Green Roof Design Process – What You Can Do as an Amateur

Green roofs have become an increasingly popular solution for those wanting to live a more sustainable life, and especially for those living in urban areas, in attempt to offset the grey, the concrete, and the smog-filled environment. With a worrying lack of green spaces, green roofs serve not only to improve the aesthetics, the landscape, and to make up for the lack of greenery, but they also, and more importantly, benefit the climate and the general air quality by providing clean oxygen and fresh air, as well as create new habitat for wildlife. 
You can leave it to professional roofers to design and build your new green roof, but if you feel capable and confident enough, you can also do it yourself. It is not a very complicated task. Here are some of the most important things to take into consideration and a guide on what to do and how to do it. 

First things first – is your roof suitable?

Before going into anything and starting work, it is important to first make sure your roof can handle a green roof. Some of the important characteristic to check are durability and slope.


Green Roof, Credited by Fordingbridge

When it comes to durability, you have to keep in mind that a green roof adds certain weight to it. You have to consider the plants’ weight and calculate how much added weight they will bring when they grow in the future. Consider how many layers you will need when making your green roof, as well as rain and snow which will undoubtedly saturate it and add more weight sometimes. Your roof needs to be sturdy, durable enough and waterproof. It is always best to consult with a structural engineer and have them assess it.

The slope or the angle of the roof should also be considered. Green roofs can be built on both flat and pitched roofs. Ideal slope is up to 10°, but it can also be more, in which case you might need to build and install a frame to prevent your green roof from slipping (you would usually need it if the slope is over 20°).

Drainage 

After the roof’s inspection and assessment, the first thing to do is check your drainage system and install one if you don’t already have it. We are talking about a simple gutter system. Make sure you have it all around the roof, as well as a downspout on its lowest part so that the water can go into it and off the roof.


Sustainable green roof, Credited by Wikimedia

Waterproofing

There are a couple of layers to a green roof, and the first, bottom one is a waterproof layer. It needs to go over the entire roof – some type of waterproof sheet (bitumen felt or rubber pond liner) covering the whole surface. On top of this layer you have put at least one more which will function as a part of the drainage system – it will help the excess water go into the gutters. It can be made of mulch, pumice, polymers, clay, etc.

Adding soil

For soil you need some lightweight substrate which will not add too much weight on the roof. It should also be low in organic material and nutrients so that you don’t have any unwanted vegetation springing up. In this case it is best to avoid topsoil, and use a soil mix where there is more than half of inorganic content.

Finally, adding your plants

Of course, you want your new roof to look nice and colorful so that you can enjoy it aesthetically as well. But if you want your roof to last and your plants to survive, choose your plants carefully, not only the ones that look good. It is recommended to plant native and resilient plants because they are already accustomed to the climate in your area and will withstand extreme weather conditions. You can choose from different types of succulents, sedums and wildflowers (for example yarrow or aster), or lavender and daylilies which will add some color to your roof and are also tolerant.

Toyota Takes the LEED in Texas

Toyota Headquarters Campus Achieves LEED Platinum from the U.S. Green Building Council, The Largest Commercial LEED Platinum Project in The State Of Texas, To Date

Plano, Texas (Sept. 22, 2017) – Everything is bigger in Texas. Everything, that is, except Toyota’s environmental footprint. 

Toyota Motor North America’s (TMNA) headquarters campus in Plano, Texas has officially achieved LEED Platinum from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Jonathan Kraatz, executive director, USGBC Texas Chapter, presented the prized Platinum plaque to Jim Lentz, TMNA president and chief executive officer, today at the new campus. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Toyota’s new campus is the largest commercial LEED Platinum project in the state of Texas, to date.


“At Toyota, we have a longstanding commitment to sustainability and preserving our natural resources,” said Lentz. “With the installation of greenspaces, thousands of solar panels, a massive rain water capture system, and natural light wells, we have designed our new headquarters to reflect the local habitat and enhance its biodiversity. Recognition as a LEED Platinum facility is a testament of our efforts to become a model for energy efficiency and sustainability, and speaks to our challenge to ourselves to create a net positive impact on the planet by 2050.”

“USGBC is proud to award LEED Platinum to Toyota, for their thoughtfulness in their campus energy planning and space design as well as the overall net positive impact on the community and environment,” said Kraatz. “Our mission at USGBC has challenged organizations to move faster and reach further than ever before, and Toyota’s new Texas campus is a great example of what can be accomplished with the right leadership.”


The state-of-the-art, 100-acre campus boasts a Platinum-sized list of sustainability aspects, from renewable energy to drought resistant landscaping:  

Renewable Energy

Largest onsite corporate solar installation among non-utility companies in Texas

8.79-Megawatt solar power system, designed and installed by SunPower Corp.

Produces up to 33 percent of daily electric needs for headquarters campus

Reduces annual carbon dioxide emissions by 7,198 metric tons

Creates enough energy to power 1,200 average US homes for a year

Installation of high efficiency lighting and building envelopes to reduce energy usage on campus

Specialized rooftop design teeming with plant life to manage rainwater, reduce heat and further insulate the buildings

Flexible energy contract to preserve and resell excess power generation back to the grid

Grid energy offset by Texas wind farm renewable energy credits

Repurposed Rainwater

State-of-the-art rainwater capture system will provide up to three months of water supply for irrigation use

Cistern water storage with a capacity to hold 400,000 gallons of harvested rain water

Estimated to save more than 11 million gallons of potable (drinking) water annually

Excess drain water will be collected and repurposed for sanitary facility use

Recycling

More than 99 percent of the construction waste was recycled

Construction waste was sorted offsite at North Texas’ first Construction and Demolition waste processing facility

Sustainable Landscaping

Exterior landscaping features drought-tolerant, North Texas indigenous plants like savannah, oaklands and wildflower meadows

Campus landscape will provide a natural habitat for endangered pollinators and monarch butterflies

Approximately 1,300 trees planted onsite by Toyota

More than 80 mature trees saved or relocated onsite, including a 100-year-old oak tree

Landscaping will be managed without expensive mowing, fertilizers, chemicals or artificial irrigation

Historic wetlands on the northeast corner of the campus were preserved to protect its natural state


Professionals who led this project include a host of Dallas-based firms: KDC Real Estate Development & Investments to develop and build the campus, architect Corgan Associates to design the campus, and Austin Commercial to manage the construction.

In late 2015, Toyota Motor Corporation announced the 2050 Toyota Environmental Challenge, a set of ambitious environmental goals to reach beyond net zero, and create a net positive impact on the planet. To learn more, please visit http://www.toyota-global.com/sustainability/environment/challenge2050/.

 

Oregon State receives high “Cool School” ranking from Sierra Club

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Sierra Club has released its “Cool Schools” rankings based on the ‘greenness’ of participating universities, and Oregon State has the highest green ranking of any public college in the state (private college Lewis & Clark came in 5th). Oregon State is listed as 20th in the nation.

The Cool Schools ranking is open to all four-year undergraduate colleges and universities in the nation. The award honors more than 200 colleges that are helping to solve climate problems and making significant efforts to integrate sustainability into their teaching, research and engagement and to operate sustainably. Evaluations were based on survey information provided by the participating schools. The raw data for scoring came from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) STARS self-reporting tool, plus a supplemental question about fossil fuel investments.

The Sierra Club noted innovative research at OSU, calling out assistant professor Chad Higgins’ research into the impact on soil moisture from ground mounted solar panels, and the benefits of growing food there. Higgins’ preliminary findings indicated a co-benefit for the panels as well – cooler temperatures, which means more electricity production from the panels.
Brandon Trelstad, sustainability officer for Oregon State, said that the university’s continued commitment to sustainability has led to a number of honors from national organizations over the years.

“We continue to prioritize our work to reduce our carbon footprint. Things like conserving energy and recycling and repurposing materials to keep them out of the landfill help support carbon emission reductions and offer numerous co-benefits,” Trelstad said. “I continue to consider myself lucky to do sustainability work at Oregon State and in the Pacific Northwest. Being green is part of OSU’s ethos, we consider ourselves good stewards of the planet and being a ‘Cool School’ highlights this work.”

The Sierra Club noted innovative research at OSU, calling out assistant professor Chad Higgins’ research into the impact on soil moisture from ground mounted solar panels, and the benefits of growing food there. Higgins’ preliminary findings indicated a co-benefit for the panels as well – cooler temperatures, which means more electricity production from the panels.

“Based on my casual summertime observations at our six-acre solar array,” Trelstad said, “it didn’t surprise me that the ground under panels might be good for some food crops. But I was elated to learn that growing crops could also increase solar production. This is the kind of synergy we look for in sustainability work; systems thinking and looking for co-benefits across those systems.”

Photo of solar panels at OSU: https://www.flickr.com/photos/oregonstateuniversity/14128889802/

Source: 8-24-17. http://bit.ly/2isI4R9

Nebraskans Install First Solar Panels Inside the Keystone XL Pipeline Route

‘Solar XL’ project breaks ground along Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska, highlighting clean energy solutions over the fossil fuel industry
 
Silver Creek, NE — On Saturday, July 29th, the “Solar XL” project placed its first solar panels along the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, on the farm of Nebraska landowners Jim and Chris Carlson near Silver Creek. The Carlsons, who rejected a $307,000 offer from the pipeline company TransCanada to build Keystone XL through their backyard, partnered with Bold Nebraska, 350.org, Indigenous Environmental Network, CREDO, and Oil Change International to put renewable energy directly in the pipeline’s path. Solar XL underscores the need to center solutions to climate change while rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline and resisting the expansion of the fossil fuel industry. 

“Build Our Energy Barn” built in 2013 on the Hammond family’s land inside KXL route near York, Nebraska — one of the many signs of resistance to Keystone XL. Photo Credit: Mary Anne Andrei / Bold Nebraska

Source:https://www.flickr.com/photos/boldnebraska/albums/72157686827119456

“While we are dedicated to Keep It In The Ground efforts to stop new fossil fuel development, we are also deeply committed to the Just Transition. Solar and renewable energy can provide a sustainable transition away from fossil fuels and provide job growth in areas traditionally left behind, like rural America and our Indigenous communities. By placing solar projects in the route of Keystone XL, we are demonstrating how vital it is to not just stop dangerous and unnecessary projects like KXL but to also show that there are alternatives to the fossil fuel industry that do not put communities at risk and sacrifice Indigenous Peoples and land. We are excited to be a part of this resistance that also highlights the solutions that are needed,” commented Joye Braun, organizer from the Indigenous Environmental Network.

The Solar XL project is being supported through an ongoing crowdfunding campaign launched earlier this month. The solar panels, which will be installed in at least two other locations along the pipeline route, will serve not only as a form of clean energy, but as a symbol of the urgent need for a just transition away from fossil fuels toward a 100% renewable energy economy. The panels will help power the homes of Nebraskans resisting Keystone XL, and are being installed by the family-owned rural solar business, North Star Solar Bears, run by Jim Knopik.

Jim Knopik (left) and North Star Solar Bears solar installers with farmer Rick Hammond (right) and his 25 kW solar array near Benedict, NE. (Photo: Mary Anne Andrei)
Jim Knopik (left) and North Star Solar Bears solar installers with farmer Rick Hammond (right) and his 25 kW solar array near Benedict, NE. (Photo: Mary Anne Andrei)
‘Solar XL’ project breaks ground along Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska, highlighting clean energy solutions over the fossil fuel industryThe Keystone XL pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil a day from Canada through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, and then on to the export market. The pipeline would pass through farms, ranches, and Indigenous land, posing a threat to the Ogallala Aquifer and other water sources that would be contaminated by spills and leaks. Landowners continue to fight eminent domain for private gain knowing this would be the first time the Public Service Commission (PSC) grants those powers to a foreign corporation. Lastly, all along the route, local economies are connected to agriculture, and climate change is a serious issue. Keystone XL would significantly add to climate risks for farmers, ranchers and Tribal Nations.

The first installation took place just over a week before the Nebraska Public Service Commission holds hearings in Lincoln on whether to grant a construction permit for Keystone XL through the state. One day before the hearings on August 6th, people from around Nebraska and surrounding states will converge for a march through the streets of Lincoln urging the Commissioners to reject the permit. If permits are granted for Keystone XL construction in Nebraska, TransCanada will have to tear down homegrown clean energy in order to build, galvanizing people across the country to fight back.
  

Jim Carlson, Nebraska landowner who placed solar in path of Keystone XL on his family’s farm: 

“I am vehemently opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline mainly because of the properties of the contents of the tar sands oil it will carry — this is not your Mother’s crude oil, it is the Devil’s, and it can kill. We must be focused on clean, renewable energy and America can get along just fine without this foul concoction they call bitumen that TransCanada wants to pipe across our precious soil and water.”
Jim Knopik, North Star Solar Bears. LLC:

“Our family-run company is based in Nebraska — and by installing solar projects, like the ones to stop the Keystone XL pipeline — my kids are able to stay on the farm. It’s time for our country to start the transition to clean energy now.”

More information on the “Solar XL” project:

http://boldnebraska.org/solarxl

Experts Share their Secrets to an Eco Friendly Lifestyle

Whether it’s protesting the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement or vowing to transition to electric-only vehicles within the next decade, many businesses have been focusing on how they can do their part in saving our planet.

Although many Americans want to make the personal transition towards green living themselves, most don’t even know where to begin! That’s why the team at EmPower Solar decided to speak with a panel of eco-friendly experts on their personal practices. You can see their best advice here.

Whether it’s protesting the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement or vowing to transition to electric-only vehicles within the next decade, many businesses have been focusing on how they can do their part in saving our planet.  Although many Americans want to make the personal transition towards green living themselves, most don’t even know where to begin!