Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Environmental consciousness rises to the top

It used to be that if you said a building had a green roof, you were referring to the color of the shingles on top of it, or the hue it had been painted.

But that was then. Nowadays, green roofs are one of the latest trends in environmental-friendly architecture and development. And a West Whiteland company is right at the forefront of the revolution.

Weston Solutions, based in West Whiteland, is the exclusive U.S. licensee of GreenGrid Green Roof Systems, a modular green roof system. The company has installed green roofs across the U.S., and it doesn’t shy away from the big jobs.

In fact, one of its latest projects, The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, is nearly 7,000 square feet. That’s a whole lot of green.

Closer to home is the enormous Court at Upper Providence, an enclosed shopping mall near Royersford, Montgomery County, where Weston Solutions put together a 2.3-acre GreenGrid roof.

So what is a green roof exactly? It’s a roof that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and soil, planted over a waterproofed surface. It’s a fairly new concept in the U.S., but in Europe it has become fairly commonplace.

The benefits are significant. The roofs clean and reduce stormwater runoff, reduce the island effect of urban heat, curb energy consumption, extend roof life and improve air quality by filtering pollutants out of the air. The roofs also greatly improve insulation of the buildings they sit atop.

And the disadvantages are few and far between. Naturally, more maintenance is required, especially in the early stages. The plants and vegetation on the roof need plenty of water, especially in the early stages.

Buildings also need to be constructed to handle the additional weight on the roof, which can sometimes increase costs. But in our opinion, those are small prices to pay for the additional benefits.

We’d love to see more developers in the county adopt green roofs into their designs.

County commissioners have placed a premium on open space in recent years, developing the Growing Greener program and allocating significant funds to the preservation of land.

Now may be the time to look at green roofs as an extension of that program, perhaps by offering subsidies or grant money to developers who incorporate green roofs into their design. It’s not that outrageous of an idea, considering we have one of the industry leaders right in our own backyard. We look forward to the day when green roofs are the rule and not the exception.
Article compliments of DailyLocal.com

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