Greening Your Building: Installation Part 1

Once you have planned out your space and schedule, it is time to finally start the installation of your green building project. At this point, it will feel like you have already accomplished a lot without anyone picking up a shovel. But it isn't over yet, now it's time to make sure installation goes smoothly and unnecessary crises can be averted. In this article, we will go over the importance of testing and best practices for installing a green roof system.

Testing

Thorough testing of all materials, technology, and components in the early stages of installation will be critical to avoiding mishaps or do-overs. For example, testing out your solar panels power output on the ground before installing them on the roof will help you foresee any issues or possible manufacturer defects. If you are installing a green roof, testing for leaks in the waterproofing membrane or drainage system before installing the growing medium can also help you detect early problems. You will also need to make sure any products or materials are tested and warrantied in your specific climate and microclimate.

Testing also helps you determine if the issues are product related or installation related. Once you are done with initial testing and have installed the components you need, continual testing should be done in order to determine if the products are working according to the manufacturer's' standards over a longer period of time. For example, is the renewable energy technology you have installed performing at its best? Is the plant growing medium on your green roof absorbing and retaining enough water?

Best Practices for Installing Green Roofs

First and foremost, you will want to review the design of the green roof system carefully and ensure proper transportation of the materials to the construction site. Hiring green roof specialists will help ensure that the materials are well taken care of during the installation process. Make sure you have a quality assurance program set in place before you begin. We will be touching on best practices for quality assurance in our next article.

One of the most important elements of a green roof system is probably the waterproofing membrane. Carefully inspect the membrane and continually check for damage throughout construction. Testing for leaks on a regular basis will be essential, especially if the membrane is left exposed during installation. Ensure other trades do not puncture holes above or below the membrane.

In addition to waterproofing, irrigation is essential to the success and longevity of green roof systems. You will need to carefully coordinate with other utilities and subcontractors while implementing your irrigation system. More often than not, irrigation will need to be installed by a certified applicator in order to keep the warranty valid. Double check to make sure the design and layout of the irrigation will make future maintenance easy and accessible. And as with the waterproofing membrane, check for damage and defects often.

Of course, we cannot forget about what makes the green roof a green roof: plants. Although you can't really "test" plants, you can keep tabs on your sources and continually check the quality of the vegetation. Inspect the plants at the nursery before transportation and then after they arrive on site. Reject any plants that are dying or have disease, and remove any weeds. If the plants arrive before the irrigation system has been installed, arrange the plants as they will be planted and use supplemental watering to keep them healthy until installers are ready. This is a good opportunity to check with your design team to make sure the arrangement of the plants is appropriate for long-term health.

Although you can't plan for everything, and something may undoubtedly go wrong, proper testing can reduce your stress and make sure that your project components are working properly, the project is easy to maintain long-term, and that it lasts as long as possible before needing any upgrades or retrofits.