In the growing global understanding of harmful environmental warming trends, one of the key goals to reducing global warming is the limitation of carbon dioxide emissions. In large cities, limited carbon dioxide absorbing plants and inefficient insulation lead to higher levels of carbon dioxide. By planting roof gardens, buildings can both insulate themselves and provide additional beneficial greenery to the environment. Pafcal is a Japanese synthetic soil that can be used for such gardens while able to maintain weight limits on buildings.
The inventors of pafcal, Suntory Ltd., are known for their popular range of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages throughout Japan. One of the best known corporations in the country, Suntory Ltd., as long used a policy geared toward biotechnology and advanced environmentally-sound products. In 2008, the company introduce pafcal as a part of their Midori no Yane and Hana no Kabe, or green roof and flower wall, lines of products.
Soil is easy to come by but it is quite heavy. In cities such as Tokyo, which are prone to earthquakes, strict weight limits are put on structures to provide greater protection if an earthquake occurs. Pafcal is meant to weigh only half as much as regular soil, and can therefore be used in greater quantities. Additionally, the material is less likely to blow away in wind or wash away due to rain, which can be a problem in some roof gardens.
Pafcal, which is made out of urethane, is a spongy material. It looks much like regular soil, and can be used for a variety of planting products. The material is meant to help meet new Tokyo building regulations, which insist that any new building over a certain size limit must have a roof garden to offset carbon dioxide production.
An added benefit of the new material is its ability to provide building insulation. In press releases, Suntory Ltd. has announced that the material can provide roof temperature drops of up to 18 degrees F (10 C.) If these claims prove true, pafcal roof gardens can help insulate buildings, possibly leading to a drop in energy costs due to lower usage of heaters and air conditioners.
Although not yet widely available, pafcal is proving popular, at least in concept, throughout Japan. Suntory Ltd. recommends pricing of $230-$280 US Dollars (USD) per square meter of the synthetic dirt, somewhat more expensive that regular soil. Critics suggest that covering buildings with an essentially plastic material in order to promote environmentally sound practices may be a bit contradictory, yet Suntory Ltd. seems confidant that pafcal will prove a successful product that aids the battle against human-caused global warming.