A not so traditional Secret Garden

A secret garden on the rooftop of Minneapolis Target Center, home of NBA Minnesota Timberwolves is making the view from up above beautiful.  The Minnesota heat which reaches 140 degree won’t be such an inconvenience anymore.  The 2.5 acres of plants will keep the same temperature as the air and this will reduce the significant cooling and heating costs of the building.  Besides lowering the bills it will also keep 3.68 million gallons of water from running into the Mississippi.    

This is a great opportunity for Minneapolis and will be even greater when hopefully this fad starts catching on nationally.  Toronto has passed a new law mandating “green” rooftops for all new developments.  Any new development with 2,000 square meters must make sure their roof top holds between 20 and 60% of vegetation.  This new law is for residential space, commercial space as well as industrial.  There are mixed reviews about this law, many grumbles due to the extra expense this will cost.  But to others they see this extra expense paying off in the end. 

Chicago has joined by having 600 green rooftops.  This could be the start of something great for our environment, and why not it’s unused space.  Although the US has not made it mandatory like Toronto, Chicago holds the highest amount of green rooftops

There are so many benefits to having a green roof.  They are such a great way to insulate buildings and homes, and they reduce energy bills.  It is a great way to release oxygen into the air so car pollution is decreased.  This will also create a great space for workers at companies with green roofs to be able to enjoy the outdoors on a lunch break.  It is also possible to grow flowers, herbs, vegetables on these roofs; the Fairmount Hotel in Vancouver used their roof top space for this and therefore saves their kitchen almost 30,000 a year in food cost. 

By Kate Kiselka. Follow me on Twitter

USPS Unveils NYC’s Largest Green Roof

One of UPS’ most popular slogans was “What can brown do for you?” Perhaps the United States Postal Service’s slogan could be, “What can green do for you?” after its installation of the largest green roof in New York City.

The move comes hot on the heels of an announcement earlier in July that it would replace many vehicles in its fleet with alternative fuel-powered vehicles.

USPS picked one of its most notable facilities to receive its very first green roof: the Morgan mail processing facility is just a few blocks from Penn Station on Manhattan and became a historical landmark in 1986. Built in 1933, its 2.2 million square feet features a nearly-2.5-acre roof that was designed to handle additional mail processing and could thus support 200 pounds per square foot; when USPS decided to replace the roof two years ago, it determined it would be strong enough to support a green roof.

USPS expects the roof will last 50 years, greatly reduce the amount of contaminants in the building’s storm water runoff, and help USPS achieve its stated goals for reduction in energy usage.

It’s also meant to be a nice place to visit, although there’s no official word yet on whether employees or visitors will have access to it. Says UPS:

Safely perched seven stories above the city, the Morgan green roof offers a spectacular panoramic view of midtown Manhattan and the northern New Jersey shore. Its 14 orange-hued Ipe Brazilian wood benches are made from lumber certified sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council. Native plants and trees include Calamagrostis, a lush, maintenance-free grass.

Sounds like the best place to be besides Central Park on a sweltering summer day in Manhattan!

Now if only USPS could preemptively recycle my junk mail…

Posted by Joe Paone

Points and Beauty for Roof Tiles in a LEED Home

Building a green home takes a lot of effort and determining just what products meet the standards of being environmentally preferable and also helping us get LEED-H points is not always easy.  Roofing was one of those products.  We needed a product that would meet all of the energy efficiency requirements of the home but also had to be rated Class 4 for impact resistance, have the highest ratings for straight line wind testing at 110 mph and have a Class A fire retardance rating.


Most people start the roofing process by looking at asphalt shingles; there is nothing environmentally friendly about a product that uses petroleum, has a 20 year life span at best by the ocean, and cannot be recycled. Asphalt was out and we honed in on metal and composite roofing. I really liked the look of metal roofing but was unsure it was the right rood for our Oceanside, New England cottage style home. The summer cottages of RI usually have either cedar shingles (a look I didn’t want) or natural slate (a look I wanted but could neither afford nor was very eco-friendly). We did our homework and at GreenBuild we saw the composite slate tiles; it was love at first site. roofing-abbys-roof-full-view


We selected the DaVinci EcoBlend roofing tiles in a beautiful Weathered Gray color. They are perfect for our home. The products have been rated by the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC) to reflect sunlight and heat away from the home. Meeting the initial qualifications for a Cool Roof indicates that DaVinci EcoBlend products meet or exceed initial ENERGY STAR® program requirements for 25 percent solar reflectivity (in  LEED-NC this would get you up to 2 points for the  7.2 Heat Island Effect). We have our first walk through for our ENERGY STAR portion of our LEED testing the week of May 4th, we have selected to go the performance route as opposed to prescriptive path for ENERGY STAR and expect the roof to contribute to our E&A score based on the shingles solar reflectance and thermal emittance.roofing-abbys-roof-closer


A Cool Roof is measured by two properties, solar reflectance and thermal emittance. Both properties are measured from 0 to 1. The higher the value, the cooler the roof. During independent testing, DaVinci EcoBlends measured in a range of 0.26 to 0.34 for solar reflectance and in the range of 0.67 to 0.72 for thermal emittance. Depending on our home’s overall performance in the ENERGY STAR blower test and the efficiency of our spray foam insulation, the roof tiles can only add to our overall performance. We are insulating the entire roof deck to an R-51 (toasty or cool depending on the season) and DaVinci will maximize our roof’s performance. roof-tiles-up-close


The installation team from Cape Cod Roofing in Wareham, MA, has been installing the DaVinci roof and their work will be tested and measured as well.


The tiles have a 70 plus year lifespan and can be 100% recycled at end of their lifecycle. This is and will be the only roof we put on this house.

The house is so close to being buttoned up and you can really see the vision of our design and all our effort. We’re also really starting to see all of the beauty that the roof design and the perfect roof tiles are adding to the house.

posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter: newscaster

Urban Renewal, Through an Environmental Lens

Why do certain neighborhoods of New York have disproportionate levels of asthma? What are the connections between ecological, economic and social degradation? Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx), an innovative non-profit group, is passionate about answering these questions and providing sustainable alternatives to years of flawed urban planning.

For Miquela Craytor, executive director of SSBx, a healthy community is an empowered one. “We aim to provide education to all members of our community,” she says, “and use our professional capacity to empower individuals to work within the systems that are set up, to participate and vocalize their needs.”

Connecting individuals to their city is an enriching exchange, says Craytor, which is why SSBx supports programs and policies informed by local needs, such as access to green space, safer air and waterfronts, green collar job training, education, legislation reform and environmental stewardship.

Before SSBx’s founding in 2001 by visionary South Bronx resident Majora Carter, the South Bronx held 40 percent of the entire city’s waste, 100 percent of the Bronx’s waste, a sewage treatment plant, and the lowest ratio of parks to people in New York. Fifty percent of the population is still at or below the poverty line.

With her inspired ideas, Carter helped bring the South Bronx its first open-waterfront park in 60 years, Hunts Point Riverside Park. Then she secured $1.25 million in federal funds for a greenway along the South Bronx waterfront, “bringing the neighborhood open space, pedestrian and bike paths, and space for mixed-use economic development,” according to the group.

The greenway and green roof installation rebates exemplify the SSBx vision of a day-to-day difference. Because change starts at home, the organization has installed a green and cool roof on top of its South Bronx office. It also works with BEST (The Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training), a successful green collar skills training and job placement system.

Launching this February will be two major SSBx initiatives. Like BEST, a new green collar training program will share skills needed to restore the Bronx, Craytor says: “It’s a model of hands-on training in the green collar economy.” Retrofits will be a special focus of this program, sharpening skills in the field for more efficient building renovations. Students will learn how to solve on-site environmental problems like leaky windows and inefficient lighting. “We are connecting the dots, not only providing training but linking up students to employers,” says Craytor. “It’s the next step of our larger job-training focus and emphasis on economic opportunities.”

Also beginning in February is the launch of a Sustainable Design track for local 9th- and 10th-grade high school students. Craytor explains that math and science students will approach design through sustainable digital design lens and clean manufacturing techniques.

While the new initiatives are exciting, they will roll out at a time when the recession is ravaging many non-profit budgets. “It’s a challenge,” Craytor admits, “but 2009 is presenting an important opportunity for a ‘new’ conversation. We need to take this moment to seek clarity on the environment and giving voice to all individuals. There is a desperate need to bring a quality of life to places that have been overlooked and now the desire and vision is being identified.”

(See SSBx Founder Majora Carter tell her story here.)

Posted by Margot Douaihy