Completion of Living Wall #1, by Juan Carlos Vela

Week of June 3rd-7th

Asian Jasmine in green house

For the first week of summer classes, Kirk and I proceeded to plant the remaining modules for the living wall we built this past spring. The only specimen we failed to plant last time was Asian Jasmine, which was undeveloped at the time that the wall went up. Once the Asian Jasmine specimens got settled in the modules, we went ahead and installed them with the other modules, hence completing the first living wall. Now, the only thing left to do for this wall is to install a wooden frame around it, for which we already have the wood to begin assembling it.

Livign wall_1_planted

Living Wall Installed!

by Rachel Nichols, 5/7/2013

Today we finished the green wall. It looks great and felt awesome to see the final project complete! It took a couple of hours to finish and Kirk was the only one who could really install the last few modules because he had to stand on the ladder, which made it difficult with only one person working on it, but it was only the last three rows and didn’t take too long. From this project I learned a lot about green walls and how they can help the environment as well as be beneficial to buildings and homes both aesthetically and economically. I also learned about different species of plants and drought tolerant plants, and I believe we chose the correct varieties for our green wall. I look forward to being able to work on this project more during the summer and see how the wall performs long term. This class has been a great learning experience for me and I really enjoyed working with the green wall team and got to know some really interesting people. I am so proud of our final project because it took a lot of planning and discussion and it turned out really well.

—Rachel Nichols, Horticultural Sciences

Living wall installed

Living wall with Kirk Laminack. Photo by Rachel.

Wrapping Up One Year of Work

The ATMO team worked hard this semester. From the beginning of September to the end of April, we worked together to have a functional weather instrument station on top of the green roof.

At the beginning of the Fall semester, we started with just a plain roof. Through hard work and many blistering afternoons in the sun, we had the membrane completed. By November, the walkway was down, and plants were growing in the green house.

Once the modules were placed, the weather instruments were added. At first we just had wind speed and direction along with temperature and dewpoint. Throughout the spring semester, we continually added in temperature sensors for each module, as well as a irradiance detector called a pyranometer. The latest instrument added was the tipping bucket rain gauge. This will help us keep a record of how much rain the plants are receiving — if we can find a place to put it without the sprinkler interference!

This has definitely been a learning experience, and we will all take the knowledge with us and apply it in the future.

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Experience the green roof project-I

For what I’ve learned in this green roof project, I would like to start with my summer school’s experience. I will talk about the design of this green roof and compare it with the green roofs in Houston which I visited in summer. Then I will start from the beginning of the constrcution in fall, and what I’ve learned from this project.

Initially, I participated in this green roof project during the summer school. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to start the construction, but I was lucky to visit some of Houstion’s green roofs with Kirk and Johanna from horticulture. Those roofs are more of semi-intensive green roofs. There was one green roof that they planted some plants for cooking!

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They use volcanic rock as drainage layer which is a lightweight material for green roofs, and more complex irrigation system to maintain the plants.

In our project, we have 800 s.f. of 4.5” thick green roof, it’s weight is 34 lbs per square feet. Therefore, it is an extensive green roof.  In our project, we use expanded clay as drainage layer which is similar with volcanic rock, they are all currently good drainage materials. Houston’s green roofs have more larger groundcovers and shrubs. When we collected the soil sample, I could dip into the soil about 10″ to 12″ deep, while our soil is 3-4″, therefore they are semi-intensive green roofs. Houston’s green roofs are very expensive from what I have seen. In our project, we will use more plants that could be good survivers, so that we can find the plants for Texas’ green roofs with low mainatenance cost.

Professors had selected 28 plant species for the roof to test their abilities to survive on green roof in Texas, in the climate which we describle it as hot, hot, and hotter. In the design, we have modules planted with different combinations of plant species. We have 162 modules planted with sedums, herbaceous, or their mix. We plant five types of plants in each module, in the way of 5*5 plants at 4″ spacing. The plant species are randomly assigned. I guess this way of combination could help us to see the how plants influence each others. Some of them are taller, some need more sun, and some are more drought tolerant. They could compete with each other, so I think more combination types could reflect more information of plants’ behaviors. The modules are separated into two big groups, and one with irrigation while the other without. Professor Dvorak told me that he wanted to see that which group works well. Also some of the plants professor Dvorak has used before in his first green roof research program, and he has found some that are usable in this harsh environment in Texas. In this project, we will have more plants and hopefully we  can find more plants that can be used in Texas.

I am making a poster of plants we use on the roof, and I will post it later after professor Dvorak checks it.