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Kevin Songer, J.D., LEED AP, is our Tropical Green Roof Editor (March, 2012) and writes the Tropical Green Roof Column.  Kevin serves as tropical, coastal and hurricane green roof expert for MetroVerde, a Florida based vertical green design company.  He was awarded the 2012 City of Jacksonville's Environmental Protection Board's Christi P. Veleta Award, 2011 'Green Hero' of the year award, and the 2009 Innovation in Landscape and Water Conservation recognition by the Northeast Florida Chapter of the USGBC.  Kevin has spoken of the economic and ecological benefits associated with green roofs at numerous functions and seminars.  Watch his "Coastal Green Roof Design and Native Plants" video from our Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2013.  And he served on’s "Wind. Water. Heat. Grow. Greenroofs."ť Panel Session with Dr. Bill Retzlaff, David Aponte, and Joe Webb during the 2011 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit.

Kevin writes a daily green roof blog, Living Green Roofs, is presently designing several oceanfront green roofs, just completed design work on the first Green Roof in Bermuda, is an Aortic Dissection survivor, and contributes green roof notes to the Native Plant and Wildlife Garden web project. Kevin also holds an undergraduate degree in biology and the Juris Doctor degree from Florida Coastal School of Law with a focus in environmental law.

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Tropical Green Roofs Column

Design Model for Coastal Green Roofs - Part Two

By Kevin Songer, J.D., LEED AP, Tropical Green Roof Editor

Photos and Graphics by Kevin Songer Unless Otherwise Noted.

Welcome to Part Two of our series entitled "Design Model for Coastal Green Roofs." Although the title says "Coastal Green Roofs" and we are focusing in on a beachfront green roof design, this series of posts is applicable for use in the design of most any green roof...

...For this series of posts our client is an architect, one who has incorporated green roofs into her projects before.  She also possesses an appreciation of nature and desires her beachfront home to "become part of the existing dune system, blending in to where the structure looked as though it sprang up out of the dunes naturally."  Her living roof will be three stories up in the air and even though the green roof assembly would not be visual from the ground or adjoining structures, the owner would enjoy many other benefits such as habitat creation for shorebirds, stormwater attenuation and cleaning, green house gas mitigation, carbon sequestration, urban heat island effect reduction and lots more...

Native plant species Gaillardia pulchella, Blanketflower, Glandularia maritima, Coastal Vervain, and Serenoa repens, Saw Palmetto, cover the site slated for construction and a green roof.

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Design Model for Coastal Green Roofs - Part One

By Kevin Songer, J.D., LEED AP

All Photos Courtesy and © Kevin Songer

It has been exactly two years since I wrote the last ‘Tropical Green Roofs’ post.

Designing oceanfront green roofs presents many challenges and many opportunities.

If you are wondering, no, it does not take me that long to write a post; rather, I have been challenged with two open heart surgeries to correct a massive aortic dissection brought on by genetic factors related to Marfan Syndrome.  But my passion for tropical green roofs impacted by hurricanes, salt and other harsh conditions has never faded.

We ended the last post by saying that we would talk about ways to better understand existing green roof site parameters with the intent of utilizing a model to help us select the right plant for the right place on the roof.  Ask anyone who has designed, built and installed green roofs over the years and they will tell you that there are patterns to successes and failures both.

Gaillardia pulchella, blanketflower, is a very drought and salt tolerant coastal species.

The next series of posts here will follow the modeling of an ocean-front, shoreline green roof design presently underway just south of Jacksonville, Florida.  This project has its challenges.  The house will sit atop a high dune with the living roof built on the third floor roof.  There will be little or no parapet, the five to ten meter per second winds will constantly buffet the green roof and coat the plants and soil media with a thick layer of salt spray, the sunlight is unrelenting and the heat blistering.  We do not want to ‘sandblast’ the neighbor’s house with green roof soil media either...

Studying seaside plants for Green Roof potential, grasses on the dunes.


Inaugural Tropical Green Roof Editor Column on the Sky Gardens Blog:
Intro to Tropical Green Roofs

By Kevin Songer, J.D., ISA Certified Arborist & Municipal Specialist, LEED AP BD+C


All Photos Courtesy and © Kevin Songer

Welcome to the Tropical Green Roofs column on the Sky Gardens Blog.  As a third generation native Floridian, I’ll be hosting an ongoing series of posts focusing on green roofs and living walls in the tropics.

Tropical and sub-tropical ecosystems present a variety of unique challenges to the designer.  Heat, humidity, pests, cyclones and hurricanes, extreme temperature swings, severe droughts and other factors can all potentially influence a green roof system over a short period of time.

Despite challenges the tropical green roof and living wall technology I refer to as “vertical green” have faced, they are now rapidly becoming important environmental and sustainability trends across the equatorial belt.

Experts such as David Aponte in Puerto Rico, Jimmy Sterling of Jacksonville and Joe Webb of Houston, Texas are developing leading edge, tropical green roof technology and sharing their experiences and data. Field trials are being conducted and important data accumulated. But much of the information surrounding work with tropical green roofs is scattered across the globe...

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Kevin Songer, Tropical Green Roof Editor

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The opinions expressed by our Guest Feature writers and editors may not necessarily reflect the beliefs of, and are offered to our readers to simply present individual views and experiences and open a dialogue of further discussion, debate and research.  Enjoy, and if you have a particular comment, please contact the author or send us an email to:


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