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Reflective Surfaces on Buildings are an Environmental Nightmare!

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, September 16, 2013

Reflective Surfaces on Buildings are an Environmental Nightmare!

 

A new building on London's skyline nicknamed the Walkie Talkie has been blamed for melted car parts due to the intense sunlight reflected from its glass exterior.  In a broadcast for Sky-News (movie) one reporter proves that it is possible to fry an egg in the reflected sunlight.  Developers say they are working to rectify the problem by coating the windows with a less reflective material.  The skyscraper's magnifying glass effect will continue for the next few weeks until the sun's elevation in the sky changes.  

 

Reflecting sun light from building reaches  up to 192°F ! Good to fry eggs.

While white roofs are not  typically curved and are less reflective than the glass clad skyscraper, the physics behind these surfaces are exactly the same. They both are designed to reflect a high amount of the sun light back to the atmosphere.  And by doing so, the reflected sun light has a second chance of being captured by particles in the air, increasing atmospheric temperatures surrounding the buildings.  Certainly London’s Walkie Talkie skyscraper is an extreme example due to the unique shape of the building.  However, it shows very clearly the physics of reflective surfaces, the damage they cause to the surrounding environment and a lot about the lack of common sense of architects, researchers and self-promoted experts.

With this last example, the discussion of high albedo building coverings (above Albedo 0,55) as being environmentally friendly should be at an end.  Governments (e.g. EPA, LEED) should ban reflective surfaces on buildings immediately if they are serious with their environmental programs.  Whether they were blinded by incomplete research, spoiled by the Dollars of manufacturers or simply think they can trick physics,  it does not matter at this point.

Green Roof and Greens Walls (with low albedo) are the better and most advanced choice - naturally.

Recommended: Cools roofs, cool façades are not cool – never have been.    

 

 

Solar Gardens Made Easy

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, September 12, 2013

Here at Green Roof Technology we are actively helping commercial, municipal and not-for-profit clients generate renewable energy and control stormwater for a cleaner tomorrow.

The Solar Garden Roof System is rapidly growing in popularity.  The benefits of our combined solar and green roof system are unmatched.  Additionally, the Solar Garden Roof System can be 50-60% less expensive than a 4" extensive green roof.

We provide a number of services for our clients.  They include the following:

  • Provide professional designs and engineering,
  • Maintenance programs for your Solar Garden Roof,
  • Secure 25 year Roof and Solar Warranties,
  • Help secure commercial solar financing,
  • Offer SREC brokerage,
  • Perform leak detection,
  • Assess roof membrane condition.
  • Utilize local professional labor resources,

Call us today for a Free Estimate & Analysis:

Using satellite imagery, we analyze factors that affect your Solar Garden Roof design such as south-facing roof location, shaded areas and available roof space.  We will also study your monthly energy usage and future energy plans so that we can create the best system for your needs.

Additionally, business owned PV systems are eligible for tax advantages, such as accelerated depreciation and a thirty percent Federal solar investment tax credit.

Call us today to see if a Solar Garden Roof System is right for your roof.  


Highlighting Baltimore Green Roofs!

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, September 09, 2013

By: Samantha Yurek

With a growing number of green roofs appearing, the city of Baltimore is slowly climbing up the green ladder. I wanted to take some time to highlight a few green roofs located right in our neighborhood. In a dense urban setting, green roofs can play a huge role in sustainability efforts because of their ability to mitigate storm water during large rain events. Urban watersheds are especially vulnerable to environmental issues consequence of a high density of people mixed with large amounts of impervious surface area.

 

 1. Baltimore's National Aquarium


Created to aid the aquarium's conservation efforts, the extensive green roof atop the National Aquarium in Baltimore stretched for 4,000 square feet. Built in 2005 by the Furbish Company, the flourishing roof has been a pleasant addition to the inner harbor.

2.  Hilton Hotel


The largest of them all, at 32,000 square feet would be located on the Hilton Hotel, installed by the Furbish Company in 2008. Adjacent to the Baltimore Convention Center and Camden Yards, the hotel has 757 rooms available. The green roofs reside on both the east and west wings of the building and create additional outdoor green space for citizens to enjoy.

3. Baltimore Convention Center


The Baltimore Convention Center followed in 2010, with the Barrett Company working to install a 15,000 square foot green roof. Doubling as a recreational area, this roof has been transformed into a green oasis in the heart of an urban space.

4. Mary Catherine Bunting Center at Mercy Medical Center


Also in 2010, Mercy Medical Center stepped up and installed three green rooftops to assist with patient health. With 17,500 square feet, these intensive green roofs are also viewed from many of the patient's windows. This project was completed with the help of Mahan Rykiel Associates.

An increase in green space in Baltimore is a fantastic step toward a more sustainable city. Keep up the good work Baltimore!

 

 

Green Roofs Protect Solar Panels and Micro-Inverters

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, September 05, 2013

Randall's Island, NYC.  The Solar Garden Roof System is uniquely designed to grow plants under PV Panels - protecting the panels and microinverters from extreme rooftop heat.  Our system produces more energy and prolongs the life of your solar equipment.  

Over the holiday weekend a massive 11-alarm blaze erupted at the Dietz & Watson distribution center in South Jersey.  The very destructive fire burned for nearly a day due to a peculiar reason - the 300,000 square foot building had more than 7,000 solar panels on its roof.  Instead of being able to tackle the fire from close range, firefighters were forced to fight the fire from a distance in order to avoid any risk of electrocution from the solar panels.  Most solar panel arrays do not have a simple on/off switch, or a master breaker.  So long as the sun is shining, the panels are producing electricity.  Individually, a solar panel does not create enough volts to harm a person, but when solar panels are strung together to a single converter, the power of each panel is accrued, creating a deadly situation for anyone near the array during an emergency situation. 

While no specific forensic evidence has been issued yet, experts in the field of roofing and solar panels already agree that the fire may have started due to the intense heat that is created between low-lying solar panels and reflective white roofing membrane.  Extreme rooftop temperatures can be effectively controlled by installing green roofs below solar panels.  Countless studies have shown that the surface temperature of extensive green roofs rarely exceeds 86°F.  When solar panels and green roofs are integrated, i.e. a Solar Garden Roof System, rooftop and solar panel temperatures are significantly reduced.  Lower rooftop temperatures means greater energy production and may potentially save your building from destruction.

Revisiting an Award Winning Green Roof

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, August 30, 2013


Green Roof Technology has had the pleasure of working with Royal Caribbean to design and implement natural grass lawns on five of their flagship Celebrity Cruises vessels.  Each Solstice Class ship is equipped with over 20,000 sf of lush fairway quality grass.  We are thrilled to be able to say that our green roofs have sailed around the world countless times.  

This past week Jorg was asked to check in on one ship that is currently sailing about the Mediterranean Sea.  A minor disruption had occurred in the  irrigation system and needed to be attended to.  Armed with myriad senors and software updates, Jorg jetted off to Rome to meet up with the ship in port.  Jorg returns next week and we will update you with a complete report of his excursion. 

Have a great weekend! 

Protection for Honey Bees

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, August 23, 2013

By: Samantha Yurek


Photo Credit: Demetrius Freeman - NY Times

Recently making an appearance on the front page of TIME Magazine honey bees are really starting to stir up popular interest.  But why all of the sudden? About a decade ago honey bees started dying off an alarming rates.  This past winter, nearly one third of honey bee colonies in the United States died or disappeared.  In June over 25,000 honey bees were found dead in a Target parking lot in Oregon.  Cause of death: an insecticide which contained neonicotinoids - a topic I covered back in May when the European Union took a stand and banned these killer pesticides.


  
 

Recognition of the significance of this issue is finally surfacing.  Although started back in 2009, National Honey Bee Day was a more popular holiday this year. A grassroots effort by beekeepers and interest groups to promote community awareness on honeybees, this holiday was celebrates this past Saturday August 17th.  The theme this year: "Beekeeping - Ask Me How to Get Started."  Farmer's markets and nature centers among others all over participated, educating the public on honey bees. 

All this commotion about these buzzing little creatures is beginning to pay off. The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered a reduction in the use of widely known pesticides and a change in labeling on pesticides to educate the consumer on the harm to certain pollinators.


Photo Credit: Jörg Breuning

Honey bee efforts have been popping up all over the country. These efforts have not only been seen on rural farms, but even on rooftops in the city! One example perched seven floors up, 100,000 honey bees buzz busily, hard at work to keep a Manhattan green roof flourishing. Green roofs are a great place to start an undisturbed honey bee colony. Let's not forget how important these little creatures are in our ecosystem and how essential they are to our food production. Take some time to learn more about the amazing honey bee!

Green Roof Technology doesn't allow the use of herbicides or pesticides on any green roof project since 1980!

Therapeutic Properties of Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, August 19, 2013

By: Samantha Yurek


Situated on the 8th floor, this green roof is within view of
many of the hospital's rooms at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.

Flowering plants are a common sight spotting in any hospital wing, mainly attached with get well soon tags. The new trend seems to be green that will last more than a week or two. Many hospitals and health wellness buildings are incorporating green space, much of it making an appearance on the rooftops. Staring at an attractive green landscape rather than an unappealing tar-stained rooftop has the potential to make every patient calmer and happier on a daily basis. It has been proven that views of natural landscapes have a positive effect on the emotional and mental health of those being treated, as well as those visiting.

The Baltimore Sun recently published an article in their healing section titled, Garden Rx: Hospitals and homeowners alike are investing in the therapeutic properties of landscaped places. The article highlights the addition of healing gardens in well-known hospitals in Baltimore such as Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore Washington Medical Center, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins Hospital and the UMD Rehabilitation and Orthopedic Institute.

Many of these healing gardens are designed to give patients, family and employees green space to relax and learn and heal within. The addition of green roof space provides many hospital rooms with preferred views of green plant life instead of a bland, brick building. Mercy Medical Center incorporated both healing gardens within a green roof, utilizing their space for both environmental and social benefits.

But not all patients can experience the benefits of an outdoor garden consequence of a compromised immune system. Months spent in the hospital battling leukemia created a unique opportunity for one SUNY-ESF landscape architecture student, Kevan Busa. Determined to graduate on time, but confined within the walls of a hospital, Kevan completed his final project on the healing potential of landscape design from a patient's perspective. Highlighted in the June 2013 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine, Kevan explains the frustration of a poorly designed healing space. A visit to an outdoor garden is out of the question for many patients. Busa wrote, "the solution may be gardens that can be experienced from indoors, through glass. This idea may not sound terribly inviting, but it is a far preferable alternative to 100 days of brick walls."

Green roof space that can be viewed from individual hospital rooms could be the solution to a quicker healing time and happier patients.

A well-known hospital in Germany, Diakonie-Klinikum Stuttgart, has approximately 150,000 square feet of green roof along with indoor plants as large as trees. The greening of this hospital has been an ongoing process since 1990.

Visiting 1st Solar Garden Roof

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A vast experimental roof top garden is located on the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Building on Randall’s Island.  A few years ago the department opened its roof top up to companies to display their latest innovations in green roofing.  Over the years several dozen technologies have been installed, making the roof top home to hundreds of kinds of plants.  From lightweight extensive green roofs, to vegetable farms, to solar garden roofs, all kinds of green roofs are open for public tours.

During the early spring of 2012 we had the pleasure of installing four of our Sun-Root™ Modules on the roof, making the department’s building home to the first Solar Garden Roof System in the United States.  Super Storm Sandy made landfall only 6 months after installation and the system was successfully wind tested with maximum sustained winds at 85 mph with some gusts reaching 92 mph. 

Jörg recently visited the roof top and came back with some beautiful pictures we wish to share with you all. The system is engineered to support healthy plant growth under the PV panels - unique and brilliant! Ask us for details and investment options.

 Solar Garden Roof

Goodman's Norwegian Log House with Sloped Green Roof

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, July 31, 2013

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.

Urban Heat Island and Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, July 25, 2013

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.


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