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Green Roof Technology Blog

First Steps to Planning a Green Roof

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, April 23, 2013

 By: Samantha Yurek

Happy Earth Week! Hopefully everyone has taken some time out of their busy lives to lend a hand to our beautiful planet we inhabit. Whether it is picking up some litter, planting a tree or deciding to go all out and look into acquiring a green roof! Here are a few things you should have a good idea of before you leap into the planning process.

1. How sturdy is your roof?  Adding growing media and plants to your rooftop adds weight to your structure. Make sure your roof can handle some extra weight first. Find out the materials and structure of your building.

2. Is your roof sloped?  A slight slope is perfectly fine, but anything steeper than 15 degrees, the roof might become a slide for the plants without additional constructive design.

3. How much are you willing to spend?  Implementing a green roof is an investment for the future. Simple extensive vegetated roofs usually cost around $10-$15 a square foot (pre-grown planter boxes or modular systems are more expensive). Many local programs will help pay for green infrastructure, based on the environmental benefits. 

4. What type of green roof are you looking for?  A simple meadow-like area, not accessible and mainly for the environmental benefits (extensive) or an intensive roof, complete with recreational room and the potential for larger plants such as trees.

5. How are the sunlight conditions?  The majority of green roof plants enjoy direct sunlight to flourish. If the building is situated in a heavily shade area, the green roof plant selection becomes limited.

6. Do you want an integrated solar green roof?  The Sun-Root™ System is the newest of technologies, a fully integrated system and an ideal symbiosis of PV panels and an extensive green roof. It is easy to install and will not penetrate the roof. The entire system has the potential to pay back within 5 years and also meets stormwater requirements in all cities of North America.


Do your homework first before deciding on a green roof, our website is a great starting point to increase your green roof knowledge. If you're interested in a green roof or have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us, we would be happy to help you get started today!

Extensive verses Intensive - Which Would You Choose?

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, April 16, 2013

By: Samantha Yurek 

A lot of thought goes into the design process when starting a green roof project. One of the biggest questions involves the type of green roof you want; extensive or intensive? This decision will dictate everything that will need to happen for your green roof to become a success. Let us take a quick look at the differences between intensive and extensive green roofs.

Extensive Green Roof: Swarthmore College of PA, Photo Credit: Green Roof Technology

Extensive green roofs are considered the simpler version because the roof structure is usually equipped to withstand the little bit of extra weight. With only a maximum of 6" of growing media and mostly ground cover covering plants, and extensive roof is certainly of a lower profile. The plants consist mainly of sedums and other succulents, herbs, grasses, mosses and low-growing perennials. An extensive roof is mainly for environmental benefits and and occasionally accessible to the public. Extensive green roofs can be excellent combined with Solar panels what increases the environmental benefits and increases return of investment substantially.

Intensive Green Roof: The Ledge Restaurant in Boston, Photo Credit: High View Creations

Intensive green roofs on the other hand can become quite extravagant. The roof must be very sturdy in order to hold foot traffic, deeper growing media and larger plants. The plants found on an intensive green roof range from shrubs and perennials to larger trees. Accents such as ponds and recreational spaces are a possibility. An intensive green roof is a busy and more expensive system with more potential for greater designs and biodiversity.

Stormwater Fee Looming Overhead

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, April 11, 2013

 By: Samantha Yurek

Photo Credit: The United States Geological Survey

The Chesapeake Bay is the heart of Maryland. Not only does it fuel our economy and recreational activities, with over 64,000 square miles it is home to over 2,700 different species of flora and fauna. It is an important resource that should be cared for adequately.

Excessive runoff is a huge culprit of transporting trash, chemicals, nutrients, along with other things that end up polluting the bay. With storm season lurking around the corner, Maryland is trying to prevent these mini flood events from polluting the Bay even more.  To mitigate for these rushing stormwater events, stormwater fees  will soon be added to everyone's quarterly water bill. There is no avoiding this fee that will essentially be paying for the impervious surface area one has on their property. Residential properties won't have such a heavy fine, but businesses may have to start paying a pretty penny. For example, take a look at any mall, the entire property is a combination of roof and blacktop.

The stormwater fee may be something you worry about, but there are ways to reduce the fees.  Planting trees, implementing rain gardens, and most importantly, adding vegetation to your rooftop are all proven ways to earn credits toward reducing the cost of the fees. Let's strive to keep Maryland beautiful; the Chesapeake Bay thanks you.

Photo Credit: Green Roof Technology

Green Roof Industry - learning by (not) doing?

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Sunday, March 24, 2013

For eleven years, the green roof industry has been running into the issue of finding a lack of Sedum cuttings between November and May. Green roof plant nurseries are not able to produce Sedum cuttings during this time because they obviously never learned better. During this time they rather grow these plants in pre-vegetated plastic or metal boxes, sitting in a controlled greenhouse for bigger sales in late spring and leaving the clients alone later when exactly these expensive and high carbon foot print containers do not acclimate in their final destination. They call themselves green roof plant experts but hardly understand the typical life cycle of the plants they are growing. 

When average temperatures drop most Sedums (most plants) store their nutrients and energy produced during the growing season in their stems and roots. The best indicator for that is the changing color of the leaves in the fall and when under stress. Once these reserves are stored in the little stems, they are extremely powerful and “programmed” for rooting - not for producing leave mass.  Many Sedums root quicker in winter than in hot summers where they have to deal with high evapotranspiration because of their denser leave mass while their roots are not able to supply them with water to offset the water loss.

Utilizing Sedum cuttings on green roofs can reduce the cost for plants and planting by 90%, assuming the applicators know what they are doing. At the end, the overall costs will drop dramatically which leads into more green roofs and less subsidies from public agencies and non-profit groups. The plant pieces broadcasted in winter are most likely adapted to the conditions in their final location in less than 2-3 months and hardly require watering on hot spring days or in summer. This also reduces maintenance time and costs.   


Jörg Breuning: “The lack of common sense and real expertise is the biggest problem in the North American green roof industry.  My person is controversial discussed, many feel intimidated based on my experience and that I address problems directly, which are avoided by other professional or trade associations. I see myself as the stimulus in a literally growing industry.

From an environmental point of view longevity at acceptable costs, low maintenance, no supplemental watering, and the long-term health of the plants are crucial for ongoing success. Customer orientated work requires that we adjusted to nature – nature will never adjust to humans”. 

Modular Office Farming – Hybrid Office and modern Green Roof Technology

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

Now that rooftops have been discovered to be a potential area for urban farming, many people believe this this is the solution for providing healthier and locally grown produce.  They believe in this place despite its over average air pollution, lack of natural symbiotic opponents, high costs for water, poorly nutrient retaining soils, high labor costs and no machinery.

Yellow PepperHowever and completely disconnected from all the above mentioned disadvantages food can also grow in the inside of any building.  Modern green roof technology implemented in old yogurt containers to act like a modular system and can easily find a place close to a light source.  Depending on the system, they require less than once a week watering.  The water could even be recycled cold coffee (no sugar), tea or flat sparkling water before it is dumped into the sink.  Instead of sieving out of the tea leaves or coffee grounds these waste products can be supplements to regular plant fertilizer.  The run-off of these simple systems is zero since nobody wants water puddles in the living room, office or conference room. The results can be remarkable and some additional vegetables for lunch are always good.

The systems work without high tech, with fully recycled and recyclable materials, comes without an App, no power outlet and any other gimmicks.

The fresh green of the plants creates a nice living and working atmosphere, keeps the humidity in the comfort zone and additionally cleans the – already filtered – air.  In our office peppers and pineapple are the favorites.  



Green Roof Service LLC/ Green Roof Technology 

Your Green Roof Technology team is able to develop low maintenance concepts for plants far beyond yogurt container solutions in private-, professional- and public environments. Furthermore, we design individual service packages concerned with the maintenance, health of plants and plant arrangements. From European studies we know that a better professional environment increases the motivation of people.     

Bildnachweis/Picture: GMH/FvRH

New Green Roof at Fire Station #3

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, March 18, 2013

Fire Station #3, located at 333 E. King Street, is home to the newest green roof in the City of Lancaster, PA.  The 2,640 sf extensive green roof was completed last week in only 2 days.  Once again the weather was not ideal. On Tuesday it poured all day and overnight the temperature dropped.  Wednesday was cloudy and quite cold. But through thick and thin the mission is always completed on time and in style.  

Fire Station #3 is the 2nd green roof installed under the Lancaster's green infrastructure initiative.  So far the total green roof area installed is 9,675 sf.

University of Maryland to Install More Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, March 11, 2013

By: Samantha Yurek

The University of Maryland installed their first extensive green roof back in the fall if 2008 on Cumberland Hall.  Approximately 6,000 square feet of the rooftop is covered in vegetation.  The Adele H. Stamp Union building also completed renovations which involves yet another two new green roofs in 2009.


Picture courtesy of UMD

Summer of 2010 brought a Rooftop Food Garden on top of the South Campus Dining Hall. Planters made from salvaged wooden pallets hold all sorts of food including cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, mint and lavender, to name a few. In addition, the space is available for individual gardening projects and other student research or coursework. In the fall of 2011, the Denton Dining Hall followed suit, when the re-opened building integrated green and cool roof systems.

Although this makes up very few of the many buildings at the University of Maryland, each green roof helps to alleviate storm water runoff, the heat island effect, and each building's heating or cooling costs. 

The University of Maryland's Council on the Environment recently rewarded a grant to two graduate students, to extend on their solar energy and vegetated roof research.  Read the full story by the Diamondback here. 

In the future, it wouldn't be surprising to see more building constructed or renovated complete with green roof systems. The technology is available and the industry has definitely grown in the past few years.  

Aquascape Sues over Collapsed Green Roof

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, March 07, 2013


By Jörg Breuning Picture: Daily Harrald

Back in February of 2011, the lower end of Aquascape's headquarters collapsed after a heavy snow event that blanketed Chicago with 2 feet of snow in 24 hours.  The building once held the title as the "largest sloping green roof in North America," covering over 256,000 square feet. 

In a blog post, Green Roof Technology covered the roof collapse back in 2011, blaming the failure of the green roof on poor engineering regarding the drainage of the system. Blog post 09/06/2011

We also wrote a Case study about the dilettantism and ignorance of so-called experts that are designers, engineers and construction companies when it comes to modern green roof technology (download PDF: Fixer Upper or Lawsuit? Sloped Extensive Green Roof Critique).

Since we've collected even more examples that are not mentioned in the press, that are fixed “quietly” or where the client has been convinced that certain problems are “normal” for a green roof. We estimate the potential of law suits on existing green roofs over 80 million Dollars, which is probably more than the entire Grant money  spent so far for the implementation of green roofs.   

Many of these self-promoted experts are still playing an important role in the American green roof education system (GRP) and within the North American industry. It is interesting to mention that in other countries where green roofs have been established over decades and where there are 10 times as many built annually, that there were never such incidents reported. These countries not even have a “highly developed” green roof professional education system. What they have is called Common Sense; the understanding of how small indicators could cause huge problems and they understand their responsibility to the industry even when they are not directly involved. There is no ignorance, dilettantism or vanity – just pure professionalism based on solid education.

Now two years later, Aquascape has sued 9 different contractors, construction companies, engineers and architects for $13 million in damages.  These companies include Artisan Design Build LLC, Senekteks, Tricon Construction, Olsson Roofing, Tecza Environmental Group, Applied Ecological Services, Metallic Building Company, Area Erectors and Dewberry Architects (Read the Daily Herald Article) and we still have the cart in front of the horse.

At Green Roof Service LLC/Green Roof Technology we obviously can't change the system, but we will continue to support owners of green roofs to get what they deserve and what they are paid for. 

Green Roofs & Solar: Double Your Benefits!

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, March 04, 2013

Green Roofs & Walls of the World - Virtual Summit 2013 is striving to inform, share and create a global social media experience for learning and networking around green roofs and living walls.  


Join Jörg Breuning & Ryan Miller on Thursday March 7th at 1pm Eastern time as they discuss the benefits of combining solar power and vegetated roofs!

Immediately after Green Roof Technology's video, a 15 minute live Q&A will take place with Jörg and Ryan.  The video will touch on the benefits of a solar green roof, cost-benefit analysis, two interviews with the president of Solar Gaines, Hans Wittich and Artie Rollins, the assistant commissioner for city-wide services with the NYC Parks & Rec Building, along with much more. 

If you're interested, tune into the video and Q&A session, you may register on the Summit Website


FBB Green Roof Symposium 2013

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Photo: Jorg Breuning

The German FBB (Fachvereinigung Bauwerksbegrunung e.V.) is the oldest Green Roof Association in the world and with around 120 members, probably one of the smallest. However, most FBB members are considered leaders in modern green roof technology and their average green roof experience is far over 20 years. It is an elite group that has seen everything you can imagine related to vegetation on impervious areas.

As the father of all green roof associations, this year's event was again filled with innovations, information and trends.The FBB president, Dr. Gunter Mann, pointed out that there is a huge potential for the industry to increase the annual green roof construction. In 2012, the 120 FBB members reported over 40,000,000 square feet of new construction, a significant addition compared to the previous years. The true annual new green roof construction in Germany might be doubled compared to the rest of the world. However, Germans are modest and not interested in quantity, but specifically in quality. Quality of installation, intelligent research and decent public relations are the foundation of the FBB.

In partnerships with other associations (Landscape Association, Concrete Association, Roofing Association, Association for Water Protection, along with many more) it is impressing to hear about the successful public awareness on green roofs.

The elite group at the FBB does a great, inexpensive and super-efficient job for a better and sustainable environment, mainly throughout Germany and reaching out into the world. For many decades they have been setting milestones for a growing, global industry and it is always a blessing to mingle with the biggest, most experienced and best-educated green roof professionals in the world.



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