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Friday, July 1, 2011

Of Green Roofs, Mickey Mouse, and Petit Ermitage

What does Micky Mouse have in common with a chic West Hollywood hotel?  A green roof!  Yes, its true.  Whether you are eating a $4.00 churro or drinking a $15 martini, you will see vegetation on the roof.

While traveling through Southern California, I stayed at Petit Ermitage in West Hollywood.  A great, small hotel, it has a rooftop garden with lots of great plants.  National Geographic had a blog post by Lawrence Ferber about it from September 10, 2010, but it is no longer available.  I found a pdf of the article.  It reads in part:

 Even for Hollywood, boutique hotel Petit Ermitage boasts bragging rights to possibly the most exclusive regulars that frequent its gorgeous, private rooftop deck: hummingbirds.  The National Wildlife Federation recognizes the space as a butterfly and hummingbird sanctuary. 

Tucked within a residential crevice between busy Santa Monica and Sunset Boulevards, the greenery-nestled Private Rooftop Club and restaurant is one of Petit Ermitage's star attractions.

Chef Antonishek grows fresh herbs and produce on the deck's garden, including parsley, rosemary, peppermint, tomatoes, strawberries and kumquats, for use in dishes...


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I enjoyed my stay and would recommend it my readers.  The room was well appointed and comfortable.  I wandered down the halls admiring the extensive art collection.  The obvious question is why would I leave this wonderful location for Disneyland in Annaheim.  The answer is simple: my kids.

While at Disneyland, we stayed at the Grand Californian Hotel.  Done in American Craftsman style, the enormous great lobby has very tastefully done fake rocks and wooden beams.  It is a nice place and the accommodations were nice.  However, the green roof was found in the park itself.

Right across from Big Thunder Barbecue was this small snack shop with its green roof.  I almost missed it, as subtly blends in with the rest of the vegetation.

Many criticize Disney for its inaccurate representations of history and foreign culture, but you look hard, you can find some very sophisticated gardening and a tremendous variety of vegetation.

For a short trip to California, I managed to take in two green roofs, though I missed the monster of them all, the California Academy of Sciences, in San Francisco.  I will let you know the next time I head out there, as it is pretty amazing.

Green Roof Video Friday - The Solaire

I hope you enjoy this video about the Solaire, an apartment building in New York City with two green roofs.  The building also has on-site water treatment as well as a 33 KW solar system.  It is LEED Gold (the first multi-family high rise to do so)!

One of the most important elements of the green roofs on the Solaire is that they reduce storm water runoff.  In New York City, property owners are assessed a tax based on the volume of storm water runoff.  Fortunately, there is a tax reduction if the building has a green roof.

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The green roofs also reduce the heating and cooling costs by insulating the roof for both the heat of the sun, as well cold winds.  The green roof also reduce the heat island effect, which is when buildings in large cities absorb the heat of the sun and release the heat through convection.  This convection can raise the city's temperature over 6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Guest Blogger Post: Benefits of Green Roofing by Taylor Dardan

I would  like to welcome Taylor Dardan as a guest blogger and present his post, "Benefits of Green Roofing."  Please enjoy his writing and encourage others to write about green roofs.

Green roofs are increasingly popular globally because of their financial and environmental benefits. Green roofs can be used in residential as well as commercial real estate.
A major concept with all green technologies is the financial savings.   Green roofs are estimated to last almost twice as long as conventional roofs, with reducing maintenance and replacement costs. Green roofing also helps with savings on heating and cooling costs.  Sale on Select Outdoor Lighting at Target.com
When referring to the exterior of buildings and homes, green roofing has a huge positive impact on outdoor air quality. Many green roofing systems involve the absorption of carbon dioxide, and other air pollutants in the process. The plants produce oxygen, while consuming carbon dioxide.  Green roofing also combats smog, and lowers other types of air pollution.
Green roofing also provides benefits toward reduction of indoor toxins as well.   Indoor air quality is often compromised by toxins such as mold, asbestos exposure, and other harmful chemicals. The use and installation of green roofing systems can reduce the presence of potential of health risks related to these toxins.
Installing a green roofing system is a very serious undertaking. The benefits of using green roofing should continue to grow as the technology becomes more advanced and the knowledge spreads. The decision to switch to greener roofing, improves the environment, but also can improve your health and reduce your costs.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Green Roofs Enhance the Natural Beauty in Georgia

www.worldarchitecturenews.com
Recent unfortunate events in the Republic of Georgia can't take away from the natural beauty found in the Meskheti Mountain Range.  Full of lush forests, clean air, and a moderate climate, no better spot for a resort could be found.  The only thing to improve the site and its natural beauty is the presence of green roofs.

Henning Larsen Architects, in collaboration with consulting engineers Buro Happold, won an international competition for this stunning new resort.  Located in the Georgian town of Abastumani, near the southern slope of the Meskheti Range at the entrance to the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, this 200-room hotel, conference center, and spa, will feature terraced green roofs, allowing the facility to seamlessly blend into the landscape.

http://www.worldarchitecturenews.com/
I found this story in World Architecture News, which I receive as a weekly newsletter.  I mention this to note the continued, upward trend in the use of green roofs on commercial spaces.

While having a green roof on a spa near a national park doesn't require much imagination, it does take a conscious effort to use green roofs in a design.  While major cities such as London, Chicago, and Mexico City are leaders in commercial green roofs, it is good to see their use spread through greater parts of the world.

Perhaps the rest of the world can see the both the aesthetic and practical value of green roofs and start putting them on houses, as the Swiss and Germans have done.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New Mexico Highlands University's Green Roof

Diamond and Schmitt Architects
New Mexico Highland University, in Las Vegas, NM, was in need a of new student center built with sustainable building technology.

According to the NMHU, an "...outdated and nonfunctional Mortimer Hall..." was demolished to make room for the new student center, complete with a green roof.

The building, said NMHU president Jim Fries, "...will be a center of activity for our campus,” Fries said. “It will offer new amenities that will enhance the quality of campus life for our growing student body.”

The Canadian architectural firm, Diamond and Schmitt, partnered with the Albuquerque, NM firm, Studio Southwest, to design and build this 65,000 square foot, 3-story building.

It includes, "...a dining facility for the residence halls, a flexible theater space, student service offices for Campus Life and Housing, computer lab, game room, multicultural conference space, ballroom, campus bookstore, campus post office, café, copy center, and an executive boardroom for campus governance groups.  A skywalk will connect the student center to the Donnelly Library."

In addition to a green roof, the building, which hopefully will attain LEED Silver, include the use of geothermal energy, high efficiency lighting, rain collection, renewable wood, and high R-value insulation.

Costs were estimated at $18 million and construction completion is scheduled for 2011.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sweden's Largest Green Roof

The city of Malmo, Sweden is building a Fair and Exhibition Centre that will have the country's largest green roof.  Erik Giudice Architects created the winning design.  The property will be developed by Midroc Property Development.

 According to World Architecture News, the building is:

"...approximately 19,000 sq m comprises exhibition halls, conference rooms, a restaurant, offices, commercial and support spaces."

The design allows for the addition of an additional 5,000 sq m for mixed use, including housing.  Further, the structure will be accessible by a rail link between Malmo and Copenhagen.
While this project includes a very large green roof, it isn't the only one in Malmo.  According to Green Roof.se, the Augustenborg’s Botanical Roof Garden is 9,500 sq m. It covers several buildings and open to the public.  I highly recommend reviewing the site via the link I posted above, as it is an aggressive and very interesting project.

If you are looking for a city to visit with green roofs, put Malmo on your list!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Some Green Roof Reading

I have written over 100 posts about green roofs from around the world.  However, I have only referenced one book.  I would like to recommend a few more to add to your library.

The first is Green Roof Systems:  A Guide to the Planning, Design and Construction of Landscapes over Structure, by Susan Weiler and Katrin Scholz-Barth.  If you are looking for a text book approach to green roofs, with fancy charts and diagrams, this is it.  Both Weiler and Scholz-Barth are well known in the field.  Their experience has made this book standard reading for professionals designing and building green roofs.

If you love green roofs, but live in the city and have no yard, the book for you is:  Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls by Nigel Dunnett and Noël Kingsbury.  While you have to have something of a green thumb, this book walks you through the steps to green up a wall or roof.  There is advice on which plants to choose as well as designs.  This book is also a help for landscape designers who have never actually done a green roof.

If you are most interested in the design of green roofs, Steven Peck wrote Award Winning Green Roof Designs.  Although it is more directed to professionals, it has great photos and descriptions of some incredible green roofs.  It is also a good companion to the Weiler Scholz-Barth book above.

One final book for your consideration is by Caroline Tilston, Rooftop and Terrace Gardens: A step-by-step guide to creating a modern and stylish space.  This book is the DIY guide for terraces and the like.  It has design suggestions, layouts, as well as detailed instructions.  If you live in the city and have roof access, this is the book to liven up your space.

Is this an exhaustive list of books?  Certainly not, but it is a representative sample of materials available.  In addition to these books, I would like to give a particular shout out to a green roof expert on Twitter, Dusty Gedge (@greenroofsuk). He has great tweets and is worth following.

Happy reading!!