Our New Sky Gardens ~ Greenroofs of the World™ WebTV Video Premiere & GPW: Cook+Fox Architects, LLP

April 20, 2011 at 9:31 am

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week: 4/18/11
Cook+Fox Architects, LLP
New York, NY, USA
3,600 sf. Greenroof

Year:  2006
Client/Owner: Cook+Fox Architects
Location: New York, NY, USA
Building Type: Corporate
Type: Extensive, Test/Research
System:  Custom
Size: 3,600 sq.ft.  
Slope: 2%
Access: Accessible, Private

Project Description & Details

In the summer of 2006, Cook+Fox Architects decided to set a greener, healthier example with a roof that absorbs stormwater, lowers surface temperature, and benefits both the local ecosystem and the human environment.  Having grown rapidly, the firm had recently moved to an 8th floor penthouse of a former upscale department store in the Ladies’ Mile Historic District in Manhattan.  The new space looked onto a sizeable terrace-level rooftop, but it was coated in black tar.  While the owners of the building were open to the proposed greenroof, they were concerned about the integrity of their existing roof membrane and building drainage system.

For these reasons, they were interested in a flexible system that could be moved later if necessary.  Green Paks, a modular greenroof system by Green Roof Blocks, was installed with eight types of Sedums and Talinum on the architects’ headquarters.  Two years later the roof did leak, and a new roof was needed.  Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Cook+Fox Architects LLP Office is that it is the first known modular greenroof system to have been entirely removed with new waterproofing installed, and then re-installed in the fall of 2008 to great success without having to dig up a single plant, let alone incurring the cost of a new greenroof system!

Designers/Manufacturers of Record

Architect: Cook+Fox Architects
Modular Greenroof System: Green Paks by Green Roof Blocks
Landscape Designer: Jost Greenhouses
Plant Supplier: Emory Knoll Farms and Jost Greenhouses
Growing Media: McEnroe Organic Farm
Monitoring: Paul S. Mankiewicz, Gaia Institute
Greenroof Consultant: Kelly Luckett, Green Roof Blocks

Cost was also an initial issue for Cook+Fox, which was another reason the lower price option Green Paks were so attractive.  Along with a host of other sustainability issues,  Mayor Bloomberg introduced important incentives for rooftop greening with their comprehensive and sweeping PlaNYC  – add that to the fact that 20+ Cook+Fox volunteer architects actually installed and planted the  880 Green Paks, and you’ll understand how they kept the total costs down, plus were vested in its future from the beginning!

See some photos below of the initial installation and the first couple of seasons from the Flickr account of  one of the architects at the time, Shelby Elizabeth Doyle:

Learn all about Cook+Fox’s entire pre- and post Green Pak design considerations and installation experience plus learn about what NYC has been doing to promote sustainability and  greenroof construction by watching the premiere of our WebTV episode “Sky Gardens ~ Greenroofs of the World™: Cook+Fox Architects Office” on Earth Day – this Friday, April 22, 2011 here on GreenroofsTV!

Two years in the making, join me  as we film on location in New York City and St. Louis and interview the client/owner Cook+Fox‘s Senior Associate Mark Rusitzky; Rohit T. “Rit” Aggarwala, Former Director, Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability at the Office of the Mayor of the City of New York (2006-2010); Plant Consultant Vic Jost of Jost Greenhouses; and  Kelly Luckett, President of  Green Roof Blocks.

Find out how the Cook+Fox greenroof has fared since the Green Paks  re-installation!

Watch the Trailer here.

Did we miss something?  We’d love to hear from you!  Click  here to see more information about this project in  The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.  See how you can submit yours  here.

Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!

~ Linda V.

GPW: Longdrive

April 13, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week: 4/11/11
Long Eddy, NY, USA
4,000 sf. Greenroof

Year: 2008
Owner: Private
Location: Long Eddy, NY, USA
Building Type: Single-Family Residential
Type: Extensive
System: Custom
Size: 4,000 sq.ft.  
Slope: 5%
Access: Inaccessible, Private

Project Description & Details

Located at the top of a hill backed up to a forest and facing a meadow with a distant view, Longdrive, a 4,000 square foot house by Alveary Architecture, sits on a 63 acre property.  The house was designed to be an extension of existing trails and paths that wind through the beautiful landscape.  Abandoned quarries on the property provided the stone for the project’s extensive masonry elements.

A conversation pit with a large stone fireplace dominates and anchors the center of the house.  Radiant-heated stone floors were used throughout the main level while the master bedroom suite and upper stories were floored with reclaimed wood, also used for all interior walls.  A two-sided fireplace serves the master bedroom and its bathroom.  Adjacent is a green house separated by pivoting wood doors providing a tropical retreat during the long winters typical to this location.  The house is covered by a custom designed green roof complimenting the natural setting.  The planted roof on three levels blends into the natural landscape and encourages the wildlife to creep in close to the house.

Designers/Manufacturers of Record

Architect:  Steve Chrostowski, Alveary Architecture
Plant Provider:
Ed Snodgrass,  Emory Knoll Farms / Green Roof Plants
Growing Media: rooflite
Builder: Dave Unser
Base Roofing: Tower Roofing

Last year, the architect, Steve Chrostowski, entered Longdrive in the Greenroofs.com  2010 “Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!” Earth Day Photo Contest. Although it came in fifth – in terms of voting, we selected it as the cover of our  2011 Greenroofs & Walls of the World – 12 Month Wall Calendar.

Enter this year’s Photo Contest to see how your living roof can be featured for our 2012 Calendar!

Here are a couple of photos of the Longdrive roof during construction on September 24, 2007 and then almost a couple of years later on May 10, 2009:

Steve says the Longdrive living roof is just starting to wake up from its winter nap. Pretty soon it’ll be blooming like this once again, as seen from July 19, 2009:

Did we miss something?  We’d love to hear from you!  Click  here to see more information about this project in  The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.  See how you can submit yours  here.

Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!

~ Linda V.

GPW: National Trust Visitor Centre at Portstewart Strand

April 6, 2011 at 11:46 am

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week: 4/04/11
National Trust Visitor Centre at Portstewart Strand
County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, UK

Year: 2009
Owner: National Trust
Location: County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, UK
Building Type: Commercial
Type: Extensive
System: Single Source Provider
Size: 4,306 sq.ft.  
Slope: 15%
Access: Inaccessible, Open to the Public

Project Description & Details

The National Trust is Northern Ireland’s largest conservation charity and the Portstewart Strand, nestled amongst a two mile stretch of award winning beach and sand dunes, has been designated an Area of Special Scientific Interest and a proposed Special Area of Conservation. Meeting the highest environmental standards, the new  National Trust Visitor Centre at Portstewart Strand is designed to maximize energy from natural light and the structure was constructed with cedar panels from renewable sources and includes a greenroof; the vegetation and the timber will weather naturally to blend in with the landscape.

Donnelly O’Neill Architects of Belfast were challenged with a design brief that was strict in its requirement. The roof needed to be sympathetic to its surroundings and in keeping with the environmental ethos upheld by the National Trust, while the exposed location of the centre also presented the problem of wind erosion.  Alumasc was able to provide a complete waterproofing and  ZinCo greenroof package that not only met the technical specifications, but which has also provided a valuable resource for local wildlife that will continue to flourish over time. It is expected that the grasses that cover the sand dunes will propagate the sedum roof over time, blurring land and roofscape even more.

Designers/Manufacturers of Record

Greenroof System: ZinCo
Roofing Specialist:  Alumasc
Architect: Donnelly O’Neill Architects
Main Contractor: David Patton and Sons
Approved Installer: Willart Roofing
Pre-vegetated Sedum Mat: Sempergreen

Sustainability is also key and in accordance with the Trust’s policy of managed coastline retreat, the facility, which is built on sand, is demountable, so it can be relocated with minimal impact.  As a result, its usable life will be longer than normal.

“The National Trust, in looking after special places, for ever for everyone, invests in places like Portstewart Strand to ensure members and visitors have amazing experiences and the opportunity to enjoy our special places.” ~ Hilary McGrady, The National Trust’s Director for Northern Ireland

Isn’t it cool how no matter the season and the light in these photos that the greenroofs’ colors blend into the site almost seamlessly?

Did we miss something?  We’d love to hear from you!  Click  here to see more information about this project in  The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.  See how you can submit yours  here.

Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!

~ Linda V.

GPW: Cheyenne I and III (251 & 253 Medical Center Blvd.)

March 30, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week: 3/28/11
Cheyenne I and III
(251 & 253 Medical Center Blvd.)
Webster, TX, USA

Year: 2007 & 2009
Owner: Cheyenne 1 Development Group
Location: Webster, TX, USA
Building Type:Health care
Type: Semi-Intensive
System: Custom
Size: 14,559 sq.ft. & 14,559 sq.ft
Slope: 1%
Access: Accessible, By Appointment

Project Description & Details

We’re proud to feature our first twin greenroofs as our Project(s) of the Week!   Jacob White Construction Company, the developer and general contractor of the LEED Gold registered Cheyenne I (251 Medical Center Blvd.) and LEED-CS Platinum certified Cheyenne III (253 Medical Center Blvd.), wanted them to stand apart from all other commercial buildings in the Houston area.   The most impressive and ambitious part of the projects were the green roofs complete with gardens, walking paths, and lush landscaped areas.   In 2007, Cheyenne I was the largest green roof in Texas and possibly the entire southwest.   On September 13, 2008 Hurricane Ike went across the site as a strong Category 2 hurricane with 120+ mph winds and 11 inches of rain, yet there was no impact on the green roof nor the building.   In 2009, Cheyenne I got its twin located next door with Cheyenne III.   The top photo above shows the newly planted and seeded Cheyenne III on the left in October, 2009.

In both cases, Webb Architects designed a custom system using EnkaRetain & Drain from Colbond with a locally designed growing media mix – the material cost savings alone was in the neighborhood of $250,000 each.   Approximately 73% of all rain water is retained, while the excess (approximately 24,000 – 27,000 gallons a month for each building) is transported to the roof drains that direct it to underground cisterns for storage.   That reclaimed water is used for everything from irrigating the grounds to flushing the toilets.

Designers/Manufacturers of Record

General Contractor: Jacob White Construction Company
Architect: Webb Architects
Engineer: BGA Engineers, Inc.
Drainage: EnkaRetain & Drain, Colbond

Because the system is custom designed, the developer estimates that by using the combination of foam board, membrane, and EnkaRetain & Drain they were able to save at least two to three weeks per project as compared to a proprietary system. Energy usage is also on track to deliver hefty savings.    

Architect Joe Webb says initial power usage for the buildings is as follows:

“253:  76.29 kBtu/sf (including a controlled manufacturing area – approximately 1/3 of the second floor – that is active/running 24/7/365; 251:   73.57 kBtu/sf.   251 also incorporated temperature monitoring on the green roof since its completion.   We have sensors roughly 6″ above the green roof, mid-depth of the green roof fill and at the bottom of the green roof fill just above the deck.   We have seen temperatures remain extremely constant.   Example: 95 °  F outside, approximately 85 to 88 ° F mid depth and roughly 80 to 82 ° F just above the deck.   This means that the HVAC systems only have to make up 8 to 10 ° to maintain 72 ° F inside.   Not a lot of work!”

And, water usage was as follows:

“251: the average water usage for the last 12 months is 34,500 gallons/month on 47,229 square foot of building that is 90% occupied by mostly professional medical and other professional offices.   Were we irrigating with city water you could add an average 109,300 gallons/month to that number – and therefore quadruple their monthly water bill.   253: the average water usage for the last 10 months (a meter was replaced and data before that data was  erratic) is 72,600 gallons/month on a 48,278 square foot office building, fully occupied, operating 14 to 16 hours a day including the controlled manufacturing area on the second floor which has significant process water use on cooling certain equipment and for their reverse osmosis system that operates 24/7/365.   Again, if we were irrigating with city water you add an average 109,300 gallons/month and almost triple their water bill.   You can download  the calculation sheet for our green roofs’ water retention quantities for an 8″ depth roof and ours on each is more like 9″ depth.

“I also developed a set of metrics that allows me to determine the solar heat gain offset quantities for the green roof (thanks to insulating/covering the roof) in tons of HVAC capacity avoided and similarly for the evapotranspiration numbers for the roofs.   Example: 253 in June has 60 tons less capacity need thanks to evapotranspiration and 71 tons less HVAC demand capacity thanks to solar radiation shielding.   And we back this up with the systems downsized from 250 tons to 140 tons from 251 to 253.   The  buildings are operating about 40 to 55% less than his other comparable office buildings.” ~ Joe Webb

And that is exactly what the owner/developer,  Jacob White Construction Company, is after –  long term operating costs as they typically do not sell their buildings.   Below is a graphic illustration of the twin buildings of how they’ll look after a few more seasons:   Kudos to the developer  for such forward thinking vision!   Imagine several of these within a crowded urban environment – we could really create meaningful vegetated roof corridors that would not only manage stormwater and  reduce the urban heat island effect, but also  enhance local biodiversity and wildlife habitat.   Speaking of which, Joe told me that Kelp Gulls are nesting on the 251 roof and have small chicks!


Also, as if the data wasn’t environmentally important enough, each roof removes 597 lbs.  of particulate matter per year from the air and each roof generates enough oxygen for 904 people each day (5,424 lbs.  of oxygen).

Did we miss something?   We’d love to hear from you!   Click to see  more information about these projects in The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database  – here for Cheyenne I and here for Cheyenne III.   See how you can submit yours here.

Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!

~ Linda V.