New roofing system greens up Tile Ideal building

by Jocelyn Turner, Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune   Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Ron Schwenger on job site
Ron Schwenger, principal with Architek, explains how the new green roofing system at Tile Ideal will function.

When you think of your roof, you may not consider the kind of environmental benefits it could have on your city or town. But did you know that by simply installing a ‘green roof,’ a roof dedicated to plant life, you could save on renovations and even help prevent damages caused by heavy rainfall?

Ron Schwenger, principal with Architek, a Vancouver company specializing in green roofs, rainwater management and living walls, said the new roofing system they began installation on at Grande Prairie’s Tile Ideal Tuesday, can help in all those areas.

What we’re putting in right now is really something that protects what we call the building envelope, which is the roof,” he said. The owner has asked us to put additional rigid insulation, which is extra protection for his roof, and provides a higher R-value. After this, we’re going to have a slip sheet and then we’re going to put the drain board and from here on in, everything that is put on the roof is going to support the greenery.”

The various materials used in the different layers of the roof, Schwenger added will keep the roof at a steady temperature, reducing the risk of cracks and leaks. Also, one of the layers of panelling that will be installed will feature tiny pockets to help absorb water and provide nourishment to the plants that will be on the roof. It will also help reduce the amount of water travelling to the storm sewers during heavy rainfall.

When we have rapid rainfall… all of this concrete deflect all the water into storm sewers. What happens? As we saw in Calgary, all those storm sewers can’t handle it all,” he said. So we have something called storm water mitigation and that is the primary reason most urban cities are really promoting the use of green roofs.”

The green roof, he said, is similar to a miniature sponge. It absorbs some of the rain or slows it down in order to give the storm water infrastructure some time to catch up.

Even if the roof…is fully saturated, rather than the rain coming off instantly, it takes a good two to eight hours for it to work its way through the system,” he added.

Stefan Helmrich, salesperson and one of the family members who owns Tile Ideal on 117 Avenue, said the environmentally-friendly roof fit into their building plans.

This business isn’t a short-term thing, we really value being in Grande Prairie and the customers in Grande Prairie and I think we did this to show that we’re investing long-term in the community and we think this is something for our children and also the people’s children,” he said. Because the technology does exist, it just requires someone to actually look into it and to take that risk.”

The new green roof, which began construction on Tuesday, will feature sod grasses, which will be planted on Friday, and small cactuses, something new the company will be planting in Northern Alberta.

For more information about green roofs, visit

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