Friday, March 20, 2009

Green Roofs + more

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I’m hooked on GREEN this week!

Green roofs such as these have been around for decades.

Sod or turf roofs have been very common in Scandinavia since the days of the Vikings.
There are many urban applications in our modern world.

Chicago City Hall

ACROS Fukouka Building in Japan

Germany is considered to be at the forefront of Green roof technology. 10 per cent of it’s flat roofs are planted with some sort of vegetation.

Europe leads the world in the construction of green roofs.

Art and Exhibition Hall, Bonn, Germany


Perhaps, the rural or residential applications are even more numerous than the urban ones.

The design of green roofs is not all that complicated. Many layers must be applied to the surface of a building before the plants can be planted. These layers include waterproof membranes, drainage layers, root barriers, soil medium and so forth.

It is my understanding that here in the US, most of the plants used in green roof construction are succulents, or those that can withstand extreme conditions such as intense heat, drought, wind and so forth. In other words, they need to be “super” plants!

To learn the basics of Green Roof installation and design, watch this video from You Tube.

Watch the Video to learn how green roofs work.

The advantages of green roofs are many! Here are just a few:
  • Less runoff! Runoff is the number one pollutant to our waterways! Green roofs absorb water while other roofs shed all water creating polluting runoff.
  • Improved air quality! Air quality improves in both temperature and traffic dust. Traditional black roofs absorb heat, making the interior of buildings hotter and more costly to cool.
  • Sound barrier. City noises are muffled.
  • Experiential. The way people experience the roof landscape changes – People prefer green over blacktop.
  • Solar Applications. They insulate in winter and cool in the summer, cutting energy costs.
  • More habitat. New housing for various species like plants, flowers, mosses and small life like bees and birds.
  • A reduction of city hardscape. Hardscape areas in the city are very hot as they absorb heat during the and release it throughout the night. That is why temperatures in cities are higher than their rural counterparts.
  • Reduction of glare. Traditional roofs produce high glare. Green roofs reduce it making it much easier on our eyes!
Visit this site for a more detailed timeline of green roofs. If you are interested in learning more about green roofs , visit Green Roofs for Healthy Cities is another excellent source of information.
Another interesting and green phenomenon is the Green Wall or Vertical Garden. French Botanist and Artist Patrick Blanc has written a book called Vertical Garden. He has developed a patented system of growing plants on any vertical plane indoors or out using wire, drip irrigation and a growing media. Here are some of his installations:

He only uses plants he finds in nature that grow on rock surfaces. Therefore, their natural setting is vertical.

This one is indoors at Sydney’s International Airport.

It truly is stunning! Isn’t it?

It’s very “hip” to be green these days! Hope you enjoyed your St. Patrick’s Day. To learn what others are hooked on this week, visit Hooked on Houses or Fifi Flowers Fashionable Friday.


  1. That is truly amazing, how cool!

  2. The big advantage after the environmental benefits is that they are so pretty

  3. Those were FANTASTIC!! The last two were true works of art!! Thanks for the show.

  4. Love it! Happy Friday, Happy Spring, Happy~Happy Everything!

  5. So stunning..., and it's so great that "green" building is becoming more mainstream. I have not seen a green roof around here or anywhere I ever went really in US though!

  6. These are amazing and gorgeous I would adore greenery growing on my house! Thank you for playing along with my Fashionable Friday... Enjoy the first day of Spring!

  7. So cool! That roof in Singapore makes me want to walk right up it!
    ~angela @ peonypatch

  8. Literally green houses...luv those green roofs, absolutely stunning!

  9. Absolutley fabulously beautiful!

    I wish all city buildings had vegetation on their roofs... I've heard that it could cut the summer heat in a city core considerably.

    There's a house in my neighbourhood with grass on it's roof. I've always assumed that it's because it's a rental and the owner is too cheap to replace his roof... but now I'm curious if it's that way by design. Maybe I'll get the nerve up to knock on his door one day!! :-)

    Victoria: EdinDesign Interiors @ DesignTies

  10. Fantastic post -- so interesting and informative :-) Some of those roof & wall gardens are just stunning!!

    Thanks for pointing out the hazards of putting plants under the edge of a copper roof on my Hooked on copper post. I'd never even thought about how the run-off damages the plants. Does that mean you shouldn't put plants directly into a copper planter??

    Kelly @ DesignTies

  11. I think the vertical gardens are nice. There is a small one in Atlanta's W hotel in midtown.

    I occasionally worked in this extraordinary building, AT&T's Alabama Operations Center. It is a huge, 3-story building that sits in a valley and affords only Zen Views to passers-by. All of the offices are lakeside. Built in 1979, long before LEED and Energy Star.

    In the aerial you can see the side walks from the parking lot to building but you can't see the building. As you drive in to park, you can't see the parking deck or the building. It's built to appear as a bridge over a lake. I've walked on the roof. It's acres of meadow. You can't tell you are on a roof top.

    Wikimapia for Alabama Operations Center

    On the roof you can see what look like 2 rectangular green houses. These bring light to the interiors via amazing 3 story stairwells. As you walk toward the stairwells, you walk towards a "glow."

  12. Stunning post! That I will add to my list of favourites. Amazing images you found and thanks for the education on how to have my own :)

  13. My first thought was - how do they do that given the amount of water that green roofs need? You answered the question beautifully. Great post!

  14. What a wonderful post! I'm so captivated by these photos. I know of one house that has a living roof in Salida, Colorado. I've wanted to go knock on their door.... My friend in Galveston may be looking at doing this on her garage roof -- the view from her screened-in porch. Now, I can tell her where to go.... cheers, -susan

  15. Pam, there's a conversation about composting and vegetable gardening going on at Decorno. Don't know if you're interested...

    These are amazing!

  16. sorry to post this as a comment, but I don’t have your email.
    I am regular visitor of your blog..
    Sir i would request to write more about green architecture...
    architects as architecural know more about Green eco architectural designs are reusable materials, green designs etc.. ..… Create an Eco friendly Green design… Save Earth.. interior designers Bangalore as of natural materials interior designers in Bangalore with almost modern concepts architects bangalore

  17. Fascinating! I'm readying for a trip to Portland, a cutting-edge city when it comes to vegetative architecture. Not only a vacation, but as usual, working as I travel from place to place to gather insight and material. Glad to have met up on Blotanical! Alice
    aka ....Bay Area Tendrils Garden Travel

  18. Great blog. I'm researching green roofs for a site I'm working on. And your blog came up. Interesting read!

    Kind regards

  19. I am blown away by this! It is such a great way to integrate nature into a building. We can coexist!

  20. Great information !
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  22. Wow! Green roofs are really cool! Since I was in grade school, I'm dreaming to have a house covered by grass or any plants like on the books that I've read. I hope, someday, I'll have that dream house of mine. We have a house in San Francisco. Window replacement services here are truly trustworthy and easy to find. So when we had home renovation last year, the job was finished quickly because we found a trustworthy contractor for replacement windows (San Francisco-based).

  23. In addition to having a green roof, safety needs to be kept in mind for the one who'll construct it. That is why, when my friend's roof was being transformed into a green roof, the constructors used fall restraint to keep them from falling from high places. The fall restraint systems looks really tough and it does support the ones using it.

  24. Spray Foam Roofing Systems provide many benefits to building owners. The two most important benefits is the value of the seal and leak prevention and insulation.

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  26. Green roofs are a much more environmentally aware and safe gardens.

    -Keystone Contracting Corp.
    Brooklyn Roofing Contractor


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