About the Project
Services: planning and design, construction, horticulture, water harvesting
OnGrowing Works was engaged by a client who had built a new energy efficient home in NW Calgary. The home’s exterior showcased its commitment to renewables and sustainability through solar voltaic and thermal systems installed on the roof and fences, and to further add to the home’s sustainability features, the client hired OnGrowing Works to design and construct a sustainable back yard landscape and green roof. The client’s vision was to maintain both of these features by actively capturing and reusing rain water in order to decrease reliance on municipal water sources.
What is a green roof?
Green roofs are a growing trend in sustainable home construction. Built on top of a traditional flat roof, a green roof has many benefits, including the ability to:
- Mitigate flooding by decreasing and slowing stormwater runoff.
- Reduce the Urban Heat Effect. This is a condition where urban environments absorb and trap heat which contributes to increased greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
- Remove hazardous air particulates, produce oxygen and provide shade.
- Protect buildings from direct solar heat in the summer and minimize heat loss in the winter by adding extra insulation to the roof.
- Conserve energy which means fewer greenhouse gas emissions are released from a building.
- Serve as habitat. As undisturbed areas, green roofs can serve as refuge for creatures that struggle to survive. Ground-nesting birds, such as Killdeer, use green roofs for nesting and raising their young.
The backyard prior to removing the pool.
OnGrowing Works faced three main challenges:
- The home and yard were exposed to the west making it difficult for even the hardiest plants to grow.
- An existing swimming pool and greenhouse took up most of the back yard and needed to be removed.
- No municipal water was to be used to maintain the green roof and landscape.
To deal with these challenges, OnGrowing Works began by removing the swimming pool and greenhouse. Next, the team constructed the landscape. With the open space that was created by removing the swimming pool and green house, OnGrowing Works incorporated high quality compost, low maintenance bark mulch beds, hardy native plants, permeable synthetic turf and a rainwater harvesting system with bubbling rocks to attract birds and bees into the backyard landscape.
Once the landscape was complete, OnGrowing Works constructed the green roof. The home incorporated a long rectangular art studio located on the north side of the yard between the main home and the flat roof contemporary garage; it was the ideal shape to incorporate a green roof. OnGrowing Works was deliberate in the design and plant choices they used. Not only did they want the green roof to be visually appealing, but they needed to ensure the plants survived in Alberta’s dry hot climate. To meet both of these needs, the team used a variety of prairie hardy plants combined with a beautiful landscape design. Finally, a water harvesting system was installed that captured rainwater to maintain the green roof.
OnGrowing Works crafted and installed water harvesting systems that maximized rain water use and required zero municipal water to maintain the green roof and landscape. Combined with prairie hardy plants that thrive in Alberta’s climate, the green roof and landscape reduced reliance on city water infrastructure systems, avoided increased water bills for the client and added another custom sustainability feature to the energy efficient home.
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The water harvesting systems maximized rain water use and the green roof and landscape required zero municipal water to maintain.
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