The New Face of the Green Roof Market
Hello once again, Green Roof Fans. The Green Roof Guy has been silent for about a year. For this, I apologize. It’s been an interesting year; while the economy has clearly weighed heavily on our minds, all any of us can do is manage our resources and hope for brighter tomorrows.
The 2011 CitiesAlive Green Roof and Wall Conference was held in Philly a few weeks back. It was great to see old friends and to make some new ones. Philadelphia appears to be surging to compete with Chicago as the Green Mecca of North America.
The CitiesAlive Closing Reception in Philadelphia
on December 2, 2011
It was also great to see the energy and enthusiasm for our industry. As I looked around and took stock of where are and from where we’ve come, I was struck by a startling realization. Something has happened to our fledgling young industry.
In a few words: it has grown up.
Where once the code enforcement community turned a blind eye towards our people on the construction site, we now have two ANSI (American National Standards Institute) approved standards that provide clear guidelines for design and maintenance of green roof systems. There are real incentives in place to help drive demand, like the New York City tax credit and the Washington D.C. cash incentive program. Where once there were idealistic discussions of how the U.S. needs to follow the Stuttgart model, we now have policies in place that support our industry. The new faces on the scene are also good signs of expansion of the industry. Introduction of new players and new ideas helps keep the market moving forward. While these are all good things for the green roof concept, there has been a major shift in the marketplace that is fundamentally changing the way we do business.
The green roof concept has entered mainstream construction. It’s unimportant whether green roofs are specified in the landscaping section having numbers starting with 01, or in the roofing sections beginning with 07. What is significant here is that green roofs are listed in construction documents no differently than the roofing membrane or the planted tree selections. The days of courting architects and securing a project are nearing an end.
Example of a roof plan calling out the green roof
from Perkins + Will
Now, we too see specifications that list our products as well as those of our competitors, just as other construction material providers have seen for many years. Competitive requirements in government construction projects have long required multiple sources for material suppliers; green roofs are the latest addition to the group of suppliers subject to these regulations. While entering the mainstream is very good for the overall growth of the market, there are other real consequences.
Welcome, newcomers, to the world of construction, where new OSHA safety regulations permeate every facet of our daily work. Take our most recent project at Fort Benning, Georgia, for example:
We were required to submit a written safety program including a project specific hazard analysis report. Before we were allowed to work onsite, every member of our crew had to sit for a safety orientation and sign a document agreeing to comply with the requirements of the general contractor’s safety program. Additionally, we were required to submit daily safety checklists for every piece of machinery used on the project, daily reports detailing each day’s activities on the project, and minutes from the mandatory weekly tool box safety meetings. The paperwork, however, was only the beginning.
All activity conducted on the rooftop was required to meet 100% tie off requirements. This means that the first person up the ladder immediately secures a tie off line for himself and one for the next person up the ladder. That person cannot step from the ladder to the rooftop until they have secured their personal fall protection harness to the tie off line. Each person entering the rooftop environment must have personal fall protection consisting of a harness connected to a tie off point capable of supporting 5000 pounds per attached person, guard rails that protect them from coming within six feet of a leading edge that is six feet or higher from the next lower level, or safety nets protecting workers from falling from a leading edge six feet or higher from the next lower level.
Safety is part of the plan at Fort Benning where we're installing a green roof using our Green Paks.
This is all in addition to the basic personal protection equipment that is required for every employee; steel toed boots, hard hats, safety glasses, and high visibility orange or yellow clothing.
The bottom line, entering mainstream construction will have a significant effect to your bottom line. Expect competition from your competitor, because we are now subject to the requirements of the Fairness in Construction Act.
Start developing your company’s written safety plan; you’re going to need it. Buy the necessary safety equipment to conduct operations in the rooftop environment and train your employees in the use of that equipment. Upgrade your workers compensation insurance to include coverage for activities conducted in the rooftop environment; claims for injured employees outside the realm of coverage can bankrupt your business.
The green roof industry can no longer ignore the roofing aspect of our work. Those of you, who wish to continue to work on rooftops of buildings, welcome to the roofing industry.
I hope you’ll take my own experiences to heart and start planning for safety now and implementing your strategy in the new year.
Speaking of which, I wish all of you a very Prosperous and Happy New Year for 2012 from me and the entire Luckett and Green Roof Blocks Family!
Kelly Luckett is President of GREEN ROOF BLOCKS and Green Paks and a member of the USGBC. Kelly has been involved in the industry since 1980, is a LEED Accredited Professional and also holds a GRP accreditation - Green Roof Professional. In 2009, Kelly authored Green Roof Construction and Maintenance, published by McGraw-Hill's Greensource.
Contact Kelly at: 314.220.2113, or email him at either: GreenRoofGuy@greenroofs.com or email@example.com.
Past Green Roof Guy/The Roving Exhibitor Articles
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