I have asked Building for a right to reply to Luke Wessely’s column “Land of the Dachdeckermeister” (6 August, page 25), in which someone with a clear vested interest in a particular form of roofing wanted to suggest that its choice was a no-brainer
In my opinion, the no-brainer applies to the idiots who think that because grass is green, it should be incorporated into buildings as a roof covering. An even more naive mindset is one that thinks because the Germans are doing it, it must be good.
Dachdeckermeisters rarely get the training of an architect and even as green roofers the orchestration of building methods and materials is not in their control. Although there are merits to Passivhaus, it is a German commercial enterprise in direct competition with BREEAM.
The inventor of Maxplanks is an architect and believes there is plenty of free energy to be moved about - and that given a better understanding of energy flow in buildings, neither BREEAM, Passivhaus nor green roofs are really necessary.
The real problem is who hypes mad foreign ideas and thereby crowds better ones from the public domain? The main use of grass is as a feed for animals, so it is almost totally valueless in a city. The economic case for its insulation properties as a cladding material is spurious and unproven. Wet soil conducts heat well, so in cold climates extra insulation is required. In addition there are massive thermal losses from the phase change as the retained water in plants and soil evaporates.
If you want greenery in cities, plant trees, but put them in the streets where people walk. If you want to cool the heat island effect, put Maxplanks on the paved surfaces as well. Put it everywhere - make me rich!
Barrie Moore, Maxplanks
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