Irrigation of Intensive Green Roof Systems on a Hot Planet

August 31, 2018 at 3:09 pm
Irrigation of Intensive Green Roof Systems

Red-hot planet: simulation of maximum temperatures on July 3, 2018. Source: The Washington Post.

Intense Heat Equals Necessary Irrigation of Intensive Green Roof Systems

In July of this year the UK Met Office (officially the Meteorological Office) continued to report temperatures that were into the mid-30s (Celsius).  Temperatures are touching these figures with frequency; for example, 33.3°C was recorded at Santon Downham on the 23rd July, 34.5° C at Heathrow Airport on 21st June 2017 and 36.7° C on the 01st July 2015 to name a few.

And the all-time record was 38.5° C at Faversham in August 2003.  In fact, the average UK temperature over the last decade (2008-2017) was 0.8 °C warmer than the 1961-1990 average. (Source: UK Met office website).

Irrigation of Intensive Green Roof Systems

Intensive green roof system at Kew Bridge, London.

And we also know that global temperatures are following suit with heat waves wrecking havoc across the planet.  2018 is on pace to be the 4th-hottest year on record. (Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) via CNN).

This, to my mind, underlines the importance of considering very carefully the requirements for inclusion of permanent irrigation systems on intensive green roofs and in planters, whether they’re in London, Aberdeen, or wherever.

Irrigation of Intensive Green Roof Systems

Intensive green roof & bespoke planters at Material Store, West London.

The total absence of or the provision of inadequate irrigation systems is one of the commonest reasons for planting failures on green roofs or within planters at either ground or roof level – regardless of rising heat rates.  Here we take a quick look at some of the pressures and solutions for providing much-needed irrigation to our green spaces, but with an emphasis on green roofs.

Irrigation of Intensive Green Roof Systems

One of 14 landscaped roofs at the School of Architecture and Construction at the University of Greenwich, UK, a teaching resource.

With increasing urbanisation and higher density living, planners, landscape architects, and architects are trying to provide more affordable, high-quality, desirable living spaces that each have a sense of unique identity.  And these locations very often incorporate green spaces or green elements within their designs.

This is all well and good.  However, without providing the necessary elements for the plants to thrive, i.e., light, water, oxygen, carbon dioxide, nutrients, and a means to anchor their roots, no matter how well-meaning the intentions are, the long-term performance of the trees, shrubs or vegetation is undoubtedly compromised.

Irrigation of Intensive Green Roof Systems

School of Architecture and Construction, University of Greenwich.

So why do we see so many planters incorporating trees and hedging that could quickly exceed these basic requirements for growth – least of all water?

There are numerous permanent irrigation solutions available on the market, supplied either as part of the planter/green roof solution or as optional extras – and these can either be automated or manually operated.

Irrigation of Intensive Green Roof Systems

Extensive green roof at Pets at Home, Hedge End Retail Park, Southampton.

Why go to all the expense of providing a system, actually either intensive or extensive, and plantings and possibly missing out on years of enjoyment for a small increase in the installation cost?

Irrigation of Intensive Green Roof Systems

Chester Bus Interchange extensive green roof, UK.

Permanent Irrigation Components

Typically, but not necessarily exclusively, a permanent irrigation system includes the following components:

1. Mains water and power
2. Tank, pump and housing
3. Control box or programmer
4. Water feed pipes, solenoids and associated signal cabling
5. A means of applying the water, i.e., drippers or pop-up sprinklers
6. Finally, training!

There’s little point in offering an automatic irrigation system unless the operator understands how to program and operate the controls.  Training for the FM (facilities management) provider or client is very important unless the irrigation system is operated remotely by a third party via the web.

This all might sound a bit complicated and another problem to think about, but you might be surprised at how compact and simple some of the systems are.

Irrigation of Intensive Green Roof Systems

An integrated glasshouse for student projects on one of the green roofs at the School of Architecture and Construction, University of Greenwich.

Built-in Irrigation Reservoirs

Alternatively, if your pockets don’t stretch for an automated system, then there are many other non-automated solutions that could make a big difference to the performance, health and longevity of your planting – if there is a maintenance provider to actually manage them, regularly.

Irrigation of Intensive Green Roof Systems

Material Store, West London.

Uniform planting – where there is a single form of planting such herbaceous perennials within an area of green roof then the application of water can be controlled by a single solenoid – a pressure compensated drip line can be installed and secured on the substrate surface, usually under the mulch layer.  At the appropriate time of day (or night) the irrigation controller turns the water supply on for a set duration so irrigating the plants uniformly.

Mixed planting – where the planting is mixed, i.e., lawn, trees and herbaceous, then the theory remains the same but the method of application may vary, i.e., drip line for some areas and pop up sprinklers for the lawn.  Each distinct type of planting could require its own solenoid to take into account the duration and quantity of water that is required for that particular type of planting.

Over application – to avoid over application of water to the planting beds, a simple soil moisture meter or rain gauge is incorporated into the control system circuit.  This enables the irrigation controller to tailor the amount of water applied to each of the areas.  However, owing to the proximity of some green roofs to building facades and the potential problems this could present with regards to rain shadow, or that radiated from the adjacent surfaces, more than one moisture sensor may be required and each one carefully located to reflect an accurate and true moisture reading.

By specifying the correct green roof system or planter to suit the final planting density and, very importantly, the carefully considered plant selection, applying sound annual horticultural practices such as mulching, feeding, a structured maintenance programme, and installing plants at a size that enables slow acclimatisation to their new environment can mean less reliance on expensive permanent irrigation systems.

 

Irrigation of Intensive Green Roof Systems

A custom made ‘garden table’ doubles up as the housing for a tank, pump, and controller unit for a mixed planting scheme in London.

It’s simple, unobtrusive and I expect most people wouldn’t even realize what was inside it as the pump operates during the night when the garden is less frequented. Alternatively, for larger and noisier units, the tank, pump, and controller can be located within a dedicated plant room away from the garden.

Consider Irrigation of Intensive Green Roof Systems Early

None of the above removes the requirement for good sound horticultural practice such as weeding, seasonal mulching, thinning out the plantings, appropriate feeding or installing the plants at a size that enables them to slowly acclimatise to their new environment.

Nor does it mean that the planting scheme should be less well adapted to cope with those peaks in temperatures that we’re increasingly experiencing.  Including an irrigation system shouldn’t be seen as a temporary fix to enable unsuitable plantings to struggle through prolonged periods of high temperatures.

Irrigation of Intensive Green Roof Systems

University of Greenwich.

We’re seeing increasing requests from clients to retrofit permanent irrigation systems on established, but possibly struggling, green roofs and planters.  These retrofits are not only expensive, but cause disruption to tenants and client who are occupying the premises – disruption and expense that could have been avoided with more initial discussion during the concept and design stages of the project.

So to summarise, we are undoubtedly experiencing more frequent periods of unseasonably higher temperatures.  Combine this with the already demanding environments of roofs, planters, and facades where we expect plants to not only grow, but to thrive.  We need to be re-looking and re-appraising all aspects of the systems that we are offering – and asking ourselves ‘Can we do better?’  Only in this way can we help, in our small way, to make our urban spaces the pleasurable environments that they really ought to be.

~ By Adrian Culling

Irrigation of Intensive Green Roof Systems

Adrian Culling returned to university to study for a degree in horticulture at Pershore College in Worcestershire in the late 90s.  He has worked within the green roof industry, at Blackdown, for more than 10 years.  Prior to this Adrian worked within private & public horticultural sectors of the industry and has been awarded medals at both RHS Hampton and Chelsea.  Prior to retraining he worked within the environmental research industry in the UK and Europe.

Blackdown Green Roofs are available in three broad application categories including Extensive, Biodiverse, and Intensive and offer engineered living roof systems which are fully compatible with Alumasc Roofing System‘s warranted waterproofing ranges.

Contact Adrian Culling at info@alumasc-exteriors.co.uk and 03335 771 500.

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week for May 7, 2018: Kensington Roof Gardens (The Roof Gardens, Derry & Toms)

May 6, 2018 at 4:12 pm


Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & TomsKensington Roof Gardens (The Roof Gardens, Derry & Toms)
London, UK
65,340 sf Greenroof

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Photo: The Roof Gardens/Virgin.

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week: May 7, 2018

London’s iconic and beautiful 1938 Kensington Roof Gardens – and celebrity party venue – closed its doors to the public in early January.  Citing an ever changing London market and unpredictable market conditions, Virgin Limited Edition decided to close their doors.

As an English Heritage-designated Grade II Site added to the National Heritage List for England, the gardens will remain intact but who will maintain the site, with its four resident flamingos, is up in the air.  The historic Derry & Toms Roof Gardens was designed by Ralph Hancock, the same designer as the equally famous ‘Garden of the Nations’ of 1933-1935 atop the eleventh floor of the RCA building at Rockefeller Center in New York City.

Also read the April 27, 2018 guest feature 37 Years After Opening to the Public, the Kensington Roof Gardens Has Closed Down by Pedro Dias here on Greenroofs.com for more info on this important urban greening project.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Photo: @theroofgardens (Instagram account now closed).

Mini Description & Details

The Roof Gardens (formerly known as Derry and Toms Roof Gardens and the Kensington Roof Gardens) is a 6,000 m2 exotic urban oasis situated six floors up and 100 feet above Kensington High Street in London.  Closed as of January 2018, Virgin Limited Edition, the most recent leaseholder, was not able to reach an agreement with the freeholder about renewal of the lease.

Previously occupied and made famous by the Derry & Toms Department Store, The Roof Gardens has been owned by Sir Richard Branson since 1982.  Part of Virgin Limited Edition, they hosted a members’ club, a private function venue and the Babylon Restaurant on the seventh floor overlooking the gardens.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Photo: @theroofgardens

The Roof Gardens was open to the public during this time.  In 1936, Welsh landscape architect Ralph Hancock designed the roof garden.  Over a two-year period Hancock planted more than 500 species of plants and shrubs within 18-36” of growing media in the one and a half acre site.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

A plan of the roof gardens in a 1950s promotional pamphlet” – designed by Ralph Hancock – from the House of Fraser Archive at the University of Glasgow Library.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

L: “A Garden in the Sky” from Parks and Gardens UK; R: “A Spanish garden on a roof in London” from the House of Fraser Archive at the University of Glasgow Library.

The Derry and Toms Roof Gardens opened in May 1938.  Queen Mary and other members of the British Royal family visited the roof gardens early after opening.  At the time, the roof garden was London and Europe’s largest intensive greenroof.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

“Queen Mary visiting the roof gardens” from the House of Fraser Archive at the University of Glasgow Library.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Flamingos in the Woodland Garden.  Photo: The Roof Gardens/Virgin.

The three themed gardens include: the Spanish Garden, planted with palm trees with a court of fountains, as well as Moorish colonnades and vine-covered walkways; the formal Tudor Courtyard, which features Hancock’s trademark herringbone brickwork pathways and impressive Tudor-inspired arches; and the English Woodland Garden, with over 100 trees and a flowing stream with fish, ducks, and four resident flamingos.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Photos: The Roof Gardens/Virgin.

More

Now closed after 37 years of one of London’s best-known nightlife scenes and event venues, plans for The Roof Gardens remain uncertain.

As an English Heritage-designated Grade II Site, the gardens will not be demolished but who will maintain the site is unknown.  London’s most famous and historic roof garden may still yet have a future as a secret garden in the sky.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Dave Walker’s Derry and Toms Roof Garden Postcard from the Trevor Bowen Estate from The Library Time Machine of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Local Studies Library.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Kensington_roof_gardens_tent.jpg” by flickr user Bryce Edwards CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Kensington_roof_gardens_window.JPG” by Tomhannen at English Wikipedia Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Year: 1938
Owner:
Virgin Limited Edition
Location:
London, England, UK
Building Type:
Commercial
Type:
Intensive
System:
Custom
Size:
65340 sq.ft.
Slope:
1%
Access:
Accessible, Private

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Photos courtesy of Something Different London.

Designers/Manufacturers of Record:

Commissioned by: Trevor Bowen, Barkers
Landscape Architect: Ralph Hancock
Architect: Bernard George
2008-2009 Restoration: Conservation Officer, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, English Heritage, Colwyn Foulkes and Randle Siddeley
The Roof Gardens Head Gardener: David Lewis

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

A Chilean Flamingo in the Kensington Roof Gardens. Kensington_roof_gardens_flamingo.jpg by flickr user Bryce Edwards CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

All the Info:

View the Kensington Roof Gardens (The Roof Gardens, Derry & Toms)  project profile to see ALL of the Photos and Additional Information about this particular project in The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Photo courtesy of Something Different London.

Project of the Week Video Feature

Watch the Kensington Roof Gardens (The Roof Gardens, Derry & Toms) Project of the Week Video below or see it on our GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube:

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week 5/07/18 video photo credits: Courtesy of Something Different London; Virgin Limited Edition; Dave Walker’s Derry and Toms Roof Garden Postcard, Trevor Bowen and Miss Diana Wynyard 1940s, and Spanish Garden from the Trevor Bowen Estate from The Library Time Machine of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Local Studies Library;  A Spanish garden on a roof in London,  A plan of the roof gardens in a 1950s promotional pamphlet, and Queen Mary visiting the roof gardens from the House of Fraser Archive at the University of Glasgow Library; @theroofgardens (Instagram account now closed); Derry’s Kensington, A Garden in the Sky, and Sun Pavilion Derry Gardens from Parks and Gardens UKDerry & Toms 26.JPG by Edwardx, Own work licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons; Kensington_roof_gardens_tent.jpg by flickr user Bryce Edwards CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons; and Kensington_roof_gardens_window.JPG by Tomhannen at English Wikipedia Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Did we miss your contribution? Please let us know to add you to the Kensington Roof Gardens (The Roof Gardens, Derry & Toms) 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 Summits Host

Don’t Miss the 2017 Greenroofs & Walls of the World Virtual Summit Ending on December 31!

December 14, 2017 at 3:40 pm

Greenroofs.com’s 4th biennial web-based Virtual Summit is ending on December 31, 2017 ~ why not spend some of your down time during the holidays catching up with some of our industry’s most valued and interesting greenroof and greenwall colleagues?

2017 Greenroofs Walls World Virtual Summit Ending on December 31

The 2017 Greenroofs & Walls of the World Virtual Summit Comes to a Close Soon

If you haven’t registered yet for the 2017 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit: Connecting the Planet + Living Architecture, now’s the time!

Presented by Greenroofs.com, our Virtual Summits only take place every other year.  Held completely online, these marquee innovation events run on demand with live social media events – and for 2017, our Virtual Summit comes to a close on December 31, 2017.

Special Discounted Pricing Through the End of the Year

Register through December 31, 2017 at the 50% off discounted rate of only $25:

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The Mission of the 2017 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit: Connecting the Planet + Living Architecture is to inform, share, and create a global social media experience online for learning and networking via the power of the Internet.

In addition to increasing awareness of our living architecture market and industry, the Virtual Summit 2017 is an interactive platform for idea interchange through a combination of environmentally forward videos from keynote speakers, individual & collaborative offerings, and expert panel sessions along with social media happenings.

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Highlighting Excellence and Lessons Learned in Green Living Architecture

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Experience some of the latest projects and developments in vegetated building envelopes worldwide, and learn about avant-garde architects, landscape architects, designers, educators, and leaders of government who have captured the essence of living with nature.

Our 2017 Renowned Keynotes:

Greenroofs.com Press New 2017 Greenroofs Walls World Virtual Summit Website

  • Trailblazing green architect, graphic and industrial designer Emilio Ambasz, designer of the ACROS Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall in Japan and the Veneto Eye Bank Foundation in Venice, among numerous others;
  • Noted botanist and researcher Patrick Blanc, PhD, inventor of the Vertical Garden, or Le Mur Végétal, whose over 250 biodiverse designs include the One Central Park in Sydney and the Quai Branly Museum in Paris;
  • Educational, affordable local food systems, and workforce development innovator Stephen Ritz, responsible for the new National Health, Wellness and Learning Center at CS 55 in South Bronx and founder of the Green Bronx Machine;
  • Industry leader Joanne Rodriguez, CSI, CDT, LEED AP, with two decades of experience working within the building products and construction communities, with an emphasis on sustainable building impacts and high performance building envelope assemblies.

Round #1 Speakers

Watch and learn from our 4 awesome Keynotes and 27 esteemed Speakers from Round #1 who explore current trends in living architecture, classroom food literacy, certified student workforce training, sustainable stormwater design, rooftop urban ag and more, from the micro-scale of dwellings to the macro-scale of cities.

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Round #2 Speakers

…PLUS our 10 brand new Short Videos (under 10 minutes) from 9 new colleagues, firms, and organizations from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, The Netherlands, and the U.S.:

2017 Greenroofs Walls World Virtual Summit Ending on December 31

See the entire Agenda to learn more about each video check out all of our 40 wonderful Speakers and their widely varied 36 talks – short, medium, and long!

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Industry Support

Additionally, we must thank our Sponsors, Exhibitors, and living architecture/green infrastructure Organization Partners who have supported our work in 2017:

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See What the Rest of Us Are Doing and Support Our Work

Come and hear perspectives from a truly diverse and wide range of professionals – at your leisure, but only for the next two and a half weeks! If you haven’t joined us yet, take advantage of the 50% off special registration rate now through the end of year.

Support our work, learn about new projects, happenings, and people – and connect with your fellow green infrastructure colleagues from across the planet.

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!2017 Greenroofs Walls World Virtual Summit Ending on December 31

2017 Greenroofs & Walls of the World Virtual Summit Round #2 is Open with Special Discounted Pricing!

October 16, 2017 at 5:42 pm

2017 Greenroofs Walls World Virtual Summit Round #2 Special Pricing

The 2017 Greenroofs & Walls of the World Virtual Summit Round #2

If you haven’t registered yet for the 2017 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit: Connecting the Planet + Living Architecture, Round #2 is now open – and the time is now! Highlighting excellence and lessons learned in green living architecture, the 4th biennial web-based Virtual Summit is the living architecture industry’s marquee innovation event that only takes place every other year.

Presented by Greenroofs.com, the 2017 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit runs on demand with live social media events through December 31, 2017.

Special Discounted Pricing Through the End of the Year

Register through December 31, 2017 at the 50% off discounted rate of only $25:

2017 Greenroofs Walls World Virtual Summit Round #2 Special Pricing

Round #1 Speakers

Watch and learn from our 4 awesome Keynotes and 27 esteemed Speakers from Round #1…

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L to R: Emilio Ambasz; Patrick Blanc; Stephen Ritz; and Joanne Rodriguez

2017 Greenroofs Walls World Virtual Summit Round #2 Special Pricing

Round #2 Speakers

…PLUS our 10 brand new Short Videos (under 10 minutes) from 9 new colleagues, firms, and organizations from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, The Netherlands, and the U.S.:

2017 Greenroofs Walls World Virtual Summit Round #2 Special Pricing

An International Line-Up

Now we have 16 countries across 5 continents represented from Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Europe, North America, and South America.  Come and hear perspectives from a truly diverse and wide range of professionals – at your leisure.

See the entire Agenda to learn more about each video check out all of our 40 wonderful Speakers and their 36 talks – short, medium, and long!

Industry Support

Additionally, we must thank our Sponsors, Exhibitors, and living architecture/green infrastructure Organization Partners who support our work:

2017 Greenroofs Walls World Virtual Summit Round #2 Special Pricing
Learn, Network, and Support Our Work

If you haven’t joined us yet, take advantage of the 50% off special registration rate now through the end of year.

Support our work, learn about new projects, happenings, and people, and connect with your fellow green infrastructure colleagues from across the planet.

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!2017 Greenroofs Walls World Virtual Summit Round #2 Special Pricing