Monday, December 10, 2007

Brr it's cold, have you greensulated?

I have to admit while my new job is not perfect (but no job ever is) , it's nice to be a place that supports the environment in ways that it can besides Press Releases. I do feel there is a sincere effort. We have a "Green Team" that meets every so often, and members take on projects in addition to their work to make company a better global citizen. Running a business can be wasteful if you let it be.

At our most recent Green Team meetings we the president of a company called Greensulate that is a design and consulting firm based out of New York that specializes in green roofs and walls. These are gardens hat are built into the roof or walls so that they become the roof or wall. From their website the advantages are more succinctly listed than I can do so I quote:

Other benefits of green roofs and green walls:

Cut noise=less noise pollution.
Reduce CO2=cut green house gases.
Storm water capture=act as a sponge and filter for pollution and storm run-off.
Decrease urban heat island effect =cooler cities use less energy.
Green roofs make people happy=studies show green roofs increase productivity and decrease absenteeism.
Decrease energy use=cut energy costs up to 50% as summer temperature goes down 6-8 degrees in green roofed buildings.

I've been interested in Green Roofs for awhile, the psychological benefits are often overlooked. I remember hearing about factory workers at Ford who loved working in a roof where there were birds. Best of all the roof made economic sense since it lowered the cost of water treatment and waste, so there is no sacrifice, just different maintenance duties. More details can be found here.

Closer to home, well at least my home, is the new California Academy of Sciences building in Golden Gate Park that features a green roof as well, The San Francisco Chronicle has a great article here. Now green roofs may not be right for everywhere, but it's good to be aware of the options.

I leave this post with something to think about, many of our zoning guidelines are targeted at preservation of property value, but it also restricts choice. Also, sadly much of our zoning rules also are responsible for societal architecture that encourages CO2 creation in the form of the automobile as primary transport. Another thing is the restriction to a few building material types ruling out options such as green roofs. As our elections come up in the next year, think of candidates who consider the living value not just property value of their decisions.


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