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What is the best way to "green" a big roof in the Pac NW?  RSS feed

 
MJ Solaro
Posts: 131
Location: Bellevue, WA
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I live in a big condominium complex in the Seattle Area. Recently, I made it up to the roof of the building and was astonished at the potential. The roof is relatively bare, and there's ample opportunity to implement some projects. Our homeowner's board is green-friendly, and I'd like to create a proposal for the roof for them to consider.

What do you recommend in terms of a project? We could install solar panels to power the building's public spaces, but I'm uncertain how effective these would be in the Seattle area.

Another less-pricey alternative is to implement a green roof, planting it, and letting local wildlife and the residents enjoy it.

Has anybody on the forums done a green roof of this scale before? Any tips or resources that you would recommend as I investigate it?
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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One thing to consider is that the roof might not be able to take on too much load. 

An easy and inexpensive start would be with container gardening

A more sophisticated approach would be with a green roof.  But - green roofing is typically quite expensive. 

As for solar in Seattle:  it can actually do pretty good here!
 
MJ Solaro
Posts: 131
Location: Bellevue, WA
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Can solar do well in Seattle?

Does anybody know of any medium-scale solar installations that have been performed atop an apartment, business, or condominium sized building in the area?

I'd like to go visit a few, understand how much power they're generating, how much it cost, the payback time. I'm also in need of a few good local solar power contractors to begin speaking with.

Some contact information would be great, if anybody has some.

If the solar option can work out, that would be cool. I think my fallback position then would be to do some container gardening.
 
paul wheaton
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Posts: 22494
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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The bullock brothers farm on orcas island has a lot of solar stuff.  Dave Boehnlein works out there and checks into these forums periodically ...  and a workshop or class out there is not only always great, but usually comes with a tour of the farm, which has tons of amazing stuff going on!
 
MJ Solaro
Posts: 131
Location: Bellevue, WA
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Excellent, I'll check them out. Somebody else recommended to see how the panels are integrated into the grid of a multi-family building we take a look at the Denny Park apartments (which have wind installed as well). It was built with the maximum sun angle in mind, which gives them a leg up, but it still will be interesting to see how they've implemented.

Okay, well hopefully I'll be back with some information on what I've found...
 
Kelda Miller
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Hi! The group 'SolarWashington' can probably hook you up with some great urban sites, like at Ballard Library. They also do a tour every year and you may be able to check out who has hosted on those tours.

The roof! I've totally had so many thoughts about that, how all sites need to do Something with the roof.
Solar Electric
Solar hot water
Rainwater for garden
Rainwater for toilets
Greenroof
Rooftop Gardens

I think about in terms of how much time/money the residents under the roof can put into it. And some roofs will be able to do certain things, some can do multiple.

I see rainwater being easiest time wise, and rooftop gardens the most.  And then for money I see again rainwater for garden easiest, all things garden the next, greenroof (depending on structure capabilties) and hot water in the same camp, and solar panels as the most expensive input. But then, you get out what you put in

For an apartment that would let you on the roof the rooftop garden, and water collection, has so many community assets that would tag onto it. I'd think that would be the easiest unless folks are already organized enough to invest in panels.

An aside (both solar hot water and greenroofs Can be done on the cheap with correctly salvaged material. Just so you know it's possible, may not be easier though).
 
MJ Solaro
Posts: 131
Location: Bellevue, WA
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Those are excellent ideas/resources, Kelda. Thanks! Any advice/resources on the best way to start a rainwater capture project in a multi-family building?
 
Kelda Miller
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For rainwater catchment on big buildings I'd hit up the Phinney Neighborhood Center, specifically Mike Broili. They do water catchments there for toilet, and are very focused on classes and education, even have a tool lending library! I'd check out their class schedule and/or ask Mike for the basics.
 
Dave Boehnlein
Posts: 294
Location: Orcas Island, WA
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I think Kelda is right on with solar water heating too. They have solar water heating units with vacuum tubes nowadays that are efficient enough to capture heat even on a cloudy day. Wouldn't it be great to eliminate a good portion of the bill that goes to heating water?

For long cloudy stretches you can always do solar heated water with a propane/gas/electric (whatever you have now) back-up so no one ever has to do without.

You should be able to work with a solar consultant who can give you more details on this technology and provide some savings estimates.

Dave
 
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