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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.


 

 


IDS 2012 - Interior Design Show in Toronto Goes Green

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, January 30, 2012

By Kat Harrold

Photo by ~ Jorg Breuning

Four days and nights Canada's elite designers graced the halls of the Toronto Convention Center for the 2012 Interior Design Show.  Exhibitions of conceptual and ground breaking designs in interior design and industrial design challenged the we live and create the space around us.  While going green has come into vogue in the design world, none showcased this concept better than Green Roof Technology.  

In collaboration with Jill Greaves Design, Green Roof Technology created a seamless transition from the comforts of the interior space to the interactive green space of the urban balcony.  The green roof balcony featured a lush sedum carpet of blues and greens accenting the simple yet elegant lounge and table by Avenue Road.  The design is a perfect marriage of form and function creating a place of beauty for relaxation with the environmental benefits of a green roof. 

 

 

The Unheard Conversation Between Noah and God

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, January 18, 2012

By Kat Harrold

The ‘Sun-Root’ Living Roof System—Green Roofs embrace Renewable Solar Energy

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, January 13, 2012


Green Roof Technology today announced the ‘Sun-Root’ solar-living roof system, the first fully integrated, non-penetrative solar and extensive green roof system in North America.  The ‘Sun-Root’ living roof system is the most advanced green roofing technology available on the market.  The ‘Sun-Root’ living roof system was unveiled for the first time in North America on November 30, 2011 at Cities Alive 2011 in Philadelphia, PA.    

Green Roof Technology has been at the forefront of green roof innovations for over three decades and remains the leading authority on green roofs in North America.  With unsurpassed experience, Jörg Breuning, Principal of Green Roof Service LLC, and his dedicated team of green roof experts are proud to once again push the North American industry to new heights.  

“The ‘Sun-Root’ living roof system is a breakthrough in green technology,” said Kat Harrold, Green Roof Technology’s senior green roof designer.  “The combination of solar and green roofing technologies produces a harmonious system that benefits each technology equally.”  

The ‘Sun-Root’ living green roof system optimizes photovoltaic (PV) element energy production by creating a cooler surrounding micro-climate through evaporation and evapotranspiration.  “Heat is the enemy of energy production.” said Jörg Breuning.  “Any time atmospheric temperatures on a roof begin to rise PV elements lose their efficiency and can shut down if temperatures rise too high.  We sought a way to counteract this negative phenomenon by combining solar modules with an extensive green roof.  People have been using green roofs for centuries to keep their roofs cool in the summers and warmer in the winter.  It was a no-brainer combination.”

The ‘Sun-Root’ system officially goes on sale January 13, 2012 and is exclusively sold through Green Roof Technology’s website, www.greenrooftechnology.com or by phone at 443.345.1578.   

A video demonstration of the Sun-Root™ System
.

Chimes Solar Plan Needs Better Location

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, January 11, 2012

By Andrew Cole Yanders

Photo by ~ Jorg Breuning

There is undoubtedly an unpleasant knee-jerk reaction whenever you hear someone criticize a NGO whose sole purpose is to provide humanitarian assistance to people in most need.  We all admire their work and generally feel better about living in a community who supports them and their activities.  So when the The Chimes, a Dixon Hill-located nonprofit, announced at a community association meeting their desire to install an array of ground-mounted solar panels on their property, the opposition to their plan may seem harsh and unwarranted.  The Chimes is an admirable organization whose commitment to cleaner, renewable energy should be above repute.  Every intention in The Chimes’ plan is correct, except for the location of the solar panels.  

Residents were right to question the location of the panels and infer the detrimental effects they would have on the landscape if they were installed.  Installing a ground array of solar panels is completely counter-productive to the intended goal of good stewardship of the neighborhood.  This type of system replaces a functioning ecosystem, which provides the life essential mechanisms of oxygen production, pollutant remediation and stormwater mitigation, with a clear-cut lawn that exacerbates stormwater runoff.  Removing trees and other plants from the area will only intensify the stormwater runoff from the site and overwhelm existing measures to deal with the stormwater problem.  Any storm damaged trees that must be taken down should be immediately replaced.  

If the ground is not a suitable location for the panels then The Chimes should look to the roof tops for a suitable location for their panels.  Most of the homes in Baltimore’s oldest suburban neighborhood are not a suitable location for solar panels, but any buildings in the neighborhood with a flat roof are an ideal location.  Located very nearby on Thornbury Road is such a building.  The building on Thornbury Road is an ideal location to install a solar living roof.  The combination of high-efficiency solar panels with an extensive green roof enables The Chimes to produce clean, renewable energy as well as help alleviate the stormwater runoff problem affecting residents lower down on the hill.
 


Necessary Winter Maintenance for Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, January 06, 2012
By Andrew Cole Yanders

 

 

A diligent maintenance schedule is a principal we take very seriously.  Without proper maintenance a green roof has no chance of thriving and looking its best.  There is even serious threat of long term damage to the underlying roofing materials when maintenance is neglected.  There is even a likelihood of an overall failure of the roof’s main purpose, to keep the building’s interior dry.  Because of the grave consequences of not properly maintaining a green roof we continue to insist on a strict maintenance schedule with all our clients. 

Here in the Northeast of the United States winter is upon us and we are eagerly awaiting the first blanket of pristine white snow.   There are 4 key maintenance aspects we wish to highlight that are essential for the health of the roof during the winter season.  

1.    Clearing Drains & Gutters:
Clearing roof drains and gutters is important all year round.  During the winter months moisture accumulates in large volumes on your roof and when the snow and ice melts it places a particular high level of stress on the waterproofing.  If the drainage system of the roof is not operating efficiently, water will find its way through the weakest points of the waterproofing.

To maintain a properly draining roof, roof drains and gutter must be inspected and all debris removed, especially if the green roof does not have inspection boxes.  Because drains without inspection boxes are much more prone to clogs, we believe inspection boxes are absolutely necessary for any green roof system.  

2.    Snow Removal:

Similar to any typical roof, when snow begins to accumulate heavily on a green roof make sure it is evenly spread out; snow drifts should be mitigated to avoid exceeding load limits.  

In areas where snow accumulation on the roof is a hazard particular attention must be made not to damage the green roof during snow removal.  So far as we know, there has been no literature on this subject and no recommendations have been made.  We are recommending a 4 inches, 20 cm, buffer layer of snow.  To remove any more snow allows for the potential to disturb plants and dig into the growing media.   

The best method for removing snow from a green roof is to shovel the snow onto a blanket and drag it over to the edge of the roof, always remembering to leave of 4 inch layer of snow over the green roof.  

 

3.    Waterproofing:

The early months of the winter is a good time to check the nooks and crannies of your roof’s waterproofing.  Check the caulking and look over all the access areas and make sure they are all sealed properly.  Additionally, before any snow has begun to accumulate on the roof, check all areas of the green roof for wind or water erosion.  Alleviating these problems areas in the winter allows for rapid vegetation covering to occurring in the spring and protects the waterproofing layer from any deterioration due to exposure to the elements.  

4.    Pruning & Cutting Vegetation
We are never pleased when grasses are cut in the fall or early winter.  Besides providing a decorative look to an otherwise dormant field, leaving the dry seed stalks provide protection for the core of the plant and its new growth.  





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