Monday, February 23, 2009

Green Roofs Provide Benefits in Winter

Can green roofs provide benefits in climates with strong winters? According to Karen Liu of the National Research Council of Canada's Institute for Research in Construction, the answer is "Yes!"

In an article posted in EnviroZine, green roofs provided a 10% improvement in the heat loss of tested buildings in the winter. The results of the first round of testing were so significant the NRC-IRC began performing a multi-year study on green roofs to verify the results.

Once the benefits were confirmed, the article indicates that NRC-IRC designed green roofs specifically for winter climates. From the article:

"... green roofs are often planted with drought resistant plants ...which grow in a six-centimetre thick layer of a light weight growing medium (such as volcanic rock), the winter green roofs were composed of juniper shrubs... The purpose was to reduce the effect of wind speed (which draws heat from the building) and to increase the building's resistance to heat loss. Junipers were particularly well-suited for the experiment because they are evergreens and spread easily."

The research on both traditional home structures and homes built specifically for cold climates found that the juniper-based, winter green roofs increased heating efficiency by 10 and 8.5% respectively. Additionally, the winter green roofs helped to reduce the fluctuation in roof temperature, thus improving the life of the roof itself.

It would be very interesting to see if cities such as Chicago could benefit from the addition of junipers to their large number of green roofs.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Beautiful and Edible Green Roof

Although this blog is dedicated to green roofs, I couldn't resist this piece about a green rooftop garden in Los Angeles called SynthE, on a building known as The Flat, which, by the way, is home to the famous restaurant, Blue Velvet. reports in a story titled: "SYNTHe: An Urban Rooftop Garden Prototype in Los Angeles," by Haily Zaki, about this new green roof. $20 Off AeroGardens

The roof was designed by Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) professor Alexis Rochas. As one can see from the pictures, there are furrows which are filled with edible plants such as herbs, lettuces, etc.

Inhabitat explains that the garden will be maintained and enjoyed by both the residential tenets as well as the chefs and patrons of Blue Velvet. Additionally, the waste products from the garden and produce will be composted and returned to the garden.

Rochas's plan was to use the space to reduce the heating and cooling costs of structure, as well as better management of the storm water runoff this building produces. Instead of using regular soil, the garden uses a synthetic growing medium, which I assume is much like Suntory's Pafcal. FREE SHIPPING on orders over $50.00 at

Here is another of picture of the roof without the plants. It is quite a sight and I hope it encourages Los Angeles property owners and developers to consider a green roof in the future.

Fall flower bulbs

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hyderabad's Greenest Roof

Many of the green roof projects I have written about are designs that haven't been completed, like Dongtan in China and
the Eco Bay Complex in Abu Dhabi.

However, the CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre (GBC) opened in Hyderabad, India in 2004! I found a press release at the Indian Brand Equity website discussing the opening of the project.

At the time of its opening, it was the only LEED Platinum building outside of the US.

One of the key aspects of the building is its zero discharge of water. In India, where clean water is not readily available and the monsoon season overwhelms the limited water treatment facilities, the ability to capture and recycle all water is exceptionally significant. Additionally, the green roof helps reduce the cost of air conditioning, desperately needed in such a hot climate.

Other elements of green building used for the GBC include the use of recycled materials, such as fly ash, as well as photovoltaic cells for solar energy.

This project received funding support from the US taxpayers in the form of a matching grant of $1.2 million over three years.

According to the US Embassy in New Dehli,
"The grant will assist the centre as it develops detailed plans for each major area, including green buildings, green business incubation, and water and energy conservation."

India has demonstrated its desire and capacity to build green buildings. Let's hope to see more green roofs like the Chennai Airport and the GBC in the future!

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Green Roof in Cape Town

While green roofs have really taken off in Chicago, China, Germany, and San Francisco, they haven't seen as much growth in Africa, until now. reports:

The Cape Town International Convention Centre and the South African government are at an advanced stage of negotiations on a partnership to expand the hugely successful conference and expo venue, and in the process to create "the greenest building in South Africa".

Although South African continues to struggle with crime and economic issues, they are have taken a big step in improving the "greeness" of their buildings, but public and private.

In this particular project, "... would be built to requirements set by the Green Building Council of South Africa. It would be designed to use 40% less energy per square metre than the present CTICC, consume 95% less potable water, and produce 25% less waste to landfill."

What would any post on blog be without a green roof comment? The CTICC will have a green roof! The South African climate in general, and Cape Town in specific, is an excellent environment for a green roof. The cooling effect and storm water management capabilities add tremendous value to this building.

Not only does this project bring positive environmental value to buildings and area, it also brings jobs and revenue. "...the project would result in direct spending in Cape Town of R2.27-billion over an anticipated three years of construction," and "...513 "direct jobs" and 720 "indirect jobs" would be created in 2012, increasing to 1 276 direct jobs and 1 892 indirect jobs by 2018."

As more green roof projects become reported in Africa, I will report them here. Best wishes to Cape Town and their CTICC project!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Matter of Taste

Allow me to begin with the following, I am not an architect, designer, or building professional, nor do I question the competence of those who are.

That said, I when I saw the editorial from World Architecture News about the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, I was less than excited about the design.

Although the building is um, striking, I fail to see the connection between the exterior of the building and the storied history of Porsche.

The architects, Delugan Meissi Associated Architects disagree with me and state (from the WAN editorial),

"The exterior is simultaneously engaging and appropriately reflective of the stature and confidence of the brand. Textural surface alterations and varying levels and angles offer a structural complexity reflecting the manufacture of a well-oiled machine, while slashes of glazing allow the building to shine outwardly and beckon passers-by inside, further lured by a gently sloped ramp towards the entrance."

OK, well, to me it looks awkward and lacks to beautiful lines and curves that Porsche is known for. Additionally, it fails to take advantage of the huge flat roof surface for a green roof. Not that my requirements are of any significance to Porsche. I must admit, however, that the interior offers an excellent space to show off these beauties!

You be the judge on the exterior, as these are the photos of the museum.

A Porsche on blocks??

This looks a little more like the whale-tale on the older 911s, just not as tidy.

Can you image how beautiful this would look with simple sedum? It wouldn't have to be a wild-looking grass roof, just a short and simple green roof. I wonder if there are "racing green" colored plants or even plants in the Porsche logo?

This view reminds me of Boba Fett's ship from Star Wars. See what I mean?

While I don't wish to be overly critical, nor to impose my view of the world on anybody, I do wish Porsche could have found used a design more fitting to the Porsche brand. However, if they are committed to this design, perhaps they can investigate using a green roof instead of the bland island of white space. That's just my opinion.