New ‘Growth Panels’ Help Apartments Go Green

Aqualok, a new type of roof panel, can reduce energy costs for apartment buildings.

By Jessica Fiur, News Editor

Washington, D.C.—Are you maximizing your building’s ability to be green? Freedom Garden Products recently introduced a green roof system in the Washington, D.C., area called Aqualok, which reduces runoff and enables buildings to lower their energy costs.

Aqualok is a growth matrix panel. It absorbs storm water and requires no soil. It requires less water and fertilizer than other green roof systems, and since the material holds oxygen and absorbed water, plants can go longer without being watered. Additionally, the panels provide insulation, which could help keep down energy costs.

“Before Aqualok, green roofs needed anywhere from half a foot to several feet of soil,” Joe Byles, CEO of Freedom Garden Products and inventor of Aqualok, says in a statement. “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 Aqualock.”

Currently, Aqualok is being installed on several D.C. fire station roofs. In fact, the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department was awarded a $300,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund to help cover installation costs. Local schools are also installing Aqualok panels.

The green system would also be beneficial for residential properties. “[Aqualok] can be used on apartments not only for a green roof, but vegetables could actually be planted and grown in it,” a spokesperson for Aqualok tells MHN.

Besides helping the environment, there are additional advantages to creating a green roof.

“By reducing the amount of storm water runoff, Aqualok panels can earn property owners credits or discounts against imperious area charges,” the Aqualok spokesperson says.

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