By: Samantha Yurek
Photo Credit: Flickr - Sidstamm
By: Samantha Yurek
Photo Credit: Flickr - Sidstamm
Right before Superstorm Sandy came roaring into our lives last October, Akron University had just installed their first green roof. Located on top of the Sydney L. Olson Research Center, this 18,000 square foot extensive green roof has approximately 15 varieties of perennial plants. Grown by seed and sedum cuttings, these perennials made it through the storm and flourished on top this Ohio roof. Without any irrigation systems and very little fertilizers, the green roof is starting to finally show its true colors during these summer months!
The Goodman’s authentic Norwegian log house and accompanying log cabin are located in Great Falls, Virginia. Set deep in the woods of Fairfax County near the Potomac River, the Goodman’s enchanting home transports you back to a simpler time in the old country. Both buildings were imported from Norway in 1971 and were reconstructed with authentic sod roofs.
By 2005 the guest cabin still retained its sod roof but the log house roof had been converted to terracotta tiles by a previous owner. When the guest cabin’s roof started leaking in 2004, Mr. Goodman decided it was time to upgrade both roofs with modern green roof technology. A sloped, single course, extensive green roof was installed on the log house and cabin in August 2005. The goal of the new green roofs was to establish stable, natural looking vegetation with a high biodiversity that through successive change would mimic the surrounding forest.
An upside-down green wall. Parthenocissus quinquefolia, commonly known as Virginia creeper, has established well on the roof and now cascades from the roof, creating a beautiful ethereal green wall.
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.
The issue of root penetration is known to most in the green roofing industry. The relatively complex world of roofing membrane compounds and organic chemistry has resulted in most green roof professionals defaulting to local instructional manuals, which default to FLL testing records. But just because a material is effective does not mean it is not harmful, e.g. lead in paint.
In 1997, Bayer Aktiengesellschaft was the assignee of Patent US 5672568 A titled “Root growth inhibitors for building materials comprising monohydric alcohol esters of mecoprop.” Root-resistant bitumen mixtures were soon marketed.
This past week the Berlin Senate’s Department for Urban Development and Environment and the Berlin State Office for Health and Social Affair published a series of recommendations for the prevention of environmental pollution due to the release of the herbicide Mecoprop from root-resistant bitumen membrane sheets.
The statement reads:
Investigations at the Swiss Federal Institute for Water Resource and Conservation (EAWAG) on behalf of the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) have shown that Mecoprop under natural weather exposure is released from the bitumen sheets and the precipitate is washed out.
Rain water contaminated with Mecoprop can pollute combined sewers or surface waters. Due to the low rate of elimination in sewage treatment plants results in a particularly high risk potential. In a decentralized rainwater infiltration system there is a risk of soil and groundwater contamination. (Translated from the German)
The report goes on to make simple recommendations. The first says the use of bituminous membranes impregnated with Mecoprop should not be used unless absolutely necessary for structural reasons. Second, they should never be used in protected water areas.
Green Roof Technology is against any use of herbicides in green roof construction or maintenance. For more information on how to protect your building against root penetration without the use of poisonous herbicides please contact our office.
Practically all dry organic materials are combustible at relative low temperatures. Roof shingles or many waterproofing membranes on roofs are typically petroleum-based products (including Asphalt) and they is hardly a difference to dry organic materials. Some products are equipped with chemical fire retardants that could decrease the risk of spreading fire, not the risk of leaks cause by impact.
The living vegetation of functional and well-engineered green roofs contain high moisture contents and most plants (especially succulent plants on large extensive green roofs) have a fraction of the energetic potential comparing to all other components used in a building. The green roof growing media (soil for the green roof plants) is a blend of different mineral components with an organic content of typically less that 15%. It is practically impossible to set this material on fire – not even considering the natural moisture content.
Many fires or leaks on roofs caused by consumer or display fireworks could have been prevented if the building would have had a fully functional green roof or a well-maintained conventional roof (regular removing of organic debris from the roof and gutters).
A fire is the worst-case scenario; however in most cases smoldering firework parts (and cigarettes) are causing leaks on unprotected roofs that are discovered much later. These problems are unknown on functional green roofs. When a green roof prevents a leak or even a fire it is typically not recognized but the payback is right there.
Nature is (literally) so cool.
Photo courtesy of Elkus Manfredi Architects and BHC Architects.
Green Roof Technology is proud to announce their partnership with BHC Architects to design the largest Solar Garden Roof in North America. The Solar Garden Roof will rest atop the new, soon-to-be build Exelon headquarters in Baltimore, MD.
Exelon’s office tower will be the tallest building in the upcoming Harbor Point multi-use business park, scheduled for completion in Fall 2014.
The Exelon headquarters rooftop will house a 40,000 sf green roof and an estimated 400 Sun-Root™ Modules, which will generate approximately 120,000 kWh’s a year. This will be the largest Solar Garden Roof in North America.
For more information about the Solar Garden Roof System and to see a short video of how it all comes together, please visit: http://www.greenrooftechnology.com/solar-green-roof.
By Samantha Yurek
Last Wednesday, June 19th, Green Roof Technology traveled to Northern Virginia to help install a green roof demonstration project, complete with a Sun-Root System™. Being the latest achievement in sustainable design, the Sun-Root System™ effectively combines solar power with vegetated roofs.
Working with the company Prospect Solar, we were able to help preserve the environment and promote renewable energy. Prospect Solar was established in 2010 by the well-known Prospect Waterproofing Company. One of the leading specialty roofing companies in the DC area, they have been successful for over twenty years. Prospect Solar has been following in their footsteps, creating more sustainable alternatives to the traditional roofing practices.
By: Jörg Breuning
Photo: Bauder, SSB Stuttgart Germany
Germany is the country of inventors, poets and thinkers. According to historical research, rooftop farming has been a long tradition since the mid-evil times in the dense cities of Europe. The lack of open space inside city walls brought people up to their roofs. Because there was also no efficient sewer systems, it was easy to utilize the organic remains to fertilize and grow plants. Throughout the centuries, survival proved to be a tough journey, mainly caused by overpopulation. When it became too dangerous to venture from your house, people discovered their roofs as additional space for growing their own food in order to overcome these rough years. Currently we are witnessing this growing trend once again in many metropolis areas in North America. The motivation is still the same, jobs can be hard to find, it's difficult to stand out when everyone is competing for essentially the same things.
Luckily our sewer systems are more advanced today, synthetic fertilizers are cheap and these farms do not depend on organic remains anymore. The quality of food should be acceptable in this respect - disregarding the extreme rates of pollution within cities.
However, let us backtrack to the topic of inventions.
Growing food on rooftops of the public transportation system (buses and trains) can help to combine two major needs of urban citizens. The added value is that your transportation systems are now also farmer's markets and while riding the bus home from your cubical, you can manage all your food shopping in one step including fresh produce grown directly above - on the roof! If the roof of the transportation vehicle is a semi permeable membrane, the carrots actually can be harvested from the inside. How convenient would this be? Depending on the crop, the sunny routes have more sun loving veggies and the transportation system manages regular crop changes from a more balanced and diverse food supply. Think about all the new jobs being created!
Sure, this technology is just in the beginning stages, but with the current hype for locally grown and diverse environmental approaches, it is just a matter of time until people will also jump on the bandwagon (or bus). It is just as ideal to look for some free advertising space in the press.
So, see you on the Lemon Line or drop me a line from the carrot bus (they should probably invest in free WiFi too).
Jörg Breuning welcomes people who want to learn from decades
of green roof experience - email@example.com
By: Ryan Miller
Renewable energy is an attractive tool that businesses can use to offset rising energy costs. What makes renewable energy so attractive are the Federal and State incentives that cover over 30% of the costs to install the system. An investment today in a Solar Garden Roof creates a path of energy independence where your rooftop is producing the power necessary to run your building, instead of the local power plant.
So how does a non-taxable entity like a non-profit organization (NPO) take advantage of the plethora of incentives to produce energy for their own building? Fortunately there is an investment option tailored for NPO's called a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). PPA's are used in situations where a site host does not desire to outlay the capital required to purchase a system, or is not able to take advantage of the tax benefits available due to being a non-tax paying entity. Through the PPA, the NPO will have no upfront investment nor carry any of the ongoing operations and maintenance obligations. The NPO will then enter into an agreement to purchase the energy produced at a rate below current energy rates.
With this setup, the NPO will make uniform, monthly payments at a reduced cost when compared to the current energy bill. After a set period of time, the NPO can decide to purchase the array from the investors at an agreed upon price. From there the system is paid off and the NPO is enjoying free energy, thanks to the SUN!
Green Roof Service/Green Roof Technology works with NPOs and investors to tailor the right PPA for an investment in a Solar Garden Roof.