$7,961
pledged of $50,000pledged of $50,000 goal
23
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Wed, October 16 2013 5:04 PM UTC +00:00
Benjamin JarvisBy Benjamin Jarvis
First created
Benjamin JarvisBy Benjamin Jarvis
First created
$7,961
pledged of $50,000pledged of $50,000 goal
23
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Wed, October 16 2013 5:04 PM UTC +00:00

About

How It All Started

In the spring of 2012, while planting window boxes on my deck, and looking out over the rooftops of Seattle toward the green of the Cascade Mountains, I would often imagine what the now developed Puget Sound area once looked like - a lush temperate rainforest, which Seattleites frequently visit in the neighboring preserves. As I watched simple cuttings of neighbors' local plants quickly flourish in the temperate rainforest climate, it dawned on me that much of the land space once filled with lush greenery is still available and unused, only elevated in the form of rooftops. I began to investigate green roof technology, and quickly noticed the lack of options for fitting a green roof to an existing roof. I set about designing and building a simple, adaptable modular system that could be fitted to existing roof surfaces.

The first prototype.
The first prototype.

Working with PVC pipe and corrugated plastic sheeting, I created an interlocking system of trays that terraced to compensate for the slope of most residential roofs. I used broken-down styrofoam packing to augment the growing medium and reduce weight. The drought resistant sedums I planted quickly grew in, and I set about looking for a place to mount a larger prototype installation.

I contacted a friend who planned to incorporate an intensive green roof into their 600 sq ft carport remodel. She generously offered to let me install my modular system instead. While she completed the initial remodel work, I modified the design to fit the minimal slope of her carport, gathered supplies, and in January 2013, my wife and I began construction.

The prototype roof before planting.
The prototype roof before planting.

A Bit About Green Roofs

Green roofs provide a variety of benefits, both financial and environmental, and have experienced a massive growth in popularity over the last few years. The sedums typically used in most green roofs require minimal watering and weeding, sequester carbon, filter polluted air, and reduce roof temperatures and the urban heat island effect significantly. Energy bill reductions have been shown to equalize the cost of a typical green roof after just seven years, and the life of a green roof can be up to twice that of a traditional roof.

Stormwater runoff from typical roofs collects pollutants, creating water quality issues in urban water basins. Green roofs absorb and filter rainwater, reducing strain on civic water management systems, and preserving water quality.

Green roofs also beautify and activate unused urban space, raising real estate value and the quality of the urban experience for both the green roof owner and their neighbors.


Our Modular Green Roof System

With the knowledge gained from our successful first installation, we altered the design slightly to produce a simple yet adaptable module, which attaches to the roof via cables, and utilizes PVC segments to adjust to varying slopes. Modules can be grown in offsite, and installed quickly and easily, fully grown. Integrated walkways allow for easy access, and excess water is transferred to the next module for easy watering and runoff management.

Adding reclaimed styrofoam to the growing medium reduces weight, and keeps a harmful and resilient waste product out of the landfill.

Cutting up retired dock floats.
Cutting up retired dock floats.

We Need Your Help

Because of the relatively large size of the modules, the cost for an injection mold is abnormally high, so we need your help with this initial setup cost. If we reach our funding goal, we can order the mold and the first production run, and begin growing in modules.

Adjusting for roof slope.
Adjusting for roof slope.

Risks and challenges

Because roof design is highly variable, permitting for installations can be a complicated process. We are working with the City of Seattle to streamline the process and ensure each installation is safe and sustainable. Progressive programs in Seattle and other metropolitan areas are continually making it cheaper and easier to install green roofs.

As we begin to expand, planting and growing modules offsite will likely require a large amount of space. We are working with the City of Seattle and local nurseries to make use of vacant spaces, adding greenery to the urban environment and educating the public about sustainable architecture at the same time.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    An official Urban Canopy bumper sticker, so you can show off your support for a sustainable future for our cities.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    An official Urban Canopy t-shirt, so you can wear your support for a sustainable future for our cities.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Sedum houseplant, of the same varieties that make up our roofs. Easy to care for, and unique flowering growth patterns.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    A personally planted tropical plant inside a whiskey bottle. Place in a window, and the greenhouse microclimate will keep the plant warm, wet and happy!

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    200 square feet of Urban Canopy modular roof, installed on the roof of your choice! These 100 modules can stand alone, or contribute to a larger installation.

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Funding period

- (30 days)