roof garden and did not succumb to the hesitance many property owners do when deciding to go with green roofs.  

Throughout the hundreds of Black Eyed Susan’s in the garden you will see numerous bees flying about.  No need to worry though, they have too big of a playground to concern themselves with visitors.

During my visit, the national Firemans & EMT convention brought in thousands of visitors to the Convention Center.  Many of them took time to eat their lunch and relax in this oasis just two stories up from busy Pratt steet, which you could almost hear none of. 

As I visit other cities I’m jealous of the green spaces they have for people to just relax and take in nature.  I’m glad I visited this roof garden as I now have a place to show off to visitors and colleagues alike.

I plan on adding this roof to our tour of Baltimore City green roofs on September 13th.  Please email me if you are interested in attending this tour, Ryan@hvccb.com.  

Heat Wave 2012

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, July 06, 2012

 

The unceasing heatwave gripping the Northeast is quickly moving into the absurd.  With temperatures consistently hovering around 100º F there are few places outdoors you would consider pleasant.  Especially not a roof top smack in the middle of New York City, straddled by an interstate highway. Despite the Extreme Heat Advisory, we decided to send Andrew back to the Park & Rec Building to check up again on the Sun-Roots.  

Andrew was happy to report that the sweat pouring from his brow was more than enough to irrigate the sun-baked Sedums.  During conditions like these we continue to be amazed at the ability of Sedum to thrive in such extreme hot and dry conditions in minimal growth media.  Stressing times like these are good for the Sedums, it develops their hardiness.  It is important not to spoil your green roof plants by irrigating them.  They may suffer a little bit, but they will survive and reestablish themselves even stronger for the next heatwave.  

Biodiversity on Extensive Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, July 03, 2012

By Kat Harrold


Photo by ~ Jorg Breuning

Despite issues of limited growing media depth and access an extensive green roof still offers a lot of potential for creating biodiversity.  The shallow system is capable of supporting a variety of drought tolerant herbaceous plants, succulents and grasses providing food and shelter year round.  Many insects and birds have found their way onto this type of green roof orchestrating ecological webs and food chains.  The limited accessibility of the green roof to terrestrial animals also offers sanctuary to ground nesting birds.  

 

 

 

Episcopal Academy Raises the Roof

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, June 28, 2012

By Kat Harrold

 

Photos by Jorg Breuning

As the procession of minivans dropped off their little darlings for another exciting day at summer camp the sound of heavy machinery and green roof construction joined the chorus.  Green Roof Technology and UrbanEcoforms with the help of the Episcopal Academy's green roof advocates Joe and John made record time with the installation of the Episcopal Academy's first two green roofs.

The already eco-minded school has an impressive collection of energy efficient buildings and outdoor learning opportunities.  The green roofs are an invaluable asset in expanding their commitment to the environment and hands on learning.

Both green roofs are visible from glass hallways providing excellent observation of seasonal changes.  The extensive green roofs feature a mix of sedum plugs and cuttings with a grass swale and picturesque clusters of allium. 

 

 

 

                                                                              

 

 

Biodiversity and Semi-Intensive Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, June 26, 2012

By Kat Harrold

Photo by ~ Jorg Breuning

They say variety is the spice of life and this indeed tends to be the case when creating a green roof to promote biodiversity.  Green roofs with both intensive and extensive portions have been found to support the highest amount of biodiversity.  The combination of sedum meadow, grasses, and shrubs provides not just food but shelter for several species.  More information covering biodiversity on semi-intensive green roofs can be found on our case studies page in "Where the Beetles are Crawling and the Honey Bees are Humming." 

Visit us next week as we conclude our biodiversity segment with biodiversity on extensive green roofs!

 

 

Revolutionary Philadelphia Green Roof

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, June 21, 2012

By Kat Harrold

 

Image by Realen Properties

Philadelphia has one of the most progressive green roof programs in the country.  Their support for green roofs in based on an aggressive stormwater management plan to hold all run off on site.  Beginning late this fall, The Philadelphia Convention Center Parking Facility will open utilizing an architectural marvel featuring a combined blue roof and green roof system designed by Green Roof Technology and Realen Properties.

Green roofs and blue roofs are both great for capturing stormwater onsite.  Green roofs retain water by acting like a giant sponge while blue roofs hold the water on the roof similar to a rooftop swimming pool.  Blue roofs may hold more water than green roofs during intense storm events, however the standing water can create stress on the building and breed mosquitoes and bacteria.  The revolutionary green roof on The Convention Center Parking Facility combines only the best of both these technologies.  The green roof has an extra deep profile affording higher water storage capacity.  In addition to the added growing media, a specially designed insert for the roof drains holds water up to a couple of inches within the lower layers of the growing media.  When a 100 year storm event occurs this insert has an overflow mechanism allowing the roof to drain freely once the max saturation level has been reached.      

Beauty and intelligence are key to the success of this project.  Not only is the function of the green roof innovative and practical, the aesthetic will be just as exquisite.  The green roof will be visible from the Philadelphia Convention Center and accordingly will feature an eye catching seasonal display of color through a mixture of native ever greens, grasses, and perennials.  Crocus, and daffodils burst with color in the spring providing seasonal interest.  In the fall and winter months scarlet mahonia and evergreen ferns add to the festive decor.



Creating Biodiversity Through Rooftop Farming?

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, June 19, 2012

By Kat Harrold

 

Photo By ~ Kat Harrold

Rooftop farming has the allure of self-reliance in a world of food uncertainties.

It is well known that urban agriculture on rooftops has recreational and educational value. However when it comes to economy and ecology these little pieces of intensive used land in polluted cities are more than questionable.

Depending on crop selection rooftop farms can provide habitat for several pollinators. At the same time they also provide food and shelter for insects, birds, and small mammals that might not be wanted. On ground remote locations it is very difficult and labor intensive creating a natural balance among wanted and unwanted organisms. Finally it depends on your goal, the time you like to invest, how much additional weight your roof can carry and last but not least your experience and knowledge in farming on impervious areas. Potentially urban agriculture on roofs or rooftop farms can be a diverse environment or – most likely - a monoculture stage for chemical warfare between man and nature.


Join us next week as we cover bio-diversity on semi-intensive green roofs!

Biodiversity on Intensive Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, June 12, 2012

By Kat Harrold


Photo By ~ Jorg Breuning

Intensive green roofs with great media depth and plant selection offer ample opportunities for biodiversity.  Ramps or tiered levels offer roof access to non-aerial fauna setting the stage for the introduction and interaction of the surrounding ecology.  Just because a large animal such as a bear or moose may inhabit the local area does not mean that the intensive green roof must attract it to make the biodiversity effort a success.  Creating an environment which supports a variety of plants and fauna on the lower levels of the food chain benefit the entire food web for the surrounding area.  

Visit us again next week as we discuss biodiversity and rooftop farming!




Creating Biodiversity on a Green Roof

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, June 04, 2012

By Kat Harrold

 

Photo by ~ Jorg Breuning

Creating biodiversity on a green roof or green wall is significantly different than restoring it on ground level.  On a rooftop there is no preexisting ecology to enhance; everything is from scratch.  In most cases the growing media is drastically different from the soil down below which in turn dictates what ecology can be supported.  Accessibility, high winds, and proximity to the sun can also be challenging issues for organisms.

Studies show that plant selection and depth of growing media have a greater influence on the biodiversity of a green roof than height.  In the translation of research covering the biodiversity of green roofs, “Where the Beetles are Crawling and the Honeybees are Humming,” the biodiversity found on green roofs as tall as 400 feet were comparable to that of lower green roofs.

Tray or modular green roof systems create the visual impression of a green roof by placing a series of planters close together.   The history of German trays, introduced in 1978, show that in most cases the performance of pre-planted boxes fail to meet performance and maintenance expectations.  The composition of a modular system simply does not provide the right set-up to reliably enjoy the 30 to 50 year lifespan expected from a built up equivalent system.  Additionally there tends to be incredible amounts of species die back during the first 5 years creating a sparsely vegetated monoculture setting.  These factors create a very poor and unreliable environment for biodiversity to take place.

Visit us next week for more information on bio-diverse intensive green roofs!

 

 


Engaging the Senses

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, May 31, 2012
By Kat Harrold

   

Photos by ~ Green Roof Technology

When designing green roofs which encourage human interaction it is important to keep in mind the 5 senses, taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound.  

Taste – While the a green roof may be a tough environment for some vegetation to grow, there are still several edible herbs that can provide delicious accents to a meal or tea.  Mint, chives, parsley, cilantro, thyme, oregano and rosemary are just a few edible herbs that thrive on extensive to semi-intensive green roofs. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Touch – Flowing grasses with prickly seed heads and the fuzzy leaves of Hieracium create a dynamic contrast to the lush springy texture of succulents and sedum.  Small berms can be used to integrate ornamental grass areas into extensive green roofs while keeping weight restrictions in check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smell – Closely related to taste, many culinary herbs can also employ a richly scented environment.  Other fragrant options for green roofs are lavender, polyantha rose “the Fairy”, sage, and Echinacea Daydream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sight – One of the many beautiful things about a green roof is there are a multitude of drought tolerant plants which provide year round interest.  Late winter and spring welcome a blast of color from crocus, Sedum hybridum “Czar’s Gold,” Dianthus, and Allium.  Summer brings forth a variety of extended bloomers including Sedum kamtschaticum, Hieracium, and Telinum.  Fall offers a variety of color from Aster Purple Dome, Snowcap Shasta Daisy as well as a red and gold glow from the foliage of several sedums.  Winter blankets the roof in festive greens and reds.  Sedums kamtschaticum, ‘Czar’s Gold,’ ‘Blue Spruce,’ and spurium ‘John Creech’ maintain their green foliage while Sedum spurium ‘Fuldaglut,’ moranense, album ‘Coral Carpet,’ and rupestre ‘Angelina’ brighten the season with displays of red and gold.

 

 

Sound – Green roofs have the to power to not only clean rain and air pollution but sound pollution as well.  When designing a green roof to function as a patio space, consider using plants which rustle in the wind such as grasses.  The tall reeds create white noise which helps mask the sound of a busy street.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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