Since 2005, Aloha Landscaping has been a leader in the design and construction of a wide range of green roof systems. After preparing for two years - including intensive study and even travel to the World Green Roof Congress in Basel, Switzerland - we were selected to build the first major extensive green roof in Minneapolis at the Central Library.
A Cesar Pelli design - this green roof would pave the way for dozens of new green roofs in the years to follow. However, being the vanguard to the future does not come without a price. We learned so much in this first project. We learned about plant material that would and would not survive the harsh winters in Minnesota. In fact, out of the 63 varieties planted, only 13 became viable species. It took years to convince others that "native" forbs and grasses generally do not work on green roofs. Today, we have a refined palette of plants that are truly sustainable (both natives and sedums) and help us fulfill our commitment to our motto, "It ain't green, if it ain't green."
In 2007, we made a discovery that has fundamentally changed our green roof business model. As we calculated the embodiment energy involved in the construction of a typical green roof (including materials, transportation, and equipment used during installation), we quickly learned that the most widely used green roof media (soil) made from expanded shale or calcined clay left a huge carbon footprint. In fact, the footprint was so large, we began to wonder whether the eco-system services provided by a green roof could off-set the enormous amount of fossil fuel used in the manufacturing of these green roof soils. That finding started us on a search for a better, truly organic, light-weight green roof soil. After studying the research literature, we soon found the answer we were looking for and we created a pumice-based green roof media with a carbon footprint 1,300% smaller than traditional man-made green roof soils. We are early adopters with an eye for continual innovation. We don't just take along - we are actively looking for better solutions for our customers.
Our children's book is a fine example of that commitment to innovation, education, and promotion. This books features some stunning digital paintings and tells a simple story of changing climate and the effects on a family living in a urban setting. The book is designed for early readers, but it's fun for all ages who enjoy great original art.
Finally, in 2012 we began sponsoring a number of research projects to explore other areas that have been ignored in the literature. We are specifically looking at green roof soil changes over time and we are just starting a study to look at the role urban green roofs can play in providing protected habitat for bird nesting in Guam.
Are green roofs a flash in the pan? From the first pages of the children's green roof book, "Storms stall, rain drops fall. Roof tops fill, then they spill. Faster and faster the water flows, where will all the water go?" That's the ultimate question moving forward. Where will all the water go? As cities expand and the density of building increases, green roofs will provide a simple and efficient answer to that question.