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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.

Bravo!

 

Four Questions with Ryan Miller

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, February 25, 2013

 

Our very own Ryan Miller was recently interviewed for the Solar Power World Magazine, focusing on our Sun-Root™ System.  Solar Power World is written with a focus upon Technology, Installation and Development, reaching tens of thousands of industry professionals.  “Four Questions with Ryan Miller of Green Roof Technology” will be featured in the upcoming April issue of the Solar Power World Magazine.  The online version can already be previewed on their website, SolarPowerWorldOnline.com!

SPW: What is the concept behind the Sun-Root System?

Miller: As a green-roof company for more than 30 years, we have seen many innovations to modern green roof technology that makes it more marketable and affordable.  When you sit down with clients, they want to know how much they are spending and what is their return.  The payback of a green roof lies somewhere between 15 years to 25 years in most cases, and for many building owners that is not something that excites them.  So we looked for ways to shorten this payback period while still meeting our goal of increasing the world's green spaces.

Continue reading here at  SolarPowerWorldOnline.com!

Cruise Ships Designed by Green Roof Technology Featured in the Wall Street Journal

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, February 21, 2013


Picture: Jorg Breuning 

Over the past five years, Green Roof Technology has had a huge hand in designing lawns on several cruise ships.  Cruises in the past have consisted of mainly indoor space, and although outdoor space is still limited today, much of it is being put to good use.  Five of Celebrity's cruise ships are now complete with Lawn Clubs, allowing passengers to enjoy luscious, green grass on the boat.  Endless activities such as live music, bocce ball or croquet and dancing events are a few that can take place on an outdoor space so green.  The five cruise ships featuring lawn clubs include the Reflection, the Silhouette, the Eclipse, the Equinox, and the Solstice.

The task of placing a lawn on a cruise ship wasn't a breeze.  Many types of grass were tested before the perfect variation was found, ultimately withstanding the excessive salt and winds of the sea.  Challenge number two involved the weight of the lawn, making sure the roof could withstand this much weight.  A mixture of volcanic pumice, sand and clay creates the substrate on which the grass grows. 

 

 

Budget Cut for Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Saturday, February 09, 2013

by Jorg Breuning

 

There is now enough evidence to believe that the American economy is starting to recover.  However, ongoing clashes over taxes and spending threaten to delay or derail recent improvements.  Comparing to State Governments, most Counties, Cities or Townships do not have the luxury of drawn out debates.  They are short on money and have to make decisions and/or cuts quickly.

Over the last few years the subsidies for green roofs have increased consistently and there is hardly anybody who knows exactly how much cash or monetary value you can get in any certain area.  The cash cow with the name ‘Green Incentives’ is present.   Big corporations hire people simply to source these cash incentives and focus on these areas with their Armada of sale forces simply because the profit margins are higher in these places (milking).  For these companies it is almost like an additional return on their paid taxes- if they paid taxes at all.

Trade associations typically operate the same way and support this domino effect for more subsidiaries in the green roof industry. They are mainly financed by large corporations that are lobbying generously in both fields and utilize them to increase incentives and cash subsidies at the Federal, State, County, or City level.  For outsiders it can be seen as a closed loop system of slush funds.

To reduce competition in the green roof business, the big dudes also support Non-Profits to compete against smaller green roof companies for smaller jobs.  They often do that under the guise of the Good-Samaritan to create awareness and jobs for the unemployed young generation.

However, all of these hardworking and well educated smaller companies are the source of innovations, inventions, increase of efficiency and the guarantor of quality.  They are the specialists that deliver to the client what they promised, they developed experiences over years that can’t be taught in a seminar and they relatively pay the most taxes.

Cutting the cash incentives for green roofs by cutting budgets is their chance to prove their capability and creativity.  They would be able to move the industry forward by increasing the long term sustainability of green roofs and the industry by offering precisely what the client wants and to develop cost reductions without compromise.

The green roof industry is old enough to walk alone without breast feeding, although not old enough that it can survive entirely on its own.  Many Cities in the USA and around the world have shown that indirect incentives for green roofs (tax breaks, faster permitting, reducing stormwater fees, depreciation write-offs etc.) are much less costly and more effective.  Utilizing the saved budget money for educating a new generation, entire green infrastructure industry is more sustainable for the decades to come.  

 Budget cuts of cash incentives are the right direction for our industry. 

Stormwater Retention and Green Roofs

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

By Jörg Breuning

Any impervious area of urban development prevents precipitation from infiltrating into the ground.  Instead of soaking up the water, it redirects it to another area. By redirecting the stromwater into other areas, the run-off will accumulate elements that are on this impervious area and pollute the run-off water.

Looking for Stormwater Retention (direct contact of humans with water)

Over the last 5 decades multiple studies show that these pollutants have a measurable negative impact to the watersheds and ultimately the lakes, bays or oceans. Since humans are in direct or indirect contact with these bodies of water (through swimming, potable water, irrigation of land grown food, aquatic or seafood) these pollutants have great impact on our health and causes billions of dollars to be spent on health care. The majority of pollutants in our water sheds are caused by chemicals of farmland, substances from vehicles (antifreeze, oil rubber) or simple trash that is carelessly discarded.  For example, in many areas people are advised to reduce the consumption of local fish to less than one time a week because this food source is too polluted. It is questionable whether vegetables from farms (including rooftop farms in polluted cities) or other meat from mass husbandry are a good alternative.

With smart stormwater best management practices (BMPs), pollution can be controlled effectively. It can't be diminished to a value that equals the natural environment previously - before the location was populated. Decreasing polluted stormwater run-off is a responsibility of everybody (not only the government) and it will pay-off by creating a livable environment for humans. If we don't make this investment and make it mandatory, our living quality will decrease and the value of our environment will drop over time. People will eventually move to healthier places, but these places are limited. We only have one earth.

Considering that an extensive green roofs with a 4 inch depth can retain 50% or more of the annual rainfall, they are the most efficient “direct on source” solution. If these extensive green roofs are engineered, installed and maintained properly, there is no pollution in the reduced, delayed or remaining run-off and for sure substantially less comparing to an impervious area on the ground. Comparing to other on-source stromwater BMP’s (e.g. pervious pavements) the costs of extensive green roofs are minimal – although still an investment for the building owner. Green roofs can be perfectly combined with any other stormwater BMP what increases the efficiency.

Official numbers show that the imperiousness of residential properties is around 30% and commercial land at around 65%. The implementation of extensive green roofs on commercial properties is typically cheaper because the roof areas are bigger and easier accessible.  Green roofs on large scale commercial buildings (warehouse belts around cities) will reduce the run-off dramatically and in addition will reduce the heat island effect by lowering the air temperature that is transported to the surrounded city.

If these commercial owners would choose integrated vegetation and solar (PV) systems, the costs of the green roof installation and maintenance could be off-set in less than 10 years and there would be no additional costs that increase the product of this company.  Since this environmental step is an investment, these eco-conscious companies would also reduce their tax on profits in the short term. However, reducing short term profits doesn't seem popular in the current economic environment and as long as there is no eco-rating of these companies. In this case LEED is counterproductive.

Water is the number one source for life on earth and any on-source reduction of run-off from the production process of goods or impervious areas will increase the living conditions tremendously, avoid expensive battles for clean water, and allow the human population to grow healthy and protect the native environment.




Sun-Root™ System Press Release

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


Today Green Roof Technology announces to become the
Premier Supplier of Solar Green Roofs in America


BEL AIR, MD--(Marketwire - February 07, 2013) -  Green Roof Technology, a design and installation firm specializing in green (vegetated) roofs, announced today the completion of an exclusivity agreement with German green roof manufacturer Optigreen. Per the agreement, Green Roof Technology will become the exclusive North American supplier of the Sun-Root™ system.

The Sun-Root™ system is being hailed as the latest achievement in sustainable technology. The Sun-Root™ creates the first ever fully integrated Solar + Green Roof combination. The weight of the green roof holds the entire system in place, negating the need to drill into the roof membrane to support the solar panels. The cooling effect from the vegetation dramatically increases the efficiency and output from the solar panels.

"Partnering with the largest green roof supplier in the world is an outstanding accomplishment for our firm," states Jorg Breuning, founder of Green Roof Technology. "The North American market leans heavily on Germany for new and innovative green roof products and this agreement supports our vision to supply the market with high quality products at a competitive price."

For more information about this system and to see a short video of how it all comes together, please visit our website at:

http://www.greenrooftechnology.com/solar-green-roof.


Green Roofs on the Move

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, January 29, 2013

  

By Jörg Breuning

Well before modern green roof technology started in Germany in the 1970s, I was already collecting Sedums in the Alps.  As a kid I liked the little ‘fir trees’ because I was able to carry them home in my stuffed Lederhosen pockets and miraculously they would survive, even after a 4-5 hours hike.  Forty years later, there is still one surviving ‘fir tree’ growing out of a terra cotta pot at my Mom’s house. The last time it was repotted was more than 20 years ago.

When I was a teenager, Professor Hans Luz, a Landscape Architect from Stuttgart, Germany, was pioneering the implementation of green roofs on buildings and parking structures.  A visionary, Luz recognized green roofs’ stormwater retention potential and their overall ability to reduce the environmental footprint of any building.  From there green roofs went viral, spreading throughout Germany and Europe.  It was not long before cities began realizing the relief green roof provided to their overloaded combined sewer systems.

By the nineties green roofs had spread all over Europe.  Pockets of green roof believers had developed in cities across Europe.  But modern green roof technology was struggling to spread beyond the borders of the EU. 

During the nineties I frequently vacationed to the United States, notably the Southwest.  Even while on vacation one part of my mind was always considering how green roofs could be introduced to the States.  I desperately tried to make presentation about green roof in the USA but associations like International Erosion Control Association were never interested.  I talked to many American landscape companies during my vacations, but they simply thought I was crazy.

In 1999 Chicago’s Mayor Delay visited Germany and saw a green roof for the first time and decided he wanted this technology on his City Hall.  Almost 30 years after green roof technologies were first developed in Germany the time was finally right for the United States.  I am proud that I brought green roof technology to this project in Chicago.  

Twenty years from now I believe green roofs will be a fundamental part of all new buildings, as important a basic building feature as windows, doors, heating and cooling, water supply, etc.  In the end it is all about reducing the footprint of a building and putting on top of a building what was once on the ground – this is just common sense.  In my opinion it is simply our responsibility that we have to diminish our impact into nature.   We can do it in many ways, but green roofs seem the most efficient.  The longer we wait the more of our current profit and wealth we have to sacrifice later.

Success also means Green Roofs must be done right the first time.  There is no need to over engineering, use irrigation, strive desperately for LEED points, embellish the aesthetic design or embrace crazy environmentalists’ ideas that want green roofs to save the entire world.

This reminds of another success story that started in Stuttgart, Germany when Gottlieb Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) invented the world’s first car.  His invention went around the globe in a very short time and is the basis of any functional economy.  From the same place, green roofs are now starting to go around the world and will be the basis of any functional urban ecology.

             

Spotlight on the Sun-Root™ System

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, January 28, 2013

Back in 2012, Green Roof Technology installed our first Sun-Root™ System in New York City.  The vegetation’s ability to cool the air increases the efficiency of the solar panels perched atop the green roof. 

Learn more about combining solar and vegetated
roofs with our Sun-Root™ System

This week the Sun-Root™ System has been highlighted in “Under Cover: Solar Vegetated Roofs Take Root,” a recent online article by Green Manufacturer.  The Sun-Root™ will also be in the spotlight in their January/February issue of the Green Manufacturer Magazine.     

Chicago, one of America's green roof leaders, is slowly falling behind in the technological race. Numerous studies have proven solar energy integrated with vegetated roofs are more efficient than either practice by itself. Chicago has yet to offer any incentives that include integrated solar green roof systems.

Northwestern University: 
What Chicago Green Roofs Are Missing Out On 





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