Sunday, December 21, 2008

Succulents for Green Roofs and more Sunday Night musings...

The blog data here is a continuation of my previous Green Roof blog. Feel free to refer back to the site to my new Green Roof blog because it does contain alot of information - and I will be posting the same info both here and on the Green Roof for Florida blog for some time.

We use succulents in most all of our green roofs. Succulents are an excellent green roof plant in many different ways. Succulents generally store water in their stems and leaves in significant quantities. Cacti leaves are practically non-existent and most photosynthetic functions in cacti occur in the stems. Succulents have stomata on all green surfaces but at much lower surface densities than most other plants.

Because succulents store water they can survive and in most cases still 'look good' after a significant drought. Another benefit to succulents is one of offering a deterrent to fire through their water filled leaves and stems.

Some other drought tolerant non-succulents such as the sages and grasses produce flammable volatile oils that can add fuel or accelerant to a fire.

Most succulents do not need fertilizer in quantities required by non-succulents. We have seen the base nitrogen content in rain provide sufficient nutrients for many green roof succulents.

Succulents also do well in well-drained soils that will wick and absorb a minimum amount of water.

Today engineered soils, such as the MetroVerde engineered soil blends have taken the place of most 'dirt' on the roof.

And finally, we are now prepared to say in our opinion, the green roof plants we propagate and raise like round rays and pots better than square ones.

After viewing first hand the growth qualities and characteristics of our green roof plants grown from seed in round and square containers, and cuttings in both, we believe the round container has less negative impact on root formation than the square shape.

Although there is not a huge significant difference, we've noticed a definite difference in size and in transplanting issues.

Unfortunately round pots are not as space efficient as square pots.

Has anyone out there seen studies conducted on the difference between square pots and round pots? I'd like to hear from them.

Happy green roofing!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Irrigation for Green Roofs. Have you already made up your mind?

A great article on green roofing technical issues by Kelly Luckett appears on a recent Green Roof Website and I recommend the read - lots of good info.

You can find my comments to irrigation issues as follows: (Note - I am pretty much against irrigation on a roof - too much tort liability exposure in my opinion remember Byrne v. Boadle from 1L?)

Hello Kelly:

I read your article on irrigation with interest.

I'd love to talk with you about how you can design a green roof to survive without irrigation.

I understand you may consider it hard to do, but it is very possible.

As a plant biologist for many years and a Florida nursery owner with my wife we too have held a great interest in green roofs, and have trials that have been in the field for years.

Now Florida is different from anywhere in the nation. We have the four H's - heat, humidity, hard freezes and hurricanes. And also a bunch of attorneys who got rich off of mold litigation and are looking at any irrigated roof as a lawsuit, arguing the mold in the building did come from the irrigated roof...

Lawyers aside, we wanted to develop a roofing system that was cheap and lightweight and would meet product approval for Florida Building Code - stricter than IBC - and was evergreen, could be used on sloped roofs, treated stormwater and provided wildlife habitat.

We tried trays and tray systems and mat systems like XeroFlor - and everything in-between

We consider our 10 years or so of seeing trials not work, our biggest successes.

Tray based systems will not survive long term in Florida. This is our opinion. We do not represent XeroFlor but we have found mat systems are best for Florida's unique climate.

Florida is quite possibly on the verge of removing ballast, be it LECA or Expanded Clay or gravel from approved roofing materials lists because of hurricane damage possibilities. Imagine a roof full of gravel or expanded clay and a hurricane - now imagine the pellets flinging towards fenestration like a shotgun blast in a 150 mph gust.

Florida typically requires all roofing material to be permanently attached to the roof (DCA Roofing TAC guidance)and typically considers a green roof to be part of the building envelop.

So back to the irrigation...You can do a green roof in Florida without added irrigation - I don't know about north of Atlanta - but here in Florida it is certainly possible.

We have roofs in place that have not had a drop of irrigation from day one. And they are doing very well.

Sure, you see signs of stress during 2 month droughts.

But they still look pretty good...

And you don't have to fool with a mechanical system that can fail - one that supplies pressurized water...

And they do fine without fertilizer, but they like fertilizer too...

We heard the same advice years ago. You have to fertilize and irrigate. But our roofs speak for themselves. No irrigation. No fertilizer. No maintenance.

I spent years watching plants grow in Florida roof gutters, and in the cracks of hot asphalt pavement in over 100 degree heat, with desiccating winds, and watched plants grow in cracks of retaining walls for overpasses, and did they ever continue to grow!

One of my favorite green roofs is located in the roof gutter of the gas station next to our local Blockbuster Movie shop. No one irrigates it. No one fertilizers it. It is there year in and year out.

Maybe green roofs can be designed, installed and survive without irrigation. We know they can here in Florida...even with our harsh sun, heat, winds and storms...

I smile every time I read of someone saying it can't be done...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Green Roof Planting Media - Second and Third Generation Products

After literally thousands of soil mixture experiments we are making strong headway in developing the green roof soil medium that has the qualities we are looking for. As we look back over the years we can readily see how far we have come.

We've addressed the drainage and the flammability and the dust and the compactability and the water retention and the nutrients/organics issues.

Erosion was a huge issue that we wanted to resolve. Our focus was on lightweight, thin (low profile - primarily because of Florida's hurricane propensity), inexpensive vegetated roofs that would not only work on flat roofs AND we wanted our roofs to work on slopes - even severe slopes!

Today I installed a 20SF vegetated panel on a vertical wall at the house, less than ten minutes after the engineered soil and plants had been applied. Wow. We have come a long ways.

But we have a long ways to go.

Now that flexible vertical vegetated panels - less than 1" thick are a reality - now we are looking at technology that will allow us to apply vegetated panels directly overhead on ceilings. So here is the next challenge.

The era of filling planters or trays with dirt, loose soil mixtures, LECA or expanded clay and placing them on the roof is disappearing. Like the dinosaurs these applications will hang around for a while, with good usefullnes with large heftily
-engineered structures. LECA and Expanded Clay may soon be against building code in Florida for use on roofs - imagine a truck bed load of LECA pellets fling through the air in 150 MPH winds - something like a shotgun blast.

Toxicity free engineered planting media will be a requirement. LC 50 testing with minnows will become standard. Green building requirements will affect planting media design too.

The challenges are here - so are the opportunities...

Happy Green Roofing! Kevin

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Choosing Plants for Green Roofs - The Season for Sedums to Die in Florida

Tis the season for some sedums to go dormant in Florida....

We have had a month of drought. The days are becoming shorter and shorter. The winds are brisk and desiccating. Temperatures have ranged from 60 to 80 degrees F during the day and 30 to 60 degrees F at night.

We have had three light to medium frosts.

Too much for some of the sedums...

The alliums are turning brown on top too - the brown curly cues typical of drought.

The Florida climate is the biggest drawback to using sedums on Green Roofs - at least don't count on the succulents being your prime plant...

They usually come back out in the spring.

Happy green roofing!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Green Roofs use of Expanded Clay and Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate

The State of Florida has recently requested studies analyzing the use of gravel and aggregate on roofs and the potential of gravel ballast to break windows and other fenestration components of a building during hurricanes.

Preliminary research by the University of Florida shows that gravel ballast may be the cause of unnecessary glass failure and subsequent water damage.

Hurricane Alicia in 1983 devastated the Houston area, and much of the urban fenestration damage was attributed to gravel ballast ripped off the roofs by the hurricane force winds and shot across the city like pellets.

As Florida's green roofing industry develops, designers should be aware of the potential for tort damage liability once their specified product damages anothers property.

We should be careful about placing any gravel or pellet like material in a green roof until all the appropriate studies have been conducted to determine the level of safety for such product use.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Frost & The Florida Green Roof

Tonight is the second night of the November 2008 winter where the outside temperature is expected to drop below freezing. Last night there were low in the mid to low 20's all across North Florida and the same is expected tonight.

Expected seasonal weather like this creates a huge challenge for the vegetated roof designer in Florida. Not just cold weather alone - because many northern green roofs survive much colder temperatures.

No - it is the combination of two weeks ago we were experiencing heat and humidity at high levels and now the frost - little if any hardening off of the roof plants.

I pose a question here. What happens when many of the native plants here that are deciduous or produce leaf litter - what happens when leaf matter dies from frost or drought? One of the answers is that we see a marked increase in leaf litter buildup.

Leaf litter turns into fuel once ignited. Dead plant matter, dried by desiccating cold winds can easily and rapidly burn when exposed to a spark or heat source.

Fire occurs in nature to cleanse dead plant matter from the environment and return nutrients to the soil. The chance of a roof fire increase once flammable, dried leaf litter accumulates on a green roof.

ASTM has recognized this potential problem and is developing standards for green roof plants.

The good designer will also strive to incorporate plants that prevent or greatly reduce the chances of leaf litter build up.

As we enter the season where many plants are dropping their leaves and becoming dormant, we should ask ourselves as we design green roofs, about potential fire issues with the plants we are selecting.

Better safe than sorry.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Green Roofs in Florida and the Southeastern US. Insulation values for real?

We can all assume that thick intensive green (vegetated roofs) provide a measure of insulation - but what about thinner, extensive green roofs? Do extensive green roofs, say 2 to 4 inches thick provide insulation benefits?

Jincy, Ruairi and I have tracked the insulating factors of several extensive roofs, comprised of the MetroVerde mat roof system during the 2008 summer season.

What we found was very interesting.

Using a Extech Infrared IRC40 thermal imaging unit we measured the temperature of the roof decking undersides for roofs with (A) extensive 3" thick mat based vegetated roofs planted with allium and iceplant, and (B) asphalt shingle covered decking.

Not surprisingly, the underneath of the roof decking on asphalt shingle roofs averaged 125 - 130 degrees F during July, August and September 2008.

Temperatures of the undersides of the roof decking below asphalt shingles covered with the MetroVerde extensive mat systems averaged 84 - 86 degrees F at the same time of day.

Moreover, it is expected that the green roof mat system will protect the asphalt shingles from solar degradation.

So do extensive green roofs insulate a roof from solar gain? The answer is an undeniable Yes!

Green Roofs in Florida and Cooler Weather

It is becoming cooler and night now and well should be - it is almost Thanksgiving & most green roof plants on our projects are very happy that the long and tortuous ordeal with Florida's heat and humidity is almost over for a season...

Many of the plants bear battle scars from Tropical Storm Fay (way, way too much water) and the ever present afternoon humidity bath.

The Sempervivums are starting to can see new growth expanding out from the middle of the plant, the brown, wilted areas falling away from the perimeters.

This is the time of year for dormancy for some of the sedums - - they are turning brown and melting away while others are just melting after a long stressful battle with the Florida humidity.

Iceplant is doing well. Iceplant planted on the ground melted out during T.S. Fay but those clumps on the roofs actually thrived.

Interestingly, the allium likes the cold weather too - its leaf blades perk right up.

So now is a major time for seasonal change in North Florida for green roofs. Stay tuned for more updates!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Green Roofs in Florida -

Palms and/or other trees on roofs present many challenges to the designer. In Florida these issues can include: (1) weight, (2) wind speed uplift during tropical storms or hurricanes, (3) irrigation and maintenance requirements, (4) fire safety and more.

Though I focus on thin, lightweight Green Roof mats (much less expensive) there will be clients who would like to have a roof with trees. Certain challenges are presented to us in designing a roof capable of supporting trees. First and foremost your structural engineer has to provide a deck capable of handling the loading.

We will be collecting photos of Florida green roofs that include trees and large shrubs. Send your photo in to Kevin for posting - along with a description of the roof, location, how long the roof has been in existence and other data.

Holidays are coming up - what better way to celebrate than with a blooming green roof!


Monday, November 3, 2008

Green Roofs can be vertical green vines also - Choosing the right plant and planting system lays the foundation for success.

Try a MetroVerde Shade Trellis! Based on the concept that a deciduous vine will block solar gain during the summer when the leaves are growing and allowing needed heat during the winter months when the leaves are off - MetroVerde's shade trellis combines plant requirements with awning frame design to produce a product that 1. cleans stormwater, 2. provides habitat and 3. creates a beautiful sense of place!

Green Roofs - Another Volunteer Vegetated Florida Roof

Walking the streets of almost all cities and towns you can see plants growing in the toughest of places.

They grow in the cracks between the concrete in the middle of the busiest streets and interstates. They grow up walls, peaking from the tiniest of crevasses. The grow in gutters and in roof seams. Give a plant a chance and many species will grow just about anywhere there is a little sunlight and occasional water or moisture.

The philosophy we carried with us over the years of experimenting with how to successfully grow plants on roofs was simple. It was based on watching plants grow in the most inopportune places.

Our goal was to design a vegetated or green roof that inherently had the following characteristics: 1. Low weight, 2. Reasonable cost, 3. Leaves and color all year, 4. fire resistant, 6. heat, humidity and hurricane resistant, 7. Florida Department of Community Affairs approved, 8. treats stormwater, 9. provides habitat for wildlife, 10. was low maintenance, 11. could be used on slopes (we can go vertical), and finally - a roof that would last - season after season.

We believe we have developed what we set out to do!

Call Judy at MetroVerde - 904-294-2656 to find out more about your new green roof!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Check out this Website - Living Houses! Living Group Designs and Plans Review by Karl Wilson

Wow! Karl Wilson revealed a set of Green Parking Garage plans and I met two green architects - Alain Dezii and John Szerdi this week. Their Architectural firm in Fort Worth is a living building - all the gray water is treated in modular interior wetlands and the only potable water is used in the faucets.

The open air plenum system keeps the 4 story building amazingly cool!

They even have roof gardens - with native grasses, palms and more!

Think of Alain and John when you need a green, living building design! Check out their website!

Think of Karl's solar panel shaded parking garage roof with living walls when you think institutional, medical or parking garages! Check out Karl's website!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Florida Green Roof Project Continues!

The new Florida Green Roof continues to grow with more and more succulents, agaves and cacti daily!

Once the structural plantings are completed the oobleck will be added around the plants, allium seeds sown and then wait for the plants to take off and fill out the mats!
Contact Judy @ MetroVerde for your green roof!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sustainable Florida! Green Roofs! UCF Orlando October 21, 2008

I attended the Collin's Center Sustainable Florida Conference this week hosted by UCF. The event was eye-opening and inspiring. Our panel presented on the urgent need to restore vertical green to the Urban Core.

Benefits from vertical green in the Urban Core include; A. Stormwater cleansing, B. Creation of Wildlife Habitat, and C. Reconnection of humans to our connections with nature - A Sense of Place Reality in an otherwise electronic world.

Check out the Sustainable Florida Website!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Save Energy - Make your tea outdoors - even on a cloudy day...

Simple way to save energy. Instead of boiling your tea water, place several tea bags in a glass jar and set out in the sun. Cover well. By the end of the day your tea is brewed!

Vertical Wall Hydroponics - grow your vegetables anywhere!

We are developing wall systems to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers on any wall with a hybrid hydroponic watering and nutrient system!

Hydrolettuce Part Two! Two Weeks old

It's been two weeks since we've planted the hydroponic lettuce and the plants have really grown! Stay tuned for more updates!

Update - Florida Green Roof Project - with installation of green roofing plants!

Plant installation on the New Florida Green Roof Project proceeding! Looks for more updates soon!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Florida Green Roofing - what holds the plants to the mat during the initial installation? OOBLECK!

Least that is the nickname the agar based tackifier is called by the kids...very sticky to the touch...but it holds the expanded clay and other soil engineered materials together!

Use a concrete pump to move the slurry in large quantities. Hydroseeder outfits are not strong enough...

Florida Green Roof Project - Green roofing at dusk...

The plants are under installation. The days are getting shorter. The nights cooler. It hasn't rained for a week and the only water the plants are receiving is the blanket of heavy morning dew.... This weekend we should make good progress with finalizing the plant installation!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday Morning Reflections - Green Roofs for Dogs - Florida Green Roof Project

We won first place with the above entry in the Jacksonville AIA Barkitecture Contest earlier this summer.

JSA Architects out of Jacksonville was the lead on the team - We did the Green Roof! JSA developed the system to take the vegetation filtered stormwater - filtered through plants and a geosynthetic, and feed the doggy watering bowls!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday Night Fun - Green Roofing Florida Musings....

Tonight I'd like to introduce you to Robert Solomon, a highly esteemed green roofer. I met Ron (Ron - he prefers to go by his middle name) at the Hillsborough County, Florida (Tampa) Green Roof Symposium earlier this year.

Ron and I are about the same age and we both share a passion for freeing our country from dependence on foreign oil - did you realize that almost 11% of our imported oil is used for asphalt products - as in asphalt roofs....

Ron opened my eyes to the above - and I checked it out on the internet....see How To Save The World

So we are listening to various speakers about vegetated roofs - the benefits and sales pitches, when Ron pipes up about something besides a garden or vegetated roof - He is talking about TPO!... But I listen...and he is right....

Vegetated roofs are not the only Green roofs around....

White PVC and TPO roofs reflect immense amounts of sunlight and keep the buildings they cover as cool as a vegetated roofs, and are much cheaper. White Roofs are also green roofs.

And so I talk to him after the symposium. And we e-mail regularly. Ron is trying hard - very hard to educate the Tampa area businesses and schools and governments and others to stay away from heat loving foreign oil based BLACK asphalt roofing and consider white synthetic roofing.

But more than a public servant for his efforts to reduce heat island effects and conserve energy and help us break dependencies from foreign oil - Ron is a true gentleman.

A man with a spirit of 'It Can Be Done' and 'Have Fun While You Are Doing It'.

I agree with Ron. Life is short - too short.

Lets bring back green to the Urban Core. Vegetated Roofs or White TPO.

He and I are on the same team. The American Team!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Florida Green Roof Project - Root Bound Problems - Green Roofs

Again - Why use a tray or modular system? Roots grow outwards - always. Once they hit the edge of the tray they circle, circle and circle until the plant is strangled.

Use a mat system....

Florida Green Roofs project - should we use a pre-vegetated mat or install mat then seed/plant?

Great Question! The answer is you can do either! Sometimes it is the logistics that dictate the appropriate option to use.

Pre-vegetated mats are heavier and if they are to be carried up to the top of a tall building, then the transportation can be difficult. Typically, pre-vegetated mats are cut into standard sections then stacked on a pallet. You must first determine that adequate access exists on the project site - consider the size of the pallet, size of elevators, etc...

Installation from scratch is applicable in instances where there is no practical way to carry the pre-vegetated mats to the roof. There are also other instances where you might want to consider installation from scratch. Consult Judy at MetroVerde if you want to discuss what is right for your application.

Florida Green Roof Project - Provide Wildlife Habitat and Clean Stormwater! Installing the Mats!

Once the mats are cut to length, we install the mats on the roof using the MetroVerde attachment system components (avoid roof penetrations).

Florida Green Roof Project - cleans stormwater - mat installation phase!

First Step to mat installation (once the sub-roof has been prepped or the liner applied over the existing roof - is to measure and cut the mat!

The New Florida Green Roof project moves forward!!! The Seeds are Sprouting!

It has taken about seven days for the allium seeds to sprout. However they are bursting forth in full force now, even though we are well into the autumn season. Allium is one of my favorite plant Genus'. Allium sp. is a hardy plant - you can find them growing almost anywhere!

Allium's are drought resistant, evergreen and provide significant habitat for all types of wildlife! Watch for more pictures as the plants mature! Be sure to also check out MetroVerde - Judy's website on Green Roofs and Urban Permaculture.

Urban Green - Even in a Small Space! Small Gardens!

Even small backyards can provide wonderful areas to establish an intense garden, a place where you raise the level of green from flat lawns to a vertical integration of plants providing food, fiber and medicine.

Go ahead. Dig up the lawn. Drive in a half dozen fence posts and add jute string or fencing. Plant the vines - squash, cucumbers, grapes and more. Be sure to include flowers for the table vases.

Purchase a pack of ladybugs from your local garden shop. Every plant is one more step towards restoring green to the urban core!

Check out Judy's MetroVerde site or for more info on urban green!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sense of Place is Important to Each and Everyone in the Urban Core

Creating a personal, beautiful and productive garden spot is easy! Be it on an apartment or townhome balcony, in a small backyard or in a large estate - you CAN create our food, flower and medicine refugee with little money and good steady effort.

We like the compact, easy to maintain design!

Yours will evolve through the years!

Start now! Email Kevin or Judy with questions or comments and visit our website at

Another Green Roof Video - Florida Green Roof Construction

See Previous Post for more on installing a liner on an existing roof in preparation for a new Green Roof!!!

Enjoy the Video!

The new Florida Green Roof Project - Next Episode - Installation of the Liner!

New eUrbanism! Green Roofs everywhere! We are refining the available technology - now doing things only dreamed of before.... So we'd like to think.. Our ancestors and those before us had vertical green techniques so much more refined - even though they lacked the polymer and synthetic materials we have today...

Hanging Gardens of Babylon!
and also check out Wikipedia's write up...

IFAS at UF has a great virtual field trip website that provides more info on vertical crop growing and hydroponics.... see previous blog...

OK but back to the new vegetated roof. Today was the 20 mil PVC liner installation day and unfortunately it was real windy - a front is coming through -

Normally on a TPO roof there is no need to put a root barrier down - you always can if you want to but the TPO and the PVC root barrier are one and the same material practically and you end up just duplicating efforts.

But hey! If you want another liner over the TPO - put one there. The black pond liners you can find a Lowe's and Home Depot work great!!! These come in various stock sizes. You can get 13' x 20', 13' x 10', 8' x 10' and others. Watch Craigslist for great buys on pond liners as there are many people who buy the liners thinking they will get a 'round-to-it' and build a backyard pond. It is amazing how many pond liners I see for sale on either e-bay or Craigslist!

For sure you would want to put a liner over asphalt shingles - as we are doing here... Otherwise the roots would devour the asphalt shingles eventually...

But over TPO - well - if you are in doubt build a trial panel! See for yourself!

So since we have a asphalt shingle roof on this project - we are installing a PVC liner. (Always follow OSHA safety guidelines when working above ground)...

Folded up, PVC is heavy and will stay put on the roof. Unfolded the liner is like a waiting sail, ready to leap into the air and follow the breezes. Moreover, liners are slick, slippery and a fall hazard on the ground and especially on a roof or raised platform!

Even over rough - friction heavy asphalt shingles, PVC liners will 'slip and slide'!

MetroVerde's belief is that any vertical penetration through a roof will cause a failure or maintenance issue, sooner rather than later, in Florida's harsh environment!

Today's project roof has a 5/12 slope - moderately steep slope...

And today was WINDY! With the front coming through, as soon as I started unfolding the liner - the wind would pick it up and throw it down over the edge...

See the photo's...

But using MeroVerde's patented attachment system, once you get the mat laid out in a roughly positioned posture - then quickly attach the mat and the roof with the first fastener - usually the highest corner in the direction of the prevailing wind.

Install another fastener ever three feet on both the x and y axis. Carefully move across the roof area, installing all fasteners until the entire liner perimeter has been attached to the existing roof. Make sure the liner is stretched tightly across the roof and there is no obvious buckling or 'air bubbles' in the liner.

Usually the weight of the liner will press down and form against the existing roof. Once the MV GRP vegetated panels are installed the weight should be easily sufficient to hold the entire system in place.

See the photos! The final installation photo shows the liner stretched and attached - ready for the mats!

Watch for the next episode! Until then - Happy Green Roofing! - PS - Feel free to call me anytime you wish to discuss Green Roofs! 904-294-2656... :) Kevin

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Brown Curly Q's on the Alliums. It has been a while since we've had a rain event...Florida Green Roofs

Other than the tale tell sign that the alliums are aware that it has been a good while since rain has moistened their roof top beds, the MetroVerde Extensive Green Roofs I've been following are looking good.

The Semps have really enjoyed the respite from the humidity and are looking perky and green! Though you do not see them here. I'll post a pic of them tomorrow.

I was out most of the day today taking the International Society of Arboriculture's certified Municipal Arborist exam - I thought it was a hard test - but as I was reviewing the questions, several key phrases jelled in my mind about adding small trees to the MV Extensive roof panels and after consideration all afternoon - I think it will work!!! But of course, as always, we will vet in the field through many tests. Please be sure and stay tuned for more info as the field trials take shape.

Back to the alliums in a second - but first - we are going to develop a spreadsheet for the blog that will allow us to post temperature readings of on deck asphalt, on deck vegetation, below deck asphalt and below deck vegetated sampling points on a set of Jacksonville, Florida roofs. We will keep the readings posted year around for our interests and comments. Right now I am seeing October mid-day below deck under asphalt readings averaging 128 degrees F while below deck under extensive vegetation mats of 81 degrees F.

We are also running LC-50 tests on straight rainwater and then rainwater runoff from an asphalt shingled roof and a vegetated roof. It looks like the only roof that doesn't kill the fathead minnows is...well - we need to wait for the final data.

OK alliums. As you can see in the photo - the alliums are feeling the semi-drought. Though only a trained eye would probably see the stress indication in the leaf blade tips - it is there. But this is how alliums respond to drought. We will keep posting pictures until we experience a decent rainfall event. Never fear for these plants though - they are tough, tough, tough. Judy and I have worked with these plants for years and years. You cannot kill them and when you trim the blades back you can almost see them grow back out!

Can you tell from the photo? Lots of lush green - but look for the thin brown tips. It has been three weeks since a solid rain. If this was a roof with a modular tray system - here in Florida my bets are that you'd have a dead mess. Mat systems are so much better suited for the three Florida H's - Hurricanes, Heat and Humidity...

Until tomorrow! Happy Green Roofing Dreams! Kevin :)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Vertical Green - Restoring Green to the Urban Core

It is all about vertical green on an Urban Site. The more vertical green a site has, the more stormwater is treated and attenuated, the more wildlife habitat exists, and the more connections to our historic past interactions with green are resolved for beneficial purposes.

Here the Jincy, Ruairi, Judy and Kevin team have installed what we call a "Shade Trellis'. The shade trellis concept is simple. Shade solar heat gain from entering a house or building through windows with beautiful flowering vines in he summer. Then in the winter, the deciduous nature of the vines causes the leaves to drop and the sunlight is free to enter, heat and warm.

One of the benefits of restoring green to the Urban Core!

Florida Green Roofs - Prepping the mat with expanded mineral material - perlite, vermiclite, expanded clay, agar, trace minerals, and more!

Episode Three - prepping the planting base - prepping the mat. Lots of standards and regulations, common sense precautions and just plain good BMP's - Best management Practices come into play now that the mat is rolled out. So we've talked to death the reason why we don't like trays and modular systems....Hey I heard of a roofing company somewhere is South Florida who just installed a system of trays on their roof - and the plants died...

But the reason we choose mats is not the reason we don't use trays. The reason we choose mats is because with a mat, the green roof's plant roots can grow as far north, south, east or west they want to grow. No circling (as in trays) and no self strangulation in a couple of years (as in trays).

Sure - maybe Plant A will Run into Plant B. Instead of root circling and strangulation though, the roots will compete with each other and the stronger plant will go onto to survive. The important note here is that there is always coverage - though one may dieback, the stronger or more suited plant survives. The mat advantage has proven itself on the Dearborn, Michigan Ford Motor Company 10 acre roof.

OK - back to the soil...

Wouldn't it be easiest just to fill the mat with dirt from the backyard? - Maybe so - but I wouldn't do it. Think of the weeds, nematodes, fire ants, etc you may be digging up and placing on your roof.

Moreover, ASTM has specifications written for dust and organic matter and more for green roof soil systems. The MetroVerde engineered soil (MV GRP) mixture we use is a proprietary blend - and we add soil goodies to it! I think of it as a stabilized outdoor hydroponic system!

So lay out a piece of plastic sheeting on the ground in an area you won't be walking - please note that if you have outside cats or dogs - they love to use a rolled mat system as a huge litter box! Take precautions!

Roll out your mat on top of the plastic, add the mixture of perlite, vermiculite and expanded clay. Apply the tackifier initial layer. Sow desired seeds or installed pre-grown plugs and reapply tackifier.

We'll explore soil mixtures and tackifier solutions (there are many of these sticky mixtures) in an upcoming post. In the meantime - Happy Green Roofing!!! Kevin

New Florida Green Roof Project - THE MAT !!!!

One of the basic principles of a successful green roof is the base mat. Mats are the preferred green roof base system for Florida Green Roofs - as we have discussed countless times before here. The reason is simple - the roots in plants secured in trays or modular components eventually reach the tray walls and begin to circle around, eventually strangling themselves to death - remember going to the nursery and buying pot or root bound plants - they did not live long....

Welcome to the mat episode...the mat was delivered today! We will unroll it, flatten it out and begin adding the expanded clay, other non-organics and the tackifier (agar based). Sound complicated? Naw.... Watch for the next episode - to be posted later tonight after we do the above tasks! Happy green roofing - - Kevin :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

South Facing Florida Green Roof Project

We will be documenting an approximately 1000 SF green roof project here on the blog - beginning with the initial mat plantings in October 2008.

The mat material is ordered, scheduled for delivery within the week.

The organic seed stock and cuttings are established and ready for installation in the mat system.

Over the course of the next several posting you will view the current roof (asphalt shingles), the liner and liner installation, the mat and mat fabrication and construction and the final product. Feel free to post questions and suggestions! Join us on this project!

Kevin, Jincy and Ruairi

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The 3 C’s of Sustainability: Communication, Community Involvement, and Campus Environment," the 3rd Annual Campus & Community Sustainability Conferenc

This conference, held in Orlando will be a premiere event to attend if you are interested in learning the details of Sustainability and Green Roofing in Florida!

Visit The 3 C’s of Sustainability: Communication, Community Involvement, and Campus Environment," the 3rd Annual Campus & Community Sustainability Conference hosted by the University of Central Florida and the Council for Sustainable Florida website for more details.

I will be moderating a panel discussing the Importance of Restoring Green to the Urban Core and will be joined on the panel by Dr. Marty Wanielista, P.E. of UCF, Catherine Burkee of Breaking Ground Construction, and Rob Overly of Rink Architecture. We will focus on the big three benefits of Restoring Green to the Urban Core: 1- Treating Stormwater, 2- Providing a Sense of Place, and 3- Recreating Habitat for Wildlife.

Examples of Dr. Wanielista's Green Roof systems and more will be discussed.

Join us for this fantastic opportunity to look at Green Roofs and More!!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lush, Evergreen and Stormwater cleansing extensive green roofing !!!

Green roofs may hold the key to cleaning up Florida's Stormwater. The evergreen, frost and humidity tolerant plants shown here drink up the average typical rainfall, oxidizing pollutants and nutrients and breaking them down into harmless components.

Just think - if every house along the St, Johns River were to install a low-cost, low maintenance extensive green roof ($ 4-6.00 per square foot) then imagine how clean our St. Johns would soon become!

These plants will soon be blooming and setting seed. Watch for updated pictures. And check out MetroVerde for more info on low cost green roofs!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How Much Should A Green Roof Cost? and more Green Roofs for Florida musings

One of the most common questions I hear about green roofs & vegetated roofs & garden roofs is: HOW MUCH DO THEY COST? Good Question. Easy Answer.

An extensive evergreen garden roof can be purchased and installed from a base price of approximately $6-8.00 per square foot for simple, one species installations to $12-$14 per SF for a moderately top of the line extensive garden roof with multi-texture, multi-color plan species.

Now, if you have more money than you know what to do with - then you can spend as much as you want per SF. I have seen some vegetated/garden roofs quoted in the $120.00 per SF range (YIKES!!!),

It is educational (and I highly recommend you do this if you are interested in green roofs) to go and talk to your local roofer that has experience with installing TPO roofs. A TPO roof is also a 'green' roof if it is white in color - because it will reflect heat! Usually those roofers who have experience in TPO know vegetated roofs also - but always ask them if their company (or parent company) sells green roofing systems. If they do, be sure to make sure you are receiving unbiased info). A good TPO experienced roofer is Rick Anderson with Delta Roofing in Jacksonville, Florida - call Rick at (904) 292-1592 - tell him you saw his name on Kevin's blog.

Green roofs are my passion, and I believe they are key to restoring green to the Urban Core! - Creating habitat, a sense of place, and resolution to stormwater issues.

Don't be scared off by a quote of $20-$40 per SF for a green/vegetated roof! Those complicated and expensive systems are not necessary!

Please - beware of green roofs that require irrigation. Please!!! - it is easy to grow an orchard on a roof with fertilizer and irrigation and cow manure and etc...

A doubter? Look around the next time you are driving through town at the volunteer plants that THRIVE in sidewalk cracks, overpass retaining walls, uncared for gutters, and more. I've never seen irrigation tubing here!

Now - if you are looking at a global system - greywater, reuse, rainwater catchment (Judy and I are members of ARCSA - check out, permaculture - then you may want to integrate recycle irrigation into your vegetated roof - but DO NOT BUY the story that you HAVE to have irrigation. I can show you plenty of applications that have successful and beautiful green roofs that grew up on only rainwater...

OK - want to DIY? email me at

But before you go and spend $ 20+ per SF shop and compare.

One final tip of the evening. We take and set up light level and temperature recorders on roofs we are evaluating for plant applications. Spend some time to assess what you are working with - this is the first step to good planning.

One last final tip. If you want a top of the line extensive vegetated roof - low maintenance but lush, tropical and beautiful - one that will treat stormwater, provide urban wildlife habitat like you will never believe and create a sense of place your DNA will connect to - email me.

Happy Green Roofing!


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Florida Green roofs - modular trays or mats? Look out for trays that cause root bound results!

Green roofs are popular now and a huge question I have is with respect to plants developing root binding due to the modular tray walls. I am sure there are many satisfactory answers out there however I am yet to be convinced!

With trays and modular systems - not only will the planting media 'float' out of the tray in a heavy storm event, but the tray walls restrict horizontal growth - and all plants tend to grow outward from their original diameter. Once roots start circling they strangle each other, competing for space.

Mats allow for the roots to grow as far as necessary in any direction. If there is another plant in the way, then competition kicks in and the most aggressive species wins over - however the end result is that the green roof system is always vegetated.

Florida is a tricky climate to use any green roof system in - let alone modular systems or trays. Our climate is totally different than the climate up north and though trays and modular systems may work up north - they are much more difficult to make work in Florida.

Of course - if you want to spend $$$$$$$ on maintenance and design then trays and modular systems can be designed to work acceptably, but why spend the extra dollars when the mat systems will provide the same amount of 'green', put less of a structural load on your roof, and do not require irrigation!

Check out MetroVerde's website - they offer a mat system that has proven itself in Florida - heat, humidity and tropical storms (see the posted video of tropical Storm Fay on Green Roofs)

The two photos here are of sedum center dieback from the plant being root bound, and the actual root circling action. Modular trays are not good for the long tern health of the plants on Florida Green Roofs.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tray Systems or Mats - What is Best for Florida Green Roofs?

I'll be posting several pics soon of green roof tray systems tat have failed within 6 months. The failure occurred because the plants quickly became ROOT BOUND. You have seen plants stressed due to root binding before - the roots overlap again and again and soon strangle themselves.

Modular tray vegetated and green roof systems are quite popular in many areas now. Long term they do not provide adequate room for plant growth.

Mats, on the other hand, provide an unlimited horizontal plane for root growth and as the plants expand horizontally, roots can follow unimpeded. Mat systems will provide years of vegetated roofing support - refer to the Ford Motor Company Dearborn, Michigan 10 acre vegetated roof mat system.

See also for Florida Green Roof mat systems.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dump the television. Climb up on the Roof at night in the rain and film the Florida Green Roof Plants!!!

Peaceful. No other words can describe a green roof at night with a gentle drizzle. Well - maybe 'wet' also. Seriously tough - vegetated or green roof plants drink up rainwater. MetroVerde green roofs are not irrigated. Judy designs her green roofs to trive without additional irrigation - so - when it does rain they take advantage of the deviation from morning dew serving as the primary water supply - and they drink up!!! For your own Metroverde green roof - call Judy - 904-294-2656 or check out her website at

Friday, September 12, 2008

Whoa! The Semps are taking a hit!!!! Florida Green Roof Plants...

Quick Update - It is mid-September and we have had a tough, hot, wet, humid and rainy summer interspersed with extended periods of drought early on. The Sempervivums - especially the young ones are not looking good!!!!

But we expected this.

There are very few plants that will truly be successful on an extensive Florida Green or Vegetated Roof!

For a good source of information on Florida Green Roofs see

Florida Green Roofs, LC-50, FDEP, Anoles and Other Urban Wildlife

The team was in Barnes and Nobles Bookstore yesterday and I came across an interesting book on Florida Anoles. Several illustrations immediately caught my eye - especially the one where the author had delineated the typical habitat for the Cuban anole and then had illustrated the same for the native Florid anole.

The Cuban anole (the larger brown anoles you probably most often see) need vertical green from the ground up to about four feet. Our native Florida anole likes vertical green up to fifteen or so feet high. Florida green roofs can serve to provide habitat that would otherwise be considered rare in the urban core - and help the survival chances of the Florida anole.

It is critical to examine carefully, all the components that go on a green roof - the liner, mat or container and especially the plants and planting medium to make sure there is no toxicity passed into the stormwater once installed. LC-50 toxicity testing should be a part of any green roofing standard due diligence.

I heard recently that FDEP may be requiring LC-50 testing in conjunction with their new 2009 Stormwater rules based on TMDL's and BMP's...

Good Green Roofing to all!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Florida Green Roofs - Green Roofs for Florida

The three H's - Hurricanes, Heat and Humidity! Designing for the three 'H's can be tough but that is what the designer needs to do here in Florida!

A note of interest this morning is that several sedum species we've had on our trial panels appeared to have died last November/December. They apparently had just gone dormant because they are now growing with leaps and bounds.

It will be interesting to see just how root establishment will affect the hot-cold-wet-rainy period later this year.

On another note: Eric Flagg was out yesterday, filming his new video for the St. Johns Riverkeeper - and as he was filming one of the green roof sections, a monarch butterfly, Florida green anole and a bee gathered on the flowering iceplant clumps! Talk about a perfect example of creating habitat in the Urban Core!

Stay tuned for pictures and more results of MetroVerde's green roof mat systems!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Unintentional Green Roofs!

Plants will take advantage of any small amount of growing medium and a place to grow. Check out this thriving vegetated gutter system in Jacksonville!!! See! If plants can thrive on their own - just think what they will do when correctly designed for a vegetated roof system! Roots take the nitrogen out of the rainfall and keep the runoff clean!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Build the Green Roof and the Wildlife will come...

It has been truly amazing to watch what the restoration of vertical green to the urban core will do for wildlife. On one project, a residence in the city overwhelmed with impervious areas, a little horizontal green but no vertical green, we saw a remarked reemergence of wildlife once vertical green was established.

Reestablishment of vertical green is a great example of Biomimicry. By creating living walls and green roofs we attempt to mimic the original, native volumetric green that existed before the cities existed.

Small wildlife, such as anoles and frogs require green between three and six feet off the ground (at least) to survive - providing escape from predators. Four and one half feet above ground elevation is the 'magic' number according to much of the research we came across.

Once the living walls were in place the anoles and tree frogs arrived in mass, reducing the house fly, ant, roach and termite populations. Soon we note an increase in blackracers - feeding on the tree frogs and picking up any stray mice around. Soon we noted more frequent visits from owls, hawks, other raptors and even an eagle - feeding on the racers and other beneficial snakes.

Vertical green is essential for bringing wildlife back to the Urban Core.

Build it and they will come!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

To Irrigate a planted roof or to Not Irrigate a Planted Roof...

OK. So there are many, many opinions in this world - including mine. I say absolutely not - no added irrigation on a planted roof. Reasoning being the challenge lies in designing and constructing a planted roof who can survive without irrigation.

Anyone can irrigate and it is no big deal to design a planted roof requiring irrigation. However - the lush, evergreen planted roof surviving only on natural rainfall and dew - well that is an accomplishment!

Now though you also need to make sure the plants will survive copious amounts of rain too! Good drainage helps here....

Another note - as a lawyer I would be looking to a vegetated roof designer who specified irrigation for my planted roof, if I ever had mold problems - regardless of if the roof's irrigation caused the mold or not - something to think about - the roof is supposed to keep water off the structure - not add water to the structure...

Check out the lushness of the MV Garden Roof panel pictured here (planted in May - photographed in August and with no added irrigation!!!).

Chow for now....

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Even dead plants are a success with Florida Green Roof MV's trial panels...

Even dead plans on a roof can be considered a success with respect to understanding what species work well in Florida and what species do not like living on Florida roofs.

We at MetroVerde have years of hands on, practical experience watching plants both grow and die on Florida's finicky roof environments.

The three 'H's" as I call them - Heat - Humidity and Hurricanes are three HUGE issues a Florida Green Roof designer must deal with. Each alone can make or break the survival of a green roof. Together, they make designing a successful Green Roof real tough.

Understanding what species WONT work is just as important as understanding what species will work.

The above photo of a Sedum trial panel shows that in Florida many Sedum species - aggressive elsewhere - just melt....


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Green Roofs Jacksonville, AIA, Barkitecture & Humane Society

MetroVerde Green Roof adorns Prairie Style LEED Platinum Doghouse constructed by the JSA Architect team (Jacksonville) and placed first in the judging!!!

Another MetroVerde Successful Green/Vegetated Roof!

See www.metroverde.comjavascript:void(0)

MetroVerde Vegetated Roofs Thrive through Tropical Storm Fay!!!

I've been excited about the possibility of filming the effects of a tropical storm or hurricane on a Florida Green Roof and got my wish last week when Fay came rumbling across Jacksonville dumping 15 inches of rainfall in a 24 hour period and buffeting us with 55 MPH winds. The adjacent crepe myrtles, hollies, roses, and trees were torn apart - great method of cleaning Spanish Moss out of trees. With the steady downpour and crisp winds, the green roof plants held their own and even thrived - you should see the spurt of growth they've added....

Check out the video...


I am sold on the MetroVerde mat process - plants in trays probably would have blown off the sloped roof - or floated out of the trays.... With the mat system the roots embed themselves into the woven fibers.....