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....