Village of Orland Park Green Roof: One Year After the Build

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Topics: Green Roofs

Who Is Involved in Building a Green Roof?

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Building a green roof is a complex process that involves many stakeholders and experts. Here’s a quick breakdown of whom you can expect to work with on a green roof project.

So you’re ready for a green roof.

Maybe you’re in it for the energy savings. Perhaps you dream of taking your weekend cocktail on a rooftop patio surrounded by cute little plants. Maybe you just live for those bucolic duck moments … 40 stories up.

We’re cool with any and all of that – and we’d love to help.

First, though, it’s important to understand how the process works and who’s involved. Let’s take a look now.

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Topics: Green Roofs

Why Green Roofs? The Importance of Growing and Healing Green Systems (Infographic)

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What Are the Layers of a Green Roof?

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Green roofs require specific materials in order to protect the building roofing/waterproofing, retain/detain, and drain stormwater, and grow healthy plants. Here’s a quick rundown.

Looking at a green roof, it’s easy to imagine someone just stuck some plants and a little soil on top of a bare rooftop, dusted off their hands and called it good.

Because we can’t see underneath the surface, we often forget to think about the rest. Indeed, some professionals fail to use the proper materials or install green roof layers in the correct order.

That, we hardly need tell you, is no Bueno. No Bueno at all.

As with everything else, the first step is understanding. So here’s a quick look at the layers of a green roof, so you can be sure yours is performing and protecting as best it can.

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Topics: Green Roofs

What Is the Best Green Roof Media Type?

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Growing media nourishes green roof plants and helps detain stormwater, but what form does that media take – and which is best for your roof?

Which media to use while building or maintaining a green roof is a question with many possible answers today. While choice is a good thing, it also leads to confusion and analysis paralysis.

Don’t worry; we’re not judging. “Analysis paralysis” is sometimes our middle name.

Yet in the case of green roof media, we can’t afford that. Choosing the best media type during the initial stages of green roof design is critical for the roof to function at its best, detain and retain stormwater with maximum efficiency, and enable future stewardship.

So here’s your brief primer on the best green roof media type, so whip out that notepad (or the tablet that’s already wired to your brainstem) and let’s get started.

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Topics: Green Roofs

How to Combine Solar Panels and Green Roofs

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Biosolar, or the combination of solar panels and green roofs, is shown to increase the effectiveness of both technologies as compared to each when used independently.

Despite the amazing advancements we’ve made with sustainable rooftop technologies, many people still hold onto archaic beliefs. In all fairness, that’s to be expected in a field that moves quickly and is populated by nerds.

Hey, we’re not throwing stones here. Our house is super glass, ifyouknowwhatwemean.

One of the biggest misunderstandings relates to photovoltaic (solar) panels and green roofs. Specifically, most people are under the impression that they’re mutually exclusive, that they can’t be combined – and that’s just not true.

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Topics: Green Roofs

How to Make Your Green Roof Pay

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Green roofs represent a significant upfront cost, but what if you could get that money back sooner? Here are a few ways to make your green roof pay.

Everyone loves the look of a green roof.

Or at least, everyone should love the look of a green roof. And anyone who doesn’t probably needs to be committed. But hey, we’re biased.

Point being, any roof that has the capacity to support green infrastructure is a good candidate for the increased stormwater management services, detoxifying and cooling abilities, and serious aesthetic appeal offered by green roofing.

Only problem: Them things are expensive.

Most people stop here, assuming that they can’t afford a green roof “right now” … or possibly ever. But that’s not taking into account the many options available for decreasing the upfront burden, as well as upping the roof’s ROI over time.

It’s time to consider both. Here’s how to make your green roof pay today.

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Topics: Green Roofs

How to Maintain a Green Roof for Maximum Benefits

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Taking care of your green roof does more than keep it pretty, but do you know how to do so for maximum benefit?

Maintenance is an important part of any living system. When we cultivate something, we must keep cultivating it in order for it to survive – and offer the benefits we’re looking for.

Green roof, rain garden, bioswale, even a nature-scaped yard … these are all natural habitats forced into populated areas. Even with the right mix of native plants, these systems are unlikely to survive on their own within the milieu of human habitation.

So today’s question is: How can you maintain your green roof for maximum benefits? How should you think about maintenance in the first place, what benefits are we talking about, and how can you achieve them?

It starts with a better definition of maintenance.

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Topics: Green Roofs

How to Monitor a Green Roof Effectively

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Existing green roofs can give us lots of information for future sustainable design, as long as we take care to monitor them carefully.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a 12 percent increase in relative humidity!

… is something you’ve never said.

Yet perhaps you would if you had an amazing green roof monitoring station. (Ahem, like the one we just installed on a municipal building in the Village of Orland Park. Not to brag.)

The ability to monitor green roofs is an important one, and one that we here at Ecogardens have been pushing for some years now. Taking the time and spending the extra money to add in monitoring capabilities to green roofs can bring us a wealth of knowledge and significantly increase the value of green rooftop infrastructure.

Here’s why it matters and how you can monitor green roofs effectively.

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Topics: Green Roofs

The Best Alternative Plants for Green Roofs

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While sedum has a formidable reputation when it comes to green roofs, there are a variety of other plants that offer competitive benefits.

Ask most people, and they’ll tell you there aren’t many alternative plants for green roofs. Sedum or bust, right?

Not quite. Actually, using native plants that complement the environment are a great approach, as long as you know which alternative species will work best for a particular rooftop environment and geographic location.

This becomes a bit more challenging on extensive green roofs, explains the University of Minnesota, pointing out that plant options are more limited when you have only 3-6 inches of growing media with which to work.

“Since there is less soil and the system as a whole has to be lighter,” they explain, “extensive green roofs are not able to support trees or shrubs like intensive systems. Instead, grasses and small plants are the available vegetation options for extensive green roofs.”

That said, there are quite a few plants that fit the bill – those aforementioned grasses or plants. See? We’re not nearly as confined to sedums as common perception holds.

Let’s take a look at our favorite alternative plants for green roofs today.

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Topics: Green Roofs