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Green Roof Technology Blog

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

Education & Green Roofs - A Learning Experience

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, April 03, 2013

By: Samantha Yurek     

                 
                                                     Photocredit: The Calhoun School

The Calhoun School in NYC is a great example of a school utilizing green roof space to form environmental curriculum and promote a hands on learning experience. Back in May of 2005, renovations presented the perfect chance to retro-fit the building with a brand new intensive green roof. The green roof wasn't simply installed for environmental benefits; these renovations created a unique opportunity for outdoor science classrooms and an herb garden in the heart of an urban space. 

Implementing intensive green roofs, extensive green roofs or educational rooftop farms within urban schools would be a great learning tool as well as a benefit to the environment. Besides the obvious positive environmental aspects (stormwater mitigation, insulation, urban heat island relief, etc.) this green space can be used as an outdoor classroom, gardening space or for research.

Incorporating environmental education into an elementary cirriculum is beneficial for two main reasons. Learning to respect the environment at an early age is relatable to environmental ethics later in life. An environmentally friendly routine during childhood makes it more likely that these habits will continue down the road. And spending secondly, spending time outside improves self-esteem, motivation, reading ability and imagination, along with calming capabilities and decreases stress levels.

In the current age of technology, it is easy to spend the majority of your day staring into a glowing screen considering our dependence on computers, smart phones, TVs and e-readers amongst others. Children especially spend a significant amount of time with electronics as companions, inside and outside of school. I may still be in my early twenties, but within the past decade trends have quickly changed; my childhood was spent outside, no internet, no cable, and no smart phones, unlike today. The consequence of a lack of time spent outside has been researched in depth by journalist and author, Richard Louv. He has deemed this phenomenon as Nature Deficit Disorder, and explains the issues associated with a lack of nature in childhood in his book "Last Child in the Woods," published in 2005.

Intensive green roofs can bring a whole new set of opportunities right into the classroom. Hands on experiences, the potential for learning about and growing fresh food, and an on-site outdoor classroom are a few worth mentioning.

New Optigrün Edging System Type SKL for Extensive Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, March 28, 2013

Optigrün International AG (1-800-627-4955) recently released a completely redesigned green roof edging system.  Created from 3.5 mm recycled ABS (with UV stabilizers of course), the new edging system uses hinge and click connections.  The 3-point connection system is quick and makes laying perfectly straight edges a breeze.  

The Type SKL edging system is available in 8 cm & 12 cm heights.  The edging system consists of two types of pieces, 1100 cm lengths and 300 cm corners.

The versatile and easy to ship system can be designed for numerous applications such as separations, terminations & drainage channels. For more information and purchase opurtunities in North America please contact us at Green Roof Technology.

Ideal for roof slopes up to 5°.

Picture: Optigrün / 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”. 

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. 

 

 

First International Bird Airport on Intensive Green Roof

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

 Ornithoport in Bonn

Picture: Bundeskunsthalle

Airports are plentiful in our world, but a unique concept involves creating airports specifically for birds.  An exhibition on the roof of the Art and Exhibition Hall over the summer of 2012, highlights this common area as a destination point for birds.  To aid this bird airport (ornithoport), nesting boxes and feeders were installed, as well as approach and departure structures, complete with flashing airport signals and safety announcements.  All together this presentation is not only an awesome art piece, but probably the best landing facility for birds from all around the world.  The curator of this project, Professor Res Ingold explains, "In our case, it is an artistic project with scientific backing."

Founded in 1992, the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany has played an important role in the community of Bonn, Germany.  Designed by the architect, Gustar Peichl, the building displays various exhibitions in fields of art, archeology, cultural history, science, and technology.  Aside from exhibitions, the community center frequently hosts symposiums, conferences, performances and concerts.  One of the more attractive aspects of the building is the intensive rooftop garden, which is often site for sculpture displays.  This vegetated rooftop is a nice addition for relaxing with a fantastic view of the surrounding city.  In the summer refreshments are served at the beer garden, wildflowers brighten the landscape and the air is busy with buzzing honeybees.  Multiple honey bee colonies call this rooftop garden home.  In 2012 these little magnificent creatures produced 1,200 pounds of honey!  Accurate daily monitoring of the productivity of the honey bees is accessible online in German, French and English. 

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. 


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