Denver Becomes Latest City to Require Green Roofs
Denver is the latest city to mandate rooftop gardens or solar installations on new, large buildings, joining San Francisco, New York, Paris, London and other cities around the world with similar green roof measures, the Associated Press reported.
The Colorado capital ranks third in the nation for highest heat island and eighth in the nation for worst ozone/particulate pollution, according to the Denver Green Roof Initiative, a grassroots group that advocated for the city's green roof ordinance, Initiative 300.
Although the official tally is not in, the ballot initiative had 54 percent approval as of Thursday, signaling that the measure is headed towards victory. The vote will be certified on Nov. 24.
Initiative 300 creates a new building code that requires green roofs or solar panels for most buildings 25,000 square feet or larger that are constructed after Jan. 1, 2018.
The Associated Press noted that the measure is more stringent than other green roof mandates, as it requires many existing buildings to be retrofitted with green roofs when the old roof wears out. Older buildings that cannot support the load of a green roof can get an exemption.
"These required building improvements would significantly reduce long term operating costs by lowering energy consumption and increasing the longevity of a roof," the Denver Green Roof Initiative stated on its campaign website. "A green roof lasts 2-3 times as long as a traditional roof because the waterproofing membrane is protected from damage by the elements and workers by covering it with a growing medium and plants."
The measure did not have an easy road to passage. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock opposed the initiative over worries that it could drive up the costs of construction projects. Also, several Denver businesses spent $250,000 in an advertising push against the plan.
Department of Community Planning and Development spokeswoman Andrea Burns told the Denver Post in March that the department would prefer to give architects and engineers "the flexibility to design a roofing system that works best for their needs and their budgets."
Following the vote, however, Burns conceded to CBS4 that "it will be a little bit of work in the next few weeks, but green roofs are already possible in Denver. It's just a matter of making those agreements that are part of Initiative 300 work with our system now. We're going to make this work for the people of Denver."
The Denver Green Roof Initiative admits that green roofs cost about $15 more per square feet than a traditional black roof but pointed out that the green roof will pay for itself in about six years.
"Even though the extra cost would be offset in as soon as 6.2 years, most developers choose not to incorporate them because they build the building then sell it," the group said. "They don't see those energy and storm-water savings. They don't save the money from roof longevity. Yet they are still able to sell the building for more money with these improvements!! We believe that the developers of Denver could be doing more to negate their footprint in our beautiful city. We believe green roofs are the answer."
The initiative was endorsed by several green builders and environmental groups.
"Initiative I-300 will contribute to improving Denver's air quality, increasing the energy efficiency of its buildings, mitigating the urban heat island effect, managing storm water runoff, and creating habitat for pollinators and other insects," said Lauren Petrie, Food & Water Watch's Rocky Mountain Region Director. "We are dedicated to a more sustainable future in Denver and believe that passing this green roof initiative will be a vehicle for asserting our human desire for cleaner air and water, and cooler urban temperatures.
The Denver Green Roof Initiative stressed in a Facebook post Friday that even though Initiative 300 passed, there are still "tremendous hurdles to overcome due to push back from those in power."
"This is a battle won against climate but the war doesn't stop here," the post stated. "We must all get active and fight for our values, because we are stronger together. Thanks again for the overwhelming support. The citizens of Denver have a healthier, more sustainable future because of YOU!"
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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