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Rivera Greens with solar panels installed.
9.28kW PV Silevo Triex U_Series 290 Watt in Clarence, NY
View from the south side of Clarence residence. This image was created using EagleView Technologies aerial photography
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This month's tip is from March's Green Tip submission winner, Michael Bray of Carmina Wood Morris, PC, an Architecture and Engineering Firm located in the heart of Buffalo. Mike wrote:

We are using Green Roof Blocks in place of building an actual green roof system. They provide all the benefits of a green roof without all the hassle and detailing. They are self contained planter boxes constructed of metal that have the planting medium and filter fabric encased in each "block," and they are placed over a standard EPDM or TPO membrane.

I thought this was very interesting and wanted to find out more about why Mike thought Green Roof Blocks were such a great alternative to a traditional green roof, and he was happy to tell me more about it.  Before I get into Mike's explanation, for anyone who doesn't know, a green, or living, roof is a roof that has been partially or completely planted for a variety of reasons.

With sustainability issues rapidly moving to the forefront of the public agenda, green roof systems offer many benefits to the environment.  They help to mitigate the urban heat island effect, reduce storm water run-off and filter rainwater, remove pollutants from the air and increase wildlife habitat.  Other benefits of particular interest to building owners and occupants include providing additional insulation to reduce heating and cooling loads, significantly reducing summer solar heat gain further reducing cooling loads, adding aesthetic value to a building, and when green roofs are habitable, they provide pleasant outdoor spaces for their occupants.

As Mike mentioned, traditional green roof systems involve extensive planning and design considerations, often requiring additional structural support and special drainage systems, and can be quite expensive.  Mike says this is where Green Roof Blocks can be the difference between wanting a green roof and actually building a green roof.  They don't require special drainage systems, there isn't as much structural load, and design and installation is simplified, so they are more affordable for building owners.  Plus they extend the life of the roofing membrane by limiting the damaging effects of exposure to sunlight.

Mike also added that the inherent flexibility of the Green Roof Block system makes them easy to add to an existing building or renovation project.  The average size of a block is 2' x 2', and depending on the vegetation being planted; the depth can range from 4 to 12 inches or more for trees.  Every new green roof project should consult a structural engineer, but Mike also mentioned that older buildings, like the ones in Buffalo, often don't require additional structural support.  And since it's a flexible system, the number of blocks installed can be varied depending on design, budget and structural considerations.  At Mike's firm, they are designing the roof structure on new buildings to accommodate green roof loads.  That way, if there isn't room in the budget for a green roof system right away, building owners can easily add Green Roof Blocks in phases later as funds become available.

For more information on Green Roof Blocks visit

Congratulations Mike and thank you to everyone who submitted their green tip!

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Green Roof Blocks can be the difference between wanting a green roof and actually building a green roof.


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