Posts Tagged ‘environmental’
The race for the largest solar roof in the U.S. is on!
In 2008, the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey, unveiled the nation’s largest solar roof—a a 2.36-megawatt system that produces approximately 26% of the center’s power.
But there’s about to be a new solar mayor in town: UK pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline recently announced it plans to build a massive 3.1-megawatt system atop its York, Pennsylvania distribution center. At over 350,000 square feet (about seven football fields) it will be the largest solar roof in the U.S, and produce all of the power for the large facility.
The project will cost an impressive $14 million, but GlaxoSmithKline will receive $4.1 million in federal tax credits, not to mention eliminate its $400,000 annual utility bill.
And the solar fun doesn’t stop there: the pharmaceutical giant plans to start another three-megawatt system at its U.S. headquarters in Pittsburgh next year. The projects work towards GlaxoSmithKline’s goal of reducing its electricity usage 45% by 2015.
We don’t know about you, but the folks here at Cole Roofing could barely be more excited. As eco-conscious roofers, this is just the sort of healthy green competition we like to see. (It’s the green roofing version of football season!) Projects like this make headlines, which get people thinking about solar power and solar roofs. Let the competition begin!
If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, by now you’ve learned a great deal about the benefits of green (or “vegetated”) roofs: Stormwater runoff management, a reduction in the heat island effect, lower utility bills through natural insulation, protection from UV damage. The list goes on and on.
There’s no doubting their benefits, but what if you, either as a homeowner or a facility manager or owner, were mandated by law to have a vegetated roof?
Toronto—where stormwater runoff has been a longtime issue of concern—was the first North American city to require green roofs on new developments. Last year, the Toronto City Council passed a bylaw mandating that all new residential, commercial and institutional buildings with a gross floor area of at least 2,000 square meters (about 21,500 square feet) built after January 31, 2010, have a certain percentage of their roof green. (To see a chart of the city’s green roof coverage requirements, click here. The bylaw will extend to new industrial development in just a few months (all industrial buildings built after January 31, 2011).
The far away metropolis of Tokyo, where government officials are trying to reduce the city’s urban heat island effect, also mandates green roofs on new construction of a certain size. New buildings more than 1,000 square meters (about 10,700 square feet) must green at least 20% of its usable roof space.
What do you think of this? While there are many benefits of green roofs, do you think local governments should be mandating them by law?
To learn more about local government efforts to mandate vegetated roofs, check out this post from Clean Air Through Green Roofs
While the time-honored U.S. Postal Service doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being cutting edge, it ought to, as it’s quickly becoming one of the nation’s most environmentally conscious builders.
The Morgan Processing and Distribution Center, a large New York City postal facility, installed the largest vegetated roof in Manhattan in 2008. At a whopping 65,000 square feet (2.5 acres!), the green roof cost $5 million to install, but, in combination with other sustainable energy solutions, helps the Postal Service save an impressive $1 million on energy costs every year. How’s that for getting back your investment?
Along with a fantastic city view, the seventh-floor roof features a mix of 10 different types of Sedum, hearty succulents that flourish in both hot and cold temperatures. A wooden boardwalk provides a beautiful walkway for employees to both exercise and relax during their workday.
As the plants continue to take root, the Morgan facility roof will help the building reduce storm water runoff by up to 75 percent in the summer and 40 percent in the winter. As for saving all that money, the huge green roof provides fantastic insulation in both warm and cold months. It also helps the city mitigate the urban heat island effect.
We hope other Manhattan businesses and building owners take note. Believe it or not, New York City’s roof space translates into roughly 1 billion square feet, 22 times the size of Central Park. That’s a whole lot of roof space, all of which can be converted from heat-absorbing black roofs into living, thriving, eco-friendly green roofs.
If you’d like to see a slideshow of the Morgan Processing and Distribution Center vegetated roof, click here.
It seems like there’s new green technologies popping up every day. With all these new technologies come equally new terms.
Here’s one you may or may not have heard before: vegetated roof.
While the term doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, vegetated roofs—popular in Europe for decades—are one of the latest and greatest sustainable roofing technologies available today. So what are they? And what are they good for? Here’s a quick rundown:
A vegetated roof is pretty much what it sounds like—a roof with vegetation on it. This vegetation can be grass, shrubs, flowers, the sky is the limit. With this greenery comes soil, of course. Waterproofing goes underneath all the soil, and, because of all the extra weight that comes with soil, plants and the water that’s absorbed by all those plants and soil, extra roof support.
So what are the benefits of vegetated roofs?
For starters, they significantly reduce stormwater runoff. They also protect roofs from the harmful effects of UV rays. (Both potentially costly maintenance issues for building owners.)
Vegetated roofs also score big points for eco-friendliness. Instead of reflecting back heat from the sun, vegetated roofs absorb heat, lessening urban heat islands. They also help limit sound in urban environments, and filter harmful pollutants and carbon dioxide out of the air.
There are more benefits, too. But we’ll save them for later posts. We just thought since we’re giving away a green roof to an area non-profit, we’d start giving you some basic primers on the ins and outs of eco-friendly roofs. Stay tuned for more! If you’re interested in green roofs, you’ve come to the right place.