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Green Roof Technology Blog

First Steps to Planning a Green Roof

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, April 23, 2013

 By: Samantha Yurek

Happy Earth Week! Hopefully everyone has taken some time out of their busy lives to lend a hand to our beautiful planet we inhabit. Whether it is picking up some litter, planting a tree or deciding to go all out and look into acquiring a green roof! Here are a few things you should have a good idea of before you leap into the planning process.

1. How sturdy is your roof?  Adding growing media and plants to your rooftop adds weight to your structure. Make sure your roof can handle some extra weight first. Find out the materials and structure of your building.

2. Is your roof sloped?  A slight slope is perfectly fine, but anything steeper than 15 degrees, the roof might become a slide for the plants without additional constructive design.

3. How much are you willing to spend?  Implementing a green roof is an investment for the future. Simple extensive vegetated roofs usually cost around $10-$15 a square foot (pre-grown planter boxes or modular systems are more expensive). Many local programs will help pay for green infrastructure, based on the environmental benefits. 

4. What type of green roof are you looking for?  A simple meadow-like area, not accessible and mainly for the environmental benefits (extensive) or an intensive roof, complete with recreational room and the potential for larger plants such as trees.

5. How are the sunlight conditions?  The majority of green roof plants enjoy direct sunlight to flourish. If the building is situated in a heavily shade area, the green roof plant selection becomes limited.

6. Do you want an integrated solar green roof?  The Sun-Root™ System is the newest of technologies, a fully integrated system and an ideal symbiosis of PV panels and an extensive green roof. It is easy to install and will not penetrate the roof. The entire system has the potential to pay back within 5 years and also meets stormwater requirements in all cities of North America.

 

Do your homework first before deciding on a green roof, our website is a great starting point to increase your green roof knowledge. If you're interested in a green roof or have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us, we would be happy to help you get started today!

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

 

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!

Stormwater Retention and Green Roofs

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, February 07, 2013

By Jörg Breuning

Any impervious area of urban development prevents precipitation from infiltrating into the ground.  Instead of soaking up the water, it redirects it to another area. By redirecting the stromwater into other areas, the run-off will accumulate elements that are on this impervious area and pollute the run-off water.

Looking for Stormwater Retention (direct contact of humans with water)

Over the last 5 decades multiple studies show that these pollutants have a measurable negative impact to the watersheds and ultimately the lakes, bays or oceans. Since humans are in direct or indirect contact with these bodies of water (through swimming, potable water, irrigation of land grown food, aquatic or seafood) these pollutants have great impact on our health and causes billions of dollars to be spent on health care. The majority of pollutants in our water sheds are caused by chemicals of farmland, substances from vehicles (antifreeze, oil rubber) or simple trash that is carelessly discarded.  For example, in many areas people are advised to reduce the consumption of local fish to less than one time a week because this food source is too polluted. It is questionable whether vegetables from farms (including rooftop farms in polluted cities) or other meat from mass husbandry are a good alternative.

With smart stormwater best management practices (BMPs), pollution can be controlled effectively. It can't be diminished to a value that equals the natural environment previously - before the location was populated. Decreasing polluted stormwater run-off is a responsibility of everybody (not only the government) and it will pay-off by creating a livable environment for humans. If we don't make this investment and make it mandatory, our living quality will decrease and the value of our environment will drop over time. People will eventually move to healthier places, but these places are limited. We only have one earth.

Considering that an extensive green roofs with a 4 inch depth can retain 50% or more of the annual rainfall, they are the most efficient “direct on source” solution. If these extensive green roofs are engineered, installed and maintained properly, there is no pollution in the reduced, delayed or remaining run-off and for sure substantially less comparing to an impervious area on the ground. Comparing to other on-source stromwater BMP’s (e.g. pervious pavements) the costs of extensive green roofs are minimal – although still an investment for the building owner. Green roofs can be perfectly combined with any other stormwater BMP what increases the efficiency.

Official numbers show that the imperiousness of residential properties is around 30% and commercial land at around 65%. The implementation of extensive green roofs on commercial properties is typically cheaper because the roof areas are bigger and easier accessible.  Green roofs on large scale commercial buildings (warehouse belts around cities) will reduce the run-off dramatically and in addition will reduce the heat island effect by lowering the air temperature that is transported to the surrounded city.

If these commercial owners would choose integrated vegetation and solar (PV) systems, the costs of the green roof installation and maintenance could be off-set in less than 10 years and there would be no additional costs that increase the product of this company.  Since this environmental step is an investment, these eco-conscious companies would also reduce their tax on profits in the short term. However, reducing short term profits doesn't seem popular in the current economic environment and as long as there is no eco-rating of these companies. In this case LEED is counterproductive.

Water is the number one source for life on earth and any on-source reduction of run-off from the production process of goods or impervious areas will increase the living conditions tremendously, avoid expensive battles for clean water, and allow the human population to grow healthy and protect the native environment.




Sun-Root™ System Press Release

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, February 07, 2013


Today Green Roof Technology announces to become the
Premier Supplier of Solar Green Roofs in America


BEL AIR, MD--(Marketwire - February 07, 2013) -  Green Roof Technology, a design and installation firm specializing in green (vegetated) roofs, announced today the completion of an exclusivity agreement with German green roof manufacturer Optigreen. Per the agreement, Green Roof Technology will become the exclusive North American supplier of the Sun-Root™ system.

The Sun-Root™ system is being hailed as the latest achievement in sustainable technology. The Sun-Root™ creates the first ever fully integrated Solar + Green Roof combination. The weight of the green roof holds the entire system in place, negating the need to drill into the roof membrane to support the solar panels. The cooling effect from the vegetation dramatically increases the efficiency and output from the solar panels.

"Partnering with the largest green roof supplier in the world is an outstanding accomplishment for our firm," states Jorg Breuning, founder of Green Roof Technology. "The North American market leans heavily on Germany for new and innovative green roof products and this agreement supports our vision to supply the market with high quality products at a competitive price."

For more information about this system and to see a short video of how it all comes together, please visit our website at:

http://www.greenrooftechnology.com/solar-green-roof.


Spotlight on the Sun-Root™ System

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, January 28, 2013

Back in 2012, Green Roof Technology installed our first Sun-Root™ System in New York City.  The vegetation’s ability to cool the air increases the efficiency of the solar panels perched atop the green roof. 

Learn more about combining solar and vegetated
roofs with our Sun-Root™ System

This week the Sun-Root™ System has been highlighted in “Under Cover: Solar Vegetated Roofs Take Root,” a recent online article by Green Manufacturer.  The Sun-Root™ will also be in the spotlight in their January/February issue of the Green Manufacturer Magazine.     

Chicago, one of America's green roof leaders, is slowly falling behind in the technological race. Numerous studies have proven solar energy integrated with vegetated roofs are more efficient than either practice by itself. Chicago has yet to offer any incentives that include integrated solar green roof systems.

Northwestern University: 
What Chicago Green Roofs Are Missing Out On 




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.  

Ground Mounted Solar Farms - Questionable

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Saturday, December 08, 2012

Ground mounted Solar Farms are questionable.

Jörg Breuning Dec 5th 2012

 

It is widely known that multibillion companies are massively investing in solar energy. Especially Internet companies (Google, Yahoo, 1and1, etc.) have huge demands for energy to feed their decentralized server systems. Experts estimated that in ten years from now this modern telecommunication (internet, clouds, videos, email etc.) require worldwide 1963 Billion kWh. This is three times more than the current entire power consumption of France, Germany, Brazil and Canada together (Greenpeace).  With this numbers in mind it is understandable that these companies like to reduce their energy costs in the long run with alternative energies.

Photograph: Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty Images

However alternative energy doesn’t mean it is “green”. Especially ground mounted solar farms (the preferred solution of these companies) consume a tremendous amount of land and produce substantial amounts of run-off. Typically the development starts with clear-cuts of forests, elimination of native environments or transforming farm land. After the development is done sometimes vegetation is brought back. Typically low growing grasses that require regular maintenance with sheep, weed covers, mulch, gas powered mowers and chemicals.

Source: http://www.greentechmedia.com/content/images/articles/German-Solar-Weeds%281%29.jpg

Once this expensive maintenance is not done consistently the performance of the system will suffer and eventually completely fail.

Picture: http://www.greentechmedia.com/content/images/articles/German-Solar-Weedds(1).

 

Ground remote Solar Farms.

Solar arrays installed on already impervious areas will reduce the land consumption dramatically. Also being less addicted to Facebook , IGadgets, PC, or smart Phones can actually reduce the energy need -our impact- without losing contact to friends and still making new friends. A hand written note in a personal calendar can be more environmentally friendly than connecting to clouds and email programs.

Since there are already enough existing roofs, parking lots, rail road tracks and roadways that could be covered with Solar and also combined with extensive green roofs would create recognizable stormwater reduction, perviousness and last not least power. This combined technology is available since decades but many Architects, Engineers and developers seemed to be blinded by the sun while the supposing green industry takes out one piece of fertile land at a time and taking away nature’s most advanced solar panel – the plants that are surrounded by a natural sponge.

No additional land use and hardly any maintenance on extensive Green Roof / Solar combination with the well-engineered Sun-Root ™.

Sun-Root System unfazed by Superstorm Sandy

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, December 04, 2012

by Ryan Miller

In April of 2012, Green Roof Technology introduced the first Sun-Root solar green roof system to the United States when we installed a 1 kW system (4 Sun-Root Modules) atop the New York Parks & Rec. office on Randall’s Island in New York City. The rooftop, which is eye-level with commuters on the Triboro bridge, creates and stores enough power during the day to power a series of rooftop LED lights throughout the night.  New York City Parks & Rec was drawn to this technology as a means of adding solar power without the need to drill into the membrane to harness the solar array.

Although controlled wind studies have already proven the strength of this system, we are now able to report some real-life wind tests.  Recent Superstorm Sandy made landfall late October, only 6 months after installation, and left without moving the Sun-Root System an inch.  New York City reported maximum sustained winds at 85 mph with some gusts reaching 92 mph .  Upon visiting the site a week after the storm made landfall we found that our original placements of the Sun-Root withstood the winds without a shift.   Jorg could not be happier.


Green Power for NYC

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, May 14, 2012

By Jorg Breuning

Sun Root with solar panel at the NYC Dept. of Parks and Rec, Randall's Island ~ Photos by Jorg Breuning

Big things are happening in New York!

The first Green Roof & Solar Panel Installation by Green Roof Technology is now powered-up. A few weeks ago Green Roof Technology and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation installed the first non-roof-penetrative PV-Green Roof combination in Northern America.  The installation took place at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation building on Randall's Island as an addition to their already extensive green roof system collection

The Sun-Root system - promoted by Green Roof Technology - is the most advanced system solution that considers enhanced water storage for the plants and optimized evaporative cooling for solar panels at the same time.  Drought tolerant succulents were graciously donated by Mother Plants and the growing media was provided by Rooflite. This green roof system is truly unparalleled.  The project is accessible by appointment. Please contact info@greenrooftechnology.com

Learn more about the amazing Sun-Root™ System.  (YouTube Video) Click on the picture for more information on the marvels of combining solar and green roofs on our webpage. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sun Roots soaking up the sun after installation at NYC Dept.
Parks and Rec Building ~ Photo by Jorg Breuning

 

The NYC Department of Buildings oversees the property tax abatement's for the installation of solar and or green roofs in New York City. To find  out more about application deadlines and tax abatement's click on the NYC buildings logo above.

Green Roof & Solar Panel Installation in NYC  NYC Buildings


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