Friday, December 31, 2010

Interviewed in The Australian

Thes Blog entry is reposted from an Interview that I gave to the The Australian, a newspaper with one of the largest circulation in this country and was published on the 30th of December 2010.

THE world's cities offer enormous potential for creating greener environments that manage water better.
It just takes a little creative insight to figure out a cost-effective means of making it happen.
Green roofs are one solution, and an Australian company is becoming a big player.
According to Felipe Kovacic, executive director of Sydney-based water management company Atlantis Corporation, the appeal of roof gardens is more than just aesthetic.
"They also enable better stormwater management and reduce the so-called heat island effect," he said. "Our founder, Humberto Urriola, had a vision of transforming Sydney into a greener city by covering it with roof gardens."
Urriola may not have succeeded in creating the garden city -- yet. But the company he founded in 1986 as a landscape architect after emigrating from Chile is nonetheless an expanding provider of water management solutions.
Demonstrating that environmental solutions built on innovation and a big vision can generate sustainable business, Atlantis has taken its core product, a lightweight roof garden concept, across the globe.
Now with 54 patents and offices in Chile, Spain and the US, and distributors and installations in 30 countries, the company has developed a range of products for greening the world's cities.
About 80 per cent of Atlantis sales are now generated internationally. The group, which employs a multi-skilled team of environmental engineers, landscape architects and biologists, has provided water management technology to Sydney's Olympic stadium at Homebush, the Woolloongabba Cricket Ground in Brisbane, a 42.3 megalitre water management system at the Dubai Sports City project, and a 2.1 megalitre stormwater management system at the Quilicura Mall in Santiago, Chile.
Green roofs can be designed to be an integral part of a new building, or can be installed on an existing building. They are less expensive than intensive systems, since they are lighter and require less structural support and less frequent maintenance. All parts of a complete green roof system are designed to support vegetation growth.
A green roof investment is a strategy against climate change events, such as increased rainfall, and there are genuine business reasons for companies to use them on their buildings. Countries such as Germany and cities such as Chicago and Vancouver are legislating for green roofs as well as vertical gardens.
Kovacic thinks that Atlantis has been successful not simply because people like "green" solutions, but because they are cost-effective.
He says that when dealing with engineers, architects and council employees, he has found that cost-effectiveness matters more than environmental effectiveness.
"We offer both." he said. "There is a reduction in the cost of stormwater management, reduced energy consumption and a reduced urban heat island. Property owners also benefit from the improved energy efficiency, less frequent roof replacement costs associated with a green roof, and a more attractive building that will retain tenants and possibly even generate higher rents."
Kovacic explains that a roof garden can reduce the heat island effect by 20-50 degrees Celsius, resulting in a two-degree reduction in surrounding ambient temperatures.
"Because it has vegetation, the green roof also absorbs a lot of water to reduce the run-off," he says. "It's like natural air-conditioning.
"When it rains, usually all the water is lost -- contaminated. It has to be treated as stormwater sewage that goes into the stormwater system and usually ends up contaminating our waterways and beaches.
"But the roof garden has the effect of capturing the run-off. Rather than 90 per cent run-off it reduces to 20 per cent."
Atlantis has developed a solution for underground water storage systems. Its Matrix Tank is a modular plastic tank that is one-third of the cost of a traditional concrete cistern. These are modular units that are flat packed. "They are highly scalable. We call ourselves the Ikea of landscaping," says Kovacic.
He says that one of the more exciting products that have come from the Atlantis product development team is the vertical garden. These are systems for creating vertical gardens on walls, as well as water filtration and purification units.

No comments:

Post a Comment