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Growth Of Rooftop Plants Defines ‘Green Building’

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“No edges of the modules are visible to disrupt the natural appearance of the green roof,” says Jose Miranda, an associate with project architecture firm Murphy Burnham & Buttrick Architects in New York City, in a statement about the project.

“Pre-vegetated modules are installed already dense with full-grown plants to create an instant green roof.”

The average LiveRoof project is about 2,000 square feet and contains five to 10 different cultivars, so that if any one particular plant variety fails in a given environment other plantings will take over. Cuttings from the various cultivars are placed in trays of between 4 and 6 inches in depth containing a largely inorganic shale mixture that discourages weeds from sprouting up.

Pride’s Corner’s biggest project was 15,000 square feet at the airport in Burlington, Vt., and it also has produced a 10,000-square-foot LiveRoof for the University of Connecticut and a smaller building topper at Connecticut College’s student center. Different-colored vegetation allows Pride’s Corner to offer patterns and even company logos atop roofs, though these orders have not yet been seen at Pride’s Corner.

The farm partners with several installers and arranges to truck the LiveRoof system in trays aboard tractor-trailers.

The cost of a LiveRoof generally ranges between $22 and $32 a square foot. “Everything is all custom grown for a project,” Costello says.

For Pride’s Corner Farms, which sells millions of perennial plants, trees and shrubs to garden centers throughout the Northeast, the LiveRoof business represents only about 3 percent of annual sales, according to Costello. But he says the number has been growing at a rapid pace ever since the farm started its first LiveRoof project five years ago, and in a down economy that’s a good thing.

What’s more, it takes only one manager and about a half dozen hands to oversee the operation, which includes a four-acre crop of sedum that grows alongside the LiveRoof trays that are generally planted in the early spring and ready by the fall for installation. Costello said he is experimenting with planting later in the season this year to see if a LiveRoof can be nursed through the colder months.

Planting is relatively easy, involving spreading cuttings on top of the special shale mixture, adding fertilizer, watering and waiting for the plants to take root inside the trays. Trays have to be regularly weeded, but the shale mixture reduced the problem somewhat. Farm workers also occasionally have to move the rooted cuttings around to ensure an even spread throughout the trays.

“Once you install the trays on the roof, it looks like it’s been there forever,” Costello says.

The success of the LiveRoof business has encouraged Pride’s Corner to go one step further and try out a new LiveWall “vertical garden” system that uses the same concept as LiveRoof for heavily walled urban areas in search of a little greenery. The concept, which will be unveiled in June, could allow people to grow a variety of flowers and herbs even in confined spaces.

“It would be great for a restaurant with an outdoor cafe,” Costello says.

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Posted by FanningCommunications on Dec 1st, 2012 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

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