De Blasio Unveils OneNYC Plan for Urban Sustainability

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.  Photo: Kevin Case via flickr.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Photo: Kevin Case via flickr.

This week, Mayor Bill de Blasio took Earth Day, a holiday first celebrated in New York in 1970, as an opportunity to unveil his OneNYC plan, an update to Bloomberg’s PlaNYC. The new plan drives for broad improvements in the areas of growth, equity, sustainability and resiliency by 2050. With this plan, the mayor clearly recognizes that climate change is a problem that cannot be overcome in a single sector. Environmental sustainability is an extensive challenge that requires a variety of creative solutions working in tandem.

Greensulate’s green roofing systems not only provide environmental benefits such as rain water capture and energy conservation. Building green also alleviates other urban challenges, including extending roof lifespans, controlling interior temperatures and reducing urban heat island effect, and carbon sequestration. These diverse benefits can help de Blasio and New York reach objectives like reduced carbon emissions, improved air quality, and water management. Plus, innovative projects involving green spaces offer beautiful public areas that encourage pedestrian traffic and exercise.

Sustainability plans from Los Angeles to New York involve a range of environmental and urban development. Greensulate works across the country to support these environmental efforts with green roofing solutions.

You can find out more about the OneNYC plan here:

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Stanford Study Links California Drought to Climate Change

Dry riverbed in California. Photo: By National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, via Wikimedia Commons

Dry riverbed in California.
Photo: By National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, via Wikimedia Commons

The California drought, now entering its fourth year, is sustained by a number of climate forces. The two most unrelenting factors are heat and dryness. A recent study from Stanford University climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh links these prominent and ongoing factors to the effects of human-induced global climate change.

Utilizing computer simulations and atmospheric data, the study points to a region of high atmospheric pressure over the Pacific that is depriving California of storms that would otherwise make landfall. The research team argues that greenhouse gases make these conditions more likely, thus essentially attributing the current drought to unchecked gas emissions.

The study has received some criticism for its methods and results. Whether greenhouse gases can be particularly blamed for the California drought remains a matter of contention. However, one undisputed fact remains: California is in desperate need of water.

Greensulate is constructing green roofing sites across the state, not only to relieve some of the effects of the drought, but to temper the underlying meteorological causes. Green roofs retain whatever rainwater does make it to California’s parched landscape. They also contribute to beneficial cloud formations, fighting the drought at its source.

No matter the ultimate cause of the drought, Greensulate roofs are working to alleviate its effects and reverse its chokehold on the California environment.

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Rain Does Little for California Drought

Photo: David Brossard via Flickr --

A storm in San Francisco. Photo: David Brossard via Flickr —

This past week, northern California was struck by a series of storms. While this is positive news in the battle against the California drought, intense storms and the reality of lingering drought are evidence of weather extremes predicted by climate change scientists. Public and private infrastructure mitigation strategies are complex business.

In terms of alleviating drought, these storms are a drop in the bucket. As this Washington Post article explains, the west coast wet season is nearly over and is tragically devoid of the typical moisture for this time of year. While this recent rain has thoroughly drenched northern California, it did little to compensate for the poor rain season in which San Francisco saw its first rainless January since records began 165 years ago.

Elsewhere in California, rain in Glendora and Santa Clarita fell on hillsides denuded by firestorms, causing the poorly vegetated hillsides to give way to mudslides. If there is one lesson from the California weather this week: we must be diligent and work on long-term solutions to mounting environmental challenges.

Severe storms and damaging storm water runoff are not unique to the west. Excess water plagues municipalities on the east coast from Florida to Maine, even under normal rain conditions. But as Greensulate CEO Amy Norquist pointed out in an article for The Huffington Post, green roofs in California can temper the effects extreme storms have on aging infrastructure. Studies show that green roofs reduce storm water peak flow rates up to 96% by retaining water and delaying the flow into overloaded sewer systems.

Meanwhile, Green roofs act as biomimicry to simulate natural ecosystems, instigating the natural hydrological conditions necessary for rain events in drought areas.

As storms relieve a fraction of the drought this week in some areas, we’re reminded that innovation is the only practical solution to our urban-environmental problems. We must move beyond the wet/dry mindset and find new solutions to meet each unique climate challenge.

As several successful Greensulate projects in San Francisco show, green roofs can mitigate storm water runoff, while providing a host of other environmental benefits – from controlling urban heat islands, to sequestering Co2, to providing psychological relief to city inhabitants lacking green space. Energy savings, increased property value, and municipal tax abatements add further incentives for forward-thinking owners able to invest in long-term improvements. At Greensulate, every day brings opportunities to make a difference one roof at a time, as we find cutting-edge solutions to our climate challenges.

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6sqft Interview: Amy Norquist Explains Green Roofing Strategy from NYC to LA

amy-nroquist-greensulateGreensulate CEO and green roof guru Amy Norquist took some time to sit down for a 6sqft interview to discuss the technical benefits of green roofing. In the interview, Amy makes clear that green roofs aren’t simply a green blanket for urban spaces, though the aesthetic vitality certainly has its own benefits for employee productivity and resident happiness. “Green roof systems,” Amy explains, “are made up of layers designed to mimic the many vast benefits of nature while providing additional benefits to buildings’ envelopes.” While the exact composition of these layers may differ based on the goals of the client, “Each green roof,” Amy goes on, “is full of possibilities.”

In one particular highlight of the interview, Amy explains the differences in green roofing strategies in various cities. While New York and San Francisco get heavy rain and need green roofs that can control runoff, the significant hydration shortage in Los Angeles requires water-saving strategies.

For more on these and other insights from Amy, check out the full interview here:

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Amy Norquist to Attend CitiesAlive Conference Next Week

Next week our CEO Amy Norquist is heading to Nashville for the 12th CitiesAlive Green Roof and Wall Conference to discuss the complex relationship between water and energy with industry professionals from across the nation. In panels, tours, and training sessions, conference attendees will weigh the merits of various goals and strategies of green roofing. Ultimately, the conference will engender new solutions to a water crisis that grips the nation and the world.

The highlight of conference activities will be the Net Zero Water Boot Camp training course. Over two days, water management experts will engage attendees in an examination of green roof “Net Zero Water” best practices in water harvesting and storage, water reuse, water quality and treatment, and high efficiency water delivery.  Greensulate expects to take this knowledge to the roofs in Los Angeles, where water is in short supply, but where green roofs can mitigate climate change, urban heat island effect, and air/water pollution.

You can read more about CitiesAlive here, and be sure to keep an eye out for Amy’s reports from the conference next week.

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New Issue of Living Architecture Monitor Available Online Now

We’re excited to see that this quarter’s issue of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities’ Living Architecture Magazine has been released and is posted online. This edition is themed the ‘Community Health Issue’. It touches on green healthcare infrastructure, California’s new green code, and features feedback from some regional green roofers about the effect of Hurricane Sandy on previously installed green roofs and walls. As always, great work from GRHC. It can be read here.

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“We’ve got way too much concrete here”

Here is a link to an article about the state of green roofs (and green infrastructure in general) in Northern New Jersey. Greensulate is slated to install a handful of new green roofs and walls in Northern Jersery in the next few months, which is very exciting. It’s a relief to learn that a group of progressive, state-government employees in New Jersey are pushing for policy that will encourage and ensure the presence of green infrastructure in the coming years.

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Amy Norquist Quoted in Wall Street Journal Article Today

Our CEO and visionary, Amy Norquist, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal today. The piece highlights initiatives by the Durst Organization to incorporate closed loop compost systems in it’s Manhattan high-rise buildings. As usual, Amy lists the many values of green roofs, and narrows it down to an often over-looked byproduct of green spaces, namely increased worker productivity. One other noteworthy mention in the piece is the NYC DOB’s current green roof tax abatement strategy and the DEP’s ongoing green roof funding. Check it out!


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Greensulate installs Jakob system at NYC’s LREI High School

To ring in 2013, the Greensulate crew installed a steel-rope trellis system in the courtyard at the Little Red School House Elizabeth Irwin High School, in lower Manhattan. We are proud of our team’s hard work and quite pleased with how beautiful the completed project looks. It is yet another example of the quality craftsmanship from the folks over at Jakob, with whom we are always thrilled to work.

In the spring, these ropes will be the support system for what will eventually be a healthy, living vine wall. Please stay posted this year as we’ll be posting pictures as the vegetation climbs!

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The Greensulate crew sponsored and attended a dinner held by the New Jersey chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council on Tuesday night. Greensulate’s long time friend and colleague Dr. Stuart Gaffin (pictured) spoke at the event to a captivated crowd of thirty or forty local members of the council.

In his speech, Dr. Gaffin presented new data and touched on many of the fundamental concepts and benefits of green infrastructure. With a sharp focus on greenroofs, he spoke eloquently of reduced heat island effect, storm-water management, improved air quality and revitalized eco-systems. He mentioned the value of working with high school students to accrue climate data on rooftop labs; Greensulate is proud to have been instrumental in the development and construction of the St. Regis High School of Manhattan’s rooftop lab, where Stuart maintains a slew of equipment. It is also interesting to note that Dr. Gaffin highlighted the cost benefit of using ecological solutions to our current urban ecological crisis, as opposed to those of the costly hard-engineered variety. Much of Dr. Gaffin’s speech was very familiar to us Greensulaters. Scientists of his ilk have provided us with much of the data that we use to present our mission to the building owners of NYC and beyond. Keep up the good work!

It was truly a great night of meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends. A big thanks to the north branch of the NJ USGBC for having us, and of course to Stuart for the informative speech and for suggesting us for the sponsorship. We hope to see and hear from all of you very soon. Happy holidays!

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