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The Green Edge: How Commercial Property Investment in Green Infrastructure Creates Value

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

By: Samantha Yurek

According to the EPA, green infrastructure is simply the title given to an approach using environmentally friendly techniques to manage stormwater. This can include multiple efforts such as green roofs, permeable pavement, rain gardens or even planting more trees. It is well known that green infrastructure aids in decreasing stormwater issues, and ultimately creating a healthier environment and more livable neighborhoods. 

This past December, the Natural Resources Defense Council released a study on how investing in green infrastructure creates value for commercial properties. The environmental benefits have been obvious, but how can green infrastructure help YOU out??

 

Picture: First Blue Roof and Green Roof combination in the US

The NRDC explains that "Commercial properties with well-designed green infrastructure can reap the rewards of higher rents and property values, increased retail sales, energy savings, local financial incentives (such as tax credits, rebates, and stormwater fee credits), reduced life-cycle and maintenance costs, reduced flooding damage, reduced water bills, reduced crime, and improved health and job satisfaction for office employees."

If interested in reading the full article you may visit the NRDC official 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.


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. 

Green Roof Collapse in Latvia

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, November 26, 2013
By: Samantha Yurek

On Thursday November 21st 2013, an evolving green roof collapsed over top a Latvian supermarket. The market, open to the public at the time, was under construction because of a green roof and recreation area being installed for an adjacent residential building. The rooftop that buckled only covered one area of the market, however fifty-four people have been pronounced dead since Saturday and many more hospitalized. 



The cause, although not completely pinpointed has been blamed on the overall green roof construction. The additional weight on the structure by the various green roof materials and growing media could have been exacerbated by the recent rain events. A current investigation is underway to determine if proper precautions and guidelines were followed throughout the planning and construction processes. 



As explained in a previous blog post: The First Steps to Planning a Green Roof, checking the structural integrity of any building should always be the first step in the planning process. Not only should a green roof to have a long lifespan, it should also not put anyone in danger.  

Akron University Green Roof Sees Season's First Snow

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Located on top of the Sydney L. Olson Research Center, Akron University's first green roof is an 18,000 sf extensive green roof with over 15 varieties of perennial plants.  After its first full growing season, the plants are well established and ready for a winter nap.  Initially planted in October 2012, we established this roof without ever irrigating and only lightly fertilizing at a rate of 5 g / m2 (0.0164 oz / ft2) pure Nitrogen.  As you can see from the pictures below, the green roof is growing in very nicely and is home to a variety of insects.



Back in mid-September:  Nearly 1 year of growth. 





Unterm Regenturm: Under the Raintower

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, October 16, 2013

In 1992 Jörg Breuning, Green Roof Service LLC and Thomas Heuman, Heuman Gartenanlagen provided consulting services to Hundertwasser's architects, Springmann and Associates. It was quite an effort the contemporary artist and the City of Plochingen to develop an entire block of the city's historical district. This city has been around since the year 1146. 

From the outside the historical buildings still remain the same and all facing to an intensive greenroof courtyard in the back. This courtyard and the backside of the buildings received an artists' distinguished signature in 1993. Efficient and gorgeous, the entire courtyard resides on a two story parking garage and grocery store, meanwhile the lush green environment above creates a different feeling. Hundreds of various plants decorate the landscape with paving materials snaking their way through to make perfect paths. The sloped roofs facing the courtyard are also fully or partially greened. Approximately fifty green roofs occupy the colorful, wavy historical buildings.

This particular construction of modern green roof technology underlines the artist's inspirations as well as supports diverse vegetation. The structure is a magnet to tourists and a true landmark of the region for over twenty years and well worth a visit!

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.

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.    

 

 


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