I’ve been on the road (or up in the air) for the past three months, meeting the “green people” – people deeply involved in green urban infrastructure. From old foxes to young enthusiasts who want to make difference in the green industry. Great people, and great creative minds! And we all share a common goal – to make our cities greener, healthier and more comfortable places to live – for everyone.
This author has yet to write their bio.Meanwhile lets just say that we are proud optiweb contributed a whooping 20 entries.
Entries by optiweb
The word “green” is used increasingly frequently in the urban context, especially to describe various forms and structures. While we’re all familiar with greenery in the form of parks, playgrounds, squares and urban gardens, we’re now seeing more and more green roofs, walls and vertical farms, too – especially in built-up spaces.
The main reason we are losing our green surfaces is the ever-growing need for housing, stores, businesses and manufacturing facilities. The second reason is transportation infrastructure. While our green surfaces slowly disappear and are replaced by buildings, green solutions are already playing a big role in bringing biodiversity to the cities. Now the idea of green transportation infrastructure is starting to spread through the urban dictionary as well.
A lot of positive effects come from planting trees in an urban environment. Planting trees can actually contribute to enjoying cleaner air, and by that contribute to a healthier life in the city, as trees absorb CO2 and produce oxygen, and also absorb pollutants like nitrogen, ammonia and sulphur dioxide.
By shading concrete streets, trees help reduce the temperature of the street and the entire city. With their shading properties, trees also help slow the evaporation of water from other plants. By planting trees the right way stormwater runoff, too, can be controlled.
In addition, trees can provide food, improve our mental wellbeing, lend a sense of identity to the neighbourhood; even real estate with more green areas around tends to have higher value than those with little or no green areas.
We have been talking on many of our blogs about the real performance of green roofs, in terms of improved energy efficiency, better storm-water management, lower heat-island effects and more – because it’s all about achieving good environment performance.
However, this time we look at green roofs from the customer’s perspective, and what they expect from the green roofs.
Over the past years I’ve learned that many customers do occassionaly read more in details what green roofs are and know what green roofs bring; but when it comes to initial discussions you can clearly see that there are certain local aspects and requirements that contribute to the fine-tuning of green roof design.
Some 40 years ago the first truly extensive green roofs were built in Germany. Since then, green roofs have become a common addition to buildings. At the same time, this development has led to a more critical approach to fire safety. Related requirements are becoming increasingly strict, and will continue to evolve as green roof designs develop.
Green roofs should be designed to provide the necessary fire resistance
The first green roof performance tests, including fire tests, were performed and analysed in the 1990s. It’s pretty safe to say that fire safety regulations differ, sometimes significantly, from country to country. So in order to gain a larger global perspective we need to review the way fire safety is treated and talked about on major green roof markets.
After reviewing many cases over the past few years, we can say that generally green roofs should be designed to provide the necessary resistance to the spread of fire by considering 4 primary measures:
Many studies have been made and published related to wind resistance of Green Roofs, but in reality there is still a lack of consensus in the international green roofing / building industry on what kind of testing and certification would be most appropriate and representative of real wind effects on vegetated roofs.
Physics behind wind-suction
If we first look at the facts, we don’t often hear of green roofs having been blown-off during storms. Such an event might happen with pavers, waterproofing and similar, but this is not the case with green roofs.
In the majority of developed cities, Green Roofs make up about 40–50% of regulated urban surfaces. The quantity of rainwater from these roofs makes a significant contribution to the total volume of water that is channelled into the sewage network. This is the very reason rainwater is one of the main causes of floods in urban environments.
Green roofs have recently gained great attention of urban planners and architects – mainly because of numerous social, economic and design-based benefits they bring to public, private, economic and social sectors, and even more important, to local and global environments.
You’ve all heard about how green roofs go beyond the meaning of contemporary architecture and give a new value to the role of buildings within urban planning. You also know they are designed not only to bring back the natural element in the urban environment, but also to provide solutions for important issues such as urban heat island effect and stormwater management.
Green roofs may come in an endless variety of shapes and sizes from high-rise public parks and lush rooftop gardens to tranquil urban spaces, but there is one critical factor that has a major impact on them all — weight.
Green roof weight can range from hundreds of tons for an ‘intensive’ green roof such as a small urban park or garden to just a couple of hundred kilos for a lightweight ‘extensive’ green roof system like Urbanscape featuring a lush mix of sedum vegetation.
Green roofs are a rapidly growing trend across the world’s cities as policy makers become increasingly committed to improving their urban environment:
In addition to bringing beauty to grey places and enhancing biodiversity, green roofs help cool inner city areas which can be up to 7oC hotter than their surroundings and they ease stress on municipal drainage systems by cuttings rainwater run-off.