By: Jim Nugent, Regional Sales Manager
I have lived my entire life in the Chicago metro area, and while the city and state have had its political and fiscal issues in the past 10 years, I still have a hard time thinking of living anywhere else. One of the exciting developments in the past 10 years is the rapid growth of green roof construction in the City of Chicago. My excitement is purely selfish because Foam-Control® Geofoam and Foam-Control® PLUS+® rigid roof insulation has played an important role in the design of green roofs and in some cases green roof projects may not have been possible without these products.
Green roof design has grown in large metro areas for a few reasons. First large metro areas can experience a heat island effect from the concentration of buildings. A large metro area could see a 2-5 degree increase in temperature comparatively to surrounding rural areas. This heat island effect can lead to higher energy consumption and climate change. The other benefit of green roofs is slowing down water runoff during large rain events. Older cities can struggle to manage roof water runoff during a major storm.
Another reason for the growth of green roof design is that it offers tenants of residential and commercial buildings a space with vegetation that can be used for entertainment that can be accessed without leaving their building. These have now become known as “Amenity Roof Decks”. Without question building owners, architects, and developers in the City of Chicago are embracing the amenity roof decks as a way of offer more options to their tenants and the results are visually amazing.hese amenity roof decks will include built-up areas with landscaping, ramps to access different elevations, terraced amphitheater seating, and hardscape or concrete walkways. All of which are supported on Foam-Control® Geofoam and Foam-Control® PLUS+® rigid roof insulation.
So how does Foam-Control® Geofoam and Foam-Control® PLUS+® play a role in these projects? The light weight, high compressive strength, and stable high R-values all play a role in making these green roofs viable. Arguably some projects would not be possible without them. Some green areas are located over conditioned spaces inside the building and the high R-value of both products is an added benefit.
Using granular material to build up landscape or hardscape areas would likely overload the decking. Moving a significant volume of these types of materials many stories in the air to access inner-city roofs is both expensive and dangerous. Moving lightweight Geofoam blocks or rigid insulation to the roof is quick and cost effective.
The future looks bright for the continued growth of green roofs and Amenity Roof Decks. Major metro areas like Chicago, Seattle, Washington DC, and New York City are providing incentives and in some cases, mandating owners, to build buildings with roofs that offer green space, which can greatly reduce heat island effect and rain water runoff. More and more major metro areas are going this direction. Foam-Control® Geofoam and Foam-Control® PLUS+® will continue to make these projects viable around the US.