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Net-Zero Townhomes Benefit From Solar Garden Roof

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Saturday, November 30, 2019
Net-Zero Townhomes Benefit From Vegetated PV Roofs
This suburban Washington, D.C., project proves there's no need to choose between a green roof or a photovoltaic roof



Developer-builders Jessica Pitts and John Miller of Flywheel Development had a goal and a problem with their Perry Street Townhouses project. Their goal was to build affordable net-zero townhomes in suburban Washington, D.C. Their problem was stormwater management: Rules in Prince George's County, Maryland, required them to detain the runoff from heavy rainstorms on-site, rather than divert it into municipal storm drains. The poorly draining site soils and the tight site precluded traditional ground-based stormwater best management practices, so they looked to a vegetated rain-detaining roof for a solution. But Pitts and Miller also had other plans for the roof: They needed solar power to meet their ambitious energy goals.

In the end, Pitts and Miller reached both of their objectives with an innovative combination: a vegetated roof whose growing medium captures significant amounts of rainfall, with solar arrays mixed in with the plants and supported by modular frameworks that are anchored and ballasted by the green-roof growing medium. Manufactured by German firm Optigrün, the PV array support system is imported from Germany, and the pair say this was the first time it had been deployed commercially in the United States. But Miller says the idea is a "no-brainer" financially: "Because the solar racking is ballasted by the green roof media and the plants that keep it from blowing away, that percentage of the green roof that is ballasting the panels is also eligible for the federal tax credit for PV." The roof is also effective as a stormwater management system.

"The solar green roof is designed to detain between 1.8 and 2.4 inches of rainfall," Pitts says. "There is little to no runoff from a small storm of about 1.2 inches or less, and runoff increases as the rainfall increases."

The process started during the design phase. Says Pitts, "This can go on any sort of deck. Our structures are wood framed. But you have to account for the load that you’re going to be carrying with the engineering, so it’s important if you do this, to have a mind to do it at the beginning."

"Wind uplift is a critical calculation on the solar," Pitts continues, "and the depth of the green roof media is determined by wind uplift calculations. We actually had a 3-foot parapet wall on three sides of the roof, and the PV system is down below that level and is protected from wind uplift on three sides, which reduced the depth of the green roof media that we needed to install."

The green roof media would help to protect the building's EPDM roof from sunlight and weather. But the green roof and solar would also impede any needed repairs or maintenance down the road. So Pitts and Miller decided to install a leak detection system before laying down the roofing.

"We thought it was prudent to install a leak detection layer—it's a metal mesh that goes underneath the roof membrane," says Pitts. "What that allows you to do is that if you ever get a leak, you can identify the exact location of it."

The thin stainless steel mesh comes in rolls and is installed directly to the roof deck before protection board and roofing are installed. "It looks like chicken wire," says Pitts. "There are two leads that you can run up the side of your parapet wall and hang out at the top. And you can test even before you put the green roof on. We had the people come out and test the membrane as soon as it was in place. They wet down the roof and apply an electrical charge and they look for places where you get a connection."

Miller explains that the leak testing crew uses a detector that looks like a push broom with metal bristles. "They found five or six little pinprick holes that you never would have noticed, and we patched them," he says. "All you have to have is a roofer maybe bends over and maybe one of the metal brads on their jeans pokes a hole in the roof, or they drop their utility knife, and you would never know. The leak detection crew will circle this spot with a Sharpie, and you’re like, 'Wait a minute, that’s a hole?' But this way you know on day one that your roof is leak-free. And if you have a future problem, then you can find it."

Next comes the layers of the green roof, which are integrated into the high-density plastic bases for the solar array racks. "You have your plastic protection layer, which keeps the roots from growing down into the actual roof itself," Pitts says. "Then you have a protection mat, which is kind of like a felt material. That’s for protecting the roof membrane from the roughness of the growing medium. Then you have a geotextile mesh, and the mesh that we were using has large holes in it—it’s a loose weave—and that goes on top of the bases that the green roof ballasts down."

The mesh wraps under and around metal edging at the roof perimeter, and it runs over the PV rack bases. An L-shaped metal bar is installed into each of those bases, and then the rack is accepted into those metal L bars, according to Pitts. Each grouping of panels is also tied together. "We had four individual systems on top of each of the four individual homes," Pitts says. "So each panel grouping becomes linked together, and then they all become linked together through the geotextile mesh."

Next it was time to place the growing medium. "It’s very common to have drainage trays and things of that nature to help reduce the depth of green roofs, but we wanted it to be thicker because we are using the weight of it to hold down the solar," Pitts explains. "We had a green roof media company (Mulch Solutions of Falls Church, Va.) come and blow the media up onto the roof with its blower truck."



There were two types of media: a larger, heavier drainage medium as a base layer, then a layer of growing medium on top of that, separated by a layer of fabric. The entire placement with the blower truck took less than a day. Besides the efficiency, says Pitts, another advantage to the blower truck is that it avoids creating point loads on the roof during the application of the growing medium.

"And then the plants arrived," says Pitts. "There are two different types of green roof plants. There are ones that grow in sun, and there are ones that grow in shade. So we had to demarcate the locations behind and beneath the panels, and allocate the shade plants to those locations; and the sun plants went everywhere else. And then we got all the PV equipment, and the PV panels came up last."

The Perry Street Townhouses were completed in spring 2017, and the plants on the roof are spreading nicely over the growing surface. "Green roofs really require a lot of care and feeding in their first couple of years to get them to establishment," Miller says.

Flywheel Development is currently working on two more affordable net-zero developments in Washington, D.C., Stack Eight and Cycle House, slated for delivery in 2020 and 2021, respectively.





Celebration 20 years of Integrated Green Infrastructure

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, July 12, 2018
Integrated Green Infrastructure That Last

Celebrating two projects with 20 years of integrated Green Infrastructure.

It is now 20 years after Jorg Breuning managed the Green Roof installation at the Zeppelin-Carrée (left)

and 1999 Kronen-Carrée (right) in Stuttgart.

 

Over 500,000 sf of green roofs nicely visible on Google Earth. Probably the first Solar Garden Roof on Earth.

Experience pays back on the first day!

 

#greenroofs #biophylilla #stormwater #greenrooftechnology #greeninfrastructure #optigreen #solargardenroof

Sustainability, Resilience:

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, February 09, 2018
Celebrating two projects with 20 years of integrated Green Infrastructure.



20 years after managing the Green Roof installation in 1997 Zeppelin-Carrée (left)
and 1999 Kronen-Carrée (right).
Both buildings are covered with over 500,000 sf of multiple types of green roofs.

It is likely the world's first Solar Garden Roof.

 

It is now on Goggle Earth.

#greenroofs #biophylilla #stormwater #greenrooftechnology #greeninfrastructure #optigreen #solargardenroof

Health Care and Green Infrastructure

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, February 06, 2018

State of the Art Health Care and Green Infrastructure

BG Hospital Tübingen A hospital with LEED certification might be far away from State-of-the-Art. That it can be done differently and with commons sense shows the featured project. It has been upgraded constantly over the last 5 decades, always with Green Infrastructure in mind as a central element to reduce the footprint of the building and the increase the well-being of the patients.
 

This project likely increases LEED Platinum by 30%, but no Dollar or Cent was wasted for any certification. All money was directly invested in measurements to improve the environmental foot print and to increase the patients experience, that they can leave the hospital as soon as possible.

American Hospitals typically want to shine with their LEED points and assume that patients like this idea. Unfortunately this doesn't help in their healing process, actually keeps them longer in hospital - what helps the hospitals having more occupied beds and more income. The patients pay for the ego of the hospitals likely twice (not State-of-the-Art!).
BG Hospital Tübingen: The BG Hospital Tübingen is one of the largest trauma centers in Germany. 

Initially designed as follow-up clinic, it has been working closely with the neighboring Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen and its university hospital. 
In 1987, the collaboration became contractual: within the scope of the “Tübinger Modell”, the clinic takes care of the treatment of patients, as well as of research and teaching in the fields of trauma, hand, plastic and burn surgery. In 2006, this very successful model was expanded to the fields of oral, jaw and facial surgery, which have since been integrated into the BG hospital. The Siegfried Weller Institute for Traumatological Surgery at the BG hospital Tübingen works on a wide range of innovative projects. The work done by interdisciplinary teams focuses on bone metabolism diseases and stem cell research.

Germany has a universal multi-payer health care system with two main types of health insurance: "Statutory Health Insurance" (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) known as sickness funds (Krankenkassen) and "Private Health Insurance" (Private Krankenversicherung). Germany's state healthcare system is the oldest in Europe, dating back to the 1880s. Citizens pay into one of the 300 statutory state sickness funds through their payroll or bank. According to the Euro health consumer index, which placed it in 7th position in its 2015 survey, Germany has long had the most restriction-free and consumer-oriented healthcare system in Europe. Patients are allowed to seek almost any type of care they wish whenever they want it.
Please find a larger picture here: Jorg Breuning www.greenrooftechnology.com

Urban Planning in North America

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, August 16, 2016

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.

The A-Team Comes to CitiesAlive

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, October 01, 2015

The A-Team Comes to CitiesAlive



Industry veteran Jörg Breuning to showcase 
innovative vendors at Trade Show


The annual CitiesAlive Green Roof & Wall Conference is happening next week (October 5-8) in New York City. This conference hotspot is the place for green roof and green wall professionals to learn and discuss the latest technologies.

Every year at CitiesAlive, the 36-year green roof veteran Jörg Breuning and his company Green Roof Technology present innovative products and people that help make your project successful, affordable, and maximally environmental-friendly. “I like to share my experience, horticultural knowledge, and understanding of nature’s principles,” says Breuning, “to help people prevent wasted time, money, and frustration.”

This year, Jörg Breuning will present: 


Optigreen. World’s largest manufacturer of green roof products and system solutions engineered for use in any green roof application.


Clement Soga Associates. The first North American operator using drones to map and 3D model (via AutoCAD) current site conditions.



Geocell. World leader in foam glass gravel, a 99% recycled product that substitutes for manufactured foam insulation in green roof construction.



  

Solar Garden Roof. A non-roof penetrating, solar energy and green roof solution that combines the best of both options.




ALT Global, the world leader in advanced cold liquid applied membrane systems. 

Prior innovations introduced by Jörg Breuning include introduction of the German FLL Green Roof Guideline. “The guideline is the foundation of all current green roof standards, guidelines, and most specifications, and its continued use among green roof professionals demonstrates its success,” says Breuning. 

He has also fostered many North American green roof experts in their early days, including Ed Snodgrass (green roof plant grower and author of Green Roof Plants: A Resource and Planting Guide), Charlie Miller (Roofmeadow), Kurt Horvath (Green Roof Solutions), and Michael Furbish (Furbish Company).

Come mingle with Jörg Breuning and the A-Team at the Green Roof Service LLC/Green Roof Technology booth (307, in the middle of the Trade Show floor).

 

The 2015 Trade Show opens with an evening reception on October 5th at 7PM and is open on October 6th


 

Contact for tickets: info@greenrooftechnology.com


15 Million Square Feet of Green Roofs in 2 days!

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, April 06, 2015

Over 15 Million square feet of Green Roofs in 2 days!

In the World’s Green Roof capitol it isn’t a problem to walk over 15 million square feet of Green Roofs in two days.
Grinnell College Students, Architects and Professors joined me this year on a two day trip though out Stuttgart Germany.

Within the city limits and a population of around 700,000, Stuttgart can offer likely over 200 millions square feet of extensive and highly divers Green Roofs – more than the entire USA and probably Canada together.

The two days tour emphasized Green Roofs that are between 15 and 30 years old and that host over 40 different plants species. Remarkable is that not a single Green Roof was ever irrigated, nor fertilized in the last 10-15 years and most of them are maintained only once a year.

No Green Roof was ever replaced or fixed and the water proofing under all Green roofs never, ever leaked (in the US 50% of the green roof are getting fixed or replaced in the first 5 years). The average installation costs were at around $4-6/sf (in the US around $12-18/sf).

All Green Roofs have three major functions: stormwater retention, stormwater retention and stormwater retention.

Green Roofs in Stuttgart are part of a building like windows or doors. There is no necessity to make a big fuss out of it.
Being the World Champion in modern Green Roof technology is nothing to celebrate – it is the responsibility of sustainable and environmental conscious lifestyle combine with common sense.

The highlight of the tour was the Bosch Parking Garage with the world’s largest Solar Green Roof that was designed with extremely high diversity of plants that are found only in (local) native dry meadows.
While the Green Roof measures around ¼ Million square feet the PV is designed for 1 Megawatt.
Unmatched world record in this combination on building structure that is 100 feet above a 6 lane Highway.

Germany breaks 3 solar power records in 2 weeks

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Saturday, June 21, 2014

Germany breaks 3 solar power records in 2 weeks

  

More about the German record breaking Solar News at Treehugger

Since 5 years Green Roof Service LLC / Green Roof Technology is desperately trying to convince North Americans of the combination Solar and Green Roof.

Whether it is the world’s famous Universities, the world’s biggest corporations, the National Roofing Association or the Green Roof Association of North America, none of them seems the future of combined modern technologies.

Short term profits, ignorance and greed semm to blind North America - it isn't the sun blinding. These egoistic behaviors are reasons why North America is losing more and more ground in the technology sector, respect in the world and last but not least Millions of jobs.

I hope there is an App for it …. Well, without power it might not help.

 

 

MD Bill 207

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, March 31, 2014

MD HOUSE BILL 207

Today I we received an email by the USGBC requesting to oppose the MD House Bill 207. In the last decades the USGBC grew dramatically. Beside their originally great intention, LEED increased the costs of buildings super proportionally to the benefits for the environment.

In our opinion it is now necessary to naturally develop sustainable practices, solutions and technologies that can be much easier adopted and implemented by environmentally conscious people. With very simple tools (“rain tax”, higher taxes on energy, and responsibility for costs to reduce the negative environmental foot print of buildings etc.) the government now has a great opportunity giving back to builders and building owners the freedom of making their own decisions without the overwhelming pressure and costs from LEED.

Bill 207 helps to increase environmental consciousness of all American individuals and gives them back their freedom and responsibility in making their own decisions.

What is described as a setback by the USGBC is just a desperate reflex and fear of losing revenue and influence. USGBC must learn this lesson and USGBC has to prove that they are still competitive once Bill 207 passed.  

If the USGBC can’t take this as challenge they are worthless to start with.  

We support MD House Bill 207

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.



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