Monday, November 9, 2009

Düsseldorf’s Kö-Bogen Green Roofs

Germany continues its green roof leadership with the Kö-Bogen development in Düsseldorf.

According to, the structure, designed for multi-use the structure is:

"...adjacent to the Hofgarten, Düsseldorf’s central park, the Kö-Bogen will help create a larger and more continuous open green space that runs from the city center out to the park and the Rhine. The green roof will help connect the building with the beautiful historical parks surrounding the downtown area, while reducing rainwater runoff and helping to significantly reduce heating and cooling costs."

According to its architect, Daniel Libeskind, funding has been secured, and construction is set to begin in early 2010. The building is due to open in 2013.

While a green roof is a significant element of sustainable design, Kö-Bogen also includes other green building elements. It will have solar panels, as well as a biogas cogenerator.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Green Roofs for Virginia Tech

Recognized as a top engineering university, Virginia Tech also has green roofs!

The most recent issue of Virginia Tech Magazine, has an article about VT alumni who are leaders in sustainability. However, the first graphic is of students planting a green roof between Seitz and Fralin Halls. The picture, seen left, shows the planting of sedum, known to be drought resistant and sequesters CO2, while other potential plant life releases CO2 during its life cycle.

The other green roof on the Blacksburg campus is the Fralin Life Sciences building.

As a reminder, several colleges and universities have buildings with green roofs. Those include George Washington University, and the University of Texas, to name two.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Another Green Roof for London

London is getting another green roof on top of a sustainable building! The 21,370 square meter new office building was designed by UK-based Fletcher Priest for Monteverde Group.

The building is designed to use a staggered step design, creating two separate green roofs on the structure. Additionally, the upper green roof will be private, while the lower green roof will be public.

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Designers chose green roofs to double the public use space as well as to provide additional views of the surrounding buildings.

World Interior Design Network and World Architectural News ran similar stories commenting upon the structure and its design. WIDN also reports:

"The design reuses and adapts the existing below ground structure. This means about 50% of the existing building will be reused. The spare structural capacity and the embodied energy of the existing structure are not wasted, resulting in savings with reduced risks and less disturbance during ground works."

Additionally, recycled green glass will be used in the windows, reducing energy consumption by 40%.

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London is becoming a home of environmentally friendly, sustainable buildings with green roofs. Although projects such as the Battersea Power Station development have floundered due to the poor economic conditions of 2008-09, London has pioneered green roofed bus shelters (which San Francisco followed), and other green projects.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Greening Guangzhou

Guangzhou, the third largest city in China, suffers from the worst air pollution in the country. Owing to coal-fired electricity plants, as well as the use of coal and heavy oil in manufacturing, the air pollution is estimated to be the equivalent of smoking 8-10 packs of cigarettes a day.

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Acknowledging this situation as unsustainable, the local government, in conjunction with the national government and local business, have set out to improve not only the environmental conditions, but also the aesthetic conditions for the ten million who live in Guangzhou.

World Architecture News (WAN) reports:

"Heller Manus Architects has been awarded the contract to design Guangzhou’s Southern Axis... Heller Manus will now develop their plans for 14.78 sq km of the city incorporating waterfront and transit oriented development with a ferry terminal, central government districts, and a variety of urban land uses."

Heller Manus is based in San Francisco, and promotes designs that suitably blend function with the local culture. WAN notes, "The Heller Manus concept was chosen for its balance of growth with sustainability and preservation, while promoting amenities for better livability."

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Green roofs appear to be a significant element of the design, in addition to larger green spaces. In the context of improving Guangzhou, green roofs will help reduce the choking, fine particulate matter air pollution, as well improving storm water runoff. Both clean air and clean water are challenging not just for Guangzhou, but for China as a whole.

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Green roofs will also improve quality of life issues for the residents. Green roofs will provide green space for residents to escape the crowded city life and enjoy the view. Other possibilities include urban agriculture to improve food security.

As China continues to grow, its population is becoming more aware of the environmental consequences of rapid industrialization. Projects such as the modernization of Guangzhou, and dream cities such as Dongtan, will help prevent catastrophic and irreversible environmental damage and improve the overall health of its citizens.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Grow Cities with Green Roofs

Growing cities bring more air pollution. Cities such as Houston, Texas are using green roofs to combat air pollution and manage storm water runoff.

A recent NPR piece about growing and sprawling cities, states greater Houston's population at about 6 million people (podcast here). With its hot and humid climate, as well as oil refineries, air pollution is a very serious issue. Additionally, as Houston grows, storm water runoff and its management also becomes a more significant issue, as much of the runoff ends up in the Gulf of Mexico.

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The Houston Business Journal reported in 2007 people were thinking about and building green roofs. The green roof is 12% more efficient than a baseline building, and helps to reduce the urban heat island effect.

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From the article:

According to Wooten (Kirksey Associate Russell Wooten, project manager), green roofs address two green building issues that are of special concern in Houston:
  • The heat island effect. Green roofs reduce what is known as the heat island effect: Due to large areas of hot paved surfaces in urban areas, it's often up to 10 degrees hotter in the city than in the surrounding countryside.
  • Stormwater. The plant materials on green roofs absorb a large amount of stormwater. roofs increase the roof's life span, filter pollutants and carbon dioxide out of the air and filter pollutants and heavy metals out of rainwater.

Another successful green roof project in Houston is the University of Houston Architecture School. Geoffrey Brune of the Architecture School states in a piece from

"If all the buildings in Houston had green roofs then the temperature would be very different. … I think it would be significantly noticeable … by several degrees."

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Additionally, the U/H green roof is on a building with a sloped roof, not typically seen with green roofs. The building is proving that green roofs are feasible on not just for larger structures with sloped roofs, but also for residential structures, which typically do have sloped roofs.

As Houston's population continues to grow, the application of green roofs to new buildings will help bring cleaner air to its new residents.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Venlo, NL Green Roof

Venlo, the Netherlands, is joining the sustainability movement with its new municipal building.

World Architecture News reports the building, designed by Hans Goverde of Kraaijvanger • Urbis, will have two terraced green houses. The green houses will act like green roofs in that they will provide natural insulation and use storm water runoff.

The building will be the centerpiece of a larger development of sustainable buildings based on the "Cradle to Cradle" principles of William McDonough & Michael Braungart.

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"Cradle to Cradle" is a set of principles that, " industrial system that "takes, makes and wastes" can become a creator of goods and services that generate ecological, social and economic value." Venlo demonstrates these principles by collecting storm water runoff for the green house, and using the underground parking garage to help maintain building temperatures. - On SALE

Another example of "Cradle to Cradle" is the green roof on Ford's Rouge River plant in Dearborn, Michigan. The 10 acre green roof on the main assembly plant, in combination with porous pavement and swales, greatly reduced the storm water runoff that was regularly polluting the Rouge River, and save Ford over $35 million.

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As the economics of sustainability are borne out, and buildings such as Venlo's municipal building are constructed, we will begin to see more green roofs, cleaner air for cities, and an overall improvement of environmental conditions.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Germany's ECO CITY

Germany, already a leader in green roofs, is now working on its own ECO CITY. Full of green roofs, wind turbines, and other sustainable technologies, ECO CITY hopes to revive the historic Hamburg-Harburg Harbor.

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Hamburg-Harburg Harbor, situated on the North Sea, has been a hub of trade and industrial activity since the 19th century. Although the original factories have since left, the historic area still has many classic buildings that ECO CITY wishes to retain and reuse in the renovated and sustainable city.

Site reclamation and renovations are difficult enough, however, ECO CITY takes this project to the next level. and World Architecture News both report one of ECO CITY's goals is to achieve certification from the three leading "green" building bodies (from WAN):

"...USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Program, the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), and the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB)’s Program. Currently, ECO CITY is seeking the highest level of environmental certification from all three programs."

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To achieve top marks from each of these bodies, buildings must produce renewable energy, be built with recycled materials, and use the renewable energy to sustain the project, e.g., solar lights, passive cooling, etc.

Green roofs are a key element of the project, not only to reduce storm water runoff, but also to improve the quality of life of the workers in the area. ARUP, the designers of Dongtan, the green city in China, is one of the key developers of ECO CITY. Their experience with green building, and Dongtan in particular, will help make ECO CITY a success.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

US Postal Service Green Roof

The US Postal Service has finished a 2.5 acre green roof in New York City. The green roof, on top of the Morgan, an historic building in mid-town, should last 50 years. posted the story in its regular email, though the USPS posted a press release on 22 July 2009. Free Shipping on any purchase over $25

According to the press release,

The Morgan green roof is the largest in New York and one of the largest in the country,” said Sam Pulcrano, vice president, Sustainability. “Not only does it provide employees with a beautiful, serene outdoor environment, the green roof will help us meet our goal to reduce energy usage 30 percent by 2015.

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The USPS wisely noted the value of green roofs, namely, reduced energy usage, as well as storm water runoff management. Additionally, green roofs reduce fine particulate matter air pollution. Of course, they are beautiful also! Chuck Norris wants YOU to get into shape! - Total Gym® Official Store. Try Total Gym® for 30 Days for only $1 - FREE Shipping.

As a US taxpayer, I am glad to see my money being spent in such a responsible way! Let's hope we see more green roofs, not just in New York City, but also in places such as Shanghai, Bangalore, and more in Mexico City.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Green Roofs Do Require Maintenance

While green roofs are low maintenance, they do require some maintenance in the first two years, though considerably less in the out years.

Many people ask, how do you cut the grass on green roofs? Despite the humorous goat picture, you don't have to, rather maintenance is centered around getting the green roof plants established.

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Generally speaking, there are two types of green roofs, intensive and extensive. Intensive roofs have very large shrubs or trees, while extensive roofs generally have grasses and succulents. Since trees and other larger shrubs have deeper root systems and weigh more, they are subject to more maintenance, while extensive roofs (succulents and grasses) require less.

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discusses the maintenance topic thoroughly and is a significant source for this post, minus the goats. The establishment period requires watering, fertilizing, weeding, checking for proper drainage, and checking for leaks. Once a roof is established, watering is only required in extreme drought conditions.

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Proper drainage is critical. If the drainage is insufficient, the plants can drown or rot, and the roof could possibly leak. Inspecting for leaks is also critical, especially around the following areas, from UDT:

Areas where occasional inspection for leaks is advisable include possible such as abutting vertical walls, roof vent pipes, outlets, air conditioning units, perimeter areas, etc.

Eventually, the supporting roof will have to be replaced, though, with proper design, installation, and maintenance, should last at least as long as a traditional roof. Considering the energy savings green roofs bring, a green roof is comparably as expensive as a traditional roof.

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Green roofs do require maintenance. Make sure during the establishment phase, that they are properly watered, weeded, and fertilized. Also make sure to inspect drainage and for leaks. While goats aren't necessary, they do make a pleasant aesthetic addition!

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Green Roof Supplier, LiveRoof

You can't have a green roof without the, well, green. LiveRoof is a supplier of the plant life that goes on green roofs.

LiveRoof selects plants to suit the regions for which they will go, and then uses a network of regional growers to provide the appropriate plants. Mountain House Freeze-Dried Food

According to Jeff Geoghan's Lancaster PA real estate blog,
The plants are selected based on their water retention, heat resistance, growth height and other factors. Plants used fall into the "sedum" category. Paul (Cook) explained how the plants take approximately 3 months to fully grow once the order for a roof system has been placed.

Sedum are plants with very shallow roots and part of a group of plants known as succulents. Succulents will consume and hold large amounts of rain water, and the green roof substrate will retain much of what is left over, reducing storm water runoff. $10 Off All Online Flower Orders. Over 75,000 florists world-wide offering same-day flower delivery at a discount.

Another nice thing about LiveRoof is that home owners can install the roof themselves. LiveRoof provides a video to help. I would suggest that you find out how much weight your roof can sustain per square foot and if any additional bracing is required to install the green roof. Free Shipping on any purchase over $25

LiveRoof, via ActiveRain says, "The system itself runs about $12 per square foot on average for a residential installation. So, if you have a 20x20 roof its 400 square feet or $4,800." While this is a readily accessible solution for home owners, make sure the roof is properly prepared with a water barrier, etc before you purchase and install the system.

Thanks to my twitter friend @lancasterhomes for the story.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Ireland's Green Roofs Videos

Ireland is one of the world's greenest countries, at least in terms of flora and fauna. However, Ireland is also the home of ancient and modern green roofs.

Long before China, Chicago, or New York put green roofs on buildings, the Irish had done it in Newgrange. Newgrange, is home of a megalithic burial site, a mound that covers about an acre, covered with a green roof. The site was thought to be built around 32oo BC, and is typical of other mound sites throughout the world, all of which have green roofs. Free Shipping on any purchase over $25

What has Newgrange to do with modern green roofs in Ireland? Everything! Historically, Ireland's agrarian culture and temperate climate has created in its populace a love of the land and local environment. It should come as no surprise then, that "...Miles Sampson, a County Clare-based architect specializing in sustainable homes," has created a very green home in Ireland, with a series of green roofs. Click here for the lowest available Air France fares.

According to Matt Hickman at Mother Nature Network,

"The building of one of his low-energy homes, a “Geomorphological House,” in the rural west of Ireland has been captured on film and even if you aren’t intrigued by the home’s various green features (grass sod roof, vacuum tube solar panels, recycled newspaper insulation, heat recovery ventilation system, etc.)."

To highlight his design, videos were made describing their features and construction. They are quite enjoyable! Please enjoy the videos of this great house with green roofs in Ireland!

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tax Credits for Green Roofs

Green roofs are nothing new to Boston. Now, with proposed tax credits, green roofs could be more affordable.

The Boston Herald reports that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino "...filed legislation in January to establish a green building tax credit for measures that increase energy efficiency, improve air quality and reduce environmental impacts." $10 Off All Online Flower Orders. Over 75,000 florists world-wide offering same-day flower delivery at a discount.

The Mayor's actions are partly in response to a study by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, "...found the number of projects its members worked on grew by more than 35 percent last year, thanks in part to tax credits offered by cities including New York and Chicago."

The tax credit would recognize the higher cost of construction for green roofs, but would also reward the communal benefits of reducing air pollution and storm water runoff. Additionally, the intangible value of beautification can't be ignored. Water Barrels and Storage

While the tax credit method of encouraging green roofs differs dramatically from Toronto's, Tokyo's, and Switzerland's laws mandating green roofs, I personally prefer the tax credit. A tax credit is an incentive and promotes positive behavior, as well as encouraging others to follow suit.

Hat tip to dinoperna at Twitter!

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Green Roofs at Airports

Although I have written about the green roof Kloten (Zurich) International Airport Dock E, I was thinking about a different type of green roof. What if there were green roofs on jet ways?

As I taxied to the gate in Boston, I thought about how hot, cold, or muggy the jet way would be. It is rare, at least in the U.S. airports that I have traveled through that jet ways were comfortable. Air France offers free stopovers in Paris.

So, what if they outfitted jet ways with green roofs? The would immediately be cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter, and would help with storm water runoff.

While retrofitting existing jet ways with green roofs is probably infeasible, it may more realistic with new jet ways. Designer cards at

Just a thought for all of you airport managers out there.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Villa Santai, Bali's Green Roof

When people think of Bali, Indonesia, warm breezes, and a beautiful, unspoiled setting come to mind. Relaxing in such a beautiful setting is a dream for many, and a reality for just a few.

Victor Sinclair decided this was a place he wanted live and dream, while enjoying green roofs! His website starts with an excellent quotation that sets the stage for why he built Villa Santai with green roofs:

“ The nature that we have on the roof, is that piece of nature that we murdered, when put the house there ” , Friedenreich Hunderwasser, the leading architect for green roofs in the 1960's – 1980's.

Particular to this site are the ways Villa Santai manages water. Subject to monsoons and dry seasons, the Villa has a series of water storage tanks to capture heavy rains. While the green roofs take up some of the rain, the rest is divided for different purposes. In one tank, the water is filtered for drinking water. The other two tanks are used to recycle waste water, which goes to to maintain the plants. Water Barrels and Storage

The green roofs for the Villa specifically reduce the interior heat of the living area, which in tropical Bali is a must! Additionally, outside of the 36 acre lot, the major form of transportation is motorcycle or scooter. The green roofs help reduce the noise as people motor past. $20 Off AeroGardens

Found in the beauty of Bali, Villa Santai is an excellent example of using sustainable building, green roofs, and water conservation in a luxury setting. In addition to Victor's website, I highly recommend his article on

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Chilean Hospitals with Green Roofs

Near Santiago, Chile, two hospitals have been designed with green roofs! The two beautiful designs are for large, accessible health care facilities to meet the growing need for both inpatient and outpatient care.

The two hospitals, 65,000 m2 each, designed by Architects Barbera (Spain) and
Murtinho+Raby Arquitectos (Chile), each had to serve not just the medical needs of the residents, but also fit suitably in the environment. The architects decided to include green roofs in their design. Hydroponic garden

In both cases, patient rooms would receive natural sunlight, while functional corridors and non-patient spaces would generally be inset into the landscape. By using the landscape and green roofs, the hospitals are both visually appealing and energy efficient. Additionally, the green roofs also help to reduce air pollution, which is significant in Santiago. Discover Top Rated Mighty Leaf Herbal Tea. Tea lovers love our delicious herbal tea blends. You will too. Save 25% on your first order!

Two videos are available from the site announcing the design of these buildings. They are in Spanish, but are beautiful to watch, if you don't speak Spanish.

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