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Mineral Wool In Green Roofs

May 2015, revised August 2015 v3

Summary

Contents

Increasingly, North American stormwater regulations


Summary..............................................................1
require rainfall to be managed within the property
Conclusions..........................................................2
lines of any given development. In the urban setting,
History & Context.................................................3
where virtually the entire site is consumed with
Lightweight...........................................................5
structure, the rooftop is often the only available
High Water Retention.......................................... 6
place to manage stormwater. Therefore, maximizing
Dimensionally Stable............................................8
retention capacity of green roofs is paramount, and
Reliable Horticultural Medium...........................12
relying on aggregate media to perform that function
Best Practices.....................................................13
is to be blunt inefficient. Water retention within
Sources...............................................................14
the green roof profile can be greatly enhanced with
Errata..................................................................16
alternative materials that complement aggregate
media. The aim of this paper is to provide compelling Appendices
evidence that validates mineral wool in green roofs
A. Active Monitoring..........................................A1
utilizing case studies and test protocols designed
B. Dry CycleTests................................................A3
to simulate green roof conditions. This paper also
C. Flow Cycle Tests.............................................A7
includes some guidelines for best practices in the use
D. Pedestrian Impact Tests...............................A10
of mineral wool in green roofs.
E. Calibrated Impact Tests................................A16
F. Water Quality Tests.......................................A26
Mineral wool is a renewable
G. Magnified Images........................................A32

resource with qualities that are


highly desirable in green roofs,
including high water retention, low
weight, durability, dimensional
stability, and excellent horticultural
properties.
Mineral wool has been successfully used in German
green roofs for the past three decades and continues
to be used in green roofs today throughout Europe
and China. Despite mineral wools long and successful
history overseas, it remains underutilized in North
America. Many specifiers are unfamiliar with its use
in green roof assemblies. With deeper appreciation
of its history and use, these concerns should shift to
comfort. Equally, the change to emergent technologies
has the potential to upset established market forces
and trigger efforts to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt;
however, this paper uses evidence and data to define
mineral wools performance in green roofs.

Authors

Brad Garner, Furbish Company, LLC


Michael Furbish, Furbish Company, LLC

Figure S.1.
Germany

20-year old mineral wool below Sedum mat in

Special Thanks To

Matthias Fischer, Dipl.-Biol., Bonar Xeroflor GmbH


Karen Liu, PhD., Bonar Xeroflor GmbH
Clayton Rugh, PhD., Xero Flor America, LLC
Louis Pilato, PhD., Pilato Consulting
The entire team at Furbish, whose efforts made this report
possible.

Furbish :: 3430 2nd Street, Suite 100 :: Baltimore, MD 21225 :: 443.874.7465 :: www.furbishco.com
Furbish 2015. All Rights Reserved

C o nc lu s i ons
Absorbent

Mineral wool is a high efficiency stormwater retention


component.

Mineral wool is a super-absorbent,


lightweight material ideally suited
for some green roof assemblies.

Lightweight

Mineral wool has a very low dry weight, allowing the


green roof assembly to be lightweight.

Horticultural

Mineral wool is an excellent horticultural medium in


green roof applications.

Stable

Mineral wool is dimensionally stable in densities as


low as 8 pcf, optimally 10-12 pcf. Mineral wool retains
material integrity for at least 30 years in exterior
applications, likely far longer. Use of a phenolic resin
binder is likely to improve dimensional stability.

Durable

Mineral wool tolerates the level of foot traffic that


can be expected in green roof applications, exhibiting
long-term resiliency to short-term cyclic compression.

Mineral wool has three decades


of proven success and durability in
green roof applications.

Clean

Mineral wool is chemically stable when unbound or


bound with phenolic resin. Runoff from mineral wool
exceeds the EPAs standards for drinking water.

Renewable

Mineral wool is a renewable material, utilizing


dolomite or basalt - some of the few renewable rocks,
and/or slag - a waste stream product.

H i sto r y & Contex t


Mineral Wool

Mineral wool can be described as cotton candy rock


as the material is formed of molten rock commonly
basalt or slag spun into thin fibers resembling cotton
candy. The spun fibers are typically mixed with a binding
agent, compressed to a given density, and cured in
a furnace. Due to a very high air void ratio, mineral
wool has excellent insulative properties, and thus its
most common usage is insulation, and soundproofing.
Mineral wool is naturally hydrophilic, but its fibers
may be coated with oil to render the material
hydroscopic (water-repelling) for use as insulation or
sound attenuation. Mineral wool possesses excellent
fire-proofing properties as either a hydroscopic or
hydrophilic/hydroponic material. A video explaining
more about mineral wool manufacturing can be found
here.
Slag wool, a form of mineral wool produced from
slag, was first discovered in 1840 in Wales. After
several production refinements, mineral wool was
first produced commercially in Germany in 1871,
and became a very common and high-performing
insulation material, and was also used in horticulture.

Invention of The Extensive Green Roof

From the late 1970s to the mid 1980s, the modern


green roof was developed in Germany, differing from
historic vegetation-on-structure efforts and rooftop
gardens, in that extensive green roofs perform a wide
variety of functions efficiently and reliably in a very
thin profile.
One inventor who was instrumental in the development
of the first extensive green roofs is Wolfgang Behrens;
after developing innovative green roof technologies
for the German government in the 1970s, Behrens
founded Xero Flor, now a division of Bonar. From the
1980s until recent years, Behrens obtained numerous
patents for green roof systems that take advantage
of the properties of mineral wool. Mineral wool is a
lightweight material with a very high volumetric water
retention capacity and high compressive strength,
characteristics which Behrens capitalized upon. As
the German green roof industry developed through

the 1980s, a few other companies explored using


mineral wool in their green roof assemblies, but some
of Behrens early patents were so broad as to virtually
preclude any competitors from using mineral wool in
green roofs.

Possessing excellent properties that


make it an important component in
several green roof systems, mineral
wool has an excellent 3-decade
track record of success in green
roofs throughout Europe, and more
recently in North America and Asia.
Diversification and Standardization

As the German green roof industry grew, Xero Flor


and other companies - notably Zinco and Optigreen developed different types of green roof systems. This
type of industry diversification is often beneficial to
the consumer, as a wider range of choices is available
to suit different needs. Extensive green roof profiles
that were developed and are used today generally fall
within a few broad classifications:
Lightweight aggregate over a composite drainage
course (called single course by the FLL),
Lightweight aggregate over a drainage aggregate
course (called multiple course by the FLL or
commonly dual media in the US), and
Mineral wool which might or might not be used
in combination with a lower composite drainage
layer and upper media layer (classified by the FLL
as single course).
For purposes of this report, the first two types listed
are referred to as aggregate-based green roofs.
In 1975, the German FLL Guidelines were developed;
reflective of industry diversification these guidelines
are regularly updated to address quality control
and best practices for a wide range of assembly and
material types. The FLL classifies mineral wool as a
substrate board (page 69 of 2002 English version).

North American Introduction

Extensive green roofs first arrived in the US around


1995-1997. However, adoption was slow, and prior
to the late-2000s, extensive green roofs were fairly
rare in most North American cities, but are becoming
increasingly more common throughout the midAtlantic, Toronto, Vancouver, Chicago, and in many
other urban areas.

US Market Growth and Diversification

As the US green roof industry has grown, its path has


been different from its European predecessors. Unlike
in Europe, the US green roof industry is dominated by
roofing and waterproofing manufacturers, most of
whom are using variations of systems espoused by
Roofmeadow, Optigreen, or Zinco - i.e. systems that
achieve water retention primarily via aggregate media.
However,
US
industry
diversification is beginning to
occur, primarily in response
to
recent
stormwater
regulations. Whereas most
extensive
green
roofs
easily hold a 1-inch rainfall,
now green roofs are being
asked to retain 2- and even
3-inch rainfalls, which is not
easily accomplished using
aggregate-based green roof
systems common in the US.
In 2012, Baltimore-based
Furbish introduced EcoCline,
which utilizes mineral wool.
Around the same time,
Vegetal ID, a French green
roof company, responded
Figure 1. Bus station in Oldenburg, Germany; a twenty-year-old green roof system utilizing mineral to the North American
stormwater market with their
wool.
Early pioneers of the North American green roof high efficiency Stock-and-Flow green roof system
such as Charlie Miller of Roofmeadow gravitated which utilizes a plastic storage reservoir at the base
toward an extensive green roof profile of lightweight of a modular green roof assembly. Both EcoCline
aggregates over either an aggregate drainage course and Stock-and-Flow adapt and leverage established
or a composite drainage sheet. Those profiles are also European technologies to better respond to North
preferred by Optigreen and Zinco, German companies American needs, and other innovations are sure to
who competed against Xero Flor, and did not utilize follow. The North American green roof market is now
mineral wool. Both Zinco and Optigreen began doing beginning to mature and diversify, benefitting owners
business in North America in the late 1990s. Xero Flor and specifiers with greater options; the use of mineral
did not join the North American market until the mid- wool is simply one example of that diversification.
2000s. So the North American green roof industry
began without any parties utilizing mineral wool Usage
in green roof systems. Xero Flor is currently using Mineral wool is used in European green roof assemblies
mineral wool in Canada, China, and Europe, and some by Xero Flor, Knauf, Nophadrain, De Boer, and likely
locations within the US.
others. In the North American market mineral wool is
available in green roof assemblies by Xero Flor, Knaufs
Urbanscape, and Furbishs EcoCline.

L ig htwe i g ht
Mineral wool is a lightweight,
durable construction material.
Mineral wool is an excellent material for retaining high
volumes of water on a roof, but with minimal weight.
It is an open fiber matrix that is typically over 90%
void space. The fiber matrix has a very low weight,
but voids within the matrix fill with water, which the
fibers retain via capillary action, yielding a saturated
weight that is only slightly higher than the weight of
pure water.
Due to its low dry density, mineral wool should typically
be protected from wind uplift. See Best Practices
for more information.

Dry Lbs/sf at 1
inch thick
Wet Lbs/sf at 1
inch thick
Lbs of water at
1 inch thick

Mineral wool
at 8-14 pcf
0.67-1.17

Lightweight
Green Roof
Media
4.5 +/-

5.5 +/-

7 +/-

4.5 +/-

2.5 +/-

Table 1. Comparative wet and dry weights of mineral wool vs.


lightweight aggregate green roof media.

Renewable and Recycled

Mineral wool is a renewable material, commonly


made from dolomite, basalt, and/or slag. Slag is a
waste stream byproduct of steel manufacturing, and
dolomite and basalt are igneous (volcanic) rocks that
are abundantly naturally re-curring worldwide.
Mineral wool is a lightweight material, so shipping
mineral wool uses less fuel than transporting
aggregates. Other energy use concerns related to
mineral wool are transportation of the base material
to the manufacturing plant, and energy used to fire the
rock. Most mineral wool manufacturers are actively
working to reduce energy usage, reduce reliance
on non-renewable energy, and to be transparent in
their sustainability efforts via documents such as the
NAIMA EPD Transparency Summary.

Cradle to Cradle

Some manufacturers have active programs of


reclaiming used mineral wool for recycling as a raw
material in manufacture of new product. Re-use may
also be possible: if the material retains high tensile
integrity (as evidenced in Appendix H), intact green
roof slabs may be able to be transported and re-used.
If the mineral wool exhibits lower tensile integrity,
fibers and media can be blended for use in planters or
landscape applications or as a potting medium.

Figure 2. Wet and dry weights of various grades of mineral wool. The vertical axis is pounds. The horizontal axis is wet/dry cycling
trials described in Appendix B.

H i gh Water Rete nt io n
Naturally hydrophilic, mineral
wool predictably and efficiently
retains water.

VWC per
ASTM
Material E-2397-9
LWA
35%
LWA
45%
LWA
65%
MW
94%
MW
94%

VWC as
FieldVerified
20%
25%
25%
85%
94%

Field-Verified
VWC / ASTM
E-2397-9 VWC
57%
55%
38%
90%
100%

Mineral wool typically possesses a maximum


volumetric water capacity (VWC) of 80-94% when
tested per ASTM E-2397. When monitored in field
conditions, actual water retention reliably peaks to
over 70% VWC, and has been field-documented to Table 2. Comparative VWC of lightweight aggregate (LWA)
retain up to 94% VWC, an extremely high retention and mineral wool (MW) when tested after saturation per ASTM
E-2397 or E-2399, contrasted with field-verified VWC.
efficiency for green roofs.
It is unlikely that any commercially available lightweight
aggregate green roof substrate would have VWC above
25% except immeditately after a rainfall. This is likely
due to the fact that green roof aggregate medias are
designed to drain very rapidly in the field, but ASTM
E-2399 tests the medias ability to retain water after
being fully saturated, a condition that is unlikely to
occur on most green roofs.
Research conducted at the University of Maryland
included measurement of VWC of two of the leading
brands of green roof media in the mid-Atlantic. In
multiple tests, one such media was documented to
have VWC of approximately 25%, and during Hurricane
Sandy, the media peaked at a VWC of 30% (Griffin
2014). In other research including a second leading
brand of green roof media, the media was documented
to have between 25-30% VWC immediately after
watering (Starry 2013).
Conversely, mineral wool that has been tested to
retain 94% VWC per ASTM E-2397 (the corallary to
E-2399 for fibrous materials) has been documented
to retain up to 94% VWC in the field. Mineral wools
extremely high efficiency is likely due to the fact that
mineral wool rapidly absorbs rainwater, and generally
only drains once the material approaches saturation,
versus lightweight aggregate, which absorbs water
more slowly and drains very rapidly.

Appendix A describes monitoring of a 20,000 SF


installation of EcoCline in Washington, DC, utilizing a
2-inch layer of mineral wool. Monitoring, performed
in cooperation with the University of Maryland, reveals
that mineral wool very effectively both captures and
releases stormwater. Rainfall fills the mineral wool
to approximately 70-80% VWC, then VWC quickly
drops to approximately 30-50% over a few days, then
continues to draw down to approximately 20% over
the course of a week. Nearly all reduction of VWC can
be attributed to evaporation and evapotranspiration,
as visual monitoring of drains reveals negligible flow
of gravitational water after rain events. Drawdown of
VWC occurs during all seasons of the year.
The project monitored in Appendix A included ten
sensors, some of which measured VWC as high as 94%.
Data presented averages all ten sensors together,
including sensors at the top and bottom of profile, and
sensors at highpoints and lowpoints of the roof.

Re-wettability

Furbish simulated 20 years of saturation/desiccation


cycles, simulating worst-case rewettability scenarios
of full desiccation of the mineral wool annually, per
Appendix B. These tests, performed on mineral wool
bound with phenolic resin, indicate no significant loss
in material rewettability resultant of wet/dry cycling.
Various informal field measurements of mineral wool
taken from 2012 to 2015, and various European
applications sampled in 2015 support this data, as
noted in Appendix H.

Figure 3. Volumetric water content (orange line) and rain events (vertical blue bars) for July - September 2014. Left axis is VWC
expressed as percent of total volume. Right axis is total daily inches of rainfall. Horiztonal axis is time. See Appendix A for full details.

Field monitoring as described in Appendix A


demonstrates precisely measured, reliable rewettability of mineral wool over the course of 17
months; further Appendix A indicates that volumetric
water content does not frequently drop below 10% or
approach desiccation. An antecedent moisture content
(AMC) of 10%+ provides significant water to plants
between rain events, and is high enough to ensure a
very high degree of absorption during the following
rain event, preserving maximum hydrophilia, as AMC
is an accurate predictor of a green roofs capacity to
retain the next rainfall. Figure 3 illustrates mineral
wools highly efficient retention characteristics.

Our desire is to develop systems


that perform as efficiently
as nature would on its own.
~ Michael Furbish

D i me ns i ona l l y S table
Integrity

The basic material of mineral wool is highly durable


rock, typically basalt, dolomite, or slag. The rock is
blown into fibers that are compressed to a given density.
Mineral fibers are compressed tightly in bats or boards
that are easily handled while maintaining an open
fiber structure. Mineral wool is typically used within
some containment (in green roof applications, usually
perimeter containment and
below at least one other
layer of material), and as
such separation of fibers is
not a significant threat to
material integrity. Mineral
wool examined in exposed
and covered applications,
after two to three decades
of exposure to the elements,
show a high degree of fiber
structure integrity, similar to
new material.

Mineral wool has a high degree


of dimensional stability when
manufactured at a high density
with an appropriate binder and
appropriate installation handling.

Strength

Furbish has performed several


tests on the deformability
and elasticity of mineral wool
in green roof applications, per
Appendices D and E. Though Figure 4. One-inch 8 pcf mineral wool on an EcoCline project in Washington, DC. This measurement
these are not exhaustive tests is taken approximately 18 months after installation at approximately 1.125 inches, representing
13% expansion, a common phenomenon. Minor expansion and contraction can be expected of
designed to determine the this elastic material.
ultimate strength of mineral
wool or document exhaustive product characteristics Narrowly focusing on physical performance of mineral
of mineral wool, these tests present results wool under stresses common in green roofs, and
consistent with Steponaitiss and Vejeliss statement understanding that empirical results will yield the
The mechanical characteristics of mineral wool most useful information, Furbish focused on physical
slabs are subject to structure, density of material, testing and case studies, documenting variables in
percentage of binder in product, as well as production density and binder, versus detailed documentation of
techniques. Steponaitis and Vejelis go on to explain fiber structure or production techniques. Interestingly,
that The structure of thermal insulating materials Steponaitis and Vejelis note that compressive stress
is complicated and the skeleton structure of fiber is decrease[s] with increasing thickness of mineral wool
difficult to describe mathematically. Therefore, such boards and It can be assumed that deformation
investigations are usually restricted to assessment of in mineral wool products is distributed unevenly.
empirical dependencies between certain thermal- In weaker layers deformation is very high, and in
physical or physical-mechanical properties.
stronger layers the deformation is very small. Though
claims of increased thickness have not been included
in Furbishs tests to date, there is a possibility that
thicker installations of mineral wool will be even more
resilient than thinner installations.

Density

Long-term weight of media was not tested due to the


following observations: Mineral wool is primarily used
to augment the water retention capacity of thin-profile,
extensive green roofs, therefore it would be used in
conjunction with media of 0 inches to approximately
4 inches thick, which would typically weigh no more
than 30 lbs/sf. After manufacture, before shipping to
jobsites, high density (8 pcf or higher) mineral wool
is stacked and pelletized such that the bottom layers
of material may be subjected to several weeks or
months of several hundred lbs/sf, with no measurable
compression. Further, two- and three-decade-old
German green roofs that have areas with as much as 2
inches of media exhibit the same compression as areas
with 0 inches of media. Further, pedestrian impacts
present far greater force applied to mineral wool at
approximately over 800 psf. Therefore, additional
Case Studies
Appendix H, Table H.1 summarizes observed density testing focused on resistance to compression under
in several case studies. Furbish is actively monitoring the highest applied forces: pedestrian impact.
thickness/density in several installations not listed,
and all those installations are performing similarly. In Tests were performed to simulate 37.5 and 45 years,
all projects summarized, the initial density of mineral which roughly correspond with the expected service
wool was nominally 7.9-8.0 pcf. In older projects not life of a commercial roofing membrane under a green
subject to much foot traffic, expansion of the material roof. Tests indicate that the anticipated compression
was observed in places, yielding effective densities as rate is approximately 10% over 40 years, when using
low as 5 pcf. In projects subjected to low or moderate a 12 pcf or 14 pcf mineral wool bound with phenolic
foot traffic, effective densities remained approximately resin. A compression rate of 10% is likely very
8 pcf, or as high as 10.5 pcf. In areas subjected to very conservative due to the following observations:
high foot traffic, effective densities reached as high Two- and three-decade-old 8 pcf mineral wool,
as 12.2 pcf. Long-term project monitoring illustrates
installations stabilized at effective densities of
that 8 pcf is an acceptable density for most green roof
as low as 5 pcf, indicating that in the absence of
applications, but that 12 pcf is a more appropriate
continuous pressure, mineral wool may expand
density to reliably guarantee volumetric retention
slightly.
and thus stormwater retention. Dimensional changes Two- and three-decade-old 8 pcf mineral wool,
observed in case studies are typically fractions of an
installations stabilized at effective densities not
inch, and all test data indicates that full stability is
typically higher than 12 pcf, indicating that initial
reached when using material in the range of 12 pcf.
densities of 12 pcf may not be subject to any longterm compression.
Laboratory Tests
Tests were performed with compressive forces
In advance of industry-standard test protocols to
applied in rapid succession, without allowing
accurately measure and predict the dimensional
the material time to rebound. Mineral wool
stability of mineral wool in exterior applications,
has well documented elasticity, and thus would
Furbish designed and performed tests to determine
likely rebound between compressive forces over
mineral wools resistance to compression over the
extended periods of time, versus the concentrated
expected life of a green roof. The predominant threats
forces applied during testing.
to mineral wools dimensional stability are media
weight and pedestrian impact.
Furbish researched and tested densities of 2 pcf
(pounds per cubic foot), 4 pcf, 8 pcf, 12 pcf, and 14 pcf.
The most common density used in European green
roofs is 8 pcf, as lower densities exhibit noticeable
compression under light foot traffic. Laboratory testing
and documentation of two- and three-decade-old
roofs in Germany reveal that 8 pcf mineral wool bound
with phenolic resin is highly resistant to compression
in the absence of foot traffic, and subject to 15% to
35% compression when subjected to high levels of
foot traffic. Laboratory and field tests of 8 pcf mineral
wool produced with no chemical binder reveal that 8
pcf mineral wool compresses by approximately 25%,
but with some noticeable rebound.

The following laboratory compression tests were


performed:
Simulation of 45 years of actual foot traffic by
workers, per Appendix D, and
Simulation of 37.5 years of foot traffic, using
calibrated compression device, per Appendix E.

Binders

Inert phenolic resin binders


safely improve the properties of
mineral wool.
Most mineral wool is manufactured with a binder
that holds the fibers together and greatly improves
dimensional stability as noted by Steponaitis and
Vejelis, and also by Gardziella, Pilato, and Knop, and
as supported by tests in Appendices D and E and
observations in Appendix H.

Similar Product Applications

Green roofs are not the only exterior applications


that utilize mineral wool, as some manufacturers
are offering high-density sub-grade mineral wool
products. Roxuls DRAINBOARD is available in 8 pcf
and 11 pcf densities and has been used in Denmark for
35 years, successfully intact, and virtually unaffected
by compression.
such as Bakelite, laminated veneer lumber (LVL),
glulam, fiberglass and mineral wool insulation, spray
insulation, plastic toys and figurines, laboratory
countertops, billiard balls, firefighter protective
gear, and gaskets for furnaces and ovens. PF is a
highly durable, waterproof, inert industrial plastic
with excellent chemical- and flame-resistant
properties that make it an invaluable component
of so many useful products. PF has a long track
record of resistance to the elements. PF is used
extensively in engineered lumber, particularly for
exterior applications due to the materials excellent
resistance to water, wetting and drying cycles,
temperature extremes, and biological degradation.

The most common binder, phenolic resin,


technically known as phenol formaldehyde (PF), is a Binders are typically sprayed onto mineral
product that is completely safe for use in green roof wool fibers and perform like spot welds at fiber
applications. See Appendix F for water quality tests. intersections, rather than coating fibers uniformly.
In order to be sprayable, PF is diluted with water and
Runoff from PF-bound mineral urea into a sprayable form. The diluted (extended)
product is then known as urea-extended phenol
wool exceeds the EPAs standards formaldehyde (UEPF). UEPF is by far the most
common binder used in mineral wool, particularly
for safe drinking water.
in Europe when green roofs first began to use
Phenol, the primary component of PF, is used mineral wool.
in cough drops, throat lozenges, mouthwashes,
and pharmaceuticals. Though formaldehyde is a UEPF is a stable diluted form of PF. UEPF retains the
component used to manufacture PF, the finished same properties of the parent PF when appropriate
product of PF has negligible free formaldehyde, as urea concentrations are incorporated; however, if
formaldehyde binds tightly with phenol to form a urea concentrations are too high a loss of strength
new compound. The tightly bound formaldehyde can occur, resulting in loss of compressive strength
in PF is no more available than toxic chlorine is and dimensional stability.
available in table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl).
In addition to improving the sprayability of PF, the
PF is a stable, inert, non-toxic compound present in introduction of urea to PF greatly helps to reduce
many common household items and construction formaldehyde emissions at the manufacturing
materials, including floral foams, plywood, dishware plant, per Pilato depending upon the P/F ratio, the

10

reaction mixture upon condensation contains 5-15%


unreacted formaldehyde, therefore scavengers,
such as urea, are added to the P/F mixture, to
minimize the free formaldehyde level.

most soils, such as Ochrobactrum, rendering UF an


unstable binder to use in conjunction with mineral
wool in exterior roof applications that demand longterm dimensional stability. UF is also commonly
used in several engineered wood products that are
not typically exposed to moisture, such as particle
board. UF is relatively unstable and is subject to
offgassing of free formaldehyde. Due to offgassing
concerns, LEED and other environmental rating
systems and regulations are actively working to
remove UF from interior environments. UF is not
recommended as a binder for use in mineral wool
in green roofs.

The Rockwool Group, the makers of Roxul insulation,


note: The [binder] compounds are used in a fixed
or cured form, so they are not emitted from the
product. Studies show there is no appreciable
increase in the levels of formaldehyde in buildings
where Rockwool insulation is used and thus does
not represent a risk to the health or well being
of occupiers nor has it any negative impact on
the indoor climate. Tests confirm that Rockwool
products meet the most rigorous standards in Several companies are actively using or investigating
Europe classifying the release of formaldehyde.
the use of non-petroleum-based and formaldehydefree binders. At the time of publication, the authors
UEPF meets strict European Union standards for are unaware of availability of binders other than
environmental quality in green roofs. LEED v2.2s PF that have demonstrated stability in the exterior
EQ Credit 4.4 allows PF, commonly used in interior environment; however, future technologies will
applications such as hard-surface countertops, and likely produce viable alternatives to PF.
melamine formaldehyde (MF), commonly used in
plastic laminates, as both MF and PF are highly stable Appendix A includes monitoring data for one
with negligible free formaldehyde. Conversely, as installed project using UEPF-bound mineral wool,
formaldehyde is less tightly bound in the less stable documenting the materials excellent retention and
UF, LEEDs EQ Credit 4.4 precludes the use of UF.
rewettability.
Mineral wools compression resistance and longterm durability is determined principally by density,
and secondarily by binder. As UEPF is less rigid than
undiluted PF, mineral wool bound with UEPF with a
urea concentration of approximately 1-3% per mass
has exhibited continued elasticity and resistance to
compression over three decades of use, particularly
at a density of at least 8 pcf.
A variety of binders other than UEFP are used
in the mineral wool industry, including sodium
silicates, polyesters, melamine urea formaldehyde,
polyamides, and furane-based resins.
Key
differences between PF and urea formaldehyde
(UF) are worth noting. UF is commonly used as
a coating for slow-release fertilizers. UF is easily
decomposed within the temperature range of 7090 degrees Fahrenheit by microbes common in

Appendix G compares 40x magnified images of


UEPF-bound mineral wool fibers of new material
with fibers exposed to 3 years of weathering; no
discernible differences are present.
Appendix H documents two- and three-decadeold mineral wool in green roof applications, which
has physical characteristics nearly identical to new
material.
Appendix F documents water samples collected from
a 3-year old green roof sample using mineral wool
bound with UEPF. The water collected exceeded
the EPAs safe drinking level for formaldehyde by
200 times and for phenol by 12 times.

11

Re liabl e H orticult ural Me dium


Mineral wool has been used as a horticultural growing
medium almost as long as it has been used as insulation.
Companies such as Grodan specialize in production of
mineral wool media for nursery, greenhouse, and crop
production. The most common type of binder used in
mineral wool, phenolic resin, also has a long history of
horticultural use; phenolic resin is an inert plastic used
to create floral foam, a ubiquitous green foam found
in floral arrangements.
Mineral wool is commonly used
in living wall applications, such
as the Sage Living Wall and
Sempergreens Flexipanel, both
of which are used in interior and
exterior applications.
Handreck and Black document the
components of growing media as:
mineral particles - the inorganic
fraction,
organic matter, the remains of
living organisms,
water, the soil solution in
which nutrients for plants are
dissolved,
air, which fills the space
between solid particles not
filled with water, and
living organisms, smaller
animals and microbes.
Once some organic matter is added
to mineral wool, and the material
is exposed to naturally abundant
microbes, mineral wool meets all
relevant criteria for growth media.

Water held in pore spaces between mineral fibers


is readily available to plants. As plants absorb and
evapotranspirate water, volumetric water content
(VWC) drops to approximately 20%. Though short-term
VWC is very high after a rain, thirsty drought-tolerant
plants stock up on water and the air-to-water ratio
returns to approximately 50%/50% quickly after a rain,
as documented in Appendix A, and as evidenced by
healthy vegetation observed in Appendix H.

Figure 5. Young, healthy vegetation on a newly installed green roof utilizing mineral wool

Mineral wool is highly root


permeable and absorbs up to 94%
of its volume in water.
When used as part of a green roof assembly, mineral
wool is typically used as a water retention layer, water
retention and drainage layer, or sometimes as the
surface growth media. Appendix H documents green
roofs with no media or soil above the mineral wool, a
configuration which has reliably supported vegetation
for decades.

Mineral wool can be very valuable on a green roof not


only for stormwater retention, but for plant irrigation
between rain events, increasing the viability of rooftop
vegetation and possibly increasing the potential for a
diverse plant palette even in a very thin profile. For
example, as mineral wools VWC is typically between
20% and 50% when used in the eastern US, plants are
supplied with abundant water to fuel growth, versus
most aggregate green roof medias which only retain a
maximum of 25% VWC, even when ASTM tests report
higher VWC (Starry), and which rapidly drain below
10% VWC.

12

B e st Pra cti ce s
Mineral wool can be a valuable
component within a green roof
assembly when used according
to best practices. As is the
case with most construction
materials, context, application,
and handling are important
variables.

Compatibility

When selecting any green


roof system, select a system
whose components have been
engineered to work together.
In the case of mineral wool,
select a green roof system that
has been developed and tested
to perform as intended with
mineral wool as a component;
simply adding mineral wool to
a green roof profile without
testing may lead to unexpected
results.
Manufacturers
of
mineral wool green roof systems
consider how the mineral wool
will interact with underlayment
layers and surface layers to
engineer appropriate air to
water ratio, drainage, nutrient
availability and wind resistance.

Vegetation
Aggregate Media
(weed suppression
layer)

Aggregate Media
(nutrient layer)
Filter Fabric

Nutrient

Although mineral wool is an


Mineral Wool (water retention and drainage layer)
excellent water retention and
rooting media, mineral wool Figure 6. Cross-section of EcoCline profile, illustrating mineral wool as a component within a
possesses negligible cation complete system.
exchange capacity (CEC), a measure of the materials Wind Resistance
ability to absorb nutrients and make them available The current US wind-resistance standard, ANSI/SPRI
to plants. Typically mineral wool should be utilized RP-14 is primarily written around aggregate-based
in conjunction with components that provide CEC or green roof systems, as the standard is based primarily
used with plants that require little nutrient. As plant on ballast or dry weight of the media. Manufacturers
roots penetrate the mineral wool, organic matter may of mineral wool based green roofs may have wind
accumulate within the fibers and provide increased resistance ratings based on actual wind testing
CEC as the system matures, as shown uncovered versus a calculated ballast rating. Specifiers should
understand the manufacturers wind rating and
mineral wool in Appendix H.
specify accordingly.

13

Plant Selection

Select plants that will thrive in a mineral wool green


roof. Mineral wool provides greater water availability to
plants than aggregate-based green roofs, which can be
a blessing - potential for broader plant palette- or a curse
- potential for high weed pressure. Low maintenance
green roofs should be designed to provide a certain
amount of stress to plants to minimize competition
and slow species succession. Stress within aggregatebased green roofs is predominantly created via very
dry conditions. Stress within European mineral wool
green roofs has traditionally been created by utilizing
an ultra-thin profile. EcoCline utilizes a harsh media
in conjunction with mineral wool in order to suppress
weeds and minimize species competition, even within
deep mineral wool profiles designed to manage high
volumes of stormwater. Mineral wool green roofs are
typically around 1 to 3 inches thick, yet support Sedum
and similar vegetation that would otherwise require
approximately 4 inches of media in a comparable
climate zone. As system thickness increases, without
some other constraint, higher maintenance plants can
easily outcompete Sedums in surprisingly thin profiles.

Density

Use a mineral wool with a density of at least 8 pcf,


preferably 12 pcf if the roof will be subjected to much
impact. Ensure that the mineral wool utilizes a binder
that has demonstrated stability, or material that has
proven stability without use of a binder. Binders
technology is likely to change and improve over the
next few years.

Traffic

As with any green roof, avoid vegetating areas subject


to frequent foot traffic; frequent may be defined as
more often than once weekly. Design pedestrian access
routes and pedestrian spaces such that the weight of
the pedestrian is not transferred to the mineral wool in
order to provide stable, level pedestrian surfaces and
prevent unnecessary compression of the mineral wool.
Mineral wool has adequate compressive strength to
support the occasional maintenance worker, but not
enough to support frequent pedestrian impact or to
level pavers.

Installation

When
installing,
wear
protective clothing, similar to
insulation installers. Mineral
wool may cause itching,
which is often best managed
by wearing long sleeves
and showering soon after
handling. Mineral wool is
lightweight and easily handled
dry, but is difficult to handle
when wet, so keep it dry until
it is in place. Once installed,
minimize construction impact
over the installed mineral
wool, and cover as soon as
practical. Ballast the same
day as installation.

Figure 7. Mineral wool installed before covering with media and filter fabric.

14

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16

Errata
The original publication of Mineral Wool in Green Roofs, dated May 2015 listed Whitney Griffin, PhD., as a contributing author of this report. Dr.
Griffin was instrumental in the work of Appendix A; however, upon further review, Dr. Griffins contributions are not extensive enough to warrant
co-authorship, so her name is removed as a contributing author.
Page 6 was amended to more accurately cite the research conducted at the University of Maryland.
The list of sources was updated to correct the citation date for Dr. Starrys dissertation.
Appendix 1 was amended to more specifically identify the roles of Furbish and the University of Maryland in this resarch.

17

A ppe ndi x A: A ct ive Monitori ng


Furbish is actively monitoring one green roof in wool is occupied by water). The mineral wool utilized
Washington, DC that utilizes mineral wool.
in this application retains a maximum of 94% VWC
as tested per ASTM E-2397. Note that on several
Conclusions
occasions the VWC peaks to between 75% and 85%,
Mineral wool efficiently absorbs rainwater, with approaching the maximum VWC. Also note that the
retention nearly matching rain amounts, creating VWC drops sharply to approximately 50% VWC within
negligible runoff until reaching approximately 80% 1-3 days of peaking, and then gradually drops to
volumetric water capacity (VWC).
approximately 20% VWC over the course of a week.
Water held in mineral wool is available for Average VWC drops to 10% or less on eight occasions
evaporation and/or evapotranspiration, as over the 17-month period, and never drops below 5%.
evidenced by quick drawdown of VWC without the
creation of runoff.
Rainfall is represented by the blue bars and
Between rain events, mineral wool possesses a corresponds to the right axis, expressed in total daily
VWC and air-to-water ratio that is documented to rainfall (inches). Note that most rain events produce
be favorable to a wide range of plant species.
less than 0.5 inches of precipitation, which is typical
Mineral wools retention performance is consistent for the Washington, DC region. Also note that VWC
through time.
rises commensurate with most rain events. For
example, on April 8, 2014 (040814), the roof receives
approximately 0.61 inches of rainfall. At the same
Test Protocols
Monitoring equipment was installed in November time the VWC raises from 0.21% to 0.51%. As the
2013 in cooperation with the Department of Plant mineral wool in this application is 2 inches thick, 21%
Sciences at the University of Maryland. The monitoring VWC equates to 0.42 inches of water before the rain,
package consists of a weather station and green roof and 51% equates to 1.02 inches of water after the
system monitoring. The weather station consists of rain, and increase of 0.60 inches of water retained,
an ECRN-100 High Resolution rain gauge (0.2mm which almost exactly matches the precipitation that
accuracy); PYR total radiation sensor; VP-3 relative occurred. A similar pattern occurs with most other
humidity, temperature, and vapor pressure sensor; rainfall events, including a few rain events exceeding
Davis Cup anemometer (wind speed and direction); 2 inches of precipitation. Efficiency of retention is
and LWS leaf wetness sensor (all supplied by Decagon partially a function of the speed of precipitation; a high
Devices, Pullman, Washington). The green roof system volume of precipitation in a very short timeframe will
monitoring consisted of ten 5-TM soil moisture probes be more likely to create runoff than a slower rainfall
(Decagon Devices, Pullman, Washington) inserted into of the same total volume. Only seven (7) rain events
the mineral wool layer. Sensors were placed evenly over the 17-month period produced significant runoff,
across a single drainage area of the roof to account likely due to the speed and intensity of the storm.
for wet spots near the drain and drier spots away
from the drain. All data were logged and transmitted Note the consistency of the graph. Rainfall is captured
by Em50G wireless cellular data loggers (Decagon and retained at similar rates throughout the year.
Devices, Pullman, Washington). Analysis of collected The mineral wool dries down to an average ambient
data was prepared by Furbish.
condition of 20% VWC throughout most of the year,
including winter. Furbish has observed roof drains
Test Results
and observes little to no visible runoff following a rain
Figure A1.1 plots rainfall and volumetric water retention event, which we interpret to indicates a lowering of
from November 2013 to April 2015. Volumetric water VWC primarily via evapotranspiration versus delayed
content (VWC) is represented by the orange line and runoff. As the mineral wool typically retains 20% to
corresponds to the left axis. VWC is expressed as the 50% VWC throughout most of the year, it is an ideal
percentage of the volume of mineral wool occupied rooting medium for plants, providing a highly desirable
by water (e.g. 10% of the volume of mineral wool is air-to-water ratio for a wide range of species, including
occupied by water, or 90% of the volume of mineral Sedum.

A1

Figure A.1 Total daily rainfall (inches) and green roof system volumetric water content (%) of a 20,000 square foot green roof in
Washington, DC (VWC n = 10 and rainfall n = 1).

Figure A.2 Monitoring equipment installed on rooftop soon after installation.

A2

A ppe ndi x B : D r y C ycle Te st s


Furbish conducted a series of trials to test the
rewettability of two different mineral wool products
that are used in green roof applications: 8 pcf mineral
wool that utilizes a phenolic resin binder, and 8 pcf
mineral wool that does not utilize any chemical binder.
These tests were performed in order to quantify
whether repeated wet/dry cycles affect the hydrophilic
(water-absorbing) properties of mineral wool when
the material fully desiccates to from-the-factory
condition (approximately less than 1% volumetric
water content).

Conclusions

Mineral wool bound with phenolic resin retains


slightly more water than unbound mineral wool,
30 psf of compression reduces volumetric water
content by approximately 15-20% in 8 pcf mineral
wool*,
Wet-dry cycles have no detectable effect on
rewettability of either mineral wool bound with
phenolic resin or mineral wool that does not utilize
chemical binders, and
During testing a very slight initial hydrophobia
was observed in some samples, which quickly
converted to hydrophilia once in contact with
water for a few seconds.
*Note that following these tests, Furbish confirmed
via a more focused test protocol that 12 pcf mineral
wool demonstrates negligible loss of volumetric water
content under 30 psf compression. Those test results
are not included in this appendix.
Tests described in this Appendix were performed
before the active monitoring described in Appendix A.
Note that the active monitoring field information in
Appendix A provides very similar rewettability results
as are found in this Appendix.

Test Assumptions

Based on a general familiarity with green roofs and


familiarity with how mineral wool performs in green
roofs, Furbish made the assumption that the mineral
wool in green roofs rarely dries below 5% VWC, and
very rarely - if ever - dries below 1% VWC (refer to
Appendices A and H). Further, Furbish assumes that
in climates that are susceptible to severe drought,
some form of baseline irrigation would be provided.
However, assuming a worst-case scenario of an annual
mega-drought with no supplemental irrigation, a test
assumption was that the mineral wool will completely
desiccate once annually. Based on these assumptions,
twenty (20) saturation/desiccation cycles were created
to simulate 20 years of full desiccation/saturation
events.

Samples Tested

Four (4) different conditions were simulated on the


two (2) different materials, for a total of eight (8) tests,
duplicated, for a total of sixteen (16) samples, as listed
below.
1A Unbound, uncompressed
1B Unbound, uncompressed
1C Bound, uncompressed
1D Bound, uncompressed
2A Unbound, compressed by 30 psf
2B Unbound, compressed by 30 psf
2C Bound, compressed by 30 psf
2D Bound, compressed by 30 psf
3A Unbound, compressed dry 20 times by 170 psf,

then compressed by 30 psf
3B Unbound, compressed dry 20 times by 170 psf,

then compressed by 30 psf
3C Bound, compressed dry 20 times by 170 psf,

then compressed by 30 psf
3D Bound, compressed dry 20 times by 170 psf,

then compressed by 30 psf
4A Bound, compressed wet 20 times by 170 psf,

then compressed by 30 psf
4B Bound, compressed wet 20 times by 170 psf,

then compressed by 30 psf
4C Bound, compressed wet 20 times by 170 psf,

then compressed by 30 psf
4D Bound, compressed wet 20 times by 170 psf,

then compressed by 30 psf

A3

Test Protocols

Samples in Group 1 (1A, 1B, etc.) were tested with no


construction impact and no compression applied to the
material to establish a baseline for the mineral wools
water retention and rewettability. Note that steps
1-4, below, are very similar to ASTM E-2397 which is
used to establish the dry weight and maximum water
holding capacity of mineral wool or similar fibrous
materials used in green roofs.

Samples in Group 3 tested the mineral wools water


retention after the mineral wool was subjected
to typical dry-weather construction impact, then
rewettability under 30 psf of compression. Based on
significant green roof installation experience, Furbish
estimates that no single area of the roof would typically
be stepped on more than 10 times during construction
after installation of the mineral wool layer and before
installation of media, as mineral wool is typically
Process:
covered by filter fabric and media on the same day it is
1. Weigh Dry: Weigh each from-the-factory-dry to installed. High-traffic areas require special protection,
establish a baseline dry weight for each sample. which is typical for all green roof installation. In order
Samples were placed in a wire mesh containment to simulate a worst-case scenario, the test assumed
to use as handles. For all samples, the wire mesh that each square foot of mineral wool would be
containment weighed approximately 0.2 lbs.
stomped on 20 times by a 170 lb person.
2. Wet: Submerse samples in water for 1 to 5 minutes.
3. Drain: Remove samples from water and allow to Process:
freely drain along a -inch per foot slope until 1. Weigh Dry: Stomp on dry mineral wool 20 times,
water flows slower than one drop per second.
by a 170-lb person wearing construction boots.
4. Weigh Wet: Weight the drained sample.
Then same as Group 2.
5. Dry: Place the sample in a dehydration chamber 2. Wet: Same as Group 2
until the samples weight is approximately the 3. Drain: Same as Group 2
same weight as measured in step 1 (from-the- 4. Weigh Wet: Same as Group 2
factory-dry).
5. Dry: Same as Group 2
Repeat steps 2-5 twenty times.
Repeat steps 2-5 twenty times.
Samples in Group 2 tested the mineral wools
water retention and rewettability under 30 psf
of compression, the average maximum weight
anticipated to be used over mineral wool, comparable
to of 4 inches of aggregate media.
Process:
1. Weigh Dry: Same as Group 1
2. Wet: Same as Group 1
3. Drain: Same as Group 1, except place 30 lbs of
dry precast concrete pavers directly over the wet
sample while the sample is draining.
4. Weigh Wet: Same as Group 1, except briefly remove
the precast concrete pavers while weighing.
5. Dry: Same as Group 1.
Repeat steps 2-5 twenty times.

Samples in Group 4 tested the mineral wools water


retention after the mineral wool was subjected
to typical wet-weather construction impact, then
rewettability under 30 psf of compression.
Process:
1. Weigh Dry: Weigh mineral wool from-thefactory dry to establish a baseline weight. Then
fully saturate. Then stomp on fully saturated
mineral wool 20 times, by a 170-lb person wearing
construction boots. Then re-dry to from-thefactory conditions to re-establish a sample
baseline weight. Then same as Group 2.
2. Wet: Same as Group 2
3. Drain: Same as Group 2
4. Weigh Wet: Same as Group 2
5. Dry: Same as Group 2
Repeat steps 2-5 twenty times.

A4

Test Results

Testing demonstrated no measurable loss in In Figures B.1, B.2 and B.3, the vertical axis is in pounds,
rewettability of mineral wool over 20 saturation/ and the horizontal axis is cycles (cycle 1 through cycle
desiccation cycles. Mineral wool bound with phenolic 20).
resin retained slightly more water than unbound
mineral wool.

Figure B.1. This graph illustrates the dry weight of each of the 16 samples, per Step 1 as noted above. The dry weight is very
consistently measured to be between 0.80 lbs and 0.90 lbs for each 1 square foot sample. (Sample 1D was a slightly heavier outlier at
approximately 1.0 lbs. Notice that some samples weighed more at the beginning Cycle 5, indicating that Cycle 5 did not uniformly dry
all samples; however most other cycles uniformly dried all samples to from the factory condition, or slightly drier.)

Figure B.2. This graph illustrates the wet weight of each of the sixteen samples, per Step 4 as noted above. The wet weight is very
consistently measured to be 4 lbs and 6 lbs, with an average of 5 lbs for each 1 square foot sample. (Sample 1D was a slightly heavier
outlier at approximately 1.0 lb dry weight and proportionately higher saturated weight. Notice that the trend line for all samples is
relatively horizontal, i.e. there is no measurable decrease in rewettability.)

A5

Figure B.3 illustrates the average wet and dry weights of each group of sample. Notice that the dry weight for bound samples (T)
and unbound samples (K) is uniformly approximately 1 lb/sf. The distance between wet weights and dry weights represents water
retention capacity and material efficiency. Generally, bound mineral wool retained slightly more water than unbound mineral wool,
and uncompressed mineral wool retained slightly more water than mineral wool compressed by 30 psf.

Figures B.4 (right) illustrates wetting samples per Step 2, above.


Figure B.5, (bottom left) illustrates draining uncompressed
samples before weighing per Step 3, above.
Figure B.6 (bottom center) illustrates draining compressed
samples under 30 psf of precast concrete pavers before weighing
per Step 3, above.
Figure B.7 (bottom right) illustrates weighing fully drained
samples per Step 4, above.

A6

A ppe ndi x C : F low C ycle Te st s


Furbish conducted a series of trials to test the
rewettability of two different mineral wool products
that are used in green roof applications: 8 pcf mineral
wool that utilizes a phenolic resin binder, and 8 pcf
mineral wool that does not utilize a chemical binder.

Test Protocols

Conclusions

Process:
1. Each sample was encased in a clear, rigid plastic
casing, open at two sides (top and bottom sides).
The rigid plastic was reinforced with wooden ribs
to prevent bowing of the plastic. Each sample was
inspected to ensure uniform contact between the
plastic casing and the mineral wool so that water
could only pass through the mineral wool and
not through voids between the mineral wool and
casing.
2. Weigh Dry: Weigh samples dry (from the factory)
to establish a baseline dry weight for that sample.
3. Wet: Release five (5) gallons of water through the
samples. Gauge water release so that no water
flows outside the plastic casing.
4. Drain: Allow samples to freely drain along a -inch
per foot slope until water flows not faster than
one drop per second.
5. Weigh Wet: Weigh the drained sample.
Repeat steps 2-5 twenty times.

A total volume of 100 gallons of water was used per


sample. One hundred (100) gallons = 23,100 cubic
inches = a vertical column of 160.42 inches of water
over each 1 square foot (144 square inches) sample.
The volume of 100 gallons of water was released via
These tests were performed in order to quantify gravity feed onto the samples in twenty (20) cycles,
whether high volumetric water flow affects the of five (5) gallons per cycle, simulating 8.02 inches of
hydrophilic (water-absorbing) properties of mineral rainfall per cycle. Each sample was weighed before
and after each cycle.
wool.
High flow cycles (simulating 160 inches of rainfall)
have no detectable effect on rewettability of
either mineral wool bound with phenolic resin or
unbound mineral wool, and
Mineral wool bound with phenolic resin retains
slightly more water than mineral wool bound
without resin.

Test Assumptions

Based on a familiarity with green roofs in general


and a familiarity with how mineral wool performs in
green roofs, Furbish designed this test to simulate
approximately four (4) years of rainfall in the Eastern
US (a total of 160 inches of rainfall). Four years was
chosen because only the initial hydrophilic properties
of mineral wool were the focus of this test, as longer
term applications cannot accurately be modeled
without increasing root mass within the mineral wool,
and longer term applications are best examined via
case studies, such as in Appendix H.

Samples tested

Two (2) different materials were tested, for a total


of two (2) tests, duplicated, for a total of four (4)
samples, as listed below. Bound samples were bound
with phenolic resin.
1
Bound, 8 pcf, 1 square foot at 1 thick
2
Bound, 8 pcf, 1 square foot at 1 thick
3
Unbound, 8 pcf, 1 square foot at 1 thick
4
Unbound, 8 pcf, 1 square foot at 1 thick

A7

Test Results

Testing demonstrated no measurable loss in


rewettability of mineral wool after exposure to 100
gallons/SF. In Figures C.1 and C.2, the vertical axis is in
pounds, and the horizontal axis is cycles (cycle 1 through

cycle 20). The dry weight of each of the 4 samples was


only taken initially, per Step 2 as noted above, as this
test did not include substantial desiccation between
cycles. Both wet and dry weights include the weight
of the plastic casing, for consistency.

Figure C.1. illustrates the wet weight of samples taken per Step 3, above, The wet weight is very consistently measured to be between
6 and 7 lbs, with an average of 6.2 lbs for each 1 square foot sample. Notice that the trend line for all samples is relatively horizontal,
i.e. no measurable decrease in rewettability,

Figure C.2 illustrates the same wet weight results as the chart above, but the vertical axis represents volumetric water capacity (VWC)
expressed as percentage of water of the total volume. Note that the two Bound samples (Samples 1 and 2) average approximately
85% VWC, which is consistent with actual field data illustrated in Appendix A.

A8

Figure C.3 (top right). Photo of sample in


plastic casing with wooden ribs, per Step 1,
above.
Figure C.4 (top left). Photo of samples
saturating in water, per Step 2, above.
Figure C.5 (middle right). Photo of samples
receiving water, per Step 3, above.
Figure C.6 (bottom right). Photo of samples
draining, per step 4, above.

A9

A ppe ndi x D: Pe de st rian I m pa c t


Furbish conducted a series of trials to test the
compression resistance of two different mineral wool
products that are used in green roof applications: a
12 lb/cubic foot (12 pcf) and a 14 pcf mineral wool,
both manufactured utilizing a phenolic resin binder
applied at a rate of approximately 6% per mass. The
12 pcf and 14 pcf materials were selected after Furbish
determined that 8 pcf mineral wool compressed to an
effective density of 10-12 pcf under high foot traffic.
The primary goal of theses tests was to ascertain
whether mineral wool manufactured at an initial
density higher than 10 pcf stabilizes at its initial density
without further compression under foot traffic, and
whether overburden layers affect compression.

Conclusions

the short edge, for a total of nine (9) axis intersections.


The thickness of the mineral wool was measured at
each axis intersection during testing.

Samples:

Two (2) different materials were tested, in three (3)


configurations, for a total of six (6) samples, as listed
below. Each sample filled a wooden box with interior
dimensions measuring 3-9 x 3-1 (11.55 square
feet) and utilized mineral wool applied at 1 thick.
The shovel guard material used was J-Drain 300;
the intent of testing this material was to determine
whether a semi-rigid layer used over the mineral wool
would affect compression resistance.
C12 Bound 12 pcf, under 2 inches of EcoCline

Media B2 and 1 layer of filter fabric
C14 Bound 14 pcf, under 2 inches of EcoCline

Media B2 and 1 layer of filter fabric
G12 Bound 12 pcf, under 1.5 inches of angular

gravel and 1 layer of shovel guard
G14 Bound 14 pcf, under 1.5 inches of angular

gravel and 1 layer of shovel guard
H12 Bound 12 pcf, under 1.5 inches of angular

gravel and 1 layer of shovel guard
H14 Bound 14 pcf, under 1.5 inches of angular

gravel and 1 layer of shovel guard

Mineral wool at a 12 pcf density retained


approximately 95% of its volume after
approximately 22 years of simulated compression,
and approximately 91% of its volume after 45
years of simulated compression.
Mineral wool at a 14 pcf density retained
approximately 99% of its volume after
approximately 45 years of simulated compression.
Mineral wool of both 12 pcf and 14 pcf densities
exhibited rebound from compression.
Use of a shovel guard improved compression
resistance. (Note that this conclusion is not Test Protocol Calculations
consistently supported by tests and case studies in The impact necessary to generate a simulated fortyother Appendices.)
five (45) years of compressive forces was based
upon Furbishs imperical measurements. Green roof
Test Protocols
maintenance typically requires approximately 5 visits
1. Workers stepped on unprotected mineral wool annually; a 5,000 SF roof requires an average of two
samples 20 times to simulate construction impact workers to be present for approximately 2 hrs/visit
(approximately 2 steps per square foot), then (approximately 1,250 sf per manhour). During a visit,
covered the mineral wool with overburden layers. the predominant foot traffic is walking and squatting
2. Workers walked on the samples, continuously to pull weeds, which might not require any foot traffic
moving, for 31 minutes to simulate 11.25 years of over certain roof areas, or might require up to 3-5
installation and maintenance activities.
steps/sf, with occasional longer periods of squatting
3. Workers squatted and/or sat directly on the in weedy areas. At the high end of average, Furbish
samples for 60 minutes to simulate 11.25 years of estimates a typical maintenance visit would include
intensive weeding efforts.
4.8 steps per square foot, approximately 5 times
4. Steps 3 and 4 were repeated 4 times to generate a annually, and very weedy green roofs would receive
total of 45 years of impact.
intense weeding visits approximately 3 times annually,
Each sample was gridded using three (3) equally covering 0.16 sf/minute. Full calculations are shown
spaced axis lines perpendicular to the long edge, and in Table D.1.
three (3) equally spaced axis lines perpendicular to

A10

A
B
C
D

5000
240
21
76

E
F

11.55
0.55

G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O

4.8
5
2.772
31
11
4
45
124
9424

816

square feet of statistical area


minutes per visit to service / walk over non-weedy areas
square feet per minute
average number of steps per minute in a 16 SF sample, constantly
moving
square feet sample size
minutes of foot traffic per visit per sample size (about 45
seconds/16sf)
approximate number of steps per square foot per visit
visits per year
minutes of foot traffic per sample size per year
minutes of foot traffic per trial segment
years of simulated foot traffic per trial segment
completed trial segments
total years of simulated foot traffic
minutes of foot traffic per 16SF sample over 32 year test period
total approximate number of steps taken over sample area over
45 years

Imperical
Imperical
A/B
Imperical

total approximate number of steps per square foot over 45 years

O/E

E/C
D / 16
Imperical
FxH
J/I
KxL
JxL
DxN

Table D.1. Typical maintenance impact calculations . Statistical measurement: typical low-weed-pressure 5,000 SF green roof is
maintained by 2 people for 2 hours per visit (4 manhours or 240 minutes), with 5 visits annually.

A1
B1

5000
780

C1
D1
E1
F1
H1
I1
J1
K1
L1
M1
N1

6
0.156
11.55
1.8
3
5.41
60
11
4
44
240

square feet of statistical area


minutes per visit to service / squat or sit and weed areas of highweed-pressure
square feet per minute
minutes of intense weeding per square foot of green roof
square feet sample size
minutes of squatting to weed per visit per sample size
intense weedings per year
minutes of squatting to weed per sample size per year
minutes of squatting to weed per trial segment
years of simulated intense weeding
completed trial segments
total years of simulated squatting to weed per trial segment
minutes of squatting to weed per 11.55SF sample over 44 year
test period

Imperical
Imperical
A1 / B1
B1 / A1
E1 / C1
Imperical
F1 x H1
J1 / I1
K1 x L1
J1 x L1

Table D.2. Intensive weeding impact calculations. Statistical measurement: typical high-weed-pressure 5,000 SF green roof requires
2 people for approximately 390 minutes (13 manhours or 780 minutes) 3 times annually.

A11

Figure D.1. Average of all samples: Mineral wool at a 12 pcf density retained approximately 95% of its volume after approximately 22
years of simulated compression, and approximately 91% of its volume after 45 years of simulated compression. Mineral wool at a 14
pcf density retained approximately 99% of its volume after approximately 45 years of simulated compression.

Figure D. 2. Sample C12: 12pcf mineral wool covered with filter fabric and EcoCline Media B2. Most samples exhibited approximately
5% compression after 20 years of simulated impact, and approximately 25% compression after 45 years of simulated impact.

A12

Figure D. 3. Sample C14: 14pcf mineral wool covered with filter fabric and EcoCline Media B2. No samples exhibited any measureable
compression after 45 years of simulated impact.

Figure D. 4. Sample G12: 12pcf mineral wool covered with shovel guard and EcoCline Media R (angular #4 aggregate). No samples
exhibited any measureable compression after 45 years of simulated impact.

A13

Figure D. 5. Sample G14: 14pcf mineral wool covered with shovel guard and EcoCline Media R (angular #4 aggregate). Samples
exhibited temporary compression of up to 10%; however all samples fully rebounded within one week of testing, exhibiting no
measureable compression after 45 years of simulated impact.

Figure D. 6. Sample H12: 12pcf mineral wool covered with shovel guard and rounded #4 aggregate). Most samples exhibited no no
measureable compression after 45 years of simulated impact. One sample exhibited 10% compression after 35 years of simulated
impact. One sample exhibited 25% compression, but rebounded to 100% of original volume within 1 week of testing.

A14

Figure D. 7. Sample H14: 14pcf mineral wool covered with shovel guard and rounded #4 aggregate. One probe of one sample exhibited
temporary compression of up to 25%; however all samples fully rebounded within one week of testing, exhibiting no measureable
compression after 45 years of simulated impact.

A15

A ppe ndi x E : Calibrate d I m p a c t


Furbish conducted a series of tests documented in this Observations
Appendix which are a variation of tests documented in Most configurations and most material types
Appendix D. Whereas the tests in Appendix D simulated
exhibited approximately 10% compression at
pedestrian impact under actual foot traffic over a narrow
various points during the test. Some samples fully
range of samples, the tests in Appendix E simulate
rebounded and others did not.
pedestrian impact over a much wider range of samples. Compression occurred at various points during
testing. No significant breaking point was
Conclusions
observed.
Compression generally remained
Mineral wool at a 12 pcf density retained
constant after occurring, even if early in the
approximately 95% of its volume after
process. Compression rebounded often.
approximately 22 years of simulated compression, No particular configuration performed significantly
and approximately 91% of its volume after 45
better than others. The top four performing
years of simulated compression.
configurations (filter fabric and angular stone, filter
Mineral wool at a 14 pcf density retained
fabric and media B2, filter fabric only, and shovel
approximately 99% of its volume after
guard with media B2) include the full spectrum of
approximately 45 years of simulated compression.
configurations tested.
Mineral wool of both 12 pcf and 14 pcf densities
exhibited rebound from compression.
Samples Tested
Use of a shovel guard or media type had no Two (2) different materials (12 pcf and 14 pcf) were
discernable effect on compression resistance.
tested, in nine (9) configurations, for a total of
eighteen (18) material/configuration combinations,
and each combination was tested wet and dry, for a
total of thirty-six (36) samples, as listed below. Each
sample filled a wooden box with interior dimensions
measuring 5.5 x 6 (0.23 square feet) and utilized a
2-inch thick mineral wool bound with phenolic resin.
Filter fabric used was a 3.5 oz non-woven geotextile.
EcoCline Media B2 is an aggregate media consisting
of crushed brick, granite chips and organic matter,
with angular particles, and a maximum particle size of
-inch. The shovel guard used was J-Drain 300.
Description
Exposed (no covering)
Filter Fabric (FF)
FF & 2 EcoCline Media B2
FF & 1.5 angular #4 aggregate
FF & 1.5 rounded #4 aggregate
Shovel Guard (SG)
SG & 2 EcoCline Media B2
SG & 1.5 angular #4 aggregate
SG & 1.5 rounded #4 aggregate

12pcf A, dry
12pcf B, dry
12pcf C, dry
12pcf D, dry
12pcf E, dry
12pcf F, dry
12pcf G, dry
12pcf H, dry
12pcf I, dry

Samples
12pcf A, wet
14pcf A, dry
12pcf B, wet
14pcf B, dry
12pcf C, wet
14pcf C, dry
12pcf D, wet
14pcf D, dry
12pcf E, wet
14pcf E, dry
12pcf F, wet
14pcf F, dry
12pcf G, wet
14pcf G, dry
12pcf H, wet
14pcf H, dry
12pcf I, wet
14pcf I, dry

14pcf A, wet
14pcf B, wet
14pcf C, wet
14pcf D, wet
14pcf E, wet
14pcf F, wet
14pcf G, wet
14pcf H, wet
14pcf I, wet

Table E.1. Samples tested.

A16

Test Assumptions

Based on extensive experience in installation and


maintenance of green roofs, Furbish assumed that the
primary physical impact to a green roof is pedestrian
foot traffic. Based on this assumption, the test was
designed to simulate foot traffic over a variety of
profiles in order to determine the maximum number
of footsteps for each profile, and to determine
whether profile construction is a significant variable in
the mineral wools resistance to compression. Refer
to Appendix D for a detailed description of typical
anticipated construction and annual maintenance
impact, which arrives at 4.8 steps per square foot per
visit, as shown in line G of Table E.2.

Test Protocols

Furbish constructed a compression device


(affectionately known as Chomp) to deliver the
required force to each sample. Chomp was constructed
of an upper cartridge containing ballast, and a lower
cartridge containing eleven (11) sample containers
measuring 6 inches long x 5.5 inches wide x 5 inches
deep. The bottom of the upper cartridge contains
eleven (11) wooden compressor pads, measuring
3.5 inches x 3.5 inches. The compressor pads are
designed to directly impact the samples below at a
given location. The upper cartridge is attached to the
lower cartridge via lubricated hinge set approximately
1.5 inches above the top of the lower cartridge. Before
each use, the device is calibrated such that 1) each
compressor pad comes fully into contact with each
sample, and 2) the full weight of the upper cartridge
bears on the samples.
Chomp was calibrated to deliver approximately 835 psf
of force to each sample, per calculations in Table E.3
G
Q
R
S
T
U
V

4.8
1000
100
900
188
5
37.5

(71 lbs per each 0.09 square foot compression pad).


A total of 40 pavers were used to weigh the upper
cartridge with 880 lbs of ballast versus the minimum
of 36 pavers calculated. The additional 88 lbs of force
is estimated to compensate (or over-compensate) for
any load transferred to the hinge during compression.
Two technicians operate Chomp during each use. One
technician depresses an 8-foot long lever attached
to the upper cartridge to raise the bottom of the
compressor paddles approximately 2 to 3 inches above
the surface of the samples. When the upper cartridge
is fully raised, the technician releases the lever (lets go
of lever so that hands are not touching) to drop the
full 880 lb upper cartridge onto the lower cartridge. A
second technician observes each raising and lowering
of the device to ensure calibration throughout the
test (to verify that each compressor pad impacts each
sample at uniform times, and that the upper cartridge
does not come into contact with the frame, so that
all weight is transferred through samples, and not
through the frame).
Technicians probed the depth of the mineral wool
at the point of impact periodically during sampling
to check overall thickness. Testing occurred over
several days. Final conforming measurements were
taken after samples had had approximately 2 weeks to
rebound after compression.
(Note that all 11 Chomp sample containers were filled
and utilized, though only 9 samples are documented
in this Appendix. The other 2 sample containers were
filled with various other materials not reported on in
this document.)

approximate number of steps per square foot per visit


steps simulated in testing protocol
steps during construction
steps during maintenance
total maintenance visits
maintenance visits per year
total years of simulated foot traffic

Appendix D
Imperical
Q- R
S/G
Imperical
T/U

Table E.2. Typical maintenance impact calculations.

A17

A
B

11.5
3

C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M

34.5
144
0.24
200
835
3.5
3.5
12.25
144
0.09
71

N
O
P
Q

11
781
22
36

average shoe length heel to toe, inches


average shoe width (3" @ heel, 2" @ arch,
4" @ ball), inches
square inches of average shoeprint
conversion square inches to square feet
square feet per average shoeprint
lbs, average maintenance worker
psf (force of average footstep)
width of sample compressor pad (inches)
length of sample compressor pad (inches)
sample square inches
conversion square inches to square feet
square feet of sample
lbs required per compressor pad to generate 835 psf
samples
lbs total per CHOMP device
psf per precast concrete paver
minimum 1SF pavers required as ballast

Imperical
Imperical
AxB
C/D
Imperical
F/E

J/K
GxL

MxN
Imperical
O/P

Table E.3. Calibrated impact calculations.

Test Continuation Protocols

After 1,000 impacts on each of the 36 samples, few


tests had produced as much as 10% compression,
and no test had compressed 15%, so the test was
continued by doubling the impact to test the weight
of a 400 lb person (1,670 psf of force) versus that of
a 200 lb person. Samples selected for further testing
were the 14 pcf dry samples A, C, E and G. In this test,
sample C compressed by 25%, and samples A, G
and E compressed by approximately 10%; however,
after allowing two weeks of rebound, final
measurements showed no noticeable compression
of any of these samples.

Test Results

All samples exhibited excellent compression


resistance.
Figures E.1 through E.14 illustrate
compression resistance as percentage of total original
volume on the vertical axis, and number of impacts
(1-1000 or 1-1400) are shown in the horizontal axis.
In all figures E.1 through E.14 final measurements are
the same as measurements noted for 1,000 impacts
unless Final is included in the horizontal axis. Some
graphs include a 1,200 designation on the horizontal
axis, which is used only for 1,670 psf testing of the
14 pcf dry samples A, C, E and G, per Test Protocol
Continuation as noted above.
Figure E.1 shows an average of all 12 pcf and 14 pcf
samples. Additional Figures E.2 through E.5 illustrate
compression resistance group by mineral wool density
and moisture level. Figure E.6 through E.14 illustrate
compression resistanced grouped by overburden type.

A18

Figure E.1. Average of all mineral wool samples tested by density

Figure E.2. 12 pcf mineral wool samples tested dry

A19

Figure E.3. 12 pcf mineral wool samples tested wet

Figure E.4. 14 pcf mineral wool samples tested dry

A20

Figure E.5. 14 pcf mineral wool samples tested wet

Figure E.6. Samples of mineral with no covering

A21

Figure E.7. Samples of mineral wool covered only by 1 layer of filter fabric

Figure E.8. Samples of configuration using 1 layer of filter fabric and 2 inches of EcoCline Media B2

A22

Figure E.9. Samples of mineral wool covered only by shovel guard

Figure E.10. Samples of mineral wool covered by shovel guard and 2 inches of EcoCline Media B2

A23

Figure E.11. Samples of mineral wool covered only by shovel guard and angular #4 stone

Figure E.12. Samples of mineral wool covered by shovel guard and rounded #2 stone

A24

Figure E.13. Samples of mineral wool covered only by filter fabric and angular #4 stone

Figure E.14. Samples of mineral wool covered by filter fabric and rounded #4 stone

A25

A ppe ndi x F: Wate r Q ualit y


Runoff from mineral wool can be
expected to provide clean, safe
stormwater.
Furbish tested runoff from mineral wool used in a
green roof in order to determine the amount of phenol
and formaldehyde that might leach from the mineral
wool during rain events. These two chemicals were
selected for testing, as they are the only chemicals
added to the mineral wool fibers in any significant
quantity. Other chemicals used in binders, such as
urea and calcium silicate, were not tested due to the
very small amounts used, and the generally accepted
safety of these components.
The test utilized a 12-inch by 12-inch sample green
roof assembly in a clear acrylic container. The sample
had been growing in the outdoors for 3 years. Distilled
water was applied to the surface media and vegetation
of the green roof until the necessary quantity of
runoff was produced. Water samples were analyzed
by Environmental Testing and Consulting, Inc (ETC), as
noted on the following pages.
In order to established a baseline measurement for
comparison, one other test was performed by soaking
multiple samples of mineral wool in distilled water
and agitating the samples to ensure full contact of
water and fibers. The samples included new unused
mineral wool, and mineral wool used in accelerated
weathering tests of Appendices B and C. Water samples
in this test were analyzed by ETC, and demonstrated
that flow patterns through an assembled green roof
have a negligible effect on the quantity of phenol and
formaldehyde in runoff versus direct contact with the
mineral wool, and that new unused material and used
material produces similar results.

Figure F.1. Collection of water sample.

Runoff collected contained <0.050 mg/L of


formaldehyde. The EPA Standards allow 10 mg/L, 5
mg/L, and 1 mg/L of formaldehyde in drinking water
for one-day, ten-day, and lifetime consumption,
respectively. i.e. the water sampled is 200 times safer
than the EPA Standards for occasional consumption.

Runoff collected contained 0.498 mg/L of phenol.


The EPA Standards allow 6 mg/L, 6 mg/L, and 2 mg/L
Though runoff from green roofs is not intended to of phenol in drinking water for one-day, ten-day, and
be used as drinking water, test results are compared lifetime consumption, respectively. i.e. the water
with the US EPAs 2012 Edition of the Drinking Water sampled is 12 times safer than the EPA Standards for
Standards and Health Advisories (EPA Standards) as a occasional consumption. (Note that phenol is used in
pharmaceuticals, mouthwash, and throat lozenges.)
baseline reference point.
Test results from ETC are shown on the following five
pages.

A26

A27

A28

A29

A30

A31

Appendix G: Magnified Images


This appendix includes a range of 40x magnified In all images, the terms top or side are used to
images of mineral wool with a range of densities, define the image perspective. Top and side
including bound and unbound materials.
correspond with the mineral board as manufactured.
A view of the top of the board generally shows
Mineral wool fibers are typically around 6 to fibers arranged in a random pattern. A view of the
10 micrometers in diameter (10 micrometers = side of the board generally shows fibers arranged
3.9370079e-4 inches). These strong fibers are formed substantially parallel to each other, with a distinct
into a tightly packed matrix, touching at intersections, grain, though often with a noticeable percentage of
but with significant void spaces between the fibers, the fibers oriented perpendicular to the primary fiber
resembling the classic game Pick-Up Sticks. The high orientation.
ratio of void space, even in high densities, explains
mineral wools high volumetric water capacity.
Note the high ratio of void space to fiber, even in very
high densities, which is ideal for fibrous root structures
Images below visually demonstrate the differences to penetrate to absorb water.
between mineral wool of 4 pcf, 8 pcf, 12 pcf and 14
pcf densities. Though these materials appear similar
to the naked eye, the material density is apparent at
40x magnification, explaining the significant increase
in compressive strength of higher density materials.

Figure G.1. 8 pcf unbound mineral wool, view from top

A32

Figure G.2. 14 pcf bound mineral wool, view from top

Figure G.3. 8 pcf bound mineral wool, view from top

A33

Figure G.4. 12 pcf bound mineral wool, view from side

Figure G.5. 14 pcf bound mineral wool, view from side

A34

Figure G.6. 8 pcf bound mineral wool, exposed to elements for three (3) years, view from top at edge

Figure G.7. Mineral wool fibers under microscope. Magnification level: 100x. Reproduced with permission of Forensic Science
Services. Note the binder, observed as spherical shapes.

A35

A ppe ndi x H : F ie ld O bse r vat i o ns


General Observations

Furbish observed mineral wool performance in green


roofs on several projects in Germany, including 5
projects that have been in service approximately
20 years. Furbish is also actively maintaining
approximately 500,000 sf of green roofs that utilize
mineral wool, and maintenance activities include
documentation of plant health, proper drainage,
nutrient levels, and volumetric retention of the mineral
wool; all projects are performing very similarly, so only
three of approximately three dozen projects are listed
below.

General findings are:
Compression resistance as observed in the field
very closely resembles laboratory test results.
Bound mineral wool at 8 pcf density exhibited
negligible average compression when exposed to
light-duty foot traffic on rooftops, but compressed
to an effective density of 10-12 pcf when exposed

to high foot traffic in at-grade applications.
Unbound mineral wool generally exhibits higher
levels of compression.
(Note that neither
laboratory nor field observations document

Projects
Allee Center
Allee Center
Oldenburg
Oldenburg
Bremerhaven
Bremerhaven
Nordstrae
Daniel-von-Bueren
Daniel-von-Bueren
Flughafendamm
Potomac Plaza
Potomac Plaza
Potomac Plaza
Embassy Suites
Emory Knoll Farm

Original
Density
7.9 pcf*
7.9 pcf*
7.9 pcf*
7.9 pcf*
7.9 pcf
7.9 pcf
7.9 pcf*
7.9 pcf*
7.9 pcf*
7.9 pcf*
8 pcf
8 pcf
8 pcf
8 pcf
8 pcf

Observed
Comression
(Expansion)
25%
(25%)
10%
(60%)
0%
40%
25%
25%
35%
25%
13%
0%
(13%)
0%
0%

Effective
Stable
Density
10.5 pcf
6.3 pcf
8.8 pcf
4.9 pcf
7.9 pcf
13.2 pcf
10.5 pcf
10.5 pcf
12.2 pcf
10.5 pcf
9.1 pcf
8 pcf
7.1 pcf
8 pcf
8 pcf

extensive use of unbound material.)


Mineral wool supports long-term healthy root
growth. Root penetration speed into the mineral
wool appears to be inversely proportional to the
thickness of surface media used.
Mineral wool supports long-term healthy plant
growth, even when not covered by aggregate
media.
Mineral wool feels springy under foot on both
newly installed green roofs and within green
roofs that have been in service for 3 decades,
demonstrating excellent long-term elasticity.
Mineral wool substantially dries between rain
events, both in the German climate when used
under 1 inch or less media, and in the US midAtlantic region when used under 1 to 4 inches of
media.
Mineral wool can serve as an effective drainage
material without the need for an air layer or
composite drainage layer below the mineral wool.
Visual and tactile examination of mineral wool
fiber structure reveals that the material remains
intact in an almost like new condition when in
service for over 2 decades.
Foot
Traffic
Low
Low
Low
Low
Low
Low
High
High
High
High
Moderate
Moderate
Moderate
Low
Low

Age (Years)
20
20
19
19
1
1
25*
25*
25*
25*
2
2
2
2
3

Binder
Phenolic Resin*
Phenolic Resin*
Phenolic Resin*
Phenolic Resin*
None
None
Phenolic Resin*
Phenolic Resin*
Phenolic Resin*
Phenolic Resin*
Phenolic Resin
Phenolic Resin
Phenolic Resin
Phenolic Resin
Phenolic Resin

Table H.1. Summary of original and current effective densities of mineral wool in case studies presented. An initial density of 8 pcf
is adequate in light-duty applications, but 12 pcf is more stable in high-traffic applications. More than one measurement per project
indicates minimums and maximums observed. *Denotes unconfirmed but best available information.

A36

Berlin Allee Center, Berlin, Germany

Installed: 1995 (20 years old)


Size: Approximately 100,000+ SF.
Profile:
Prevegetated mat, approximately 1 thick
20mm (0.78) mineral wool with binder (likely
phenolic resin). Density 7.9 pcf (110 kg/cubic
meter
Membrane
Observations: >95% vegetative coverage. Predominant
species are Allium schoenoprasum, Sedum album, S.
spurium, S. reflexum, S. floriferum, S. sexangulare, and
several mosses. Roots actively grew into mineral wool
in all areas observed, particularly deeper Allium roots.
Mineral wool measured 15-25mm (25% compression
to 25% expansion) in most areas observed. System
is noticeably springy under foot. Not maintained.
Sedum mats were not initially installed with 100%
coverage, leaving some areas of mineral wool exposed
to the sky. Exposed areas are covered with the same
plants as the original mats, though with a higher
concentration of mosses. No performance differences
(resilience, integrity, compression, etc.) are detected
between the material covered by mats and exposed
mineral wool. In some areas of exposed mineral wool,
birds had disturbed the surface, leaving loose mineral
wool fibers in places. This phenomena had apparently
occurred for many years (with no significant loss of
material), though in some places thick mounds of
moss appear to have grown over clumps of fibers.

A37

Oldenburg Bus Station, Oldenburg, Germany

Installed: 1996 (19 years old)


Size: Approximately 70,000 SF.
Profile:
Prevegetated mat, approximately 1 thick
20mm (0.78) mineral wool with binder (likely
phenolic resin). Density 7.9 pcf (110 kg/cubic
meter)
10mm (0.39) drainage / aeration layer
Membrane
Observations: >95% vegetative coverage. Predominant
species are Allium schoenoprasum, Sedum album,
S. spurium, and several mosses. Roots actively grew
into mineral wool in all areas observed, particularly
deeper Allium roots. Bound mineral wool measured
18-32mm (10% compression to 60% expansion) in
most areas observed. System is noticeably springy
under foot. Initially maintained for 10 years, currently
unmaintained. Sedum mats were not initially installed
with 100% coverage, leaving some areas of mineral
wool exposed to the sky. Exposed areas are covered
with the same plants as the original mats, though with
a higher concentration of mosses. No performance
differences (resilience, integrity, compression, etc.)
are detected between the mineral wool covered by
Sedum mats and exposed mineral wool.

A38

Kindergarden Bremerhaven, Germany

Installed: Early 2014 (1 year old)


Size: Approximately 7,000 SF.
Profile:
Prevegetated mat, approximately 1/2 thick
20mm (0.78) mineral wool without chemical
binder. Density 7.9 pcf (110 kg/cubic meter)
10mm (0.39) drainage / aeration layer
Observations: >95% vegetative coverage. Predominant
species is Sedum album. Roots successfully penetrated
mineral in most areas observed. Unbound mineral
wool measured 12-20mm (0% to 40% compression) in
most areas observed. System is noticeably springy
under foot. Not maintained.

A39

Bremen Nordstrae Track Bed Greening,


Bremen, Germany

Installed: Early 1990s (approximately 25 yrs old)


Profile:
Media, approximately 1/2-3/4 thick
20mm (0.78) mineral wool with binder (likely
phenolic resin). Density 7.9 pcf (110 kg/cubic
meter)
10mm (0.39) drainage / aeration layer
Membrane
Observations: >95% vegetative coverage. Predominant
species are Sedum album and mosses with some
grasses. Roots fully penetrated mineral in all areas.
Bound mineral wool measured approximately 15mm
(25% compression) in most areas observed. Highpedestrian-traffic at-grade location; no barriers to
pedestrians crossing or walking on tracks. System
is noticeably springy under foot. Reportedly not
maintained.

A40

Bremen Daniel-von-Bueren Street Track Bed


Greening, Bremen, Germany

Installed: Early 1990s (approximately 25 yrs old)


Profile:
Media, approximately 1/2-3/4 thick
20mm (0.78) mineral wool with binder (likely
phenolic resin). Density 7.9 pcf (110 kg/cubic
meter)
10mm (0.39) drainage / aeration layer
Membrane
Observations: >95% vegetative coverage. Predominant
species are Sedum album and S. spurium (in deeper
areas) with mosses. Roots fully penetrated mineral
wool in all areas. Bound mineral wool measured
approximately 15mm (25% compression) in most
areas observed with a minimum thickness of 13mm
(35% compression). High-pedestrian-traffic at-grade
location; no barriers to pedestrians crossing or walking
on tracks. System is noticeably springy under foot.
Reportedly not maintained.

A41

Bremen Flughafendamm Track Bed Greening,


Bremen, Germany

Installed: Early 1990s (approximately 25 yrs old)


Profile:
Media, approximately 3/4-1 thick
20mm (0.78) mineral wool with binder (likely
phenolic resin). Density 7.9 pcf (110 kg/cubic
meter)
10mm (0.39) drainage / aeration layer
Membrane
Observations:
>95% vegetative coverage.
Predominant species are Sedum album, S. spurium,
and grasses with some mosses with. Roots fully
penetrated mineral in all areas. Bound mineral wool
measured approximately 15mm (25% compression)
in most areas observed. High-pedestrian-traffic atgrade location; there are some barriers to pedestrians
crossing or walking on tracks, but barriers appeared to
be recently installed. System is immediately adjacent
to a large turfgrass field, which is a likely cause of high
grass coverage. System is noticeably springy under
foot. Reportedly not maintained.

A42

Potomac Plaza, Washington, DC

Installed: Fall 2013 (2 yrs old)


Profile:
Media (angular gravel), approximately 1-1/2 thick
2 mineral wool with phenolic resin binder. Density
8 pcf
Insulation
Membrane
Observations: >90% vegetative coverage. Predominant
species are Sedum album, S. sexangulare, S. spurium,
S. reflexum, and S. rupestre. Roots have penetrated
mineral wool in several areas observed. Bound
mineral wool measured approximately 1.75 (13%
compression) for approximately 12 months following
installation, likely due to very high construction impact
due to challenging installation logistics. After the
winter of 2014-2015 mineral wool rebounded to 22.25 (0% compression to 13% expansion). System is
noticeably springy under foot. Actively maintained.

A43

Embassy Suites, Springfield, VA

Installed: Fall 2013 (2 yrs old)


Profile:
Media, 2 and 4 thick
1 mineral wool with phenolic resin binder. Density
8 pcf
1/4 protection & air layer
Membrane
Observations: >85% vegetative coverage. Predominant
species are Sedum album, S. sexangulare, S. spurium,
S. reflexum, S. rupestre, S. kamptschiaticum, and
several taller perennial plants. Roots have penetrated
mineral wool in several areas observed. Bound mineral
wool measured approximately 1 (0% compression).
System is noticeably springy under foot. Actively
maintained.

A44

Emory Knoll Farm, Street, MD

Installed: 2012 (<3 yrs old)


Profile:
Media, 3 thick
2 mineral wool with phenolic resin binder. Density
8 pcf
Membrane
Observations: >80% vegetative coverage. Species are
planted in mono-specific rows as a demonstration,
including Sedum acre, S. kamtschaticum, and S.
reflexum. Actively weeded but no nutrient has
ever been applied. Roots have penetrated mineral
wool all areas observed (see bottom right photo).
Bound mineral wool measured approximately 2
(0% compression). System is noticeably springy
under foot.
This installation is part of a side-byside comparison with a traditional aggregate-based
green roof system. In summer 2013, after 5 weeks
of drought with no irrigation, both green roofs were
probed to gauge relative moisture content through
the substrate. The traditional aggregate green roof
was dusty and dry at the surface and throughout
the profile, and Sedum plants had entered droughtinduced dormancy. The mineral wool green roof was
dusty and dry at the surface, but the lower 1-inch of
the 3-inches of media was cool and moist to the touch,
and the surface of the mineral wool was slightly moist.
Plants in the mineral wool green roof were actively
sprouting new buds, even after 5 weeks with no rain.

A45

Mineral Wool In Green Roofs

Roots of Carex flacca, Phlox subulata, Eupatorium hyssopifolium, Tradescantia ohioensis after 2 years of growth in an EcoCline mineral
wool green roof.

www.mineralwoolingreenroofs.com

May 2015

Furbish :: 3430 2nd Street, Suite 100 :: Baltimore, MD 21225 :: 443.874.7465 :: www.furbishco.com
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