It’s time to get “green!” This is the first in a series of blogs about how building owners and tenants can embrace green policies in a variety of areas. When I want to get “green,” I tear into a package of Greenies! They keep my chompers looking sparkly!
This week we will examine trends including green roofs and “living walls,” which are becoming popular for aesthetic and economic reasons.
Green roofs for commercial buildings have substantial vegetation and a growing medium planted over some type of waterproof membrane. For the purposes of today’s blog, we are talking about green roofs or living walls which have vegetation, not those with other green feature such as solar panels or dog runs.
Green roofs are low maintenance as well as attractive (sounds like a canine I know…), whether the green space covers the entire roof or just a portion of a rooftop garden area. Through proper planning, a green roof can become a place for tenants to enjoy the natural environment in a private atmosphere. Some green walls also feature edible plants, which give tenants a free source of snacks and great conversation starters.
Your facility management team should work closely with the green-roofing installation team to ensure that the building—
- Plantings receive adequate yearly sunlight
- Roof system has enough structural integrity to handle the increased weight of plants, soil, and patio or structural garden elements. The company you select to install the plants should also account for the dramatic weight differences between wet and dry soil. I don’t mind the weight differences of wet and dry food – they are both satisfying!
- Provides the best for the climate zone and amount of sunlight for the varieties you want to plant.
Benefits abound if you choose to plant vegetation on roofs and walls:
- Increased air quality of the surrounding area. Some living wall structures can be integrated into a building’s air circulation system, effectively “scrubbing” the air.
- Provides a natural habitat for birds and other animal life. Oh please, let there be squirrels I can chase!
- Selling point for tenants who appreciate ecologically-friendly buildings
- Storm water control, including a reduction in contaminants in rainwater runoff
- “Greywater” can be used in some building-designs to water plants
- Energy savings provide a buffer between the ambient temperature and the roof’s insulation. Living walls can also provide shade.
- Life of the roof materials benefit from ultraviolet protection, allowing vegetative roof membranes to last longer than conventional materials
- Wellness and aesthetic appeal – tenants will benefit from exposure to more natural surroundings. Why do you think I love going on walks in the park?
Admittedly, potential disadvantages to green roofs and living walls should be considered prior to installation.
- Maintenance issues, such as pruning of vegetation and ensuring HVAC systems still function properly. Living walls require frequent attention to support structures and plant life.
- Increased short-term costs, compared to traditional roofs
- Nature might intrude too much. Vegetation could attract birds or harmful insects to the area. Just ignore those squirrels – okay?
Green roofs and living walls can provide tangible benefits for building owners and tenants. In this tight leasing market, offering green features could be what sets your building apart from property owners and managers who offer more traditional office space.
Visit us next week for part 2 in our series about green property strategies.
For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact some of the “greenest” folks I know, at RJ Westmore. Their e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. RJ Westmore, Inc. is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.