February 20, 2011

Why, oh, why did the "green" roof collapse? You'd think it would have been "sustainable."

Isn't nature sympathetic to our efforts to be good people?
A 700-by-50 foot section of a roof over a parking area buckled on Feb. 13 at a garden pond construction and supply company in St. Charles, Ill., west of Chicago. No one was injured in the collapse, which occurred on a Sunday afternoon when few people were working at the company, Aquascape Inc.

Nearly a week later, investigators were still waiting to try to determine why the roof collapsed,  said Ed Beaulieu, a company vice president...

“The collapse happened right at the beginning of the thaw,” he said, leading to speculation that ice on the roof might have prevented meltwater from draining off. “But right now no one really knows.”
If you don't know the answer to a question like that, you shouldn't be putting tons of water absorbing dirt on top of a gigantic roof.

23 comments:

Fen said...

I blame global warming.

deborah said...

"If you don't know the answer to a question like that, you shouldn't be putting tons of water absorbing dirt on top of a gigantic roof."

lol.

edutcher said...

Hmmm...

This would appear to be the problem with many things "green". Nobody ever looks past how cool it sounds to see if it makes any sense.

HT said...

But is that really true that no one looks past issues like weight? I've wondered that myself but haven't done any significant research to say one way or the other.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Once the cause is determined, the damaged area will be demolished.

See, what did they tell us? Green jobs!

roesch-voltaire said...

There are green roofs in Canada and Chicago that are doing just fine, to quote: Non-green roofs have collapsed all over the country this winter due to excessive snow loading -- green roofs are not the problem, indadequate engineering, materials and/or construction is the problem.

PatCA said...

"Heat" pollution?

I'm a Shaaaaark said...

They should have planted trees all up in that bish, to ensure the dirt does not erode, flow into storm drains, and kill Salmon.

HT said...

Reading the comments on the article at the (NYT) site referenced by Ann, it appears that my apt building will never have a green roof. The engineering has to be just so. Makes sense of course.

rhhardin said...

It's a green roof goof.

rhhardin said...

“In the summer there’d be birds, bees and butterflies up there. It looks like you’re in a meadow.”

They all landed at once.

iftheshoefits said...

"green roofs are not the problem, indadequate engineering, materials and/or construction is the problem."

Except that far too often, by the time all the proper materials and construction techniques are included, the end result carries far more embodied energy in its construction than will ever be realized in savings over the course of its expected life.

I ran a solar electric business for a better part of the last decade, until the engineer in me realized that most of what I saw (and sold) was for show. There were far better ways to reduce energy consumption in almost every case involved, and what I was selling wasn't the way. My customers didn't really care, they were well off and getting lots of government subsidies, and they could put their consumer virtue on display, that's all that mattered to them.

Conservatives 4 Better Dental Hygiene said...

And don't forget the skyscrapers, Ann! God's retribution was to prevent us from building those things for thousands of years!

PaulV said...

Expect more green roofs to fail is design is typical.

Angela said...

One of the massive Ford factories here in MI has a roof like that.

And I do mean massive. If you've never seen one, it's hard to even imagine a building that big.

I'm waiting for the day...

PaulV said...

R-v, would the failure of so called green roof be more dangerous than a regular roof becuase of the extra weight. Satuated soil would come to 150lbs./cubic foot. So if 6" high 75#/sq. ft. 700x50=35,000 sq.ft.
1312.5 tons are deadly

chuckR said...

Flat roofs are an affront to God, nature and engineering judgment. Do these people not understand that while water runs downhill, it does not run sideways for the heck of it. A water and (probably nonuniform) snow load exacerbated by piling dirt on as well.


wv - brid - dyslexic bird

Bart said...

As one who taught geology and soil science to engineering students nearly forty years ago, I can say with great confidence that the calculations -- both for weight of saturated soil and for load capacity of rafters -- are both simple and basic. No different than snow load or anything else.

This roof was designed by incompetent idealogues.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) ... arguing with Google about my online identity.

Hagar said...

Sod roofs were still common in rural Scandinavia when I grew up, but it is not going to work on a flat roof.
Or rather, to make it work with a flat roof, you would have to overdesign the whole structure so much that it would be very uneconomical.

Conservatives 4 Better Dental Hygiene said...

You guys going on about proper engineering and diagonal roof design just aren't getting it. SOMEHOW THE HIPPIES AND THEIR DAMNED ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND IDEAS MUST BE BLAMED!!!1!1!1

dick said...

The hippies built their fundamentally sound roof with a flat surface, piled tons of dirt and plants on top of it, did not remove the snow and ice that fell on the roof. To be fundamentally sound it should not have been flat in the first place. Then when the snow fell it should have been cleared off. If the roof was flat then it would have been easy for them to shovel the snow and ice off the roof. Even with the slanted roofs in New England and the Rockies the people are smart enough to shovel the snow and ice off the roof. The hippies are just showing themselves to be fools. If you must have a flat roof, then you should expect to shovel the extra snow and ice off it at a minimum. Then you have to ensure that the structure can hold the extra added weight until you get up there to maintain the roof. A green structure that is not maintained is no longer a green structure; it is a public menace. Check this one out. They have to wait until the engineers figure out how to make the structure safe before they can even examine the damned thing.

Sometimes you make sense. This is not one of those times.

Sierra said...

Hmm, how are the repairs going? Or is it totally demolished? Well, the problem is on how it was done, not on the technology itself. There are lots of effective green roofs nowadays. Just get the best contractors to do the job in the future.

-> Sierra Nordgren

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