I went to visit an extension in Kennington which has the biggest domestic green roof I have built. There are some very big skylights so it isn’t all green but it looks great. This first picture shows the rear extension with some rather fine timber cladding, you can see the plants poking over the top of the coping stones: The combination of rain and sunshine we have seen this summer has been really good for the plants, even if people haven’t been so happy. I missed the peak flowering of this roof but there were still plenty in bloom on Monday. The clients daughter has a bedroom window looking out onto the roof and has been enjoying the developing scene. The skylights really bring light into the house and the kitchen looks even bigger than the space the extension added on. You can see some of the plants waving in the breeze around the sides when you are having dinner.
I went to see the roof I built in Kennington last month and took some photos I thought I would share. I wrote about this one last year showing the build up process to a green roof. I was particularly pleased that the insulation we put on as an added extra has made a real difference to the householders, the side return was previously a no-go area in the cold winter months but has now become habitable with the added warmth. Anyway here are a few photos to illustrate how well the roof has been growing over the last nine months: Overall I am delighted with the roof and the clients are really pleased too. The roof has already developed really well and should develop further over the next few years. The roof should reach maturity after three years but different plants will dominate in different years and seasons. If you want your own green roof give me a ring on 020 8133 0190 or drop me an email email@example.com
Just a quick photo update from a roof I made in March. This was put together with Optigreen substrate, drainage etc and seeds and plug plants from Boningale Nurseries. It is growing well with lots of plant growth for the first year. Recent rain should really encourage growth.
Last week I completed another green roof in Streatham. It is on the rear of a really interesting house, a 1930s semi that is getting a complete eco-makeover from the owner. He has insulated the walls inside and out with wood fibre and remade the roof in solar panels and that is just the start. All Stephen’s neighbours find it hard to believe how warm the house is without loads of heating! Anyway, last Wednesday he set aside so I could come along and help him build a green roof, here are the photos:
Just a quick update, we broke ground on a new extension last week. It’s mostly just digging at the moment but still exciting. I got to put up a sign outside the house: The project will develop over the next few weeks. The walls incorporate high levels of insulation and will be made using reclaimed materials including a white glazed brick interior and re-used wood cladding. I spent some time in @thewashcoffee going through the plans from Clements Design with Shaun the project manager on Wednesday, checking the build process and making sure we will avoid thermal bridges. The design looks sound and we are starting on the steel supports over the next few days. The guys all look smart in the new Ecoalex hi vis vests and are looking for opportunities to save materials on site and re-use as much as they can in the build.
I recently finished the first green roof I have built for a while and thought you might like to see a few pictures. This one was on top of a bike shed in Stockwell and it’s looking pretty good. Took a bit more work than I expected, although small it has just as many corners as a bigger one so had as many fiddly bits to do. I worked it out after a while though and it looks really good. The clients had a good supply of soil so we didn’t need to get any elsewhere, they also had a good idea of what they wanted to plant. We used a combination of herbs, grasses and other plants. They wanted to try as many plants as possible to see which ones would take to the roof, should be a good plan and I hope the roof will evolve over the next few years, it will be interesting to see which plants are most suited to the roof conditions. The only disappointment so far is the photos I took with my new phone which are all washed out and bluey. It’s just down the road so I will see if I can get some better ones but here are a few for now. If you want one for your shed or extension get in touch.
A quick update on recent projects. Green roof on bike shed I have nearly finished a green roof on a bike shed in Stockwell. It is all ready for planting and the customer has a great plan for herbs and succulents in a geometric pattern. It looks pretty good at the moment but I will come back with a full update and some details of the build when it is finished. Natural insulation Even more exciting is the end of the natural insulation project I have been working on all summer. Since I finished the lime plastering the walls have been allowed to dry (it takes a bit longer than normal plaster) and painted with clay paint. I am pretty pleased with the finished results and the householders are much warmer.
I am giving a short talk at the London Green Fair next month on building your own green roof so I have been looking around for examples. They are starting to appear all over the place now. Near my home in Lambeth there is a lovely community roof on some garages where they grow wheat and the South bank centre put up a lovely roof last year with allotments. Up in North London I came across this roof in a front garden, the best looking bin cupboard I have seen. I also think this could be applied to front garden bike sheds as well and make them a much more attractive part of the streetscape, maybe they could put one in Bonnington Square in the future to go with the current metal one. As Ecoalex I will certainly be recommending similar ones. I am quite looking forward to the talk and will hopefully generate some questions and debate. I will also have a mini green roof with me so you can see how they are put together and imagine what you might do so come along and see me on the Saturday. If you can’t make it but would like some help building a roof get in touch with me at Ecoalex.
Just returned from a great green roof workshop organised by Ben Kimpton at The Ecology Consultancy. The workshop was by Gary Grant and Dusty Gedge of The Green Roof Consultancy and covered green roofs and living walls. Some interesting elements included popular myths and why they aren’t true: Fire – The risk of fire is greater on normal roofs as they don’t have damp soil and plants on them. Waterproofing – If a roof leaks it is usually bad installation by the roofer. A green roof stops ponding which can damage roofs and it also stops expansion and contraction in the heat which can also damage roofs. Maintenance – This depends on design but can usually be minimal, a twice yearly inspection of drainage as you would with any other roof should be fine. Structure – They are heavier but you can get a decent one for under 150kg m2 Roofs such as this one on Chicago City Hall reduce the need for cooling in buildings. The people working here don’t need to turn on the air conditioning until four in the afternoon. Gary talked about Living walls including the Westfield one which he designed. These have many benefits similar to green roofs but require water to keep them going so aren’t quite such a neat solution but can provide biodiversity and other benefits where there is no alternative. Finally Ben gave us an overview of green roofs and their relevance to ecology as well as a handy list of reasons to use them: They reduce discharge You get credits in BREEAM and the Code for Sustainable Homes The Environment Agency requires them in certain circumstances They help with cooling and heating They improve a property and increase it’s value They look cool Building users are happier They provide habitat for plants and animals
I was pleased to see lots of discussion of the zombie apocalypse on twitter the other day, all sparked by this blog from the US Centre for Disease Control http://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2011/05/preparedness-101-zombie-apocalypse/ So I was thinking about how the zombie apocalypse might affect my business of eco retrofitting, pretty badly I think and I am not sure a bicycle is the right mode of transport to escape from zombies. However I did realise that many of the measures you take to improve the environmental performance of your house would also help you come the zompocalypse. Draught proofing and insulation are essential to cut noise that would reveal your presence to any lurking zombies and also help reduce the chances of any airborne infections. Traditional methods of keeping your house warm, heavy curtains, shutters etc will stop any tell tale flickers of light from your zombie hideaway. Evading zombies is dirty work so coming home to solar thermal water heating means you can wash the smell of fear right off, providing you can get a safe source of water that is. Perhaps a pond on your green roof could help with this? Of course a green roof could also provide some much needed fresh veg to supplement your diet of looted cans and dried food. Assuming the zombies have knocked out the sewer and drainage facilities things will be getting pretty smelly so a SUDS system with plenty of reed beds will be an excellent way of processing your waste while reducing possible flooding issues in your neighbourhood. I also guess that the zombies will have taken out the power network so you will need some way to power your SOS signals for help. Photovoltaics on the roof should solve this as well as providing some power for low energy lighting to illuminate your weapon stripping. Not sure what happens in the winter, it always seems to be hot in zombie films but I am guessing that even if the zombies do die out power and fuel will still be scarce so ground source heat pumps would be a good way of heating your hideout. If you meet with others and develop a compound you can start to add other measures: a combined heat and power plant would maximise what fuel you have and perhaps a wind turbine wouldn’t attract interest from the zombie hordes. In summary therefore, going green will help when the zombies come! Next up ‘The rise of the machines, will biodiversity help us fight back?’