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.

Go Hokies!

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%.

Grow indoors

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.

Grow indoors

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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