Launch of The GRO Green Roof Code for the UK

January 27, 2011 at 10:57 pm

By Jeff Sorrill

New industry supported code is set to raise the bar for green roofs in the UK, thanks to European funding.   Green roofs have become more common features in our towns and cities over the last five years, but maximum environmental benefits have not always been realised, due to a lack of UK specific guidance.  In response to this, the Green Roof Organisation (GRO) has developed and launched a UK code, with LIFE+ funding, secured by Groundwork Sheffield.

Published on January 18 of this year, The GRO Green Roof Code provides clear and practical guidance on green roof best practice in the UK.  Funded by the European Commission LIFE+ fund and Groundwork Sheffield, The GRO Code is also financially supported by the Homes and Communities Agency, The Green Roof Centre, Livingroofs.org, and is facilitated by the National Federation of Roofing Contractors  (NFRC).

GRO is an industry forum facilitated by the  NRFC, and  GRO also acts as the technical arm of  Livingroofs.org, founded by Dusty Gedge.  Members include industry providers, government bodies, researchers and awareness raising organisations.   GRO’s remit is to establish guidelines for all parts of the green roof design, specification, installation and maintenance process.

Groundwork Sheffield is a federation of local trusts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland which help people and organisations make changes in order to create better neighbourhoods, build skills and job prospects and to live and work in a greener way.   Groundwork Sheffield gained €914,213 in funding from LIFE+ to develop the UK code of best practice.

The LIFE+ programme is the European Union’s funding instrument for the environment.  The general objective of LIFE is to contribute to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental policy and legislation by co-financing pilot or demonstration projects with European added value.   LIFE began in 1992 and  since then,  LIFE has co-financed some 3,104 projects across the EU, contributing approximately €2.2 billion to the protection of the environment.

NFRC’s Chief Executive, Ray Horwood CBE, says:

“A UK specific code of best practice is long overdue, and the launch of The GRO Green Roof Code is welcome news for everyone involved in the green roof industry. By adhering to best practice, the numerous benefits of green roofs can be maximised, and the long term sustainability of green roofs ensured. The GRO Green Roof Code will set the benchmark for the industry.”

As with other green roof guidance around the world, The GRO Green Roof Code has its foundations firmly set in the German FLL Guidelines.  However, only the most technical of data needs to be traced back to the FLL – Forschungsgesellschaft Landschaftsentwicklung Landschaftbau  (Landscape Research, Development and Construction Society).  The GRO Code aims to provide the vast majority of the information required by most designers, specifiers, installers and maintenance providers.

Read more at  our The Green Roof Centre’s Green Roof Code page here, and download The GRO Green Roof Code here (PDF).

~ Jeff Sorrill

Jeff is Centre Manager of The Green Roof Centre, in Sheffield, England.   Contact him at:   Tel: 01142 227131, J.Sorrill@sheffield.ac.uk    or visit The Green Roof Centre.

The Green Roof Centre is the National Centre of Excellence for green roofs.   Based in Sheffield, The Green Roof Centre was founded by the University of Sheffield, Groundwork Sheffield, and the four surrounding local authorities (Barnsley, Doncaster, Sheffield and Rotherham).   Our primary aim is to promote green roof development and implementation through research, education, demonstration, information and technology transfer.

The University of Sheffield is the leading research establishment in this field in the UK, with an unrivalled range of expertise in the green roof arena.   It has developed an international reputation for excellence in green roof studies.   The Green Roof Centre operates with partners nationally to demonstrate the potential of green roof uptake in the UK.

 

Visit Ed and Christine next week at the 2010 World Green Roof Congress in London!

September 10, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Greenroofs.com is once again a Media Sponsor for the 2010 World Green Roof Congress in London on September 15 and 16, 2010, and we’re excited about the impressive line-up of renowned, international speakers set to deliver an outstanding program addressing Green Roofs for a Changing Climate.  

Aramis and I made it to the inaugural Congress in 2008, but unfortunately, a heavy travelling schedule this year didn’t make it possible for us to attend.   Although we won’t have a booth at this year’s Congress, two of our Contributing Editors, Ed Snodgrass and Christine Thuring, will be in attendance.   Please find them to say hello; it’s great to meet face-to-face!

Ed Snodgrass will be speaking at 11:25 on Wednesday, September  15 when he’ll present “Green Roofs and Ecosystem Services – How plant and media choices can change our urban environment for the better.”

Keynote speakers include:
– Tom Liptan, City of Portland, Oregon, USA
– Ed Snodgrass, Green Roof Plants, USA
– Dusty Gedge, Livingroofs.org, UK
– Stephen Brenneisen, Zurich University of Applied Science, Switzerland
– Nigel Dunnett, University of Sheffield, UK

Be sure also to check out our latest guest feature article, Green Roofs for a Changing Climate – The 2nd London World Green Roof Congress, by Dusty Gedge, Director of Livingroofs.org.

Read more from the 2010 World Green Roof Congress organizers,  our colleagues at CIRIA and Livingroofs.org.

Happy Greening in London and beyond!

~ Linda V.

GPW: Asphof Hen Unit

April 17, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Our Greenroof Project of the Week (GPW) is the rustic extensive 1,000 m ²   “Asphof Hen Unit” greenroof in the beautiful countryside of Rothenfluh, Switzerland.   A conglomeration of seven medieval villages, Rothenfluh is a picturesque municipality in the district of Sissach in the canton of Basel-Country in northern Switzerland.

Aramis and I had the pleasure of visiting the lovely area in September, 2005  where I presented my paper “An International Call for The Greenroof Projects Database” at the first  The World Green Roof Congress held at the University of Basel,  Switzerland.   The Congress was co-organized by ZHAW – Zurich University of Applied Sciences Institute of Environment and Nature Resources, Centre Urban Greening, Competence Centre Green Roofs (Hochschule Wädenswil) – and the  International Green Roof Association (IGRA),  among others,  and the tours were led by graduate students and volunteers from ZHAW/The World Green Roof Congress.

We jumped at the opportunity to join one of the local tours that encompassed “Green Roof Week” from September 12 -17.   Congress attendees had a choice of a wide-ranging excursion program ranging  from one to three-day trips, “showing examples of good practice on famous green roofs in Switzerland and the surrounding area of Basel.”    We opted for a one-day tour and wonderful host and guide was  Nathalie Baumann, MSc / Biogeograph, ZHAW Research Associate, who specializes in the ground-breeding Lapwing bird population nesting atop various brown and greenroofs in the area.

We visited six very different applications, from one of Nathalie’s research sites atop a huge pharmaceutical manufacturer to the largest solar roof installation with greenroofs in Switzerland, to a greenroofed cattle barn and this organic chicken farm with two greenroofed structures, where we enjoyed a fantastic Swiss lunch, too.

The owner, Matthias Eglin, really wanted to tread lightly upon the land in terms of blending the large chicken barn/coop into the landscape and providing  a literally cooler environment for his 2,000 organically-raised chickens.  

He turned to renown biodiversity researcher Dr. Stephan Brenneisen of Hochschule Wädenswil (also the coordinator of the  World Green Roof Congress and president  of the  Green Roof Competence Centre), who served as project consultant for the Canton Basle Rural’s Nature and Countryside Protection Commission – see the federal service project on ZHAW’s website.   Their intent was to establish  an extremely  low maintenance xeric landscape  on top of an agricultural utility building and have it eventually naturalize  to mimic the surrounding terrain.

So in 2002 they constructed the Asphof Hen Unit using inexpensive local materials – so local in fact that they harvested and shred Miscanthus sinensis (China grass/reed) from Mathias’ own property to serve as an inexpensive lower substrate and water retention layer.   They excavated  5 cm of loamy humus topsoil from their former orchard area and used it  as a free growing medium.   The annual Phacelia tanacetifolia (Lacy Phacelia), used extensively in Europe both as a cover crop and as bee forage, was included in the grass  seed to break up the soil mix and act as erosion control.   Other herbs were included in the roof as well.   Here’s the roof, below,  in 2002:

And below, three years later, in 2005:

The  natural temperature control reduces the heat by up to seven degrees in the summer (relative to outside temperatures), due to cooling effects of evaporation, resulting in more stress-free chickens!   When we were there it was fun to watch them roam freely about the property, hopping from one roof to the next.

Getting up to the roof took some care and trust that people were holding the ladder on both ends – and as usual I didn’t have the best shoes on..but it was fun!   And it was very grassy:

The second 1,200 sf greenroof is found on the Hay Shed Greenroof, constructed in 2005,  which shelters hay rolls used on the farm property.

Christine Thuring served as a Congress team member and guide on one of the other tours during the Congress.   Co-founder of Green Roof Safari (and Chlorophyllocity and, of course, one of our contributing editors), along with Jörg Breuning (of Green Roof Service, LLC)  she has lead tours here since, as well.   Green Roof Safari offers special access to the European greenroof industry with custom designed tours with multi-lingual guides specializing in highlighting current and historical trends in policy, research and design for the areas visited.

Christine shared these two photos with me and informed me that the roof continues to be monitored, especially the soil substrate and how it has developed with time – Dr. Brenneisen above with the group, and measuring the roof soil below:

Christine succinctly says of the project:

“The Asphof chicken shed demonstrates innovative, economic, simple success.” ~ Christine Thuring

So successful that they don’t even mow it – the roof meadow acts as a self-sustaining system, fully integrated into the landscape.

If you’re interested in seeing this project, you’re in luck.   Now in its sixth year Livingroofs.org Ltd will be again partnering with Hochschule Wädenswil for their famous “Swiss Green Roof Tour 2010” which  will be held on May 6-7, 2010.    You’ll not only get  Dr. Stephan Brenneisen, but also the indomitable Dusty Gedge, Director of Livingroofs.org, both of whom are internationally recognized for their work on greenroofs and biodiversity.   Much of the focus of the tour is how research in Switzerland has developed an approach to green roofing that has biodiversity at the heart of their design.

From roofs designed for lizards, to those that have been designed for rare bees, beetles and spiders, this year the tour includes visits to roofs where Swiss researchers are studying ground nesting birds – and to where chickens are happy, too, on the ground and on the roofs.

~ Linda V.

Day 2 of Ecoroof Portland, a Win-Win for All!

March 24, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Before the second day of Ecoroof Portland‘s Vendor Fair and program sessions, Tom Liptan co-led an ecoroof tour starting at 8:30 a.m.   Along with Jason King of TERRA.fluxus, on March 13 the group was comfortably and efficiently  transported by ecoShuttle around northeast Portland to see a variety of roofs, below.

The five sites visited on Saturday morning  were the Metro Regional Headquarters Ecoroof and Yakuza Restaurant (above),  K-4 Condominiums (left), and the O’Brien  and Omey residences (below).

I’m sorry to say we just couldn’t make ourselves get up early enough to join in!   But our trusty friends Casey Cunningham at the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services and Jason shared these photos with us (I hope to add/update these profiles soon to The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database) – by the way, Jason King is a very talented landscape architect here and has been involved with many ecoroof projects, including the Multnomah County Multnomah Building, top photo above.

After the 10:30 Intro to Portland Ecoroof session, Commissioner Dan Saltzman welcomed everyone and spoke about the City’s vision for a sustainable future and some of their ongoing projects.   Then I was introduced as the keynote speaker, sharing my presentation “Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design.”   A  compilation of my favorites from the past three years  of Haven Kiers, our Design Editor, and my Top 10 List of Hot Design Trends in Greenroof Design,  I also  added  some outstanding projects that will make our Top 10 for 2010 (under construction), including this one below, the  $90 million Oregon Sustainability Center, designed by Portland firms SERA Architects and GBD Architects:

 

Saturday’s first afternoon session was all about case studies – small and large, public and private.   Kevin Falkerson, AIA,  and Kerrie Lee Cole, GRP,  of SYMBIOS  shared their experience of design-based solutions with the Salmon Creek School  living roof, from  concept through construction and follow-up.   The LEED  Platinum Sonoma County, California environmental center has many eco-friendly features, offering  the students of this K-8 grade school numerous opportunities for place-based learning – about the ecology of the natural site and the  greenroof itself.

The semi-intensive roof sports a diverse palette of non-native and native sedums and succulents, accented with beautiful detail plantings including boulders and rocks.   See a photo gallery here.

 

Next up was the energetic Walt Quade, a general contractor with Cully Construction Co. (and Green Home Oregon), who built his own energy-conscious, partially underground  home with a custom-designed 1,490 sf greenroof in north Portland.   He also started from research to conception through several design options, before deciding on the one that would best suit his family’s needs and desires.   Walt not only described the construction process step-by-step, he also provided insights on lessons learned.   His message was clear:   ecoroofs do not need to be a high cost item if you are knowledgeable about products, and they are not that difficult to execute – but you do need to know your limitations and hire professionals when necessary.   See his photo gallery here.

Karl Schultz from the Port of Portland followed with the new  sustainable headquarters facility  for the Port of Portland at PDX, Portland International Airport.   Situated in front of the terminal  which is  connected to the parking garage, the 10-floor LEED Gold-designed facility has extensive daylighting, high performance glazing, radiant heating and cooling ceiling, reflective membrane, and a Living Machine – an organic wastewater treatment system that treats wastewater onsite to be used in the building for non-potable uses.

The structure also features an intensive built in place greenroof on the 8th floor  and  the larger 10,000 sf  LiveRoof modular greenroof on top of the 9th floor on the north side  installed for rainwater treatment   – both incorporate “adaptive plant Micromist irrigation.”

The final session was the very interesting, informal, and lively  “The Ecoroof Doctors are IN” panel with Tom Liptan, Ed Snodgrass, Patrick Carey, Dave Elkin,  and Alice Meyers from the  BES Ecoroof Incentive Program.   They offered advice and fielded many questions from architects, homeowners, and designers about a ton of  subjects – from which are the best plants to benefits of modular vs. built in place systems to construction details.

Earlier this year, March was declared “Ecoroof Portland” month by Mayor Adams, and the learning and fun didn’t stop with Ecoroof Portland 2010 –  here are  a few  more opportunities to learn what they’re all about from sponsors the Portland Audubon Society, Urban Greenspaces Institute, and the City of Portland (check for space availability):

South Waterfront Ecoroof Tour, March 27th
Green Roofs and Living Walls for Wildlife, March 30th – with one of our perennial favorites, Brit Dusty Gedge of Livingroofs.org  
Downtown Ecoroof Tour, March 31st

We left Portland with a greater understanding of how City employees, from the  Mayor to City Commissioners to everyone at BES, view their work.   I felt  that the employee buy-in for  eco-friendly stormwater management  options for a cleaner and greener Portland is just amazing!   It was evident from everyone we met how much they loved their jobs and how strongly they felt that ecoroofs were a real solution.   They really impressed me with their friendliness, professionalism, and dedication – thanks for inviting me!

Oregon is a land of widely different people, places, and ecosystems, and the beautiful City of Roses is always a pleasure to visit.   The City of Portland serves as a shining example to the rest of the U.S. on how municipal government can really work effectively for and with their people to promote healthy,  sustainable development.   Ecoroof Portland is a win-win event for everyone here – the citizens, the City employees, and as a result from all the support and financial incentives, the local environment as well.   Stay in touch by visiting the City’s BES website.

~ Linda V.