Combating Stormwater Threat with Green Roofs

An image of a green roof installation on a house

A fascinating article in the Huffington Post recently highlighted the positive impact the installation of a green roofing system can have in regards to effectively combating excess rainfall.

Southern California has been exposed to one of the worse droughts on record and despite a little respite with rain beginning to fall, thoughts have turned towards implementing long term measures designed to help limit the negative impact of extreme weather.

The article stated that:

“One of the best strategies for improving the city’s resilience and water efficiency is to mimic the way undisturbed environments receive rain and adjust the built landscape to reflect qualities found in nature. Prior to urbanization, the land that is now Los Angeles could easily absorb 95% of the rain that fell. Today, stormwater floods the city with polluted water–wreaks expensive havoc–and then disappears into the ocean.”

“Living roofs (aka green roofs) contribute to resilience in many other ways. Not only do they absorb and filter rainwater during storms, but they also reduce ambient temperatures during heat waves (which are projected to increase over the coming decades), through the process of natural evaporation.  Drought tolerant plants grown on the roof provide insulation in summer and winter, keeping living spaces comfortable and reducing energy costs. Green roofs also pull carbon dioxide out of the air; they actively absorb one of the agents driving climate change in the first place.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Wallbarn Green Roofing Systems

Wallbarn have specialised in the growth and installation of green roofing systems for many years and have actively promoted the wide-ranging benefits to our customers.

For more on the benefits of installing a green roofing system, please visit the dedicated area on our website by clicking here.

Along with offering wide-ranging environmental benefits, the green roofing products available from Wallbarn are also incredibly easy to install.

 

“Wildflower” Green Roofs – All You Need To Know

Wildflower Green Roofs

There is a lot of chatter about “wildflower” green roofs and throughout this post, we aim to shine a light on what separates wildflower green roofs from standard green roofs.

What Are Wildflower Green Roofs?

Wildflower or biodiverse green roofs are supposed to contain a mixture of native flower species to attract native insects and birds. However, if you were to prepare a green roof substrate of bare earth and introduce a few native flowers after a period of time the roof will become overrun with grass and very invasive weeds such as goat willow, bindweed and nettles. The result after time will be unsightly and potentially dangerous for the membrane beneath.

Staying Ahead of The Curve

To complement our wildflower green roof options, we are currently working on testing a wildflower M-Tray® mix with taller, more delicate flowers than standard sedum.

The winter is a crucial time to help address common issues such as re-seeding and transportation and the next few months will be essential in developing the most durable option possible.

Choosing The Correct Sedum

Many “wildflowers” are either annual or biennial, or have such large root structures that they are unsuitable for green roofs.

What to do? Wallbarn is offering a solution by using the standard sedum M-Tray® green roofs as a basis for our green roof and adding wildflower seeds. Our sedum mix, which is based on the Jellito “Northern European and English Mix” seed mix which that company supplies, contains native sedum species and those deemed suitable for the English climate. Many of these sedums are flowering, have different leaf structures and textures, and grow and retreat throughout the year.

Sedum is not just a green carpet. It has many different varieties and if it is planted up in the right manner, can produce an extremely complicated and attractive garden.

The Correct Way To Introduce The Wildflower Seed Mix

In order to get more wildflowers into the system, Wallbarn is broadcasting the sedum trays with a wildflower seed mix at the point of harvesting and packing.

If we planted up wildflower trays on the farm, the flowers would be crushed upon packing and would be dead by the time they were delivered. Therefore, the tray units will look like regular sedum trays when they are delivered. The seeds will start to germinate immediately and will start to appear as flowers within 3 weeks of delivery and watering (we recommend that the trays are watered once installed).

This seed mix is designed to attract bees and butterflies, so will increase the amount of nature on the roof.

“Wildflower” Green Roofs Need To Be Maintained

There are certain things to consider: these flowers are chiefly annuals, so will die off at the end of the growing season.

Therefore, in order to have flowers the next year, the roof will need to be reseeded. Either people can harvest the seeds in this season’s crop to sow the next year, or purchase another seed mix (available from Wallbarn) the next spring. Also, these wildflowers can grow very high, up to 80cm and will have much more fibrous structures than sedum (which is succulent) so the dead stalks and other vegetation will turn not rot but remain on the roof after the flowers have died off.

This makes the roof look unsightly and is also a potential fire risk, so these dead stalks should be removed every autumn. Clients should bear this additional maintenance in mind when choosing wildflower – if the roof is inaccessible this can prove a major problem. The additional costs of more maintenance should also be factored.

Need More Information?

More information on Green Roofs, can be found on our website.

If you would like to talk to us to discuss our green roof solutions, please contact us today on 0208 916 2222 or email sales@wallbarn.com.

Currently Browsing: “Wildflower” Green Roofs – All You Need To Know

Wallbarn Reacting To Changes In Fire Safety Regulations

An image of a balcony

Some fundamental changes have been put in place relating to the fire safety rating of building materials during the addition of bolt-on balconies to buildings.

The ban, resulting from a consultation following the tragic events at Grenfell, was formally announced last year on the 1st October 2018  by Housing Secretary James Brokenshire during the Conservative party conference in Birmingham.

The policy will apply to all new buildings and those currently under construction but will not be applied retrospectively to buildings where the materials have already been fitted.

Previously, building regulations in the UK state that any material used for filler or insulation on high-rise buildings must be of ‘limited combustibility’.

However, these regulations will be amended so that only materials classed as ‘A1 or A2’ under the European Reaction to Fire classification system, will be allowed.

What does A1 and A2 rating mean?*

The government’s official guide to rules on fire safety – Approved Document B – defines products achieving an A1 classification as non-combustible and products achieving an A2 classification as being of limited combustibility. A-class products – those classified A1 and A2 – make no significant contribution to fire growth while products with a rating of B-F are classified as combustible.

The European Classification system for combustibility classifies construction products using a series of tests. Class A materials have the best performance in a fire and are divided into two sub-classes, Class A1 and Class A2.

Class A1 – Products are described as having no contribution to fire at any stage. The BS EN 13501 test sets several thresholds for combustion performance when tested to both EN ISO 1716 and EN ISO 1182. One of these thresholds is a maximum heat of combustion of 2MJ/kg. Typical products meeting this classification include most inorganic materials such as metal, stone, and glass.

Class A2, s3, d2 – Products are described as having no significant contribution to fire at any stage. BS EN 13501 sets several thresholds for combustion when tested to EN ISO 1182, or both EN ISO 1716 and EN 13823. One of these thresholds is a maximum heat of combustion of 3MJ/kg. A typical product meeting this classification is plasterboard.

An A2 certified product has higher combustibility and can sustain flame for no more than 20 seconds. In contrast, A1 has lower combustibility and no sustained flaming when tested.

*These definitions were taken from the Architects Journal, please click here for the full details.

Making the Adjustment

At Wallbarn, we are pro-actively reacting to the changes in fire safety regulations to ensure compliance with our products.

Based upon our ASP design to help distribute weight effectively, we are currently developing a steel adjustable pedestal which is due for launch in quarter one of 2020.

Stay tuned for details…….

Habitat site takes Wallbarn green roof

M-Tray® installation at Silverlake, West Dorset

Wallbarn’s modular Green Roof chosen for stunning lakeside development.

The Ideal Solution

The M-Tray® provided an excellent green roof solution for an exclusive and sustainable holiday village in West Dorset.

Wallbarn has to date supplied its modular green roof system for the health spa and a number of boathouses.

The spa was nearing completion so the client was looking for a quick solution, making the easy-to-install M-Tray® a perfect choice.

Watch the short film below.

What makes the M-Tray® unique?

Our M-Tray® system consists of specially-designed modular trays containing superior, engineered substrate and fully established flowering sedum.

  • Mature, established vegetation
  • Click-together trays create a seamless connection
  • Easy to transport and install
  • Specially-mixed substrate for the longevity of plant life
  • 100mm deep cavities for healthy roots
  • Optimum drainage means stronger plants
  • No sharp edges or mess meaning minimum disruption to plants, deck structure and inhabitants!

For more information, please visit the dedicated area on our website by clicking here.

How To Choose The Correct Sedum For Your Green Roof

A_close-up_of_an_M-Tray_installation_in_Whitstable

Wildflower or biodiverse green roofs are supposed to contain a mixture of native flower species to attract native insects and birds. However, if you were to prepare a green roof substrate of bare earth and introduce a few native flowers after a period of time the roof will become overrun with grass and very invasive weeds such as goat willow, bindweed and nettles. The result after time will be unsightly and potentially dangerous for the membrane beneath.

How To Make Sure You Choose The Correct Sedum

Many “wildflowers” are either annual or biennial, or have such large root structures that they are unsuitable for green roofs.

What to do? Wallbarn is offering a solution by using the standard sedum M-Tray® green roofs as a basis for our green roof and adding wildflower seeds. Our sedum mix, which is based on the Jellito “Northern European and English Mix” seed mix which that company supplies, contains native sedum species and those deemed suitable for the English climate. Many of these sedums are flowering, have different leaf structures and textures, and grow and retreat throughout the year.

Sedum is not just a green carpet. It has many different varieties and if it is planted up in the right manner, can produce an extremely complicated and attractive garden.

This Is The Right Way To Introduce The Wildflower Seed Mix

In order to get more wildflowers into the system, Wallbarn is broadcasting the sedum trays with a wildflower seed mix at the point of harvesting and packing.

If we planted up wildflower trays on the farm, the flowers would be crushed upon packing and would be dead by the time they were delivered. Therefore, the tray units will look like regular sedum trays when they are delivered. The seeds will start to germinate immediately and will start to appear as flowers within 3 weeks of delivery and watering (we recommend that the trays are watered once installed).

This seed mix is designed to attract bees and butterflies, so will increase the amount of nature on the roof.

Effective Maintenance For “Wildflower” Green Roofs Is Essential

There are certain things to consider: these flowers are chiefly annuals, so will die off at the end of the growing season.

Therefore, in order to have flowers the next year, the roof will need to be reseeded. Either user can harvest the seeds in this season’s crop to sow the next year, or purchase another seed mix (available from Wallbarn) the next spring. Also, these wildflowers can grow very high, up to 80cm and will have much more fibrous structures than sedum (which is succulent) so the dead stalks and other vegetation will turn not rot but remain on the roof after the flowers have died off.

This makes the roof look unsightly and is also a potential fire risk, so these dead stalks should be removed every autumn. Clients should bear this additional maintenance in mind when choosing wildflower – if the roof is inaccessible this can prove a major problem. The additional costs of more maintenance should also be factored.

Need More Information?

More information on Green Roofs can be found on our website.

If you would like to talk to us to discuss our green roof solutions, please contact us today on 0208 916 2222 or email sales@wallbarn.com.

Currently Browsing: How To Choose The Correct Sedum For Your Green Roof

The Dangers of Using Recycled Plastics in Decking Supports

An image of an adjustable pedestal|An image of an adjustable pedestal

Modern day society places a strong focus on sustainability and utilising renewable resources. This can make it difficult for some people to understand why the choice is made to make certain products from virgin material.

Depending on how materials are re-processed, it can be impossible for recycled materials to replicate 100% of properties of virgin materials. As such, the degradation of these properties can play a detrimental role with regard to safety factors and durability.

This is not to say recycled plastics cannot be used in certain applications if the product is structural, a lower strength or safety rating can have very serious implications and this goes a long way towards explaining why some recycled materials often have lower safety ratings.

No Recycled Plastic Used In Our Paving & Decking Supports

With potential long-term viability issues relating to construction products such as decking supports constructed using recycled plastic fibres, we do not believe that there is any margin for error and therefore our range of decking support pedestals are made of virgin fibre injection moulded polypropylene.

Click Here To View Our Range of Balance Pedestals For Decking & Paving

Because we cannot guarantee or be assured in any way that the weight tolerances we require of our adjustable pedestals can be achieved by using recycled plastic, we simply cannot use this material.

Our range of decking and paving supports have all been subjected to testing by an independent testing laboratory, some of the most stringent testing available to ensure their qualities.

They are extremely tough and durable. Each support pad (at 35mm and above) able to tolerate a weight of 1,171 kg and tolerate temperatures as low as -40°C and as high as +75°C.

These tests are fully independent and have been created to assess the safety, the strength and the durability of a particular product.

Weight Tolerance* 683kg
Maximum Load* 1,171kg
Max Temperature Plus 75 ° C
Min Temperature Minus 40 °C

Take No Chances

Wherever weight tolerance and temperature exposure are of extreme importance, we strongly believe that no risks should be taken with the quality of the products used in the build.

Our products are designed to offer outstanding quality and our range of paving and decking supports offer a variety of key advantages, including:

  • Cost-effective entry-level support pads
  • Separate paving and decking from the base structure
  • Improve drainage
  • Protect surface beneath
  • Avoid the need for sand and cement
  • Easy maintenance – slabs can be removed for inspection or repair
  • Can take up surface easily for inspection
  • Fast & easy installation

* Weight tolerance = the point at which the pedestal ends its normal behaviour and starts to deform (according to an independent testing laboratory test 179112/1)
* Maximum load = the point at which pedestals start to collapse in laboratory tests (according to an independent testing laboratory test 179112/1)

A Successful Week For Wallbarn At UK Construction Week

A Successful Week For Wallbarn At UK Construction Week

 

In its 5th consecutive year, UK Construction Week brings together people working across the industry from design and build to supply; promoting innovation, learning and networking.

In the face of adversity

With so much uncertainty surrounding not just the construction industry but the UK as a whole, we were delighted to have such a ‘constructive’ three days at the NEC last week.

“In spite of everything being thrown at our industry, there was a very positive atmosphere at the show” Alec Thurbin, Director, Wallbarn

The Wallbarn team had some very productive conversations not just on our stand but out and about meeting customers, potential partners and prospects.

Ever greener

It was great to see such a healthy mix of delegates this year from contractors, manufacturers to archiects and planners from universities and local authorities and students too.

A lot more people wanted to talk about green roofs – the benefits have clearly sunk in – and with easier methods of transporting, installing and maintaining them now available (see clip above) more developers and contractors were keen to know more.

You can learn more about our modular green roof here.

Get in touch

Thank you to all those who visited our stand during the event. If you have any follow-up questions, please get in touch. We would also welcome your feedback.

As the UK’s largest event dedicated to knowledge sharing, championing good practice and problem-solving, UK Construction Week offers the perfect environment for the whole industry to look, talk, plan, learn and do business; providing answers for what, when, where and how we build (for) our future.

Wallbarn’s stand at UKCW 2019

 

The Link Between Green Roofs and Improved Wellbeing

A close up image of a green roof installation

It’s been widely acknowledged for some time that the addition of a good quality natural landscape to urban areas can positively impact how people feel.

By reducing stress levels and sadness, additional greenery can lift moods and make us generally feel better.

Mental Health Statistics: UK and Worldwide

With a recent study by the UK Mental Health Foundation highlighting just how serious a problem this is becoming, finding an effective method of combatting this has never been more important.

  • mental health is the main cause of overall disease burden and the primary cause of disability globally, resulting in more than 40m person-years of disability annually in 20–29-year-olds per year around the world
  • 1 in 6 people in the UK experiences a common mental health problem every week
  • anxiety and depression is the cause of 20% of days lost from work each year in the UK.

However, despite our increasingly urbanised, high-density and the high-pressure world, there is growing evidence that a proven way to help reduce stress levels and improve mental health may be available to us in the form of green roofs.

Untapped Potential

Rooftops are typically the most under-utilised part of any property but given that approximately 32% of all horizontal spaces in our cities are rooftops, there can be no denying that they offer untapped potential.

Green roofs, whether retrofits or installed onto new builds, already offer a variety of environmental and financial benefits. Social benefits can now be added to the list.

A Texan study of post-surgery recovery in hospitals has even demonstrated that recovery was quicker and with less chance of relapse if patients could look out onto a green space. A number of American hospitals have subsequently been redesigned to bring these benefits to patients and have been rewarded with greater patient ‘through-put’.

Please click here for more information on this study.

Additional benefits include:

  • Attenuating stormwater run-off
  • Improve air quality
  • Mitigate the urban heat island
  • Improve biodiversity
  • Enhance thermal performance

Please Note – Along with offering environmental and social benefits, proximity to green spaces and plants has also been demonstrated to increase productivity in the workplace.

For more on this, please click here.

How Wallbarn Can Help?

Our M-Tray® has been specifically designed to make sedum roof installation quick and easy – with minimum disruption to the plants and the structure they are going onto – and to provide a seamless, verdant finish – an instant and sustainable green roof.

Because of the modular nature of the M-Tray®, retrofitting green roofs has never been easier and the trays can be transported and installed with the minimum of disruption.

This was evidenced clearly in this recent installation at The Mayfair Hotel in London. Please click here for more.

Other benefits include:

  • Quick & easy to install
  • Each M-Tray® module is 500 x 500mm and can be easily carried by one operative
  • Hard-to-access areas such as single storey extensions, homes and other completed structures make installing roll-out very challenging
  • M-Trays® can be hand-installed into even the most awkward areas
  • Units can be installed much faster than traditional roll-out green roofs
  • Instant green roof: as soon as the trays are connected together the whole area is filled with well-established plants which start to blend straight away, forming a seamless layer of vegetation
  • If access to the deck is needed e.g. inspection/repair the modular M-TRAY® can be lifted out without disruption to the rest of the roof

 

4 Myths About Green Roofs

A close-up of completed M-Tray green roof installation in Hammersmith

Green roofs have dramatically increased in popularity in recent history. Popping up in areas ranging from the top of bus shelters all the way to the roofs of large corporations, the increase in visibility has also led to a significant increase in incorrect assumptions and misinformation.

To help put some of these myths to bed, we have outlined 4 of the most common and offer reasons why these myths are simply not true.

Myth No. 1: Green Roofs Are Ultra-High Maintenance

If you have to mow your lawn every couple of weeks in the summer, imagine how often you will have to maintain your green roof!

This is simply not the case at all. Whilst it is true that green roofs require some type of periodic maintenance, this is not an area that should raise any type of concern with regards to workload.

However, it must be remembered that ALL plants, even sedum species, require water. During extreme periods, the very hot British summer of 2018 is an example, extra irrigation will be needed. The basic rule of thumb is that if the sedum is turning red, it is in distress.

Because all commercial properties are required to have a twice-yearly roof and gutter checks, green roof maintenance can be factored into this requirement.

For more on maintaining green roofs, please click here

Myth No. 2: Green Roofs Are Just A Passing Trend

One of the original wonders of the world, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, offers possibly the very first example of how flora can be used to make a building more appealing.

There are records showing that in the early 1900s, Germany was building flat green roofs in urban areas. They continued to do so throughout the century.

With a proven history and undeniable environmental and financial benefits, green roofs have stood the test of time and are now going from strength to strength.

A key environmental benefit has been highlighted by a recent study which discovered that one square metre of the green roof removed the equivalent pollution of an average car for an entire year.

Please click here for more information on this study

Myth No. 3: Green Roofs Can Cause Structural Damage And Leakage

One of the most common misconceptions relates to the damage that can be caused to a roof by the installation of a green roof.

Whether you have a standard roof or a green roof, the installation of an effective waterproofing membrane is essential.

There is absolutely no evidence which suggests that any type of green roof is susceptible to leaking. In fact, some studies* suggest that because green roofs cover the waterproofing membrane, protecting it from UV rays and extreme daily temperature fluctuations. This protection extends the lifespan of the waterproofing twice as long as conventional roofing, meaning that membranes under green roofs last twice as long as those on traditional roofs.

*Please click here for more information.

Myth No. 4: Adding a Green Roof Is Too Complicated/Too Expensive

Ensuring that your green roof is well designed and installed correctly is absolutely crucial. Many people over-complicate the process involved in choosing the perfect green roof because they don’t know where to start or how much it will cost them.

Choosing the right team of professionals will ensure that the process is done correctly, with a long-term view in mind whilst keeping costs to a minimum at all times

On the other end of the scale, there are some people who can oversimplify the process. Just putting some soil on top of your roof and adding some plants will be enough to create your very own bespoke green roof. This is definitely not a good idea!

What is the M-Tray®?

A green roof system consisting of modular trays containing superior substrate and established sedum plants nurtured from seed at our own UK nurseries.

What makes the M-Tray® unique?

Our M-Tray® has been specifically designed to make sedum roof installation quick and easy – with minimum disruption to the plants and the structure they are going onto – and to provide a seamless, verdant finish – an instant and sustainable green roof.

  • deep cavities for healthy roots
  • optimum drainage means stronger plants
  • established vegetation at point of installation
  • 100mm deep, specially-mixed substrate for the longevity of plant life
  • no sharp edges or mess, less risk to membrane
  • click-together trays create a seamless connection
  • easy to transport and install

Please Note – We only supply fully established, mature sedum plants contained within our easy-to-carry M-Trays® which click together to form an almost invisible join.

For more information on the M-Tray®, please visit the dedicated area of our website by clicking here.

Addressing The Issues of Working With Very Tight Height Thresholds

2 pads with a slab|An image of a MiniPad|7mm PVC disc for paving with slab

The use of Adjustable Support Pedestals to assist the installation of decking or paving can be crucial to help create a space beneath the paved/tiled surface.

Designed to help aid the installation and ensure that rainwater is able to run between and under the slabs rather than pool on top, these pedestals will help to ensure that the surface is less slippery and can even help to prolong the lifespan of decking by reducing the chances of warping due to prolonged exposure to water.

Working With Tight Height Thresholds

When faced with tight height thresholds during the installation, standard ASPs can prove to be difficult to work with due to the limited space available.

Because of this, working with feedback from our customers who needed an effective solution to restricted space areas which still required minor height alterations to achieve completely flat surfaces, Wallbarn developed the MiniPad.

The Smallest Adjustable Pedestal in the UK

We believe that the 10-20mm universal pedestal the smallest fully adjustable pedestal on the market in the UK allowing for use with ultra-low thresholds.

Allowing installers to achieve millimetre precision with our pedestals, the MiniPad decking and paving pedestal can cope with falls in more than one direction and accommodate large drops and channels.  

Height range 10mm up to 380mm

  • Designed for use when working with very tight spaces
  • The thread allows 5mm of change to the level
  • Further 5mm extension plate which is fitted to the bottom of the pedestal
  • 5mm extension plate turns 10-15mm pedestal into a 15-20mm fully adjustable pedestal for use in tight spaces
  • Special handle grips allow installers to adjust the height whilst slab is in situ – saves constantly lifting the slab to change the height

Special handle grips have been incorporated into the design to help installers fit their fingers into this tight gap and can turn the pedestal to adjust the height. An adjustment can be made whilst the slab is in place, so delays by constantly lifting the slab to change the height are avoided.

The extended handle at the side allows installers easier access for any final movements.

To View Our Universal Range of Pedestals Click Here

Technical Data

By adding two alternative heights: Minipad 22-30mm and Minipad 28-37mm available for slightly higher clearances, to our range, we are able to cover from 10mm to 37mm in just three products.

Using these pedestals, rather than fixed height paving pads, avoids the need to have to spend a large amount of time and effort placing shims under fixed height supports trying to gain the optimum level.

Fully Adjustable

  • Achieve millimetre precision with our pedestals
  • Cope with falls in more than one direction and accommodate large drops and channels
  • Height ranges as follows:
      • Standard Universal range: 35mm up to 365mm
      • Universal Extra: 85mm up to 380mm
      • Minipads: available 10mm up to 40mm
  • Our time-saving alternative to fixed height pads
  • Perfect for overlaying and retro-fitting
  • Achieve precise, split-millimetre accuracy in the height of the pedestal to accommodate tiny changes in the level
CODE HEIGHT DIAMETER OF HEAD DIAMETER OF BASE DISTANCE BETWEEN LUGS LUG HEIGHT WEIGHT TOLERANCE* MAXIMUM LOAD*
SP-MEG-010 10-20mm 150mm 150mm 60mm 15mm 683kg 1,171kg
SP-MEG-022 22-30mm 150mm 150mm 60mm 15mm 683kg 1,171kg
SP-MEG-028 28-37mm 150mm 150mm 60mm 15mm 683kg 1,171kg

Adjustments Made Easy!

In tiny spaces, it can be difficult to make adjustments by hand. This is where the multi-function key called the Easykey can be used.

The curved and shaped profile at one end which can be used as a spanner/wrench type tool. It grips around the series of vertical bars between the head and base and can be used to turn the thread up and down.

The Wallbarn Adjustable Pedestal Range

As well as the MiniPads, we also stock a comprehensive range of adjustable decking and paving support pedestals offering a variety of benefits to your customers.

  • Achieve stunning finishes
  • Suspended system
  • Fully adjustable
  • Superior quality (Please click here for more information)
  • Suitable for paving slabs and timber decking