Norwegian Green Roof Log Cabins in the USA
Around 50 years ago there was trend in the USA of having Norwegian Log Cabins as a second home.
Norwegian Green Roof Log Cabins in the USA
Around 50 years ago there was trend in the USA of having Norwegian Log Cabins as a second home.
Green Roofs and Fireworks
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 there is hardly any difference to dry organic materials. Some products are equipped with chemical fire retardants that could decrease the risk of spreading fire, unfortunately not the risk of leaks cause by heat and impact.
The living vegetation of fully functional and well-engineered green roofs contains moisture 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 – even when the natural moisture content is not considered.
Fires or leaks on non-vegetated roofs caused by consumer or display fireworks could have been prevented if the building would have had a fully functional green roof without mono-culture vegetation, or if conventional roofs would be well-maintained (regular removing of organic debris from the roof and gutters).
Certainly a fire is the worst-case scenario; however in most cases smoldering firework parts (and cigarettes) are only causing leaks on unprotected roofs that are discovered much later and relate to costly repair. Roof warranties typically don't cover any sort of mechanical impact and they are -again- worthless. See blog post from 2014.
Any sort of fireworks damages or many other mechanical impacts are unknown on functional green roofs. Green roofs prevent leaks or even a fire and so it is the best payback is right there.
Nature is (literally) so cool.
Happy New Year!
Urban Planning in North America
Most American Cities like to have a diverse, sustainable, and thriving city of neighborhoods as the economic and cultural driver for the region.
In reality, these urban planners fall for nicely presented prestige projects that maybe have some green elements like bicycle storage, a solar panel, or living elements like a little green wall in the entrance area or roof terrace with some tomato plants. A little decoration of green is always trendy – whether it remains green or not. Important seems that the building is shiny, the investors and tenants have good names, and that it increases the prestige level of the city.
Urban planning in North America has hardly anything to do with long-term perspectives, environmental, people, or social aspects. “Urban” planning does not go further than maybe two or 3 blocks in a city. North America is a big continent with many tunnel-view urban planners, and since many of these planners have not much to do, they write daily blogs about “great ideas” of new ways for urban developments. It seems they write a lot and they do not do much.
In Europe, urban planning is almost on a helicopter- view basis, long-term with environmental and social aspects. Europe’s great urban planning doesn’t stop at the city or county line and it greatly reduces destructive urban sprawl. Being an urban planner in Europe is a tough job – they have no time to play on the internet posting great ideas. They just do it.
The picture below shows a neighborhood in Munich, Germany from google Earth. The development of this area started in 1994 and it is still going on. Developing an area like that over 20 years required a comprehensive urban planning long ago and with on single goal: minimize the environmental footprint.
1. The area is connected to a large park with sport arena, pools, gyms, and recreational facilities including beer gardens.
2. The community garden on the north allows people to grow their own flowers and vegetable.
3. Most roofs are covered with green roofs, some are used of recreation or growing flowers and food. Most buildings have balconies where plants grow up (extensive green walls).
4. Open space for socializing, playing games, walking dogs. Typically these areas are above underground parking garages.
5. Solar Garden Roof that combine solar with green roofs to max-out the environmental benefits.
6. Houses are entirely covered with PV.
All buildings have very easy access to a dense public transportation network and many office buildings can be reached within walking distance or by bicycle.
Does this ever happen in North America?
While in North America the average size of Green Roof is around 8,000sf this size would be considered a small size Green Roof in Germany. The average size in Germany is likely over 25,000 sf and the amount of Green Roofs build every year is probably 10 times higher.
Despite higher energy costs, the costs for the installation are lower in Germany because they build them in less than the half time, with fewer people, with hardly any middle men, without pre-planted plastic boxes and without consistently reinventing the wheel. They don’t try to sell warranties – they are actually installing Green Roofs. They also spend no or less time posting their projects on all social platforms and don’t need to say this is the biggest, nicest, most divers, highest or any other superlatives.
They just do it because they understood the environmental and social benefits of Green Roof mass production instead of trying to grow one carrot in a city for millions of people just to be on TV. Green Roofs in Germany are done for everybody vs. in North America it is often done for personal vanity.
16 years of North American Green Roof industry and still researching? When does North America think big?
Construction Going Up – Ecology Going Down?
From 2010 to 2015 warehouse new construction in the US tippled from around $5 Billion to $15 Billion with all the economic benefits. 15 Billion in new construction equals around 1000 new warehouses every year or approximately 250 million square feet rooftops plus the same amount of infrastructure provision. Annually, 500 Million square feet or 8800 football fields of lost nature by building new warehouses in the United States alone.
With some of the existing warehouses, this translates to a potential of at least 1 Billion of square feet of new extensive Green Roofs every year that could retain the volume of Lake Constance that is surrounded by three countries (Germany, Switzerland and Austria) or over the double volume of Lake Powell (UT/AZ)!
Assuming that these Green Roofs are done right, maintained by professionals and without artificial irrigation, the natural and controlled succession of these Green Roofs would allow a unique habitat for many endangered species over the upcoming years.
These green roofs can also reduce the re-roofing costs by multiple billion Dollars with a related relieve for landfills and a huge reduction in energy use.
Most important however is the climate effect.
Warehouse belts surround any large city in North America. These warehouse belts with endless impervious areas actually preheat the air that is conveyed into our cities by the wind. In the worst-case scenario, these large warehouses have reflective roofing membranes that might cool the building but also increase – due to reflection – the heat in the atmosphere substantially.
Warehouse belts around cities are like a forced air heating system in a building only on a much larger scale – Warehouse belts are a wasteful forced air heating system for entire cities
Fundamental sustainable thinking and large scale long-term research hardly exists in the US, so it is no wonder that experts are likely to miss the entire picture.
Currently in the US there are no significant requirements or ecological considerations in master plans that address this counterproductive climate habits towards our cities. Actually, it seems that warehouse belts grow faster than Green Roofs!
North American ecological organizations, LEED, or other industry associations are also missing the bigger picture. They often work locally – from one block to the next, they are focused on one or two rare plants, on a distinctive bee species, butterflies or other human pleasing critters as long as there is an instant payback in popularity. It seems worth more having a highly unsustainable fully irrigated Green Wall in the cafeteria, a nice green plaque on the wall, or growing some carrots on the roof to demonstrate social and sustainable responsibility. Most marketing efforts for green washing are beyond the costs of a simple highly efficient extensive Green Roof that helps the future generations.
The United States is a great country and North America is a large continent where thinking big was always wanted and welcome. Now it seems people are getting lost in their little plastic boxes, made in China with some nice flowers and a watering can next to it.
It is very romantic but also very embarrassing.
Natural Blow Job
Like an endless army of parachutists released from an airplane, seeds and fruits travel the wind currents and gentle breezes of the earth, possibly colonizing a distant mountain slope or fertile valley potentially 1000 miles from their origin. Literally hundreds of species in many plant families have adopted this remarkable method of dispersal and make the promoters of native plants look like a fool.
Imagine a little parachutist seed can fly 1000 miles in ten days it still takes probably 20-30 generations and 15-20 years getting around the globe. Seeds found in hail or high altitude air samples confirm that this is not a fiction.
Plants have very limited mobility and consequently rely upon a variety of dispersal vectors. Wind is only one and there are many other smart ways. The easiest might be humans. If a plant gives humans a trade-off (nice flower, fruit etc.) they can carry them as far and nowadays in a much short time.
Relocating to a faraway location isn’t always successful but it is necessary for the specie to survive in evolution where natural and manmade forces might eliminate the original place. Especially under fast changing climate conditions it is important for specie to stay flexible or to mix with similar species to create more resident ones.
Comparing to this smart and self-sustaining way of plants, many humans make themselves to fool by either helping to transport the plants or by categorizing plants into native and non-native. Doesn’t it sound like schizophrenia when you get a LEED point for native plants on a 500sf Green Roof downtown Manhattan and at the same time(GMO) corn is grown on almost 100,000,000 acres across the US?
There is no question that the worlds Gen-pool of all organisms must be preserved but the way as it is approached seems in most cases unprofessional and desperate. Being 45 years a gardener, I understand that nature has its own way – we can be part of it but we can’t be the director of it.
Do Green Roof Failures increase with Roofing Manufacturers?
In the last two days I visited four of my projects that are between 14 years and 1 year old.
Each of these Green Roof has an own interstesting history and with the exception of the “cozy” Green Roof, each of the extensive green roof host over 25 and 40 plant species in excellent health.
None of them was ever irrigated and the oldest was fertilized the last time 10 years ago. All of them require hardly any maintenance (2 hours per 5,000sf / year). One Green Roof is maintained only once every 3 years.
For these amazing, inexpensive and resilient green roofs a special thank to all who participated!
I was on one roof that was installed and maintained by a roofing company with materials from a famous roofing manufacturer. This roof is basically going down the drain because of incompetence, sloppy work, and inappropriate materials.
This roof came with a costly single source warranty that –as always – doesn’t cover anything of the green roof. The cost for this worthless application was around 25% higher than a fully functioning Green Roof from well trained gardeners.
This is one of many projects around the Nation where I am questioning myself whether roofing manufactures and roofing companies should work in the Green Roof field. As a matter of fact in last decade 90% of roofing manufacturers offered Green Roof Systems that consistently underperform or that are not maintained properly. Actually most of these manufactures changed their systems and approaches to Green Roofs more often than they changed the management of these multi-million Dollar corporations.
While many of these manager focuses on how increase revenue and some of them how to fix the problems with Green Roofs their quality of the waterproofing and craftsmanship of their installations went down. Striving for more revenue is not a wrong thing in general but when this is done on the backbone of the Green Roof industry and our all prospect clients it is more than questionable.
As client you have to figure out whether it is more important to make unknown stockholder happy or yourself.
I don’t fall for roofing warranties and sales forces with nice brochure
Zero Run-Off for 20 Years!
From 2010 to 2015 warehouse new construction in the US tippled from around $5 billion to 15 Billion this equals around 1000 new warehouses every year and translates to a potential of at least 1 Billion of square feet of extensive Green Roofs that could retain the volume of Lake Constance that is surrounded by three countries (Germany, Switzerland and Austria). On top of that and if these Green Roofs are done right and without irrigation, these Green Roofs would allow a controlled succession that could develop over the years to a unique habitat for many endangered species.
As the nationwide building codes require expensive engineered fire suppression systems the same building codes can require simple and highly efficient Green Roofs. Unfortunately most Green Roof or other environmental organizations don’t focus the low cost, high efficient simplicity – they focus on adding carrots or a rare native plant species to an environment that is far away from being connected to the ground.
Common sense exists as term but it isn’t in the head of most people because it doesn’t generate the attention and “individualism”.
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We would like to take this time to express to you our sincere appreciation for your confidence and loyalty.
We are deeply thankful and extend to you our best wishes for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving Day!
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In our dense Cities, more and more intensive Green Roofs are being built.
Besides all the environmental reasons, building owners recognized that a Roof Garden – usable green on the roof - creates additional value with a fast and consistent payback. A building with a roof garden is simply more attractive for tenants and potential buyers.
Typically, structural loads reduce this fantastic idea to a low profile extensive Green Roof or to an intensive green roof that is landscaped with Geofoam.
All professionals know that expanded polystyrene (Geofoam) is questionable from an environmental perspective. Some horticulturalists know that Geofoam has no benefits for the plants – actually, it reduces their rooting space for the plants (grass can root up to 3 feet deep) and consequently it increases maintenance and irrigation needs. As a result, most of these Roof Gardens with Geofoam are elevated intensive care nurseries.
Hardly any Roof Garden in Europe utilizes Geofoam because of the high risk of rodents and environmental conflicts. These roofs are being built with Foam Glass Gravel. Over the last 25 years Foam Glass Gravel replaced Geofoam and eliminated all the related disadvantages of Geofoam.
Foam Glass Gravel is 95% recycled glass, has a much higher compressive strength, the roots can practically expand like in a natural soil horizon and if combined with low-tide/high-tide irrigation the water and fertilizer consumption can be reduce by up to 75%.
The savings in no waste installations, less complicated irrigation systems, in water reduction and less maintenance make this material cheaper than any Geofoam application.
European architects also like the idea that you can create any type of landscaping on a roof without any problems, fully organic and without additional components. Foam Glass Gravel allows adding walkways, roads or other structures on top of it. Foam Glass Gravel has the best lightweight – compressive strength of all mineral materials available on earth.
The picture below shows typical setups of intensive Green Roofs with Foam Glass Gravel, like nature does it and to compare how people still do it with Geofoam.
Green Roof Service LLC - Green Roof Technology is proud to be the first that utilizes this advanced Green Roof solution with Foam Glass Gravel on projects in North America for amazing and low impact intensive Green Roofs.