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first off, dont get too excited.. this is all just a fantasy. but its an idea for what could (in my own little world) be next after the downtown retail initiative/incentives program ends later this decade. 

i made a post in the downtown forum that talked a lot about this and figured i would just copy/paste it into a new thread since it was slightly off topic, but i thought it made a lot of sense.

im not talking just putting grass on an inaccessible rooftop. im talking putting (depending on the roof sizes, venues would be placed accordingly) full fledged gardens, parks, public sports complexes, TopGolf, miniature golf, outdoor entertainment areas/patios/bars, ect.. things that not only will help the city, but also improve the lives of the residents.





here are a couple articles about Chicagos rooftop renaissance..

http://greeningthecity.wordpress.com/chicagos-green-renaissance/

"Green Roofs

“We do this not because it’s fashionable, but because it makes sense. It improves public health; it beautifies the city; it enhances the quality of life; it saves money; and it leaves a legacy for future generations.”

Mayor Richard Daley

Perhaps the most famous of Daley’s greening initiatives are Chicago’s green roofs. Leading the way with an award-winning green roof on their City Hall, Daley’s tough green roof incentives and requirements have made Chicago the North American leader for green roof implementation for four years running (Green Roofs for Healthy Cities). Known for their ability to reduce stormwater runoff and reduce the urban heat island effect, green roofs have also proven to be perhaps the most symbolic of all Daley’s initiatives. Other cities wishing to implement green initiatives have admired Daley’s use of green roofs as a symbolic figurehead for his other greening initiatives, and is perhaps a good lesson in public perception. Green roofs are sexy and innovative, and easily capture the public imagination. The most famous green roof in Chicago may not even be recognized as one- Millennium Park."

(in that case, i guess Discovery Green is a "green roof", so we are already on our way to following in Chicagos footsteps)


weed%20man%20green%20roof%20post.jpg
 

"The 20,000 square foot garden atop Chicago’s City Hall was completed in 2001 as a green design experiment— namely to test the heating and cooling benefits plus the runoff absorption rates of green roofs in urban areas.

 

Special soils were created using lightweight soil mixture guidelines that were researched and developed in Germany. Skylights were reinforced to support up to 60 pounds per square foot, and a massive waterproofing layer was added to the century-old roof. Plants and grasses were selected for their ability to thrive in abundant sunlight and high wind, the majority being prairie plants native to the region.

 

Today, the City Hall’s grass and plants are able to absorb 75% of an inch of rain before storm water begins running into the city’s sewers. The roof is seven degrees cooler on average than neighboring roofs and as much as 30 degrees cooler in the summer, adding further support to research that shows the massive cooling effects of healthy lawns. Chicago now has 7 million square feet of green roofs completed or underway."


 

thats from an old blog/article in 2011 i believe, so one could imagine Chicago has added a bit more green roof space since then.

in a city that is currently spending billions to expand/rebuild the drainage system (and has an average summer temperature high in the 90s, sometimes reaching into the 100* range), i would say green roofs would make a lot of sense for us here in Houston..

 

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lol, sorry HH.. im surprised no one likes my TopGolf on the roof of GRB idea.
even though im 25 years old, i would gladly go play some miniature golf on the roof of GreenStreet. haha

and yes Houston19514, many of the green roofs are accessible as far as im aware (though maybe not all of them necessarily to the public). but think about it.. cheaper A/C costs, less water in the storm drains (though thats more a city issue, not something that has much advantages for the building itself), more space for amenities, and in some cases you can even charge additional rent for the roof top space. 

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lol, sorry HH.. im surprised no one likes my TopGolf on the roof of GRB idea.

even though im 25 years old, i would gladly go play some miniature golf on the roof of GreenStreet. haha

and yes Houston19514, many of the green roofs are accessible as far as im aware (though maybe not all of them necessarily to the public). but think about it.. cheaper A/C costs, less water in the storm drains (though thats more a city issue, not something that has much advantages for the building itself), more space for amenities, and in some cases you can even charge additional rent for the roof top space. 

 

 

examples?  Are they accessible and usable in a way that makes them anything like full fledged gardens parks etc as you have suggested?

 

There are certainly positive things to be said for green roofs.  But I think you are getting carried off into total fantasy land when you suggest that green roofs can in any significant way provide us with "full fledged gardens, parks, public sports complexes, TopGolf, miniature golf, outdoor entertainment areas/patios/bars,..."

 

 

Edited by Houston19514
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examples?  Are they accessible and usable in a way that makes them anything like full fledged gardens parks etc as you have suggested?

 

There are certainly positive things to be said for green roofs.  But I think you are getting carried off into total fantasy land when you suggest that green roofs can in any significant way provide us with "full fledged gardens, parks, public sports complexes, TopGolf, miniature golf, outdoor entertainment areas/patios/bars,..."

well sure.. in the picture i linked in the first post, the garden on the roof of the City Hall (the "originator" of the Green Roof renaissance in Chicago) building is 20,000 sq feet. thats a pretty good sized garden. 

imagine a park (or public sports complex/TopGolf) on the roof of GRB. the GRBs footprint is like 15 acres (not counting the new 4 block expansion planned sometime during the next decade). the TopGolf in spring is being build on 10.5 acres, and the TopGolf on i10 (was the largest in Texas at the time it was announced) sits on 12 acres. and both of those figures are including space for a surface parking lot which takes up around half of the development. meaning a TopGolf could easily fit on one half of the GRB, while a public sports complex or something of the likes goes on the other half. for comparison, Discovery Green is 12 acres, so the roof of the current GRB is even more space than DG.

you may be right.. i might be getting carried off into fantasy land, but i dont see any reason why we couldnt have gardens, parks, and entertainment facilities on the roofs of flat topped buildings in urban Houston..

(here is a soccer field on the roof of a high rise in Tokyo, so roof top parks/sports complexes are definitely feasible..)

soccer-roof1.jpg

and the Chicago City Hall gardens..

CityHallRooftop_DSC9922.jpg

chichall2.jpg

chichall9.jpg

a few other examples of Green Rooftops..

http://grandviewoutdoor.com/general/10-stunning-rooftop-garden-designs/

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The only reason someone would put greenery on a roof top in Houston would be a new build and help with running costs. Being "Green" isn't about saving the planet, it about lowering costs on cooling systems etc.

 

As for sporting courts it has to be on rooftops in cities as dense as Tokyo. Here it would be a novelty. I do like the notion of using all space available, and maybe one day our developers will find a way to execute this (top golf on Green Street), to maximize traffic and revenue. If the city did have an incentive it might push the developers in the right direction. Isn't Parker trying to show the world how "green" we are?

Edited by Montrose1100
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Ok, Cloud.  You've convinced me.  I now believe that the idea of a TopGolf on the GRB roof, is a great idea.  My issue with the idea was aesthetics.  A big net cage and the Clubhouse (or whatever they call it) would not look good.  But, with Marriott and possibly the other hotel on top of the new garage, much of this could be relatively obscured.  In, fact...the Rooftop hotel, could incorporate the golf feature into an amenity which would market well to convention goers.  In fact Top Gold would be very popular to a lot of convention goers, as well as downtown workers.  It would also be pretty unique.  So...I think I am with you on this. 

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The only reason someone would put greenery on a roof top in Houston would be a new build and help with running costs. Being "Green" isn't about saving the planet, it about lowering costs on cooling systems etc.

 

As for sporting courts it has to be on rooftops in cities as dense as Tokyo. Here it would be a novelty. I do like the notion of using all space available, and maybe one day our developers will find a way to execute this (top golf on Green Street), to maximize traffic and revenue. If they the city did have an incentive it might push the developers in the right direction. Isn't Parker trying to show the world how "green" we are?

well, yeah.. thats why there would be an initiative/incentives program for buildings to convert existing rooftops to green rooftops. and while i partly agree.. the environmentalist in me says otherwise. im all about being environmentally friendly, as well as lowering costs (they go hand in hand really.. that electricity has to come from somewhere). why cant we do both? and like i pointed out, the city is spending over a billion to rebuild the sewage/drainage infrastructure because its insufficient. green rooftops would reduce the amount of storm water run off that ends up in the drainage system, reducing the amount of flooding in the city. i pretty sure greening millions of square feet in rooftops doesnt cost over a billion dollars, but even if it did (and we built enough green roofs so that it had the same impact on the drainage system vs just expanding capacity) cost the same as the drainage system, at least the green roofs would be something that we can see and get a physical benefit out of all year round (vs just benefiting from the expanded drainage system whenever big storms come through), and improve the quality of life for the residents. rebuilding the drainage system is great/probably needed to prevent the city from flooding so bad during the next major storm, but i think its obvious which of the two provides the most benefits to the residents.

yeah a sports complex on the roof of GRB would be a novelty in Houston for the next couple decades (or however long it takes to build downtown/the inner city out), but you dont think it would be a successful novelty? how many sports complexes are there currently in the inner city? i did a search for inner city soccer fields and found only a few inside the 610 loop. McGovern Park, Mason Park, Moody Park, an indoor one near Memorial Park, Hackett Athletic Field, and what i assume is an intramural field for UH. thats not many options for inner city residents to play large field sports like soccer, football, or baseball (though they do have a BB field at Emancipation Park). no where near midtown, downtown, eado, or the 4th ward. why not have one centralized between all of those areas and place it in downtown? its no coincidence that all of the areas i just mentioned that lack sports complexes/other amenities are not family friendly, and are dominated by the mid 20s/30s crowd. maybe if we were able to bring some of these aforementioned amenities to the inner city we could work on making it more family friendly and a more attractive place to live.

exactly.. the residential initiative was an out of the park success. time will tell if/how the retail district materializes, but i think with the right attitude and people behind it, a green rooftop initiative could be a great success in Houston as well, and show the world that were not that dirty gritty over polluted city theyve hear bad things about.. but that this is Houston turning over a new leaf, and it could be our chance to change peoples opinions.

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Ok, Cloud. You've convinced me. I now believe that the idea of a TopGolf on the GRB roof, is a great idea. My issue with the idea was aesthetics. A big net cage and the Clubhouse (or whatever they call it) would not look good. But, with Marriott and possibly the other hotel on top of the new garage, much of this could be relatively obscured. In, fact...the Rooftop hotel, could incorporate the golf feature into an amenity which would market well to convention goers. In fact Top Gold would be very popular to a lot of convention goers, as well as downtown workers. It would also be pretty unique. So...I think I am with you on this.

sweet! finally someone likes my TopGolf idea. heh.. yeah ill admit the netting/poles wont be the most attractive thing ever (they can build up a facade to hide the "clubhouse" behind if they felt it needed to be hidden), but its on the roof of an already not so attractive cruise ship looking convention center (lol), on the side of a highway. they put these things on the sides of highways all the time, and they are normally next to low lying developments/residential neighborhoods making the poles/nets some of the tallest/most obvious things around. i dont think it would look that bad in downtown compared to out on i10, or any of the other locations.

exactly.. i think TopGolf would be a huge hit with certain crowds of convention goers, and downtown employees during long breaks/lunches, or after work to keep them around/downtown more active beyond the standard 9-5. and it would definitely be unique. pretty much every other TopGolf i know of is in a suburban setting..

Edit: here are my sketches for utilizing a couple of the potential larger green roofs in downtown, for those who haven't seen them elsewhere.

GRB CC

914C5D81-F4E5-405E-BB6B-2B871C367A67_zps

GreenStreet (I didn't get detailed with park amenities for this one besides the obvious miniature golf. I kind of wish I did before my friends daughter got ahold of it.. Ah well. I would of also put an outdoor patio wherever SkyBar was supposed to have theirs, for outdoor dining/entertainment)

B81B0814-28A3-48CB-AEAB-B7B1F051E2EC_zps

Then I was going to draw something up for Houston Pavilions but ended up coming back to a miniature moody gardens structure with a waterfall cascading down the side of the building, to promote the full scale moody gardens out in Galveston, for people who normally might not venture out there/realize it's something they want to do. But even I'll admit that idea is a little far out there.. Lol.

Grdens and smaller park space or outdoor patio/dining areas could be implemented on a number of other roofs around downtown though (structures that occupy single blocks)

Edited by cloud713
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While green roofs would help mitigate extreme heat during the summer and the "heat island effect", I almost would rather see more emphasis on reducing the number of parking spaces allowed without something green-ish planted.  I would rather see Houston enact an ordinance reducing issued permits for roofs that are black asphalt shingles.  Maybe offer a tax incentive to businesses/home owners to do something different?  I believe... larger roofs are starting to have more heat reflective surfaces that help to reduce heat gain.  You can almost look at a satellite map and see new buildings vs old buildings by their roofs.

 

That, and I've long wondered (aside from cost of start-up) why cities like Houston don't ask businesses with 100,000+ sq. ft. roofs to provide 30%-40% of said roofs to energy production.  Imagine Walmart/Target/Lowes/Home Despot etc all having some small wind turbines or solar panels atop them?  Implemented nationally something like that would reduce energy consumption by a small % but it would still make an impact.

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those are certainly good ideas that should be considered as well.. going along those lines of energy efficiency, ive always wondered if buildings in wet climates like the PNW have storm water drain/"gutters" for the roofs of their buildings.. imagine if they had a bunch of little turbines lining the length of the drain pipe through the building, generating energy every time it rained or after snow melts. a better idea would be implementing the same design with the plumbing for highrises, so every time someone flushes a toilet or uses a sink the water spins little turbines the whole way down the pipes back to ground level. it may not generate a whole lot of electricity, but it generate some. 
maybe in the future buildings will start being built with extreme facade designs that redirect the wind currents through a series of turbines or something.. now that i think about it, they are already starting to do that. there is some tower in China with a couple slots in it with turbines in them, and the building kind of slopes in around the slots to force the wind into them. (i wonder why/how they could get the turbines to work in that tower but they couldnt make them work on Hess Tower)
geez i can ramble..

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That, and I've long wondered (aside from cost of start-up) why cities like Houston don't ask businesses with 100,000+ sq. ft. roofs to provide 30%-40% of said roofs to energy production. Imagine Walmart/Target/Lowes/Home Despot etc all having some small wind turbines or solar panels atop them? Implemented nationally something like that would reduce energy consumption by a small % but it would still make an impact.

Solar has been showing some pretty dramatic increases in efficiency and cost reduction over the last couple of years and it's getting pretty close to the point where it's just going to turn profitable for companies to do that on their own. ROI seems to be about 10-12 years right now. Another drop like we've seen in the last three years and companies will be doing it on their own.

It will be interesting if that happens, because it will make larger footprint low rise buildings more energy efficient than high rises.

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Solar has been showing some pretty dramatic increases in efficiency and cost reduction over the last couple of years and it's getting pretty close to the point where it's just going to turn profitable for companies to do that on their own. ROI seems to be about 10-12 years right now. Another drop like we've seen in the last three years and companies will be doing it on their own.

It will be interesting if that happens, because it will make larger footprint low rise buildings more energy efficient than high rises.

10hvfrk.jpg

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Solar has been showing some pretty dramatic increases in efficiency and cost reduction over the last couple of years and it's getting pretty close to the point where it's just going to turn profitable for companies to do that on their own. ROI seems to be about 10-12 years right now. Another drop like we've seen in the last three years and companies will be doing it on their own.

It will be interesting if that happens, because it will make larger footprint low rise buildings more energy efficient than high rises.

10hvfrk.jpg

 

that kind of reminds me of the building in the TMC (i think its the UT school of Nursing?) with the slatted sloped roofs like the garage above. i wonder if there are solar panels on them or if its just for looks?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Solar has been showing some pretty dramatic increases in efficiency and cost reduction over the last couple of years and it's getting pretty close to the point where it's just going to turn profitable for companies to do that on their own. ROI seems to be about 10-12 years right now. Another drop like we've seen in the last three years and companies will be doing it on their own.

It will be interesting if that happens, because it will make larger footprint low rise buildings more energy efficient than high rises.

 

If the drop in prices for solar capacity continues at the same rate solar could be economic for businesses and residences in the next  2-3 years, and adding solar will be a lot easier than retrofitting for green rooftops.  This could have an enormous impact in a shorter time frame than, say, driverless cars.  

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If the drop in prices for solar capacity continues at the same rate solar could be economic for businesses and residences in the next  2-3 years, and adding solar will be a lot easier than retrofitting for green rooftops.  This could have an enormous impact in a shorter time frame than, say, driverless cars.  

for sure. solar has enormous potential and i hope its widely incorporated into residential development soon. i just think certain larger flat roof tops, especially in the inner city where green space is lacking, could be beneficial to improving quality of life for the local residents. the effects on building cooling costs and storm water run off are just icing on the cake.

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