The Best Green Roof Solution… by Jörg Breuning, the Green Roof Patroller

September 28, 2017 at 6:11 pm

The Best Green Roof Solution Jörg Breuning Green Roof Patroller

The Best Green Roof Solution: Education & Experience

In my opinion as the Green Roof Patroller, the best green roof solution can only come from well-educated practitioners with a very long experience in selected horticultural and landscaping fields.  Over the many decades, Green Roofs have been developed from a mixture of high performance natural materials to a combination of engineered elements with natural components.

The Best Green Roof Solution Jörg Breuning Green Roof Patroller

Case in Point: “Classic” Roof Drain Cover.

Since North America was introduced to modern Green Roof technology much later than Europe, I believe only a few people understand the real basics and the evolution of this amazing landscaping/ horticultural practice on ground-remote locations.

Trial and Error System

Without understanding the basics, the North American Green Roof market is still like a kid who learns by trial and error – on the back and costs of building owners.  One problem is that every few months “new,” “revolutionary,” and “optimized” Green Roof systems are introduced.  Made of all kinds of materials that may sound good, many hardly withstand the biological activity of plants or the harsh environment on the roof for as long as the structure lasts.

The Best Green Roof Solution Jörg Breuning Green Roof Patroller

Brilliance – we don’t know what we are doing but when we mix all kind of different materials, double up drainage, and weigh it down with pavers, there should be no problem, right?

Something that may have been tested by NASA or firefighters isn’t automatically good for the plants or the environment.  The engineers or technicians behind such reinventions of the wheel might have fancy degrees.  However, many have hardly installed their own developments with their own hands on a large scale.

Long Term Research Lacking

Additionally, they never evaluated their inventions or innovation over a long enough time (more than 5 or 10 years) before making them available for the market.  I have seen people coming into this industry with a big bang and quietly leaving after a while to move up in the hierarchy of a different industry – to do the same there?

Who You Gonna Call?

The Best Green Roof Solution Jörg Breuning Green Roof Patroller

Erosion Blanket – is eroded and takes the soil down.  Sometimes a belt, suspenders, duct tape, super glue, and a nail in the belly button don’t help to hold the pants.  Buy pants in your size!

All of a sudden, the kid falls into the water well (a/k/a the Green Roof is not performing), then the building owners call for practitioners who are supposed to fix the engineers’ problems.  Building owners don’t usually call the original engineers or technicians because they can be vain.

And, when later problems or questions arise from the building owner, the engineers behind the design of the green roof don’t necessarily feel responsible anymore.  Perhaps they don’t always know the answers without Google, and these are hardly right.  In some cases they call a practitioner later; and even then, they don’t always provide the entire picture.

The Best Green Roof Solution Jörg Breuning Green Roof Patroller

The beauty of engineering – a squared box doesn’t follow a radius.

Engineers are typically not seeking for answers that discredit their efforts.  However, they try to suck out every piece of information they can get from practitioners and simultaneously avoid valuing the source because of being afraid of scratches to their polished image.

Plants vs. the Bottom Line

An additional problem is that most engineers (even at universities) are on the payroll of large corporations that are pressured to develop profit-maximizing solutions.  These solutions are typically against the needs of plants – because plants don’t care about money and the stock market.

The Best Green Roof Solution Jörg Breuning Green Roof Patroller

Plants are “only” the key player on green roofs.  No happy plants = no Green Roof = no happy client.

Underperforming Green Roofs

I estimate that around 50%-60% of all Green Roofs in North America are underperforming, failing, or have been renovated, replaced, or will be going under a major renovation soon.  For Germany I would estimate this number at around 5%.  At the same time, in Europe an extensive Green Roof costs around $5/sf and in the US closer to $20/sf.

My Concerns within the North American Green Roof Industry Besides the Odd Engineering Practices?

The Best Green Roof Solution Jörg Breuning Green Roof Patroller

Ingenuity – when polystyrene plastic materials fall apart before they are installed.

1. No solid, full time practical training over more than two years before getting a professional in this field.

2. Students are not being paid during practical education – they actually have to pay a few 1,000 bucks to get a certification, like buying a certificate or a title at Walmart.

3. No innovative and large scale research over 5-10 years.  Just baby step copies and mail stamp-size research (typical research areas in Europe are 10-50 times bigger than in the US).

4. Green Roof contracts are coupled with roofing contracts (it is like buying a dryer only in combination with a fridge).

5. Low roofing quality, materials and/or inverted roof membrane assemblies (IRMA).

6. Repurposing materials that were never engineered for green roofs (e.g., in my opinion, there is no American-made drainage board that would meet my criteria and the full needs for plants).

7. Worthless single source warranties.  If you choose your own microwave, you don’t get a warranty on the fridge.

8. Greed for quick cash and/or fame.

9. Not understanding the big difference within the horticultural trades (a carrot grower is not automatically a green roof expert and a beekeeper doesn’t understands all plants).

10. Huge deficit in experienced and reliable hands-on installers and maintenance for Green Roofs.

11. Often, hands-on installers/practitioners are treated dismissively from architects, GCs (general contractors), roofing companies, or engineers.

The Best Green Roof Solution Jörg Breuning Green Roof Patroller

This makes a worried customer and a happy landfill.

Green Collar Workers

Practitioners are not Blue Collar workers, they are not White Collar workers.  We are Green Collar workers who stand above the traditional collar thinking and who have had the patience to monitor this unique living environment for decades to learn how to go beyond what is written in books or on the internet.

All the above problems have a great potential to damage the Green Roof business in the long term.  Building owners don’t want to be ripped off and each project that causes problems will change their opinion about Green Roofs in general.  While many building owners don’t want to commit to owning up to a problem on their green roof, others will spread the word among other building owners.

The Best Green Roof Solution Jörg Breuning Green Roof Patroller

The nature of nature – growing media below a plastic box with stressed Sedums. When you hire a butcher: Edging with hardly any slots; slots are too big and too high.

Ultimately, all the nice colorful brochures and great write-ups from environmental associations won’t help to change the opinion of a dissatisfied building owner, nor will it change the quality of Green Roofs.

As a practitioner I approach things very practically:

If I want a good loaf of bread, I am simply not going to the butcher.  So why do you let the butcher engineer your Green Roof?

Jörg Breuning, the Green Roof Patroller

The Best Green Roof Solution Jörg Breuning Green Roof Patroller

Jörg Breuning is the founder and owner of the advisory, engineering, and design firm Green Roof Service LLC / Green Roof Technology. He first came in touch with modern green roof technology, or ecoroofs, in 1980 as an employee at a German landscape and green roofing company in Stuttgart. While continuing to practice his hands?on education, Jörg attended the University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany earning his degree in Horticultural Science. In 1985 he started his own company focused on ground remote vegetation, extensive green roofs and the establishment of vegetation on extreme locations. Since then his company has overseen countless projects, introduced many green roof innovations or installation techniques, and received many awards.

Contact Jörg at info@greenrooftechnology.com or 443-345-1578.  Or post your opinions here.

Past Green Roof Patroller Articles

The opinions expressed by our Guest Contributors may not necessarily reflect the beliefs of Greenroofs.com, and are offered to our readers to simply present individual views and experiences and open a dialogue of further discussion, debate and research.  Enjoy, and please share your comments.

Denver Green Roof Initiative I-300 Fundraising Benefit & Town Hall

September 28, 2017 at 2:08 pm

Denver Green Roof Initiative I-300 Fundraising Benefit Town Hall

Denver Green Roof Initiative

The Denver Green Roof Initiative is a grassroots campaign comprised solely of volunteers who are striving to create a new building code, I-300, requiring large buildings across Denver to dedicate a portion of their roof to solar or vegetation.

As reported here on March 28, for six months now these volunteers have worked tirelessly and were able to gather the number of signatures necessary to be placed on the Denver County, November 7, 2017 ballot.

Kudos to all!

Support the Cause: Triple 10 Challenge

The Denver Green Roof Initiative recently introduced the Triple 10 Challenge:

  • Tell 10 friends about this initiative;
  • Donate 10 hours of your time between now and November 7th;
  • And finally, they are asking for you to donate 10 dollars.

Learn More at Denver Green Roof Initiative

Denver Green Roof Initiative I-300 Fundraising Benefit Town Hall

Certainly, we can all tell 10 colleagues about this super important mission.  And, if you live in the Denver area, it is in your best interest to support this cause and our green infrastructure community!

If possible, please help the Denver Green Roof Initiative with a $10 secure donation to further their cause – which will help promote greenroofs throughout the U.S. as well as North America (Greenroofs.com has).

10 Friends, 10 Hours, 10 dollars.

Denver Ranks 11th Worst in the U.S. for Air Quality & 3rd for Its Urban Heat Island Effect

The tireless Denver Green Roof Initiative Campaign Manager, Brandon Rietheimer, says:

With our federal government no longer paying attention to climate change it is imperative that we take charge at the local level.

Denver is a leader in progressive change. The passing of this measure will show the entire nation the steps that need to be taken now to prevent and reduce the problems of the future. This means clean energy and a cooler city. Join us today in making it a reality and don’t forget to vote Yes on I-300.

According to the Denver Green Roof Initiative, Denver’s own EPA building, which has had a greenroof since 2006, has an average temperature of 80 degrees in the summer compared to the roof across the street, measuring 170 degrees.

Denver Green Roof Initiative I-300 Fundraising Benefit Town Hall

Denver EPA Building greenroof.

How about following the early leader, County of Denver?

Time to Hit the Streets This Saturday & Sunday September 30 & October 1

Do you live in Denver?  Help the Denver Green Roof Initiative spread the word:

We need your help this weekend to begin passing out flyers. For 2 hours, Saturday or Sunday, we will be hitting doors and dropping off flyers to houses throughout your neighborhood! Can you lend us a hand? You won’t have to knock on doors and speak with anyone. Just simply drop off a flyer in a mailbox or at a front door. It’s that easy! ~ Denver Green Roof Initiative

You’ll even get free donuts and coffee for your work!  But if you can’t help this weekend, you can still donate your time.  Email: volunteer@denvergreenroof.org

I-300 Fundraising Benefit on October 7 @ 4:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Denver Green Roof Initiative I-300 Fundraising Benefit Town Hall

Held at the Mercury Café at 2199 California St, Denver, CO 80205, VIP Purchasers will receive an I-300 T-Shirt and are granted special Early Access.

VIP: Doors Open, Silent Auction Begins: 4:30pm
Meet and Greet with Founder of I-300: 5:00-5:45pm
Musical Guest “Random Temple” 5:45-6:45pm
Guest Speaker “Jennifer Bousselot” PhD Green Roof Expert 7:00-7:30pm

General Admission: Doors Open: 7:30pm
Musical Guest “Vibe Street” 7:45 to 9:00pm
Silent Auction Ends 8:30pm

I-300 Town Hall on October 14 @ 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Join the Green Roof Initiative for a good old fashioned Town Hall at the Washington Street Community Center, 809 S Washington St, Denver, CO 80209.

Green Roof Expert, Rick Kile, will be giving an hour long presentation followed by a Q and A.

Don’t Live in Denver?  Donate on ActBlue

Denver Green Roof Initiative I-300 Fundraising Benefit Town Hall

Questions? Please email Brandon@denvergreenroof.org or call (717) 433-3663.

Good luck with the Denver Green Roof Initiative and we look forward to your continued success!

By Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA, LEED AP, GRP
Greenroofs.com Publisher & Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit Host

Register now and join us online for our 2017 Virtual Summit through December, 2017.  Submit your Under 10-Minute Video by September 29th ~ Round #2 starts on October 16th!

Denver Green Roof Initiative I-300 Fundraising Benefit Town Hall

Project of the Week for September 18, 2017: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation & Seattle Center 5th Avenue North Parking Garage

September 17, 2017 at 11:55 am

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week: 9/18/17

GreenroofandGreenwallProjectsDatabaseLogo

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation & Seattle Center 5th Avenue North Parking Garage
Seattle, WA, USA
87,120 sf Greenroofs plus multiple green infrastructure elements

Gates Foundation Seattle Center 5th Avenue North Parking Garage Greenroof

Project of the Week Mini Description & Details

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation offers the opportunity to dramatically improve the quality of life for billions of people and its campus is a paragon of sustainable features. Designed by NBBJ Architects and completed in 2011, the multi-award winning Gates Foundation’s headquarters is the largest LEED-NC Platinum Certified nonprofit building in the world. Located across the street from the Seattle Space Needle, the former 12-acre asphalt parking lot had previously emptied its runoff into Puget Sound. But the design team including landscape architects Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN) created a stylish palette of mostly natives, including big leaf maples and edibles, along with drought tolerant non-natives. And, the campus features a total of two acres of extensive greenroofs, each with a five inch depth with plantings of sedum and sempervivum.

Gates Foundation Seattle Center 5th Avenue North Parking Garage Greenroof

Gates Foundation Seattle Center 5th Avenue North Parking Garage Greenroof

Completed first in 2008, most striking is the Seattle Center 5th Avenue North Parking Garage, with its 1.5 acre undulating living roof from American Hydrotech. The multifaceted structure is flooded with natural light and the high-vaulted roof is cut with a dramatic skylight. Working with NBBJ and GGN, Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company led the water resource management design, including a 100 percent non-potable irrigation system, water harvesting, subsurface drainage, green roofs, and soils engineering.

Rainwater is filtered by the greenroofs and directed from paved areas into a million-gallon cistern, currently harvesting 3.3 million gallons of rainwater a year. Conservation strategies reduce energy consumption by 39 percent via a solar array, thermal energy, and more. Potable water use is reduced by 79 percent through landscape features, rainwater storage, and the living roofs. This represents an upfront investment in the 100-year energy-efficient building that will pay for itself in fewer than 30 years. In addition to regenerating the surrounding downtown Seattle community, the ecologically and workplace-sensitive campus design has created a new world model for sustainable urban campuses.

Publisher’s Note: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Seattle Center 5th Avenue North Parking Garage greenroof will be featured on one of the tours at CitiesAlive 2017.  Join colleagues on Thursday, September 21 at 9:00am – 12:00pm – click to learn more.

Gates Foundation Seattle Center 5th Avenue North Parking Garage Greenroof

Gates Foundation Seattle Center 5th Avenue North Parking Garage Greenroof

Year: 2008
Owner: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation & Seattle Center (garage only co-owned)
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Building Type: Multi-Use – Commercial: Above-Ground Parking Garage and Corporate
Type: Extensive
System: Single Source Provider
Size: 87120 sq.ft. (approximately 2 acres between all of the greenroof on the campus)
Slope: Varies to about 7%
Access: Inaccessible, Private

Gates Foundation Seattle Center 5th Avenue North Parking Garage Greenroof

Designers/Manufacturers of Record:

Architect: NBBJ
Landscape Architect: GGN (Gustafson Guthrie Nichol)
Greenroof System: American Hydrotech
Landscape Contractor: Pacific Earthworks
Greenroof Plant and Ecology Consultant: Rana Creek
Multiple Engineering Services: Arup
General Contractor: Sellen Construction Company, Inc.
Irrigation and Soils: Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company

Gates Foundation Seattle Center 5th Avenue North Parking Garage Greenroof

Gates Foundation Seattle Center 5th Avenue North Parking Garage Greenroof

More Info

View the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation & Seattle Center 5th Avenue North Parking Garage PROJECT PROFILE to see ALL of the Photos and Additional Information about this particular project in The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.

Gates Foundation Seattle Center 5th Avenue North Parking Garage Greenroof

Project of the Week Video Feature

Watch the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation & Seattle Center 5th Avenue North Parking Garage Project of the Week Video below or see it on our GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube:

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week 9/18/17 video photo credits: Courtesy of ©Sean Airhart/NBBJ; ©GGN (Gustafson Guthrie Nichol), including one each by ©Timothy Hursley and ©Sellen Construction Company; and ©Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company.

Did we miss your contribution? Please let us know to add you to the profile.

Would you like one of your projects to be featured on Greenroofs.com? We have to have a profile first! Submit Your Project Profile.

Love the Earth, Plant a Roof (or Wall)!

By Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA, LEED AP, GRP
Greenroofs.com Publisher & Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit Host

Register now and join us online for our 2017 Virtual Summit through December, 2017.  Submit your Under 10-Minute Video by September 29th ~ Round #2 starts on October 16th!

Gates Foundation Seattle Center 5th Avenue North Parking Garage Greenroof

Supporting Native NYC Wildlife: Kingsland Wildflowers Green Roof Festival September 2017

September 13, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Native NYC Wildlife Kingsland Wildflowers Green Roof Festival September 2017

Kingsland Wildflowers Festival in NYC: native plants on the roof

Our colleagues at Kingsland Wildflowers are holding their second annual Kingsland Wildflowers Festival atop their beautiful greenroof!  How many times times do you have an opportunity like this one to experience a living roof firsthand?

“The festival will celebrate the second season of our green roof and community engagement space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Visitors will explore three flourishing green roofs that have been planted with a mix of indigenous grasses and wildflowers native to the New York landscape.” ~ Kingsland Wildflowers

The Greenpoint, Brooklyn community project is committed to providing the neighborhood with living and growing infrastructure to support native New York City wildlife.  The project is also focused on developing educational programming in the space related to sustainable conservation practices and wildlife protection.

Native NYC Wildlife Kingsland Wildflowers Green Roof Festival September 2017

Photo by Joanna Kim, courtesy of Marni Majorelle, Alive Structures.

Kingsland Wildflowers Festival Details

When?  Saturday, September 23rd, 2017 12pm-4pm

Where?  Broadway Stages, 520 Kingsland Ave, Brooklyn 11222
– Greenpoint Ave., G Train (check weekend MTA schedules!)
– B24 Bus @ Greenpoint Ave / Kingsland Ave

What?  Rooftop festival.

Questions?  Email: info@kingslandwildflowers.com

Activities Include:

• Tours of green roofs with wildlife and plant experts!
• Interactive activities for kids and families!
• Music, food, and beer from local breweries!
• Partner community organizations discussing local conservation projects!
• 360° panoramic views of Brooklyn, Manhattan, & Queens!

Funding provided by the Office of the New York State Attorney General and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation through the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund.

Have Fun, Explore & Learn

The Kingsland Wildflowers Festival invites local residents to explore the 22,000 square foot greenroof while adding an educational component with community organizations tabling and running activities to engage families and children.

Most importantly, the Festival offers access for many Brooklyn residents to learn about environmental initiatives while exploring green infrastructure dedicated to native plants and birds.

Native NYC Wildlife Kingsland Wildflowers Green Roof Festival September 2017

Photo by Joanna Kim, courtesy of Marni Majorelle, Alive Structures.

Who of us in the living architecture community wouldn’t love to be there?  Too bad I won’t be in NYC this weekend, but I hope you can attend!

For more information, visit www.kingslandwildflowers.com.

And, look for this stunning project soon as an upcoming Project of the Week here on Greenroofs.com!

By Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA, LEED AP, GRP
Greenroofs.com Publisher & Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit Host

Register now and join us online for our 2017 Virtual Summit through December, 2017.  Submit your Under 10-Minute Video by September 29th ~ Round #2 starts on October 16th!

Native NYC Wildlife Kingsland Wildflowers Green Roof Festival September 2017