What Is the Best Green Roof Media Type?

Posted by Ecogardens


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

Posted by Ecogardens


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 Use Green Roofs to Slash Stormwater

Posted by Ecogardens


Green roofs are one of our primary tools in the fight against urban, suburban and rural stormwater runoff.

Pop quiz: What’s the worst thing about rain?

No, it’s not forgetting your poncho and getting soaked on the way to that meeting. Nor is it all the standing water in the Starbucks parking lot, though that’s a bit closer.

The worst thing about rain is the damage stormwater does to our cities and the environment, overflowing sewers and carrying all that raw, toxic muck into our drinking water and wild habitats. We’re talking poo, people. It ain’t pretty.

Like we said, it’s the worst.

One of the best ways to improve our stormwater management efforts is to build more green roofs and ensure that we’re stewarding them properly, so that their benefits continue over the long haul.

Building and maintaining green roofs to maximum effect, however, requires understanding how they work together. Keep reading to find out.

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Topics: Green Roofs, Stormwater Management

How Green Is the Green Building Industry REALLY?

Posted by Ecogardens


Raise your hand if you’re a “green builder” who sometimes doesn’t feel very green at all. Yeah, you’re not alone.

Download the PDF here to share with family and friends for free!

Every industry has its own challenges.

Mattresses have to be comfortable without being squishy. Restaurants must cater to time-honored tastes with comfort dishes, yet innovate. Dog trainers have to instill fancy tricks but also teach their dogs not to bite toddlers, which just has to be hard.

Because occasionally … let’s not lie … we all want to bite toddlers.

The green building and landscaping industry, however, has it particularly rough. While green builders try to do their part to help the environment, there are some very un-environmental practices baked right into the job. Which means, unfortunately, green builders often have to take shortcuts that work against the very benefits they’re trying to provide. Benefits such as:

  • Reduction of resource use
  • Cleaner air, water and soil
  • Better ecosystems for native plants and animals
  • Smaller landfills and healthier oceans

If that depresses you, well, it should. (Can we go back to toddler jokes?) But it doesn’t need to end the conversation, which is what it too often does these days. Instead of throwing your hands in the air and concluding that there’s just “nothing to be done here,” let’s take a deep dive into exactly what’s going wrong – and what that means about potential solutions.

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Topics: Green Roofs, Green Infrastructure

How to Make Your Green Roof Pay

Posted by Ecogardens


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

Posted by Ecogardens


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

Posted by Ecogardens


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

Posted by Ecogardens


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

What Is Green Roof Technology and How Does It Work?

Posted by Ecogardens


Green roof technology encompasses an increasingly sought-after range of products, but what exactly are those products and how do they apply to you?

Imagine you’re in downtown Chicago, Detroit or St. Louis. You’re standing 20 or 40 or 60 stories up, gazing out at the sea of rooftops flowing before you. What do you see?

If you’re like most denizens of the Midwest, you see a lot of bare rooftops. Some A/C units, maybe a few solar panels. And … wait, is that … yes! It is! A patch of green, defying rain and snow and wind and frost and burning sun to survive at elevation, in an unnatural environment, against all odds.

It is a green roof, and it is kicking ass.

But how? How is it we’re able to engineer such hardy environments in such demanding environments?

Green roof technology, friend. Today, we’re here to talk about exactly what that is, so you can stop wondering what it is – and start making the most of green roofs in your own life, business, city and environment.

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Topics: Green Roofs

How Can Green Roof Stewardship Benefit You and the World?

Posted by Ecogardens


Working to keep a green roof healthy has a number of benefits beyond aesthetic appeal, but do you know what they are? Here’s why green roof stewardship matters.

If the phrase “green roof stewardship” sounds far less interesting than “three-day weekend” or “mocha latte stat,” then you’re not alone.

You’re busy, and you’re not looking for yet another chore. Can’t a person catch a break once in a while??

Well, we have good news: investing in ongoing and intelligent green roof stewardship may actually provide more of a break than you think, especially if you already have a green roof. Plus, it offers tons of other benefits as well.

Shall we take a look at some of them? Of course we shall.

Feel free to grab that mocha first, though.

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Topics: Green Roofs