Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Backyard Conservation

Bringing conservation from the countryside to your backyard
Just as they do on the farm, conservation practices on nonagricultural land can help increase food and shelter for birds and other wildlife, control soil erosion, reduce sediment in waterways, conserve water and improve water quality, inspire a stewardship ethic, and beautify the landscape.

"Backyard Conservation" shows you how conservation practices that help conserve and improve natural resources on agricultural land across the country can be adapted for use around your home. These practices help the environment and can make your yard more attractive and enjoyable. Most backyard conservation practices are easy to use. America's farmers and ranchers have been using these practices successfully for decades.

Whether you have rural acreage, a suburban yard, or a city lot, you can help protect the environment and add beauty and interest to your surroundings. Ten conservation practices have been scaled down for homeowners. Tip sheets offer "how to" steps and helpful hints:

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

GreenGrid® offers distinct advantages over other green roofs. With GreenGrid® you get all the benefits of a green roof system, plus the added advantages of flexible design and modular features easily tailored to your needs.

Visit Green Roofs - GreenGrid® Modular Roof, Rooftop Garden, LEED

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Erosion is a natural process.(?)

Erosion becomes a problem when human activity causes it to occur much faster than under natural conditions.

When properly installed and maintained, vegetation can protect slopes by reducing erosion, strengthening soil, and inhibiting landslides.

Too often, well intended erosion control and slope stabilization programs do not recognize and incorporate vegetation as a legitimate design tool to address these slope processes.

Primarily, these oversights are because the use of vegetation alone (soil bioengineering) or together with other slope stability structures (biotechnical engineering, hydroseeding etc.) for slope protection is poorly understood.

Therefore, the value of vegetation along a slope is either underestimated or ignored during the important project planning, design, and agency permitting periods.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Impacts of climate change on indigenous people worldwide include:

Indigenous peoples have contributed the least to world greenhouse gas emissions and have the smallest ecological footprints on Earth. Yet they suffer the worst impacts not only of climate change, but also from some of the international mitigation measures being taken, according to organizers of a United Nations University co-hosted meeting today, April 3 in Darwin, Australia.

In tropical and sub-tropical areas, an increase in diseases associated with higher temperatures and vector-borne and water-borne diseases like cholera, malaria and dengue fever;

* Worsening drought conditions and desertification, leading to more forest fires that disrupt subsistence agriculture, hunting and gathering livelihoods, as well as serious biodiversity loss;

* Distinct changes in the seasonal appearance of birds, the blooming of flowers, etc. These now occur earlier or are decoupled from the customary season or weather patterns;

* In arid and semi-arid lands: excessive rainfall and prolonged droughts, resulting in dust storms that damage grasslands, seedlings, other crops and livestock;

* In the Arctic, stronger waves, thawing permafrost and melting mountain glaciers and sea-ice, bringing coastal and riverbank erosion;

Read more of Hardest Hit By Climate Change