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Burn Baby Burn...If you Can - Fire Safety and Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, March 28, 2012

By Kat Harrold

Photo ~ Green Roof Technology

In 1988 fire research testing on green roofs was begun by the Research and Material Testing laboratory of Baden-Wurttemberg in Stuttgart Germany.  Initial testing began with the evaluation of bituminous waterproofing layers.  It was discovered that the bituminous waterproofing when burned produced 50 kWh/m2.  Alternatively when this burn test was done on an extensive green roof with dry grasses only 3 kWh/m2 were produced.  

 

Tests were then done to see if it was possible to establish a fire that would spread across an extensive green roof and or start a glowing/burning of the growing media.  After several tests the conclusion was made that it was nearly impossible to create a fire on an extensive green roof that would spread across the roof or ignite the growing media.  Conversely it was discovered that a bare regular bituminous waterproofing membrane was 15-20 times more likely to catch fire than an extensive green roof with grasses and perennials.  It is for these reasons that many Germany insurance companies offer a 10-20% discount on fire insurance when a building has a built in place green roof.

 

On large extensive green roofs with grasses where there is a concern of fire spreading by wind carried sparks, spreading can be reduced or contained by use of fire breaks in the form of vegetation free strips.  These vegetation free strips can measure approximate 3 feet wide and be composed of river rock or gravel.  Vegetation free zones around roof hatch openings and other roof penetrations can also reduce harm to the building.

For more information on Fire and Wind on Extensive Green Roofs visit our resources page for a downloadable report.



Fire Tests in Germany Picture By: Universität Paffenwald





Tellus 360 Reflects on Green Roof's First Year Anniversary

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, March 26, 2012

By Joe Devoy ~Tellus 360

 

Photos by Tellus 360

 

A year has passed since the Tellus 360’s green roof was installed and we caught up with Tellus 360’s owner, Joe Devoy.  We asked Joe to write a few words reflecting on his new urban oasis.

“One day we were standing on our big flat roof, the sun shining down, the wind gently blowing, having a chat.  We were looking at the Marriott and Convention Center being built next door.  Coming up to the roof had become a kind of ritual, a pleasant place to relax and reflect.

When we were on the roof we were still part of the city, but it was a different part of the city. Captured all around us were the sounds of city but we were still removed somehow.  After a few of these trips the decision was made; a green roof must be built on our roof.  We all needed a therapeutic place where city and nature could meet, where the sounds of life relax not excite.

As we talked to Fritz Schroeder of LIVE Green Lancaster and met Jörg and Kat from Green Roof Technology, our vision of a community oasis developed in our mind.  “A better way to live and a better life for our building.”  Our vision for our building has always been for it to be alive, that it could breathe with the city.  We want it to expand and contract, to participate in our life and to help us be better in the way we live.

Our new green roof has achieved that and the life it has brought to our building and our community has been equally amazing.  Now I return each morning for my daily ritual.  The smell of earth and the sounds of a city alive surround me as I enjoy my breakfast from the local farmers market.  I love to hear the city breathe, I love to hear our building breathe.”

 

Royal Caribbean Lawn Club

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, March 06, 2012

By Kat Harrold

 

Photos By Jorg Breuning

The Royal Caribbean Cruise line Lawn Club exemplifies the very finest in green roof design and engineering, providing the exquisite presentation and luxury Royal Caribbean guests have come to expect.  The apply named Lawn Club is featured on cruise liners Solstice, Eclipse, Equinox, and Silhouette.  In addition to lawn games such as bocce, golf, and croquet, some of lawn clubs also features a hot glass show, cook to order grill, and lounge.


Normally, a lawn of this caliber requires a soil depth of at least a foot.  Due to weight restrictions, a modified green roof system with subsurface irrigation was engineered to provide a light weight solution with a 5 inch profile.  A surface irrigation system with hand watering is also employed to flush excess salts from the lawn.  All run off from the system is collected and treated on the ship.    

A specially selected grass mix allows the lawn to remain lush and green despite stress from salt, changes in latitude, and foot traffic.  A team of highly experienced golf course specialists are on staff to ensure 24 hour monitoring and the health of the lawn.   

The Lawn Club has been such a huge success Royal Caribbean will be adding yet another Lawn Club to their latest ship scheduled for completion at the end of 2012.














Signs of Spring

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, March 02, 2012

By Kat Harrold


Photos by ~ Kat Harrold

 

Sedums may be great for the hot dry climate of the green roof there are more colorful accent plants to consider such as bulbs.

 

Early spring when sedum album is just starting to wake from its winter’s nap Snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) spring forth with their deep green foliage and delicate white flowers.    

Other excellent spring bulb choices are dwarf iris, crocus, daffodils, tulips, and chionodaxa.    As the seasons progress, splashes of color  can be added to the roof with bulbs such as allium and cyclamen in summer and early autumn.  

Many of these bulbs are native to the harsh environments of the middle east and western Asia making them perfect candidates for the green roof environment.

The general rule of thumb when planting bulbs on a green roof is to cover the bulb with 3 times with the amount of growing media as its height with the crown facing upwards.  In other words if you have a 1 inch tall bulb you want to cover it with 3 inches of growing media.  Therefore, larger bulbs will have greater success in deeper green roofs with a 4 inch or greater growing media depth.       
 

'Sun-Root' FAQ's Answered

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, February 23, 2012

By Kat Harrold

Photos ~ by Optigrun

Since the release of our Sun Root living roof system we have been receiving a lot of questions about the benefits of this system and what makes it so different from other solar panel or photovoltaic (PV) systems.

To answer these questions we have composed an information packet which shines a light on the most frequently asked questions.  

 

Some of the topics in this packet include :

 

EXTENSIVE GREEN ROOF IRRIGATION – WHY?

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, February 21, 2012

 By Andrew Yanders

Here at Green Roof Technology we are often confronted with a perplexing industry occurrence.  Frequently we visit extensive green roof sites or monitor extensive green roof projects online that have installed an irrigation system.  It is difficult to justify the necessity of an irrigation system for extensive green roofs.  Sedums, other low growing succulent species, many grasses, and herbaceous plants require no irrigation.  The proper selection of plant species is crucial and species not suited for extensive green roof purposes should not be used.  An irrigation system wastes potable water on plants that do not need it.  This excess water only serves to promote the growth of unwanted plants from foreign origins.

Four to five inch extensive green roof systems are well suited to most regions and do not require irrigation.  (Depending on when the extensive green roof is installed, a temporary irrigation program may be necessary during the establishment phase until the cooler months.)  Weight-saving systems less than 4 inches are typically designed with an irrigation system to compensate for their inability to retain sufficient water for the plants’ needs.  If the purpose of an extensive green roof is to retain stormwater, then why design a system that does not retain water sufficiently and requires the use of additional potable water?  It is again difficult to justify the need for an irrigation system on extensive green roofs.  

Green Roof Technology has recommended that local governments establish a clear consumer-oriented guideline for the best-practice in extensive green roof construction in their communities.  This document would clear-up any misunderstandings among potential green roof investors and serve well to educate the wider public on the functions of the various layers involved in green roof systems.  

An excerpt from the City of Stuttgart’s “Green Roof–How to do?” handbook is well suited to be referenced:

  • In extensive roof planting a minimal depth of soil is used (generally less than 15 cm), with the objective of being able to leave the planting to its own devices after an initial establishment phase.  Plants selected for such conditions are able to survive on a long term basis with minimal reserves of moisture and nutrients.  

Additionally:
  • The construction of an extensive roof garden is the same irrespective of the system that is employed.  The first layer, a root protection membrane, is laid directly on top of the waterproof roof surface.  Above this comes a drainage layer, then filter mat and on top of this the planting medium.

The City of Stuttgart’s green roof handbook is an excellent source of information on extensive green roofs and provides critical information for anyone looking to invest in a green roof.  Green Roof Technology has work with the City of New York and the City of Lancaster to develop similar books on green roofs.  We believe it would benefit everyone if local governments across North America adopted a similar program and published a how-to-green roof document for their citizens.  Green Roof Technology would be pleased to work with your community to create a suitable green roof handbook for your citizens.



Akron University Green Roof

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, February 17, 2012

By Andrew Yanders

 

Rendering by ~ Kat Harrold

Green Roof Technology is pleased to announce its newest partnership with Irie Kynyk Goss Architects.  IKG Architects, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, is a well-respected architectural and engineering service firm that specializes in the design and construction of environmentally conscious facilities.  Green Roof Technology and IKG Architects will collaborate to design Akron University’s first green roof.  Green Roof Technology has a proud history of working with leading educational institutions to establish their first green roofs, see Swarthmore & Carnegie Mellon.  The green roof on the Sydney L. Olson Research Center will be an 18,000 sf. extensive system planted with a diverse variety of sedums and hardy flowers and herbs.  The Olson Research Center green roof will be the first monolithic, or wall-to-wall, green roof on a university building in Ohio.  

The Podium Roof Garden at Toronto City Hall Case Study

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, February 10, 2012

By Jorg Breuning 

Photo - By Jorg Breuning

In an earlier posting we highlighted the Podium Roof Garden and how it has fallen victim to a psychology of unobtainable and opportunistic design expectations and the consequences have been expensive.  After a deeper analysis of the project we have compiled a case study covering this highly visible example of a green roof designed and constructed in a mistaken fashion. The aim of any green roof, or any other kind of BMP, is to create a sustainable, low-maintenance environment in the most cost-effective way possible.

Two key factors led to the writing of this study: an independent inspection of the site on November 2011 and the subsequent investigation into the project, which was highlighted by the discovery of the exceptionally high cost per square foot).  In this case study Green Roof Technology (GRT) will report that the landscape architect’s design for the green roof led to higher installation costs and higher future maintenance costs, which were not included in the total cost of the green roof.  By not employing the most economical approach to green roof design and construction, the City of Toronto missed an opportunity to either reduce costs by more than 50% or install another green roof of similar type and even greater area.

Toronto must remain a progressive city, rewarding its citizens with a safe, healthy, and beautiful place to live. The green roof program is an essential aspect of Toronto’s long-term goals. What is required of the city, and of any other city in North America, is to establish a clear consumer-oriented guideline for the best-practice in green roof construction. An industry wide effort must be made to reduce the market price of designing and installing green roofs. The result will benefit the multitude over the few in the decades to come.

Click here for the full version of this case study.


FLL Revisited

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, February 07, 2012

By Andrew Yanders

Edited by - Kat Harrold

Photo ~ Jorg Breuning

The FLL Green Roofing Guideline first appeared in 1982 as the “Principles of Green Roofing” and since 1992 has been reworked many times as “Guideline for the Planning, Construction and Maintenance of Green Roofing – Green Roofing Guideline.”  It is recognized as the benchmark set of regulations for green roofing in Germany.  The FLL Roof Greening Guideline is also widely accepted abroad and serves in some neighboring countries as the basis for developing their own regulations.

This latest edition covers the 2008 edition of the FLL Green Roofing Guideline.  The preface clearly states the importance and relevancy of the Guideline and the constant diligence taken to adapt and outline the newest developments in the green roofing industry.  The Guideline is the result of unpaid technical and scientific cooperative work and is intended to be a recognized code of practice or State-of-the-Art; it is a basic tool for the planning, construction and maintenance of reliable and high quality performing green roofs.  The Guideline also includes transparent, consumer oriented testing methods for the investigation of vegetation, substrates and aggregate drainage materials and the investigation of resistance to root penetration of roof membranes and protective layers. 

Three sections of this paper provide a brief summary of the three major components of the Green Roofing Guideline:  Planning, Execution, and Maintenance.  It is important to note that the Guideline requires a fundamental background in horticultural science and engineering principals.  The Guideline is not an IKEA step-by-step construction manual designed to enable any Do-It-Yourself project. 

Click here to read the full version.

IDS 2012 - Interior Design Show in Toronto Rolls Out the Emerald Carpet

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, February 01, 2012

By Kat Harrold

IDS Show Floor ~ Photos by Jorg Breuning

Green Roof Technology is back from the premier interior design show in Canada IDS 2012.  At this show we were presented with the design challenge, "How do you live urban?" and responded with a challenge of our own, "How do you make the urban environment alive?" 

One of the most obvious and easiest ways to add green to the urban environment and make it come a live is to create a balcony garden or balcony green roof.  Where ground space is limited or not available at all, a balcony garden is the perfect solution for that green transition from inside to out.  Depending on your space, a green roof may be an easy low maintenance option.  For a more formal effect planters can be used to add a splash of color and create a dynamic space with height and texture.

For making a seamless transition from the outdoors in a green wall offers a compact and space saving solution.   Tropical plants offer a full pallet of color, shapes, and textures making even the bleakest winter days feel bright and lively.

During the warmer months or for a hotel lobby, a moss wall is a great alternative to a regular cement wall.  Studies have shown that the color green helps people relax which can often be a difficult achievement in the stress filled urban environment.  Meditation aside, the quality of air will be increased due to the filtration qualities of the vegetation. 

Vegetation, water, and fire all add exciting elements to our environment.  Some are green in color and others are green in function.  When selecting a fire feature, fountain, or green wall consider the carbon foot print of the feature.  Woodless fire pits are green alternatives just a closed system vegetated walls are the greener solution for irrigated green walls.


 

 



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