Monday, November 24, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Our roof used 2 different plant mixtures -
Classic Carefree Sunny Mix
Sedum Album (Coral Carpet)
Sedum reflexum (Blue Spruce)
Sedum rupestre (Angelina)
Sedum spurium (dragon's blood)
Allium Flowering Onion
Sedum rupestre (Angelina)
Sedum Spurium (Royal Pink)
These plants are carefully selected to handle lots of rain but also do well for long periods without rain in our Minnesota climate. They will grow to be between 2 and 4 inches tall -and besides periodic weeding will require very little maintenance.
I like the Live Roof system because it comes fully planted and ready to rock and roll. We ordered the plants in early June and the nursery did most of our work for us - growing and caring for the plants all summer long before harvesting them for us this past week and prepping them for our installation. Now that they are on our roof, we don't need to be watching bare dirt with a few plant plugs watching and waiting for them to grow - it's an instant green!
Green Roofs help:
- Manage stormwater (up to 95% of rain fall is used by the green roof)
- Reduce Energy Costs (energy use reduction of 25% and higher)
- Extend the life of the primary roof system by 200% (protecting rooftop from temperature swings, ultraviolet radiation, etc)
- Noise Reduction
- Improve air quality
Here are some photos of the installation in progress:
We rented a scissors lift to help move the modules (about 50 lbs each) up to the rooftop. There was no way I was going to carry 400+ roof modules one at a time on a ladder. The plywood on the ground helps protect the newly planted lawn.
Even local celebrities get in on the act. Here, the famous Curt Kietzer carries the first of many modules to it's final destination. My brother Brian is working the lift.
Getting Started - all the modules click together to stabilize each other and promote better plant growth. The green soil elevators keep the soil in place until they are installed. Working from right to left, we filled in the rooftop pretty quickly. You can see the dark grey 45 mil epdm slip sheet we used as root barrier on top of our real roof membrane. We don't want the plants messing with our roof membrane!
Jeffrey Swainhart is the man with the saw cutting the modules at the end of each row to ensure a tight fit. Cutting takes a long time and should be minimized!
Curt K and Guy Williams seen splicing the joints at the metal edging - I favor the edging over the cutting .
When the upper roof was nearly complete, we started in on the lower roof (Shade Mix)
Lower roof complete
Upper roof complete
A nice detail so my ladder doesn't damage the plantings on the lower roof when I need to access the upper roof. The pavers are recycled rubber porous paver systems called VAST from our friends at Natural Built Home.
We've been measuring how much water our rooftop generates during each rainfall (we're collecting runoff in rain barrels). Now, with the green roof in place we can track the reduction in that amount. Rather than sending our runoff to the stormsewer system and thus to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River, we're using the rainwater to keep our plants healthy and happy so they can do all those good things for our home.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Kevin has had his 15 minutes of fame come and go due to his appearance on the local radio program "Everything Green" on AM 950. Follow this link for the podcast if you care to hear the melodious musings of Kevin talking about our house.
This time off from attending to our blog doesn't mean that we haven't been doing things. Far from it oh unforgiving masses, far from it. We've been growing quite some grass, getting our home energy rating tests completed, and tracking energy use and water use in the house.
Our house has scored very well on the Energy Star Rating System after a series of blower door and air leakage tests we put it through to verify that the house was working as designed. The house scored well - receiving a 5 + star energy rating (the highest you can get) with a HERS Index Rating of 53 (on a scale of 0 to 500, with lower scores being better). This is great news - especially for a remodeled structure of which we were unable to change a few fundamental things. If we were to do a completely new house - I'd expect a HERS score of 30 or lower.
- A vegetated green roof system on 55% of our rooftop area: (To be installed in early October, we expect this to absorb 45% of the total rainwater on the rooftop)
- Harvesting of rainwater in rainbarrels: So far we've collected and diverted 7,300 gallons of rainwater, or 16% of the total rainwater hitting our rooftops for July, August and September. We expect this number to increase significantly after we install the green roof.
- Use of raingardens to handle remaining rooftop drainage, sump pump drainage and over surface drainage: Excess rainwater run off from the roof that is not collected by the green roof and rainbarrels as well as the water from our sump pump (below grade water at foundation wall) will find its way to the big raingarden - keeping those native plants happy.
- Minimize impermeable surfaces on site: Excluding the footprint of our house, we have nearly 85% of our site in vegetated or permeable surfaces. - This makes for better infiltration into the groundwater and subsurface aquifers. More than 50% of our lawn is planted with a low mow native plant species grass mix that requires less water and little to no mowing! Except of course that Roxanne enjoys mowing the lawn and is itching to do it.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
In our neighborhood, everything flows towards the Mississippi River, about 3 blocks away. With the poorly draining clay soil and grass not yet established, we've been really able to see exactly how the yard handles water. The regrading we did greatly improved the water situation around the house. The sump pump was very active prior to re-grading (so much that we joked about having a water fall feature from the sump outlet)- but it hasn't gone on once since the grading. This weekend, we were able to get the 60 plants planted in the rain gardens.
We used a combination of grasses- such as Karl Forester and perennials such as Black-Eyed Susans and Coneflowers. I had to improvise a bit, as not all the plants I wanted were available at Gertens- but overall, I think it will look great once it gets a bit more established.
Here's a list of the plants we used:
Karl Forester- grass
Blue Sedge grass
Prairie Dropsee Grass (edible & nutritious seeds on this one!)
Pixie Meadowbrite Coneflower
Little Joe Pye Weed
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Last week and the beginning of this week, the folks at CurbSide Landscape finished the final grading, Buck's Concrete poured the back sidewalk slabs and then CurbSide seeded the lawn. Before seeding, the entire yard was covered with a couple of inches of compost. We opted for hydroseeding the lawn, which a method where a slurry of water, seed and fiber mulch are sprayed on the lawn with a hose. With proper watering, grass should be growing in a week, with mowable lawn in 3-4 weeks.
The slurry has a green tint- and it made quite a mess around the base of the house.....
We're treating our yard as a work in progress that will continue to evolve over the years. With our limited budget for landscaping, this is the only option. Matthew Fair Jones, our landscape architect, helped conceptualize the plan and master plan ideas. They are simple for now. I want to make sure I understand which areas of the yard get sunlight at various times of the day and how we want to ultimately use our yard. Prior to the seeding, I did plant a small rock garden utilizing the rocks that were in our yard, around the River Birch tree by the patio.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Time for window treatments.....
Our aupair is lucky enough to have this bedroom (although it's very small) with a balcony. The balcony space is really quite wonderful, in that it's like being in a tree house. This tree also provides a bit of privacy, but it will need to be trimmed and the leaves will be gone in a couple of months, leaving it much more exposed to the street. When Kerstin leaves in October, it will become a guest room/study room.
Now, we're just debating on window treatments for the other windows that need it (mostly bedrooms). Although I like the solar shades and roller shades, we really count on the breezes we get at night. Given the need for breezes to pass thru, and the desire to control light entering, we are going to go with a 2 or 2.5" wood or faux wood blind in white. I just have to do a bit of research to find a louver with recycled content.