Thursday, October 23, 2008

Green Roofs for Abu Dhabi

Who would have thought green roofs would work in a desert? Well, designer Llewelyn Davies Yeang did! Eco Bay Complex in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, is a multi-story, multi-family, residential complex.

World Arab reports the following:

"This oasis is conceived as a network of passively-cooled gardens and public spaces beginning with a large plaza at ground level, which then winds its way up to the sky as a series of pocket gardens floating within each of the five towers."

Why are green roofs a plus for desert environments? Although storm water runoff management is a key feature of green roofs, desert environments tend to suffer from high concentrations of fine particulate matter air pollution, specifically sand. Additionally, as the Gulf states increase their industrial production, they also increase their CO2 emissions.

The other complimentary feature of this type of building with both green roofs and internal gardens provide cooling through the volume of plant life. What isn't discussed is where the necessary water will come. One hopes a gray water system will be put in place to reduce fresh water consumption.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Washington D.C.'s New Green Roof and Labyrinth

The World Resources Institute issued a press release on 08 October 2008 that the American Psychological Association (APA) has opened a green roof and labyrinth in Washington, DC.

From the press release:

This collaborative effort is part of our overall mission to create open spaces that heal the body, mind, and spirit,” said Mary Wyatt, executive director of TKF Foundation, the lead funder for the project.

The APA, in their decision to create the green roof and labyrinth, realized the benefits of green roofs, namely reduced air pollution and storm water runoff.

Green roofs are not new to Washington DC. The George Washington University put a green roof on one of its student centers. Additionally, Washington, DC city government has provided over $300,000 to reduce storm water runoff.

Organizations such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and World Resources Institute not only encourage the building of green roofs, but also help with funding and managing the projects. This involvement helps to raise awareness of the value of green roofs, as well their contribution to clean air and water.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Another Green City for China

In the 9/25/2008 issue of "China Daily," there is an article titled "China Singapore Team Up on Green City Project."

China, in cooperation with Singapore, is looking to build a new, green city on a piece of land that would otherwise be unsuitable for habitation.

From the article: "The eco city is located in Tianjin's Binhai New Area. It will cover a total of 30 sq km - 20 sq km in Hangu district and 10 sq km in Tanggu district. It is 15 km from the central part of the Binhai New Area, 45 km from downtown Tianjin, and 150 km from Beijing."

The planners are estimating a population of approximately 350,000 when complete in 10-15 years. Additionally, it will have five commercial centers.

From a sustainability point of view, "Clean energy and renewable energy resources - such as wind power, solar energy, underground heat pump and air source heat pump - will reduce carbon emissions in the city. All the buildings in the eco city will have to conform to green architectural design standards." Green roofs are included in the design.

This is the latest in a green building boom in China. Shanghai working on a green roof program, Dongtan is the green city in southern China, and Songjiang, the new green resort being built. In each of these cases, green roofs play a key role in reducing air pollution, the urban heat island effect, storm water runoff, as well as improved energy efficiency.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Interview with Atkins, Part II

This is the second part of the my interview with Atkins regarding the Songjiang resort complex, in Songjiang, China, near Shanghai. Read Part I here, and the original post ("China's Green Resort) here. Many thanks to Atkins for their time and cooperation with this interview.

Assuming the overall project is successful, does Atkins expect other Chinese hotels to use green roofs or event to remodel existing structures to promote cleaner air?
This depends on the context and location. Green roofs have their use and place but not in all situations. However it is our intention to promote green issues in hotel design in appropriate forms in all our projects.

What are the risks to this project? Specifically, are the current global credit situation or the cost of oil creating stress on the project?
Risks are that the budgets may be reduced and thus reduce the sustainability elements in this particular project. However certain features such as the green roof are an integral part of the design and cannot be omitted.

Outside of the Shimao, who are the key stakeholders in the project?
Shimao are the developers. They are currently negotiating with the prospective hotel operators. At the moment, the operator’s identity is confidential.

Has this project inspired inquiries by other hoteliers to create their own Songjiang-type hotels?
Yes we have had inquiries from a number of developers/operators in China as a result of this success. Some have specifically requested for sustainable content within their concepts.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Interview with Atkins, Songjiang's Architect

This article is the first of a two-part interview with Atkins, the architects of the Songjiang resort complex.

Many thanks to Atkins for their time and thoroughness in answering the following questions.

What were the motivations of Shimao to build Songjiang? In particular, why would they choose such a unique design?
The site is within a larger context of the ‘Shimao Wonderland’ development – a themed leisure/tourist destination. The challenge was to successfully develop such a difficult ‘brownfield’ site within this scheme.

What were the key differentiators between Atkins and its main competitors that ultimately led the Shimao to choose Atkins for the Songjiang project?
Our solution successfully integrated ‘green’ elements with the concept. The combination of the ‘green roof’, the’ hanging gardens’ and the underwater aquarium elements clearly expressed the client’s plan for the development. There is an ‘organic’ quality to the design which enables it to fit into the environment so effortlessly.

My readers are very interested in green roofs. What was the motivation to use such a large green roof?
It was the best way to integrate the building into such sensitive environment. The area is known for exceptional landscape and several green hills. This building was conceived as another ‘green hill’, and is meant to be a natural addition to the local landscape. Moreover, the environmental benefits in terms of biodiversity and the benefits to the building through the acoustic and thermal insulation lead to its utilisation.

In modern history, China has seen the natural environment as both a hindrance and a great resource. Is China trying to have both growth and environmental sensitivity with this project?
Yes, this project is intended to express the traditional and respectful attitude of the Chinese to nature. In all our architectural projects around the world we are specifically drawing attention to the importance of sustainability in building and harmony with natural environment.

Green Cincinnati

Cincinnati, Ohio, in the American heartland, is aiming to become a leader in both commercial and residential green roofs.

In an Associate Press story, found on CBS News,

"The City Council on Wednesday became the first in Ohio with a plan to channel grants and loans to residents and businesses to replace tar and shingles with vegetation."

The City Council has recognized the benefits of green roofs, namely storm water runoff management, reduced fine particulate matter air pollution, as well as reducing the urban heat island effect.

The article points out the "how" of how to manage the increased costs of green roofs. Specifically,

"About $5 million a year in below-market-rate loans through the U.S. EPA Clean Water State Revolving Fund will be available starting in 2009 for green roof projects, city officials estimate, along with an undetermined amount of grant money from other EPA funds."

Perhaps this project will be commercial focus on the benefits of green roofs and encourage interest. The key to green roof acceptability is commercial viability. Let's hope that increased visibility and proper marketing can drive demand and bring down prices.