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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, "...an 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.

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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. Inhabitat.com 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.

Inhabitat.com 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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