As we have previously discussed, the Green Roof trend is officially upon us and there is no shortage of aesthetically beautiful examples popping up around the world. Beyond beauty, however, there are powerful economic incentives associated with instituting this long-term and sustainable vision to commercial and multi-tenant facilities. Building owners contemplating green roof design in New York are still in the vanguard, but the market is mature enough that there are dozens of firms skilled in the art of constructing green roofs.
American Organic Energy’s sister company, Long Island Compost, has been involved in the construction of several high-profile projects in New York City and the surrounding areas.
Perhaps none is more meaningful than the National World Trade Center Memorial at Ground Zero. Long Island Compost is often selected for sensitive projects such as these because of the assiduous care and attention we pay toward engineering the proper mixture of soil to accommodate a variety of plantings and weather conditions.
Projects such as the Ground Zero Memorial, the Highline in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge Park have vastly different purposes and architecture, each requiring specified mixtures of engineered soil. Green roof design-builds are similar in this regard as each one presents challenges and risks depending upon the size, location, exposure and desired plantings. We work closely with several architects and engineers who understand the nuances of these facilities to overcome these challenges and create beautiful, enduring environments that look great, provide economic benefits and improve the quality of life of the surrounding population.
Some factors to consider before embarking on a green roof design build are below.
Notice that nothing is done in a vacuum and that all of the points are interrelated and interdependent.
- Time of Year – Your rooftop will go from static industrial environment to living, breathing ecosystem. Like any ecosystem, planning your planting (construction) season is critical to the long-term success. It’s important to get it right from the start.
- Critical Growth Period – Picking up on the point above, the first couple of years are absolutely critical to the long-term health of your green rooftop environment. Whether you’re creating a small public space for gathering or creating a comprehensive sustainable rooftop design, the initial stages are critical. Plants need love, care and attention to properly take root.
- Proper Irrigation – One of the most critical aspects of a successful design-build is ensuring that you have the proper irrigation plan in place from the beginning. Just like your backyard garden or front lawn, your green roof will need plenty of water – especially in the first couple of years until the root system is fully developed.
- Diverse Mix of Planting – Farmers and horticulturalists often talk about crop and bio-diversity. This holds true in the urban jungle as well. Make sure you discuss diverse plantings with your green roof architect because single systems are never as healthy as diverse environments.
- Engineered Soil – Selfishly, this is where we come in. But it’s absolutely critical to ensure that your soil is engineered to fit the climate, height, elements, plantings and engineering requirements of the rooftop. Long Island Compost must consider everything from the desired plantings, irrigation plan and engineering load of the facility to create the perfect mix for green rooftops to thrive.
Fortunately, there are indeed dozens of highly skilled and capable architect and engineering firms that understand the finer points and rely on suppliers such as Long Island Compost to craft the right solution for your building. If you have yet to select an architect for your project, we would be happy to introduce you to firms that specialize in green roof design, particularly in the greater New York region. If you’re at the beginning stages of considering a green roof for your property, there are a number of great resources to stoke the imagination such as Green Building and Design Magazine.
If you are a green roof architect or a building owner and would like to speak with one of our engineers, we would be happy to assist you.