Here are some photos of a fewgreen roofs we installed back in the winter. One is a LiveRoof system and the other is a custom site built scheme that GCB developed.
Ever since our tour of eco buildings on Pender Island, we have been oh so eager to install a custom green roof system like the affordable, homemade ones we saw on the tour. While we continue to be proponents of LiveRoof and some other proprietary systems, we are very aware that the costs of these systems are often well beyond the budgets of homeowners. Our initial hesitation to installing more affordable custom systems stemmed from our concern for meeting the building code and other checks and balances primary related to waterproofing… Well, we have evolved! Thanks to some education and research, we have developed a custom system that we are very happy with – and it’s affordable! Like hundreds-of-dollars instead of many-thousands-of-dollars affordable. I plan to post a “how-to” on this blog really soon so that others can learn what we have. In the meantime, sneak a peek:
Here is a quick upload of one of our most recent green roof projects. This one is on top of a new home addition we built in Port Moody. The homeowner designed a beautiful vegetation scheme that includes perennials, wild strawberries and sedums. The plants were grown in LiveRoof modules at Nat’s Nursery. Our team built the gabled roof and installed a special structural system we developed for keeping the modules secure on sloped roofs. We can’t wait to see this lovely garden in full bloom come the spring!
We recently completed a home addition project in Port Moody for a couple who were expecting (and now are the proud parents of) their first baby. The scope of the work included reinforcing the existing foundation, creating two ground level additions to increase the floor area, installing a living roof, and revamping the finishes throughout the house. Design-minded and very interested in making their house uniquely their own, the clients were great to work with. They wanted to include a lot of recycled and sustainable materials, and design elements that reflected their love of nature. Below are some photos that show the completed project and some of the details that make this home so special to this family. Massive kudos to our site manager Doug for shepherding this renovation along so successfully!
Last weekend, Sam and Elizabeth were invited to make a presentation on Living Roofs at the Pender Island Eco Homes Network’s Eco Building Symposium. It was a great weekend of sharing ideas and experiences, checking out absolutely inspiring custom built, eco-minded structures, and enjoying the local hospitality and landscape.
Some photos from the Eco Homes Tour are included below for your viewing pleasure. Hopefully you will also be inspired by the craftsmanship, creativity, ingenuity and collaboration that went into these works of art!
All summer, we have been working on a not-so-average home addition project in Port Moody. Lucky for us – and the environment – the homeowners are very eco-minded and wanted to include as many green features as their budget allowed. In particular, they were drawn to recycled materials as they re-envisioned the entire home to make room for their growing family. Some of our favourite features are the rubber shake eco-roofing (from recycled tires), reclaimed cherry and fir wood flooring, denim insulation and a gabled living roof.
The project includes two ground floor additions (one to the side and one to the rear), and reconfiguration and refinishing of portions of existing house. Doug has been guiding this project along steadily and we are excited to be closing-in on completion. check back soon for more images!
Remember that cute home office with a great green roof we completed in the spring? Well, that project was selected to be showcased on the LiveRoof website as a great example of a green roof application. Check it out! You can also find more info on our green roofs here.
Here are some recent photos of the green roof Doug and Ryan installed last month in North Vancouver. These are LiveRoof modules planted specifically to thrive in this beautiful shady yard. The ferns and Columbine have already grown significantly. We really love this roof and the way it has a double function as an entry garden.
We recently put some additional finishing touches on this shed-to-office conversion. To enhance the charm and character, provide weather protection, and highlight the vegetated LiveRoof, we added a shed roof over the office entry. The entry itself evolved from basic barn doors (which worked great for a shed but not an office) to nice salvaged glass doors. Combined with the skylights and vaulted ceiling, the big glass doors let in lots of light. And it looks pretty darn cute, don’t you think?
Last week our crew prepped and installed a LiveRoof green roof system on an accessory building that is being converted into a new home office. First, we installed six skylights to bring lots of natural light to the interior space. Then, we prepped the roof for the LiveRoof trays that were delivered first thing on Wednesday morning. Owen and Doug spent the day sizing, arranging and securing the trays… and then… it was done! Since LiveRoof arrives fully grown, installation is straightforward. Although, we did decide to add in some perennial plugs afterwards, which gave Sam and Elizabeth a great excuse for some sunny rooftop planting on Saturday. We are very happy we the results and have enjoyed watching all the cars and pedestrians slow down and do double takes. Yes, that is a gorgeous garden up there!
As the innovation, convenience, affordability, appeal and popularity of green roofs continue to increase, so do the structural and design options for creating one. From extensive to intensive, layered to modular, seasonal to evergreen, flat to sloped, there are seemingly endless combinations of approaches for creating a vegetated roof.
Interestingly, the current issue of urban living magazine Dwell provided a very simplified (and incomplete) list of options for achieving a green roof: add several inches of soil to an existing roof; create a roof top potted garden, or; install a roof top hydroponic garden. Their description of the first method leads the reader to basically understand that you can shovel a bunch of soil onto your existing roof (as is) and start planting. Eek! As I read this I had horrific visions of thousands of gung-ho DIYers tossing potting soil onto their shingle roofs, planting gorgeous gardens and (a) watching it all wash away with the next big rain fall, (b) sobbing uncontrollably when they get the estimate for repairing all the water damage to their attics, walls and ceilings, (c) wondering why their roof is starting to sag, (d) feeling sad and frustrated by the dead plants covering the top of their homes and emanating some serious bad feng shui, or (e) all of the above.
While the Dwell options can work in the right circumstances (pots and hydroponics are a nice way to dress up a finished balcony or strong flat roof), shovelling any old soil onto any old roof is not something recommend. The weight of the soil and water, lack of proper waterproofing and drainage, and the uncertainty of the load-carrying ability of roof make this approach really risky and potentially quite disappointing. To better address all these issues, let me highlight another green roof option not mentioned in the Dwell article: engineered green roofs.
I’m not sure why engineered green roofs weren’t included in the list – especially considering Dwell has featured these types of roofs in many of their issues (including the current one – check out the beautiful fern covered roof on the Montreal home featured this month). Think Chicago City Hall, Vancouver Convention Centre, and pretty much most of the green roofs you see on new buildings in Canada, the US and Europe.
Engineered green roofs are designed to ensure that the roof structure can manage the very heavy load of the planting medium, plants and water; that the planting medium minimizes weight and maximizes efficient drainage; that there is waterproofing membrane to keep all moisture away from the actual roof (and the rest of the building), and; that the plants are appropriate for the local light, climate and grade conditions.
Within the engineered roof category, there are another bunch of choices for designers, contractors and building owners. Increasingly, the preferred approach is to go with a green roof ”system” that includes pretty much everything you need – drainage, membrane, planting medium (which is a light weight, long lasting alternative to soil), etc. The components are normally installed in layers, like a sandwich. Once everything is installed, it’s time to plant. Depending on the plants and your local conditions, it could take a few months to several growing seasons for the plants to mature into the roof of your dreams.
Another “system” that we are really excited about is a modular engineered green roof system called LiveRoof. Instead of having to assemble each layer of the system, insert all the plants and then hope for the right growing conditions, LiveRoof arrives on-site as pre-grown modules that we put together in grid pattern. The modules are custom planted to your specifications and grown at a local nursery until the vegetation is mature and you are ready for install. It’s pretty rewarding to transform your roof from nothing special to something wonderful in a very short time. In addition to knowing other systems, GCB is a LiveRoof Certified installer.
To sum up here, I don’t dislike Dwell. Quite the opposite. I am really glad they and other magazines are so keen to feature and promote green building, compact design, DIY ideas and, of course, green roofs. Next time perhaps they will provide a more robust list of options that includes the safer, longer lasting solutions. In the meantime, just give us a holler if you have questions.
Also, if you are poking around this month’s issue of Dwell, take a look at their review of Print Workshop, a fantastic new printmaking book by our friends at Yellow Owl Workshop in San Francisco. Congrats to Chris on finding more ways to inspire the masses to create and enjoy things of beauty!!!
Sam was very excited to receive some photos from Nat’s Nursery of the LiveRoof trays being grown for his own roof. They are growing much faster than expected and will be ready for install as soon as we have time to do it. Unlike planting plugs and whispering speedy growth mantras, the trays will arrive as fully -grown, mature vegetation. Within hours, Sam will have a lush green roof where once there was nothing but heat-absorbing shingles. Thanks Nat’s!
Congrats to Doug, Owen and Sam for obtaining their LiveRoof certifications!
LiveRoof is a great hybrid green roof system that allows for modular installation of fully grown vegetation. Basically, it makes it super easy to convert a boring old roof into a beautiful green space… and now our Green City Builders crew is certified to work with and install it on homes and businesses. In fact, we’re so into it, we plan to install a system on our workshop this coming spring. Cool stuff!