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Green Roof Technology Blog

Solar Power (and Green Roofs) on the Rise!

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, December 28, 2012

By: Samantha Yurek

 

Solar energy has been on a modest climb for most of its existence, but this year the solar power market jumped 71% compared to last year’s sales.  A growing renewable industry is a boost to our economy; over 93,000 Americans are employed within the solar business alone.  As the demand for solar installations grows higher, the prices will drop correspondingly.  This is already evident, in 2006 the price of a residential installation plummeted from $9 a watt down to $5.46 a watt.  Today we see prices around $ 4.00 per watt.

Even with the rise in solar sales, the US is still trailing behind Germany, Italy and Spain.  Around 20% of power in Germany is harvested from the sun only, but only around 11% of energy here in the Unites States comes from a collaboration of renewable resources (solar, wind, hydro, etc.).  Harvesting power from the sun is a smart idea.  Not only is the sun a renewable resource, but the process creates zero atmospheric emissions.  It’s clean and reliable!  Even with this spike in interest, solar power is still underused here in the United States because investors often look only at the capital costs. Capital costs of a Coal Power Plant are at around $ 2.10 (source Wikipedia) vs. around $ 4.00 for Solar.

Note that the capital costs are not the only determinant of the cost of the electricity produced. A coal plant needs to burn coal to produce power (a limited resource), while a solar panel and other renewable generation has no fuel input at all.

“Externality and insurance costs of energy sources” became in the 2010s recognized as equivalent to fuel costs as a decision factor. In particular for Nuclear and coal power plants but also for ground mounted Solar these costs can be deal breaking.

Roof mounted Solar power plants combined with a vegetated roof (extensive green roof) increases the capital costs by less than 20%. At the same time this marginal increase pays back in a short time due to the reduction in stormwater fees, reduction of the environmental foot print and recognizable increased in efficiency.

The synergetic combination of vegetated roof / Green Roofs with Solar is truly State-Of-The-Art and unmatched in modern green energy production and environmental protection.  

Baltimore County Realizes the Need for Green Spaces; Preserves 38 Acres

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, December 19, 2012

By: Ryan Miller 



Baltimore County has announced that they will preserve 38 acres of publicly owned forested land in Perry Hall.  County officials believe this to be the largest preservation of open green space in that community in more than a decade.


With Maryland passing House Bill 987 earlier this year, many local governments are looking for ways to minimize the storm water runoff impact on our local watershed.  With increased urbanization, our green spaces are shrinking and so are the vast environmental benefits that come along with it.

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/images/pixel.gifThe land will be protected from development and it at two locations: about 8 acres in western Perry Hall and nearly 30 acres north and south of Indian Rock Park.  In an announcement of the land reclassification, County Councilman David Marks said he had worked with County Executive Kevin Kamenetz for the past year to preserve the land.

"Not only are we protecting green space in two distinct regions of Perry Hall, but we are preserving an area larger than the acreage at Perry Hall High School," said Marks, a Republican from Perry Hall. "It is a milestone for the Perry Hall community, and it comes at almost no cost to Baltimore County's taxpayers."

Source: The Baltimore Sun



Proud to be the New Green Roof Technology Team Member!

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, December 14, 2012
By Samantha Yurek



I grew up in Norrisville, an extremely rural area in the top left hand corner of Harford County.  My childhood was one of exploration; following streams imagining we were Lewis and Clark, constructing forts from the natural resources abundant in the forest behind my house, playing outside all hours of the day.  Our parents had no need to worry; we lived on the side of town where the grass was greener.  The time I spent outside as a child has given me so much appreciation for the earth where we reside.  It wasn’t until I enrolled in an environmental class during my senior year of high school, that my heart was finally set on a career path advocating for the health of our environment.

I eventually broke away from the small town scene to further my education at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.  This past May I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies with a focus in Communications.  Even with the gray cloud of unemployment casting a shadow over the majority of recent college graduates, a narrow ray of sunshine peeked its way into my life.  I recently got my foot in to the door of the growing environmental movement by becoming a new member of the Green Roof Technology team.

Although my experience with green roofs has been limited, I’m excited to expand my knowledge on the subject as well as start my new career working towards a positive change in our environment and community.  I look forward to practicing the art of writing, whether it’s in the form of a blog, a magazine article, or a simple email reaching out to our clients.  There are so many aspects of the green roofing industry and I’ve only started to dip my toes in the lake of knowledge Green Roof Technology has to offer me.  Today will mark my fourth day as a team member and I have already gained understanding of the various types of green roofs, the process in which they are created, and found out that my company is the single supplier of the integrated solar green roof design in North America.  I have found the perfect job: personally having a hand in mitigating storm water runoff, lowering the urban heat island effect, improving the air quality, and producing power using a sustainable resource, amongst many other benefits.  I want to thank my coworkers for this unique opportunity that will surely rival any Christmas present I will receive this year.  Don’t forget, every green roof counts!


Green Roof Research in North America

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, December 03, 2012

Green Roof Research in North America By Jörg Breuning

 

I am always amazed how much funds, intellectual energy and resources are put into research of extensive green roofs without the consideration of feasibility and without considering the demands of the plants.  Especially in research common sense should be the starting point of any qualified discussion. This raises also the questions, why are extensive green roofs in Europe –in particular Germany – are so successful?

It is solely successful because extensive green roofs according modern green roof technology are a cost efficient (and beautiful) tool to manage stromwater issues. Period. All other highly market benefits or positive “side effects” are generated by the system for free because these are only consequences of successful implemented nature. Focusing on the side effects and improving them will compromise and eventually reduce the main purpose of an extensive green roof by increasing costs for designing, engineering, implementing and maintenance.

In the academic world Liebig’s law of the Minimum should be applied in any step of the discussion and research. However understanding the limiting factors – including limiting economic factors – requires a tremendous amount of experience, historical data and common sense. The lack of these factors and the lack of time seem the limiting elements but justified by many unique human properties like vanity, self-promotion and economic restrains. On the other side (consumer side) the humans are also part of nature and it is natural that any of their decisions are made accordingly. If an idea doesn’t fit into this process (controlled by the scarcest or limiting resource) we walk away from it, like plants will “walk away” if their minimum requirements are not met. With the disappearance of plants on an extensive green roof we lose the purpose and the investment.

It is common sense that plants cannot walk away as fast as humans so their disappearance might take 2 decades or more which is still much less than the lifespan of extensive green roofs – the lifespan we promote.

For example measuring and promoting building insulation properties of a thermal mass or heat sinks like extensive green roofs was developed as a selling instrument of the industry (like reflective roofs). Trying to improve that will consequently compromise the main purpose to the negative. The end of this research will find out that it is most efficient and probably 10 times cheaper just to increase the buildings insulation on any surface of the building. It will also perfectly benefit when energy prices will continue to super-proportional increase or when we like to build our settlements that they last longer than just two decades – or when we want that the building has the same lifespan as an extensive green roof.

As I brought modern green roof technology to North America from Europe I expected a higher understanding of common sense and of Liebig’s law since it seemed to work in the social and financial world. Investing the research funds in actual extensive green roofs according proven modern green roof technology (e.g. not pre-planted boxes) would benefit the environment, industry and building owner much more and would help to start an entirely new research generation in 10-15 years from now.

When it comes to living technologies going back to the roots sometimes helps or simply is a necessity.  

Join Our Team!

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, October 24, 2012

We have exciting news.  Green Roof Technology is looking for the right individual to join our team.  You can see more details about the position here.  

But suffice it to say, we're looking for an experienced and enthusiastic person to help with all our social media needs and office organization.  

We have been sorely needing someone to help us out with this work for some time now, and with the upcoming year looking busier than ever, this winter is the best time to add to our ranks.  

If you're interested in the position, please email andrew@greenrooftechnology.com, subject Social Media Position.  Be sure to include your resume and cover sheet.

Signs of Spring

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, March 02, 2012

By Kat Harrold


Photos by ~ Kat Harrold

 

Sedums may be great for the hot dry climate of the green roof there are more colorful accent plants to consider such as bulbs.

 

Early spring when sedum album is just starting to wake from its winter’s nap Snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) spring forth with their deep green foliage and delicate white flowers.    

Other excellent spring bulb choices are dwarf iris, crocus, daffodils, tulips, and chionodaxa.    As the seasons progress, splashes of color  can be added to the roof with bulbs such as allium and cyclamen in summer and early autumn.  

Many of these bulbs are native to the harsh environments of the middle east and western Asia making them perfect candidates for the green roof environment.

The general rule of thumb when planting bulbs on a green roof is to cover the bulb with 3 times with the amount of growing media as its height with the crown facing upwards.  In other words if you have a 1 inch tall bulb you want to cover it with 3 inches of growing media.  Therefore, larger bulbs will have greater success in deeper green roofs with a 4 inch or greater growing media depth.       
 

FLL Revisited

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, February 07, 2012

By Andrew Yanders

Edited by - Kat Harrold

Photo ~ Jorg Breuning

The FLL Green Roofing Guideline first appeared in 1982 as the “Principles of Green Roofing” and since 1992 has been reworked many times as “Guideline for the Planning, Construction and Maintenance of Green Roofing – Green Roofing Guideline.”  It is recognized as the benchmark set of regulations for green roofing in Germany.  The FLL Roof Greening Guideline is also widely accepted abroad and serves in some neighboring countries as the basis for developing their own regulations.

This latest edition covers the 2008 edition of the FLL Green Roofing Guideline.  The preface clearly states the importance and relevancy of the Guideline and the constant diligence taken to adapt and outline the newest developments in the green roofing industry.  The Guideline is the result of unpaid technical and scientific cooperative work and is intended to be a recognized code of practice or State-of-the-Art; it is a basic tool for the planning, construction and maintenance of reliable and high quality performing green roofs.  The Guideline also includes transparent, consumer oriented testing methods for the investigation of vegetation, substrates and aggregate drainage materials and the investigation of resistance to root penetration of roof membranes and protective layers. 

Three sections of this paper provide a brief summary of the three major components of the Green Roofing Guideline:  Planning, Execution, and Maintenance.  It is important to note that the Guideline requires a fundamental background in horticultural science and engineering principals.  The Guideline is not an IKEA step-by-step construction manual designed to enable any Do-It-Yourself project. 

Click here to read the full version.

A History of Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, December 13, 2011

By ~ Andrew Cole Yanders

One of the life’s great pleasures is the act of discovering an idea in a book that fundamentally changes the way you see the world.  This dynamic relationship between your life and the world of ideas is where creativity is sparked and dreams are made.   Often times you do not even understand what you are looking at but you recognize that it is different and fundamentally how things should be.  Today we are inundated with ontological debates, and possibly no more so than in how we view the structures we live and work in.  The image below of a classic Norwegian cabin speaks to my unconscious sense of how things should be.  Albeit a crude dwelling, it is awesome because of that fact.  Looking back into history for examples of how we used to strive to live in harmony with nature can provide the spark of inspiration we all need to find modern solutions to our most daunting challenges. 

  

The classic sod roofs of Scandinavian homes have many of the essential benefits modern green roofs have today such as insulation and stormwater control.  Well designed and constructed sod roofs have proven to last centuries.  We hope that 100+ years from now, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will look upon our green roofs the same way we look at these awesome Norwegian sod roofs.

Here at Green Roof Technology we are proud to house the largest green roofs archives in the United States.  Because our history with green roofs began way back in the mid 1970’s in Stuttgart, Germany, we have had the privilege to collect government and trade publications for almost four decades.  We thought the rest of you would enjoy taking a peek back in history too.

In the early 1970’s, Germany was the epicenter of a revitalization of roof top gardening.  Technologies and techniques were created to waterproof large flat roofs and shield them from root penetration.  Intricate irrigation systems were devised to support large woody perennials.  Roof gardens became a status symbol of wealth and prosperity during an age of rapid urbanization.

The next evolution in green roofing began in the 1980’s when light-weight extensive roofs were developed.  Popularized by their low costs and huge environmental benefits, the bird’s eye view of many German cities quickly changed in the subsequent decades.

Pictured below are a few covers from our collection and one page from a 1984 publication by the Baden-Wurttemberg government outlining intensive and extensive green roof systems.

For more green roof information take a look at our Resources Page. 

 

 

Green Instance Magazine

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, November 21, 2011

By Andrew Cole Yanders


 

 

It’s been another busy week at Green Roof Technology.  Earlier this week a Green Roof Evaluation Case Study was posted for download, highlighting the necessity of a diligent maintenance program and the damage that can occur when one is not administered. 

Today we are excited to announce the upcoming release of the first issue of our quarterly magazine: 

GREEN INSTANCE, The International Review of Living Infrastructure.

The magazine is hitting the press this week and will be delivered to leading architects, urban planners, landscape architects, building owners, general contractors and facility managers around the world.  The limited first printing will also be available at our booth at CitiesALIVE 2011, hosted in historic Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from November 30th to December 2rd

Following CitiesALIVE 2011, we will post GREEN INSTANCE for free download on our website.

If you wish to receive a hard copy of GREEN INSTANCE please email andrew@greenrooftechnology.com.  Availability is limited.    

Sharing History -- Swarthmore College -- Skyland USA LLC

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It is no secret that rooflite green roof growing media produced by Skyland USA LLC is the leading brand in the North American green roof industry. However it is not widely known that Swarthmore College - one of the nation's finest institutions of higher learning – and Skyland USA LLC are sharing lots of common green roof history.

In 2001/2002 Professor E. Carr Everbach, Professor of Engineering already discovered the advantages of “European style” green roofs including their tremendous benefit for the environment. After a successful but small research project on a maintenance building he was encouraged to implement more “green technology” on the campus at Swarthmore College near Philadelphia, PA. In 2002/2003 there were not many key players in the American market and so he contacted Jorg Breuning in Germany (today principal at Green Roof Service LLC and Co-owner of Skyland USA).

Jorg hopped on the next plane and flew to Philadelphia for a first meeting at the College where he presented a feasibility study to implement a green roof on their newly designed dormitory – Alice Paul Residence Hall.

Surprisingly the College agreed to most of his ideas but they needed an American company for the design, specification, site supervision and quality control. For Jorg Breuning the decision was made and together with Peter Philippi he formed Green Roof Service LLC. Next they signed the contract with Swarthmore College. Shortly after that they realized that sourcing installers and suppliers is a challenge. It took Peter and Jorg many visits at Laurel Valley Farms until Joe Di’Norscia was able to convince his bosses investing in a new market together with Green Roof Service. Finally Skyland USA LLC was born and shortly after that Furbish Company Baltimore, MD was founded as one of the first green roof installing company on the East Coast followed by Resource Conservation Technology as the first supplier for green roof components.

It was an amazing chain reaction of new innovative companies all based on ideas of two visionaries who found each other at the campus of Swarthmore College. Still today Swarthmore College is the green roof leader in the area with currently around 15,000 sq. ft of green roofs and much more in planning. These green roofs are also inspiration for many other green roofs in the area like Villa Nova University, University of Pennsylvania and many residential projects. Skyland’s rooflite is the key element for success on each project – leading materials for leading projects.

There is a lot of great information about the Swarthmore College projects which includes extensive information about installation with pictures and even fabulous movies.


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