Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Great Example of A Green Roof-----Garden of Eden in the Concrete Jungle

Fukuoka City, in Japan, consists of concrete, steel, asphalt, and very little dirt. Tree’s set apart in pretty little rows along the sidewalks. Not exactly a garden spot. So how do you get a little more greenery in your city life? You go to the rooftops.

It’s called a Green Roof, and not only does it add a touch of beauty in hard environment but it actually will provide the means to help preserve your environment. A green roof is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and soil, or a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. This does not refer to roofs which are merely colored green, as with green roof shingles. It may also include additional layers such as a root barrier and drainage and irrigation systems. Also known as “living roofs,” green roofs serve several purposes for a building, such as absorbing rainwater, providing insulation, creating a habitat for wildlife, and helping to lower urban air temperatures.

Green rooftops are now becoming a hip-thing of the present, growing in urban cities worldwide. It makes complete sense. According to Science American, “Ground cover, shrubs and other flora planted across a building’s roof can reduce storm water runoff, easing the burden on local sewers and water treatment systems. And the vegetation can keep the roof cooler in summer, lowering interior air-conditioning costs and therefore peak demand on area power plants.”

Of course Europe has been doing the green-roof-thing for more than a decade (actually they have done it consistently since the beginning of construction when you consider England's Thatched Roofs - have you seen one they are quite beautiful) and according to Science American, “Tokyo now requires that at least 20 percent of any new roof on medium and large buildings be cultivated. Chicago is the U.S. leader. Most installations are made on newly constructed buildings, but retrofits are rising.”Modern green roofs, which are made of a system of manufactured layers deliberately placed over roof to support growing vegetation, are relatively new phenomenon. However green roofs, or sod roofs, have been around for centuries in Northern Scandinavia. The modern “trend” started when green roofs were developed in Germany in the 1960’s, and since spread to many countries. Green roofs are becoming increasingly popular in the United States for the economic factors, reduced energy output, and insulation.

One of the largest expanses of extensive green roof to be found in the United States, at Ford Motor Company in Dearborn Michigan, where 450,000 sq. ft. of assembly plant roofs are covered with sedum and other plants. Millennium Park in Chicago is a 24.5 acre green roof build on top of the Millennium Park Garage. Other well known examples of green roofs include Chicago’s City Hall, and the Gap Headquarters in San Bruno, Ca. The Ballard Library in Seattle has over 18,000 plants to help with insulation and reduce run off. Recently, the American Society of Landscape Architects retrofitted their existing headquarters building in Washington, D.C. with a green roof.

Donna Antonucci Green roof

The new California Academy of Sciences building in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park has a green roof that provides 2.5 acres of native vegetation designed as a habitat for indigenous species, including the threatened Bay Checkerspot butterfly. According to the Academy's fact sheet on the building, the building consumes 30-35% less energy than required by code.

Container gardens on roofs, where plants are maintained in pots, are not general considered to be true green roofs, although this is an area of debate. Rooftop ponds are another form of green roofs which are used to treat greywater. Green roofs are also referred to as eco-roof, oikosteges, vegetated roofs, and living roofs. Some other examples of ‘green roof’ refers to a form of green technology, such as a cool roof, a roof with solar thermal collectors or photovoltaic modules.
A properly designed and installed green roof system can cost 5 to 10 dollars per sq. ft. The cost depends on what kind of roof it is, the structure of the building, and what plants can grow on the material that is on top of the roof. 

Information Provided by Donna Antonucci
Weichert Realtors

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