Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Spring 2010 - (Page 35)

ON SPEC BUILDING GREEN TOGETHER By Dr. Bill Retzlaff IN THE RUSH TO BUILD GREEN FAST, SCIENTISTS AND PRODUCT DEVELOPERS ARE NOT WORKING TOGETHER TO DEVELOP GREEN PRODUCTS AND TO DEMONSTRATE THEIR ENVIRONMENTAL PURPOSE AND BENEFIT — A LOST OPPORTUNITY uild Green” has become the new mantra in the current world of urban/suburban infrastructure development – and this is problematic. The heart of the problem lies with (1) the rapid emergence of the green industry, (2) the rush to marketplace of new and innovative products, (3) the “slowness” of replicated scientific trials to evaluate green products, and (4) the lack of funding for replicated scientific green roof and green wall research. All four of these issues restrict product development and frequently lead to improper use of the technology and “B unfounded claims of their benefits. Clearly, the “green” team (scientists and product developers) have lost sight of the big picture in this new green frontier. In order to regreen the built, urban environment we need to provide an end user with clear demonstration that green roof and green wall installations do what they are supposed to do – and won’t fail. Simple, right? Just find your nearest research university with a biological sciences, horticulture, or environmental sciences department and ask “the Professor.” No worries, university scientists have studied the environment and ecosys- Image courtesy of Dr. Bill Retzlaff tems for centuries. In fact, this group specializes in telling us that our current spate of urbanization has ruined the landscape. Surely they can help us “fix” the problem and help us get out products into the marketplace to green our urban communities. In fact scientists can, but for a funding price (replicated research experiments often cost thousands) and time-frame (two to four years to get an answer) that many innovative green product developers cannot afford. A further challenge can be found within the ivory tower where research units with dissimilar backgrounds often do not communicate on innovative products and technologies. Currently, in many academic institutions, an environmental scientist working on the development of best management practices for stormwater reduction will not necessarily know that a mechanical engineer across campus has a wind tunnel in their lab that could be used to evaluate wind uplift of green roof or green walls. This is a lost opportunity. It is a new green world and we need to move forward and try new innovative approaches to solve complex global problems. Further, we must work as interdisciplinary research teams (including those who have developed and are marketing green technologies) to clearly decipher the environmental benefits and advance green technologies. To move the marketplace for green roof and green wall installations into the forefront of urban technology, university research scientists and green practitioners must develop and evaluate these technologies simultaneously. Further we can’t cut corners or compromise ethics to do the job correctly. So where do we go from here and how do we begin this innovative work? We all have a lot to gain and some unique opportunities. For the green roof and green wall manufacturers, you can gain sound, scientific justification for your products by working collaboratively with a research university. For the university researcher, you can promote sound, scientific analysis of an emerging technology and train the new green workforce (undergraduate and graduate students) if you work with those who are developing and producing these technologies. We must, therefore, begin working to build green together. Bill Retzlaff, Ph.D., is associate professor and chair, Department of Biological Sciences at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in Edwardsville, Illinois. He is also co-director of the Green Roof Environmental Evaluation Network and chair of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Research Committee. LIVING ARCHITECTURE MONITOR SPRING 2010 35 T H E AU T H O R ( FA R L E F T ) W I T H ST U D E N T S O N CA M P U S

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Spring 2010

Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Spring 2010
From the Founder
Roofing Industry Research Summit
New LAM Editorial Advisory Board Kicks Off
On the Roof With Steve Windhager
Green Philly
Taking the Pulse
Greening the Green Roof System
More Bees, Please!
Dampening Green Roof Fire Risk
New Online Tools for Green Roof and Wall Professionals
New Corporate Members
GHRC Professional Development Calendar
Building Green Together

Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Spring 2010