Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

How Do Green Roofs Work?

with 2 comments

Scientific American

There was a story last night on Global TV News about Richmond’s proposal that from next year all new large commercial and industrial buildings will have to have green roofs. (By the way that link will probably not work after this evening’s news replaces what is there as I write)

What really got to me was the sight of Ken Cameron, formerly head of Planning at the GVRD now with the insurance industry group that provides homeowner’s insurance throwing doubt on the idea.

If StumbleUpon had not thrown up this page I doubt I would have thought about it again, but there is a wealth of information in SciAm article and no doubt you could find more with a Google search. I wonder if Ken did?

He was also the co-author of the City Making in Paradise book. But he seems to me to have lost some of his credibility with his new job. First of all, there is no proposal to make people’s houses have green roofs. The proposed Richmond by law does not apply to homes – so his locus in this bit is tenuous to say the least. But what on earth did he think he would achieve? Or maybe they have got all gun shy after the leaky condo affair. The insurers did not cover themselves in glory over that one – but it was fairly well established I thought that CMHC should bear the greatest responsibility for imposing standards designed to work in Winnipeg on the wet coast.

I am not going to pretend to be an expert, but I certainly applaud Harold Steves and his concern with rainwater absorption which is a real issue on our Island. I also wonder why the attention was focussed on the under construction Convention Centre and not one of the many successful green roofs that have been in place for some time – like the one on the Vancouver Public Library?

Written by Stephen Rees

April 30, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Posted in Environment, Urban Planning

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  1. There was also a piece on BCTV last night about the installation of a massive green roof on the new convention centre — something like 750,000 plants — which is probably one of the few resdeeming features about the project. Flying in over central Richmond on Monday I noticed just how many massive asphalt parking lots and roofs there were, the elements that absorb more heat creating an urban “heat island”, and that resist aborption of rainwater.

    Regarding leaky condos, I for one don’t blame the building code which is mainly trying to keep heat in. I blame contractors for shoddy work, and a development industry for importing dry California / Santa Fe design into a rain forest. [So we don’t have our own history to tap for design references, right?] You’ll note how today’s low-rise condos have wide soffits and better vents installed between floors on stuco exteriors, things missing in the 80s and 90s.

    Meredith

    May 1, 2008 at 2:38 pm

  2. One of the original if not the original green roof in Vancouver – the Law Courts complex – has been under rehabilitation for maybe 2 years now – not bad for lasting 30 years. All of the trees, soil and concrete pathways had been ripped out, the membrane replaced, and then all replanted and recast in concrete.
    They are currently working on two corners at Robson & Howe (where some sidewalk trees had to be removed to access the membranes below).
    I expect that the lower bowl of the sunken plaza is awaiting a decision on the final design for the ice rink and area.
    You can expect condos to have large assessments to cover green roof rehabilitation after, say, 30 years?

    Ron C.

    May 2, 2008 at 3:00 pm


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