Green Roofs — Living Architecture Monitor

Coming from the Shawnee News-Star

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were built in 500 BC. Stone arches were covered with layers of tar and reeds before trees and plants were added. Some of the most famous of the green roofs.

The # 5 presentation in the Oklahoma State University Shackleford Series took place on May 13. Brad Rowe, director of the Michigan State University Green Roof Project, appeared on my computer screen and presented “The Role of Green Roofs in Sustainable Development.” The Zoom presentation went smoothly at my place. It might as well have been plagued by low bandwidth, interrupted internet connections, or a cat running across the computer keyboard.

Two days before the lecture, the two toilets at my house went from slow to flood stage. The plumber came up with his giant roto-rooter, pulled out some tree roots, and fixed the problem. The utility room was flooded that night. The backflow from our calcium magnesium cylinder went all over the room because the septic tank pipe was blocked again. Problem back. A dead squirrel was found when the septic tank was emptied the next day. It may have blocked the line from the house to the tank. The little man must have examined the roof vent pipe and somehow tumble to the outflow pipe. A case of curiosity killed the squirrel. After a few shocked exclamations and head shaking, the little squirrel was buried between two pine trees. Problem solved.

If only we had a green roof. The squirrel may not even have seen the pipe. A living roof with grasses, shrubs or even trees. When we lived in Germany, we saw several houses and businesses with roofs not made of tiles, but low-growing plants. I wondered what the weight of such upholstery was, as well as the maintenance. If you’re from Oklahoma, you need water to keep things alive in the summer. Admittedly, Germany’s climate is more temperate, heated by the North Atlantic Current, and rains fall all year round. In Oklahoma, heavy downpours can alternate with prolonged droughts. A strange balance between humid, subtropical eastern Oklahoma and semi-arid western Oklahoma.

Germany is a leader in green roofs, which can be divided into two categories: intensive and extensive. Intensive roof design is for people, has deeper bottoms, taller trees and shrubs limited to flat roofs or terraces. The extensive green roof usually has shallow soil (4 “-6”) limiting plants to succulents and drought tolerant species.

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