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An Upstream Battle for Green Roofs?

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

By: Jörg Breuning

Every now and then we find studies comparing green roofs verses white roofs. It seems like and up-stream battle for the green roof industry against the big profits that are being made in the roofing industry with reflective water proofing membranes. All manufacturers of roofing material know that a reflective membrane will sell easier and with a higher profit than a traditional black tar roof. It is cheaper in production, and with the right crew, easier to install as well. In addition, because of the environmental benefit (discovered by LEED), the pricing can be more expensive.

Covering this membrane with a green roof should increase the profits - so we think. In reality, it isn't the case because the lack of horticultural understanding and human's natural fear of nature make it a high risk factor or even a potential lawsuit. Stockholders and risk managers for large roofing manufacturers offer green amenities (because this is good for their image), but never pressure these offers. Unfortunately, for roofing companies, protecting the revenue and profits is of higher priority over the environment and real sustainable practices.

It is no secret that selected manufactures support Universities in order to preform research on reflective membranes verses green roofs. These manufacturers tell the researchers precisely what to say and do so their reputation thrives. Since research jobs are not plenty full and Universities have the same economic pressure as roofing manufacturers, the results of this research may be questionable.

In an older selective or reductionist study at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the so-called scientist went a step further. Writing a paper, clearly motivated by manufacturers, they described their data as somewhat sparse - does that mean worthless?

We still try to understand the words that are used in this study:

"Somewhat" = to a moderate extent or by a moderate amount

"Sparse" = thinly dispersed or scattered

We at Green Roof Service LLC/Green Roof Technology don't need simplyfied research that says "maybe yes" and "maybe no" in one sentence without considerations of the entire picture. Many people in the green roof industry don't have a scientific backing, but it is a great gift that they have common sense and understand that bringing back nature to where it previously resided is way better than covering the earth under a white burial shroud.  

The bear in the stream catching the battling salmon can't extinguish the species - as long as the water is clean. If the water is polluted because of the lack of nature in our built up Cities, there won't be any salmon left and the bear will shortly become extinct as well. Responsible research and researchers can help keep our waterways and neighborhoods clean - or address a topic holisitc.

See also our blog post: 

White Roofs are Better than Green Roofs!

http://www.greenrooftechnology.com/green-roof-blog/white-roofs-are-better-than-green-roofs

 

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.

Teaching Sustainable Design

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

DPC Continuing Education, Inc has recently released their 2014 Future Green Trends Workshop schedule. These workshops focus mainly on rainwater design, green energy, green roofs and green materials.

Next up will be at the Holiday Inn in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. Held on Wednesday February 19th.   

And following February will be March 12th, at the Hilton Garden Inn, located in Troy, NY.  

Our very own Jörg Breuning has been a guest speaker in the past during these workshops and will be appearing again. Workshops dates to be announced. 

For an extended schedule or more information, you may visit the official DPC 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. 

Cool Roofs Might Increase Air Pollution

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

Cool Roofs Might Increase Air Pollution

Picture: welt.de

Approximately 35 years ago I learned in horticultural chemistry class how plants utilize the energy of sunlight.  This process is called Photosynthesis and is an everyday example of Photochemistry, a sub-discipline of chemistry or the study of chemical reactions that proceed with the adsorption of light by atoms or molecules.

Other examples of Photochemistry are the degradation of plastics and the formation of Vitamin D with Sunlight.

  Skin aging: caused by 80% of the Sunlight

Over the last half century, it has been well studied that heat and sunlight have a tremendous effect on air quality.  Both, and independent from each other, heat and sunlight can transform the atoms and molecules in the air around us into other chemical combinations that are often harmful for human health.  The same photochemical transfer occurs also with most other particles and substances in the air and increases the chemical cocktail in the air we breathe substantially.

In a recent study of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) it was confirmed that at night – without the energy of sunlight – nitrate radicals naturally help cleanse the atmosphere.  Acting as a “janitor” of the night sky, the nitrate radical scrubs away air pollutants such as volatile organic compounds that would otherwise form smog and ozone.  The cleansing compound only works nightshifts, however, since sunlight destroys the light-sensitive molecule.  The study suspects that the street lights in cities reduce this cleansing effect.

It doesn’t take much to understand that Cool Roofs or Reflective Roofs multiply the light energy in the air, reducing not only light-sensitive molecules but also converting most other atoms, molecules and particles in the air into potentially more harmful chemical combinations.

This can be proven by many simple observations:

  • Photovoltaic (PV) elements increase their output with higher light intensity because of the energy in the light (more photons from sunlight increase the electromagnetic interaction).
  • The human skin reacts on intense sunlight with a photochemical reaction (often ending in skin cancer).
  • Sunlight changes the composition of most natural of man-made materials – typically degradation.
  • Plants change their appearance when exposed to excessive light – often they die.
  • Plants “suffocate” when exposed to sunlight 24/7.

Sunburn on plant leaf.

Nowadays numerous studies (typically sponsored my manufacturers) focus only on the surface temperature making everybody believe that cool roof, or so called reflective roofs, are environmentally friendly because of the lower surface temperature.  Isn't it worth to look at the bigger picture of what happens when reflecting sunlight off of roof tops – i.e. polluting the air with additional sunlight?  I am not suspecting that they were paid to ignore this dramatic effect but it shows to me that the responsibility of researchers is in some cases is questionable.  My countryman Albert Einstein would have said: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

"Cool Roofs" or  "Fool Roofs"?

Installation of reflective roofs requires additional protection for workers.

Meet Jorg Breuning at ASLA 2013 Annual Expo

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, November 06, 2013

American Society of Landscape Architects is holding their annual meeting and expo this year in Boston from November 15th until the 18th.  

On Monday, Nov. 18th at 8:00 am, Jorg Breuning and Rob Tilson will hold an education session titled "Solar Panels and Green Roofs Fully Integrated - The Smart Future Development." 

The collaborative presentation between Green Roof Technology and Tilson Group will showcase two of the leaders in the green roof industry pushing the boundaries of their field.  

The benefits of combining green roofs with solar panels is well documented.  The two technologies have been used together for many years, beginning in Germany nearly 30 years ago when both technologies were only first being developed.

Over the decades both technologies have advanced greatly.  Today, fully integrated green roofs with solar panel systems, known as Solar Garden Roofs, have been developed that maximize the two technology's beneficial synergistic effects.  

The Learning Objectives of Jorg and Rob's discussion are as followed:

1) Learn about an integrated technology that combines renewable energy with vegetated roofs, multiplies benefits and significantly reduces cost.
2) Understand the key elements and flow chart evaluation of whether this technology fits a project.
3) Acquire extensive product knowledge including weight, size, potential power output, maintenance, and warranties.
4) Compose proper specifications for construction and define the intersection of the different tasks with lessons learned from past project successes. 

You can take a sneak peak at Jorg's presentation by downloading a pdf on our Resources page -- available here.


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!

Cradle to Cradle Concept on a Green Roof

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"The world will not evolve past its current state of crisis by using
the same thinking that created the situation"  - Albert Einstein

 

The Cradle to Cradle theory reappeared in 2002 with the release of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. A concept dedicated to mimicking nature in which products can be fully recycled. Instead of materials having a specified lifespan, they can indefinitely be transformed into other products. A design created to enrich and benefit the environment even as products are manufactured and used.

Recently, the cradle to cradle design has been proposed for a green roof project in the United Kingdom. By-products from the London Sustainable Industries Park will be collected and transformed into aggregate material used for drainage purposes on green roofs and walkways.

Green Roof Technology has many opportunities to use recycled materials in our projects - as long as the green roof's efficiency isn't compromised or becomes the neighborhood landfill.

New Instant Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Joe’s Paint Releases: New Instant Green Roofs

Our favorite environmental expert and green roof research specialist Joe is up to his old tricks.  Joe hit the PR circuit again this week releasing a full range of new roof greening products. 

Not satisfied with only offering a green roof in a can, Joe is now offering a full line of instant green roofs.  His new products include a highly reflective white paint for roofs and façades. The can comes with a pair of sun glasses and two cartons of greasy sunscreen (SPF 90) for an entire neighborhood.   

The best green roof and green wall product is already successful on the markets: An artificial grass mat that can be rolled out.  Joe has the fake grass in multiple colors to create Blue Roofs, Brown Roofs and Red Roofs. The good thing is, that after a season you can also fill-up the landfills with toxic waste and contributing your part to a healthy growth of the economy.

 Grass Test

Joe is very excited about the new product line and promises: “Next year we come up with an entire line of fake honeybees, polyethylene spiders and colorful plastic butterflies with remote control. Just before Christmas we will also see artificial flowers and Christmas trees (comes with a fake turkey). “

 

 

 All fake grass products are tested under real conditions. 

If you want to walk on grass without having a green roof we recommend the grass Flip-Flops. Retaining almost 100% sweat and you can’t run-off.

 

We all love Joe here Green Roof Technology because he is constantly pushing the green roof industry and green technologies to new heights. 

Orders and feedback: info@greenrooftechnology.com

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