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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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Combining Solar and Green Roofs

Is it possible to make green roofs better? Sure, add solar panels! Although many think that green roofs and solar panels are incompatible, they aren't!

Although the benefits of green roofs are legendary, particularly the reduction of HVAC costs, and improved storm water control, air quality improvements, and reducing urban heat islands, adding solar just makes it that much better. Water Barrels and Storage

As I was researching the topic, I found some good information from Calfinder. A residential solar installer, Calfinder writes that green roofs improve the efficiency of solar panels, as they reduce the surrounding heat. "The green roof cools ambient temperatures around the solar panels, allowing the solar panels to stay cooler and function better." $20 Off AeroGardens

Calfinder also links to, and the project pictured above, in Germany. An elementary school combined solar with a beautiful sedum roof. From the article:

Two hundred solar panels with an output of 23 kW(p) and a large extensive green roof now grace the top roof of this large school for primary and secondary grades in Unterensingen. The panels power enough electricity for the entire school.

The practice of combining green roofs and solar is a winning idea! Not only do both perform their functions improving the environment, but their synergy creates more efficient and longer lasting solar panels. Now, if the techonolgy for wind turbines improves for those of us in low-wind areas, that would be a triple play! Mountain House Freeze-Dried Food

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Where Green Roofs are the Law

When writing my post about Toronto mandating green roofs for new construction over 2000 sq m., I had remembered that Tokyo had a similar law, but hadn't provided any source material.

Since then, I decided to find out what localities or countries required green roofs by law. While I don't wish to discuss the merits or demerits of mandating green roofs by the force of law, I am happy to discuss the benefits from the green roofs themselves. Water Barrels and Storage

As mentioned above, Toronto's City Council passed a law in May of 2009 requiring roofs over 2,000 sq m. to have green roofs that cover between 20-50% of the roof's surface. For Toronto, storm water runoff and pollution control are significant issues, as well as reducing heating costs. However, it turns out the Tokyo is the leader in legislating green roofs.

The Fujitsu Research Institute reports that the law, Ordinance on Environmental Preservation, originally passed in December of 2000, implemented in April 2001, and revised in June of 2008, is focused on reducing petroleum in general, though it also spells out other green activities, including green roofs. highlights that the Ordinance requires " buildings greater than 1,000 square meters (10,000 sf) or over one-quarter acre to green at least 20% of its useable roof space." For Tokyo specifically, a key goal in implementing this ordinance was to reduce the urban heat island effect. Mountain House Freeze-Dried Food

Not to be outdone by the Japanese, Switzerland has a federal law requiring green roofs. The law, however, is administered at the Canton (state) level, with each state taking a slightly different interpretation.

Again, is a wealth of information, with this quotation:

"The cities of Basel, Zürich, and Luzern, for example now require that every new flat roof be planted per building code. As of the end of 2005, approximately 20% of the flat roofs are green roofs within Basel in the city of Basel in a year there will be around 80. This equals about 80 city projects totaling 480,000 m2, with the outlying countryside projects also around 80, estimated at 500,000 m2 (Dr. Stephan Brenneisen, 2005)."

As we have seen, legislating green roofs does create great benefits for the localities in which the laws are past. Buildings use less energy as the green roofs reduce HVAC costs, and they also reduce the load on storm water management systems. Additionally, major cities reduce the urban heat island effect. Clearly, these are tremendous benefits, though I don't personally believe they should be mandated by law.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

A New Green Roof in Delhi, Michigan

OK, the picture you see doesn't have a green roof, but the green roof is there, really! According to "Capital Gains," the Township of Delhi, near Lansing, Michigan put a 7200 square foot green roof on the Sam Corey Senior Center.

The Senior Center, in addition to having a green roof, also has "...a geothermal closed-loop ground source heat pump." Additionally, it is the first LEED-certified building in the Township. The Township decided to use the green roof to mitigate storm water runoff and reduce HVAC costs. The Township estimates the green roof will absorb 9/10 of an inch of rain and save 35-50% in HVAC costs. $20 Off AeroGardens

The green roof was built using elements from LiveRoof. Headquartered in the Netherlands, LiveRoof uses a modular system, making installation and maintenance easy. Similar to flats of annuals, if changes need to be made or changes in the design are desired, it is simple as replacing the flat.

As I mention in the title section of the blog, green roofs provide tremendous cost and environmental benefits without being overly complex or expensive. Were I a taxpayer in Delhi Township or the state of Michigan, I would congratulate the responsible parties for wise use of my tax dollars.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Great Video on Reducing Urban Heat Islands has posted a great video, which I have embedded below, about the green roof at Silvercup Studios in New York City.

The green roof is not only providing benefits such as reducing the urban heat island effect and reducing storm water runoff, but it is also a test bed and research station. FREE SHIPPING on orders over $50.00 at

The green roof, according to LINYC, was installed in the summer of 2005. From the article:

"A matrix of 1,500 planters will have 20 different species of plants intended to show off their red, yellow and green colors, visible from the Queensboro Bridge when in full bloom. The carefully selected plants and soil - engineered to weigh only a fifth as much as typical dirt - help clean the air and absorb rain that would otherwise become storm-water runoff. And when many of them are clustered together, green roofs can reduce the urban heat island effect (densely populated cities tend to be hotter than surrounding areas because of the heat-trapping properties of tall buildings, asphalt and concrete)."

Enjoy the video!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Colombia Joins the Green Roof Movement

When many people think of green roofs, they generally think of cities such as Chicago, Washington, DC and Shanghai. While these cities definitely need the benefits of green roofs, non-polluted environments can benefit also. Take Colombia, with its varied geography and mild climate, is a great location for green roofs.

A recent project, designed by G Ateliers, in Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia sports green roofs on structures that blend into the surrounding environment. FREE SHIPPING on orders over $50.00 at

The structures, known as "Ecological Shelters," are about 2 hours from Medellin and were built for potential use in eco-tourism. The idyllic country-side, with rolling hills, and a large lake nearby creates a perfect setting for "getting away from it all."

What is also nice about these "shelters," is that the green roofs were designed to be used daily, and not just for their benefits, such as reduced HVAC costs, storm water runoff management, and air pollution reduction. Discover Top Rated Mighty Leaf Herbal Tea. Tea lovers love our delicious herbal tea blends. You will too. Save 25% on your first order! notes that the complex also has hiking trails, dining, as well as a chapel. One wonders how long such a beautiful site can remain a secret?

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

London's Battersea Power Station Green Roof

London is full of iconic architecture, such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Battersea Power Station. However, none of them have green roofs, at least not yet.

Built in the 1930s, Battersea provided electricity to the city, but also tons of smog. However, Rafael Viñoly, the chosen designer, has offered his latest in design to convert the landmark into usable real estate, with large green roofs! FREE SHIPPING on orders over $50.00 at

Sadly, this project has been marred by an original designed deemed grandiose, and now critics highlight a variety of, well, criticisms.

From Niki May Young at World Architecture

"He (Brian Barnes, noted artist and community campaigner) has, some might say, a purist belief in the Station’s community worth, and while he sees the latest designs as progress, there are many elements that he insists are not necessary. “They’ve gone back to the park view from before that mad dome thing which we called the dyson, you know it looked like it was going to hoover everything up..."

Other critics, such as one found at, have this to say:

"An underwhelming effort, then, but just another notch in the chimney-stack of pie-eyed ideas for the site. Over 25 years since it breathed its last fumes into the London fog, Battersea Power Station remains a blot in the copybook of countless developers and architects, and as yet another scheme is run through and rejected, the building's gradual decomposition will continue."

While I haven't followed the obvious ups and downs of the project, it is clear to me that it has been quite bumpy. However, what is clear is that Battersea and the surrounding neighborhood could use a boost in terms of commerce, architecture and green space. While purists are never satisfied, a nice helping a green roof should mollify most critics, I hope. Indoor gardens


Monday, June 8, 2009

Masdar, the Green City for Abu Dhabi

While I have written about green cities in the past, Dongtan, in particular, the only city that has started construction is Masdar, in Abu Dhabi.

Designed for 40-50,000 residents and another 50,000 commuters, Masdar will utilize solar as its primary electricity source. The first 10 MW power station went online in January 2009, according to UAE Interact.

Additional green features include grey-water recycling systems, an highly-efficient desalination plant, as well as "... the world’s largest solar thermal driven cooling and dehumidification system. " In addition to green systems for electricity and water, the building materials themselves had to be green. The steel had to be recycled steel, as well as the aluminum. Discover Top Rated Mighty Leaf Herbal Tea. Tea lovers love our delicious herbal tea blends. You will too. Save 25% on your first order!

Another interesting highlight of the city, besides having no cars and the use of "personalized rapid transport pods," is the planned use of sequestered CO2 to improve the efficiency of oil drilling.

Although green roofs don't appear in the plan, the volume of flat roofs is significant. The need for electric power determined the use of the flat roofs, instead of green roofs. Additionally, green roofs in the desert aren't efficient, as they required significant water resources. Indoor gardens.

The city was designed by Foster and Partners of London.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mexico City's Plan to Use Green Roofs to Clean the Air

Mexico City is one of the world's largest urban centers and has some of the worst air pollution. However, Mexico City is a proponent of green roofs, as posted previously here and is committed to improving the environment for its population. and report that to improve not only air pollution, but also green space, Jorge Hernandez de la Garza, Rodrigo Ambriz, Michael Smith, and Erik Cosio have designed a building system (with green roofs!) that is:

"...module, highly structural and flexible in order to provide horizontal and vertical stacking along with diverse insertions to create a mesh not unlike that seen in the periphery."

Using a modular system allows the builders to place them throughout Mexico City, as well as other urban areas. $20 Off AeroGardens It is unique in that:

"The module affords not only spaces for living and working but for urban farming, water reclamation, and solar energy collection. As the modules rise vertically to create a high-rise structure, they also spread horizontally in order to create canopies for street level commerce."

The modular nature also allows for a variety of "skins" to be added to the structure, so enclosed spaces can be created. These spaces could be retail, residential, or elements of urban farming, such as chicken coops, or for other animal husbandry needs. Indoor gardens

Is this a growing trend in urban farming or are we seeing the recognition that green roofs are more extensible? It is my hope the convergence of technologies leads to greater adoption of green roofs, as well as urban farming.

More information on urban farming can be found here, here, here, and here.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Toronto Mandates Green Roofs

The Toronto City Council approved a measure mandating the use of green roofs on certain sized buildings. The measure is set to take effect in 2010.

According to Jennifer Lewington of "The Globe and Mail,":

The new rules kick in for new residential buildings constructed after Jan. 31, 2010, that are at least 2,000 square metres... and at least 20 metres high (six storeys), down from the 23 metres originally proposed.

Larger, commercial buildings will also be required to have between 20-50% green roof coverage. Although this measure was largely opposed by developers, there were some arguments owing to no Canadian building standards for green roofs. Air France offers free stopovers in Paris.

To mitigate higher costs for green roofs in renovation, reports:

The latest move will provide cash incentives to commercial, industrial and institutional (ICI) property owners to install eco-roofs. Currently, the City is willing to provide incentives of $50 (Canadian) per square meter up to $100,000 for building owners who install green roofs, on a one-year pilot basis.

Although similar laws exist in Japan and Germany, consistent with both their compressed populations and issues surrounding storm water management, Canada has been successful with voluntary use of green roofs.

One major example is Vancouver. The Vancouver Convention Centre West is the largest green roof in all of Canada. It covers over six acres and has over 400,000 indigenous plants species. Taste the Purest Tea on the Planet – Organic and Fair Trade Certified Shop Numi Organic Tea

While tax paying citizens of Toronto can argue whether this measure should have passed and whether it is too stringent or not, the benefits of green roofs are undeniable. The buildings that have green roofs enjoy 20-30% reduced heating and cooling costs, as well as reduced storm water runoff. Additionally, the aesthetic benefits of green roofs create a positive environment in major cities.

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