Going Green on Top
Green roofs, already popular in Europe, are starting to gain momentum in the United States as an environmentally sustainable building practice. Some cities, including Chicago, now offer property tax and other incentives to buildings with green roofs.
According to Peter Belisle, president, Project and Development Services (PDS), Jones Lang LaSalle, green roofs can cost much more per square foot than a standard commercial roof, but they provide numerous advantages, both tangible and intangible.
“Among their many eco-friendly benefits are increased insulation to help reduce energy requirements, lessening of the urban ‘heat island’ effect, and reduction of carbon dioxide and pollutants in the surrounding atmosphere,” Belisle said. Green roofs also can contribute to credit toward the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.”
Additionally, green roofs can extend the serviceability of a roof by two to three times its normal length, and help with rainwater retention.
There are a wide variety of choices available, from park-like roof gardens to low-maintenance self-sustaining systems. In fact, about the only thing all green roofs have in common are their basic components, which typically include, from bottom to top:
Awaterproof membrane that also serves as a barrier to root penetration through the roof;
Alayer of rigid insulation;
Amat to aid drainage, and, if desired, water retention for re-use in the building;
Aspecially engineered soil mix; and
Some type of vegetation.
While there are many variations, there are two basic types of green-roof systems: extensive and intensive (some roofs are a hybrid, containing elements of both).
Extensive roofs, or roof gardens, typically feature a wide variety of aesthetically pleasing plants, similar to a park. They generally require more regular maintenance, including irrigation, feeding and trimming.
Study Details Storm-Water Benefits
A green roof has the potential to lower storm-water runoff from 65% to 94%, translating to a significant reduction in the demand placed on wastewater-treatment plants during storms, according to a two-year study of green roofs in Seattle. The Seattle Green Roof Evaluation Project was conducted by Magnusson Klemencic Associates (MKA), a Seattle-based structural and civil engineering firm.
In addition, the study found that green roofs allow building owners to reduce the size of storm-water-detention tanks needed for peak rainfall. This can offset the cost of a green roof by 30% to 60%, according to MKA.
Extensive systems utilize hardy, drought-resistant perennial plants. From the soil composition to the choice of vegetation, they are designed to survive the local climate with minimal care.
Extensive roofs require less additional structure support, and are often more practical for sloping roofs or tall buildings.
“While extensive roofs can also be attractive,” Belisle said, “they are especially valued for their contributions to environmental sustainability.”
From his work in helping various Jones Lang LaSalle clients incorporate green roofs into their properties, Belisle has identified three important pitfalls for building owners to avoid with regard to green roofs:
Unrealistic assumptions about cost. Cost data on completed green roofs ranges from $8 to $28 per square foot, with the average in the $10 to $12 range.
“This is in addition to the standard roof assembly underneath the green roof,” Belisle said. “The annual cost of maintaining the green roof also needs to be considered.”
Hiring inexperienced consultants. Find a horticultural/landscape consultant with specific green-roof experience who can advise on selecting the best plants, irrigation methods and soil mix for a particular environment, taking into account a range of factors, from climate to roof height.
Also, hire an experienced project manager who can coordinate the activities of all involved parties, including landscape architects, structural engineers and building operators, who must understand how to properly care for the green roof once it is installed.
Inflexible design and construction. Green roofs should be designed in a way that minimizes the load on a roof’s weakest points, such as flashings and perimeter, and that is flexible enough to accommodate changes of plan, even repairs, over time.
“One smart choice for an extensive system is prefabricated trays that can be moved not just to change the design pattern of roof vegetation, but to provide easy access for inspection or repairs in any particular area,” Belisle said.
CompUSA may get a new look
ADDISON, Tx. After opening a new format store last month, CompUSA may be changing the format of its other stores, depending on customer demand and product interest.
According to reports, the elements found in the prototype store, located in Texas, will be incorporated into other CompUSA locations across the United States.
The nearly 7,700 square-ft. relocation site includes an Apple shop featuring Mac computers, iPods and Apple accessories, and a full-length LCD TV wall.
Additional expansions include extended gaming, which includes an entire wall devoted to the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation3 and Xbox 360 gaming platforms, plus a PC gaming setup to test equipment and play new titles.
While businesses can get their share of support with a specialized services section, all consumers can visit the store’s redesigned IT support area.
“This new store aligns CompUSA’s vision to better serve its three core customers, the technology enthusiast, educated professional and small and medium businesses,” said Gabriela Villalobos, the retailer’s sales and operations evp.
CompUSA announced in April that it would narrow its focus to three core customer groups rather than try to serve a mass audience.
The move was part of a comprehensive restructuring, initiated last February, that included an overhaul of senior management and the closure of half its store base as the privately held chain looked to improve sales and profitability.
Walgreens withdraws from CVS provider plans
DEERFIELD, Ill. After many months of talks over low and below-market payment rates by CVS Caremark for four prescription plans, Walgreens has withdrawn as a pharmacy provider from the plans.
Patients affected include members of prescription benefit plans managed by CVS Caremark for ArcelorMittal, Johnson Controls, Progressive Casualty Insurance and Wisconsin Education Association Trust.
Most of the affected members live in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Trent Taylor, president of Walgreens Health Services, the managed care division of Walgreens, released the following statement:
“This is not where we wanted negotiations to lead,” he said. “We’re sorry that our pharmacy patients and CVS Caremark’s clients are caught in the middle, and we’ll do all we can to ensure a smooth transition for our patients to another pharmacy. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to work on resolving this issue with CVS Caremark.
“Leaving a benefits plan is an extraordinary step for us, but it demonstrates how extraordinarily low our payments were from CVS Caremark. We can’t continue accepting reimbursement rates that are drastically below market, while offering patients needed special services such as 24-hour pharmacy access and drive-thru pharmacies.”