Across D.C. Region, Gardens Are Growing Up
University, school and fire stations installing green roofs with Aqualok
Aqualok is a proprietary, patented growth matrix panel that provides the perfect growing medium for plants. It prevents runoff by absorbing storm water, and is cooler than any currently available vegetated green roof. Aqualok requires no soil, and significantly less water and fertilizer. Plants that have been tested in the medium – including bedding plants, small and medium-sized shrubs, turf, and interior plants – have thrived. Because the material holds both oxygen and the absorbed water, plants can go longer without being watered.
“Before Aqualok, green roofs needed anywhere from half a foot to several feet of soil,” said Joe Byles, CEO of Freedom Garden Products and inventor of Aqualok. “Many old buildings can’t sustain the weight required for a traditional green roof, but a fully saturated and planted Aqualok panel only weighs about 15 pounds per square foot, and, unlike many previously available materials, a wide range of plants can be used successfully with Aqualok.”
Specially engineered pores allow the plants’ roots to breathe even when the roof material is saturated. The energy efficient panels provide both an insulation value and cool/white emissivity, which allows consumers to save on energy costs, particularly during the summer months. Panels can be “planted” after installation, and even a panel that hasn’t been planted will absorb the water from a two-and-a-half inch rainfall event, thus providing a substantial reduction in storm water runoff.
The District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department was awarded a $300,000 Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund to help cover the cost of installing Aqualok panels on the roofs of several D.C. fire stations. Panels have already been installed at Engine Company 12 on Rhode Island Ave. N.E. The final project will include approximately 35,000 square feet of Aqualok panels. According to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, these grants are awarded to support the most cost effective and sustainable approaches to dramatically reduce or eliminate nutrient and sediment pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Freedom Garden Products will carefully measure the Aqualok benefits by tracking storm water management and the energy impact.
In addition to the fire stations, Aqualok was recently installed at American University and Northwest D.C.’s Two Rivers Charter Middle School.
More information on Aqualok:
Aqualok was invented by Joe Byles, CEO of Freedom Garden Products. Byles, an engineer by profession, was working on solving the problem of fuel sloshing in jet wings when he developed Aqualok. He discovered that, because the product holds oxygen in its pores and is lightweight, it is the perfect green roof material. Aqualok has been tested in extreme heat and wind, including being subjected to the Santa Ana winds. No matter the heat, wind or rain conditions, plant material has done extremely well in the panels.
The panels have also been tested by award winning greenhouse grower Gary Mangum, co-owner of Bell Nursery in Burtonsville, Md. Mangum found the panels superior to any other product on the market.
Aqualok is also available in other applications and can be found in some bedding plant products at retailers such as Home Depot. For more information on the Aqualok system or other products by Joe Byles and Freedom Garden Products, please visit www.aqualok.net.