Final Reflections of Fall 2010 Greenroof Conferences: Vancouver, B.C., Part 3

February 14, 2011 at 4:44 am

Vancouver, B.C.

The stunning Vancouver, B.C. with its mix of rugged beauty, eclectic architecture, and progressive thinking was our last stop on our “international conference tour” at the end of last year –  after previously having presented the Greenroofs.com  “2010 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design” in Mexico City  and Singapore.

Aramis and I  were excited to attend and exhibit at CitiesAlive!, the 8th Annual Green Roof and Wall Conference on November 30 through December 4, 2010  in this beautiful harbor  city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada,  co-hosted by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) and the British Columbia Institute of Technology  (BCIT).    Neither  of us  had been here, and  we really had been looking forward to seeing  this naturally gorgeous  city surrounded by majestic snow covered mountain peaks, and we weren’t disappointed!

Celebrating its 125th Anniversary on April 6 of this year, Vancouver, B.C. is “Canada’s Cultural capital.”   Originally inhabited by the Coast Salish people – the ancestors of the Squamish, Burrard, TsleilWaututh, Musqueam (Xw’muthk’i’um), Tsawwassen, Coquitlam (Kwayhquitlam), Katzie and Semiahmoo Indian bands, Spanish explorers first “discovered” Canada’s west coast in the early 1590’s.   Captain George Vancouver arrived 200 years later, and fur trading, gold mining, and  tree logging soon followed by the mid 1800’s. Vancouver’s cultural diversity is reflected everywhere – you have a huge selection of shopping, restaurants, bars, pubs, and nightclubs in various locales throughout the city.

 

Vancouver also has professed a steadfast commitment to sustainability – their long term goal is to lead the world in green building design and construction, and it promises to be “the greenest city in the world” by 2020.   Vancouver’s targets include requiring all buildings constructed from 2020 onward to be carbon neutral in operations and reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in existing buildings by 20% over 2007 levels.   Reportedly, Vancouver has the greenest building code for new homes in North America, but they don’t plan to stop here  – they believe the technology already exists to support a more ambitious new construction requirement: net zero or carbon neutral new buildings.   Read the “GC 2020 Draft Green Building Action Plan” here.

“These green building innovations will create thousands of new jobs, create a significant economic stimulus, increase the value of buildings, reduce property owners’ operating costs, help Vancouver become more resilient to climate change and energy price fluctuations, and position Vancouver as a global leader in green building technologies and expertise.” ~ Talk Green Vancouver/ City of Vancouver

As you may know, Corporate Knights, Canada’s magazine for clean capitalism, recently ranked Victoria and Vancouver, B.C. at the top of the list of Canada’s most sustainable cities – see the 2.9.11 Press Release.

Our  hotel and venue were both beautiful and green.   The luxurious Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel  is situated atop a pier at the magnificent Canada Place complex on Vancouver’s dramatic waterfront.   And its iconic white sails have made it a prominent landmark for the city (currently being renovated).

Part of the Green key ECO – rating program  (rated 4) itself,  the Pan Pacific is  conveniently located just a short walk above or below ground to the multiple award-winning venue, the LEED ® Platinum certified for New Construction Vancouver Convention Centre.   This expansion project is also known as  the Vancouver Convention Centre West, and last year it served as the international broadcast and media center for the XXI Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games. (Haven and I included it in 2007’s Top 10 List under the #2 category, Bigger is Better – Mega Greenroofs.)

In addition to its massive 261,360 sf living roof – the largest in Canada –  seawater heating and cooling, on-site water treatment and fish habitat are built into the foundation of the Convention Centre’s West Building, making the expansion project one of the greenest convention centers in the world.   Located  both  on land and  in the water, the views were  breathtaking and spectacular!   The  floor-to-ceiling glass allow for maximum viewing pleasure of the North Shore mountains and the harbor, its boats, and even sea planes landing at will.

Planted with more than 400,000 indigenous plants and grasses from the Gulf Islands, the roof provides a beautiful flowering  natural habitat to birds, insects and small mammals.   Many people worked on this project- see this gorgeous video taken by David Buge with Bruce  Hemstock of PWL Partnership Landscape Architects narrating on top of the Vancouver Convention Centre:

Although the greenroof is inaccessible to the public, the designers cleverly have allowed glimpses of the various angles and vegetated planes on two separate levels for visitors to enjoy, see below:

And the interior is just as cool and eco-friendly as the massive six-acre native plant greenroof overhead.    For  example, a  phenomenal mosaic of cedar and hemlock pieces  covering  the interior  walls creates a warm glow and adds multi-dimension to the expansive space.

Kudos to GRHC and BCIT for securing this fabulous, uber-sustainably designed venue!

Back to the CitiesAlive! Conference and Trade Show: We arrived on  Tuesday, November 30 to make sure we were on time for  the following day’s pre-conference activities (this was also the first day of tours, but we were too late to make it).

On Wednesday, GRHC  offered five  half-day education classes and  one anticipated  new one, the Introduction to Rooftop Agriculture – a  topic that is really hot right now.   Additionally, they had four 1.5 hour education sessions which  all sounded interesting!   But since I had to choose,  I attended the 4-hour “Integrated Water Management for Buildings & Sites”  seminar presented by Jeffrey Bruce, FASLA, GRP,  President of Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company  (and Chair of GRHC), while Aramis set up our exhibitor booth and attended the Corporate Members Committee Meeting.

I had heard mixed reviews about the course from its initial launch in Washington, D.C. last year, that it was certainly informative but a bit dry.   But as someone with a degree in landscape architecture and a fairly good background in stormwater management, I enjoyed it.     It wasn’t particularly dry, just quite technical and very in-depth in terms of definitions, policies,  and procedures – although it said it was an introductory class, I would say  it was definitely not  for beginners!   Developed by GRHC and the Association of Irrigation Consultants (ASIC), with leads Jeff Bruce and Lynda Wightman of Hunter, it embraces new approaches to design for Net Zero Water consumption.

The course covered water types and sources, and how we may manage water and energy resources more effectively including application and recapture methods.   Jeff is a very good instructor – patient and  extremely knowledgeable (his company  also developed the course)  -and  the class  was very interactive.   We had some  lively discussions from a really multi-disciplinary group of professionals from across Canada and the U.S., both from private practice and government at various levels.   And the 98-page “Integrated Water Management for Buildings & Sites” Participant’s Manual  is a veritable Bible of Integrated Water Management  information.

Greenroofs.com  was proud, once again, to be a Media Sponsor for the 8th year.   The CitiesAlive! Opening Plenary on Wednesday night, sponsored by Architek.ca,  was extremely interesting as we were greeted with a lovely traditional Coast Salish welcome from Elder Rose Point of the Musqueam First Nation and welcome song from Gerry Oleman, photo above from BCIT.

GRHC President Steven Peck was the Master of Ceremonies and he spoke about the many efforts and accomplishments of the industry association in the past year, including many firsts.   We also heard from City of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who proclaimed his city would be the greenest in world, and from Rod Goy, the Acting Dean of the School of Construction and the Environment at BCIT, who spoke about their commitment to greening the built environment.

The always popular Paul Kephart of Rana Creek Living Architecture was the eloquent keynote speaker and shared his vision as a restoration ecologist and designer of living architectural systems.   He also spoke about several of his collaborations with unique and large scale projects including the Gap Headquarters, Transbay Terminal Bay, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Croton Water Treatment Plant (Mosholu Golf Course)  in New York which, when completed, will be the largest continuous greenroof in North America at nine acres.

Afterwards the Trade Show opened, the socializing started and didn’t stop until late.   Thursday dawned overcast but the sessions started bright and early at 8:30 am.   As usual, there was a huge number of expert international speakers in every track, with four tracks in all – Policy, Design, Research, and Expert Discussion Panels.   In my opinion, it’s almost too massive a program, since it’s impossible to  experience even a fraction of all the excellent presentations.   What most people did was jump from session speaker to another to ensure they could hear their favorites.   I think the ideal would be to send four people from each company or organization to attend each and then get together and debrief, but, really,  who could afford that.

I found that I ended up splitting the next two days worth of sessions between the Design Track and the Expert Discussions.   I started off the first day, Thursday, December 2nd, with the Barriers and Opportunities to Advance Collaborative Design Practices panel and heard from Paul Kephart, landscape architect David Yocca of Conservation Design Forum, and environmental engineer Greg Allen from Sustainable Edge.   Jeff Bruce moderated, and these  four highly  seasoned professionals provided an intense interplay of personal opinion and practical experience, with plenty of audience interaction adding to the pot of working with disparate professionals.

The Temperate Green Roofs session followed and we learned about The Ted & Lois Hole Green Roof Healing Garden in Edmonton, Alberta.   Designed by the wonderful Kerry Ross, Project Architect with IBI Group Architects and Ernie Webster, Landscape Architect with IBI/Landplan, this 22,500 sf hybrid extensive/intensive green roof is located at a new facility for holistic healing, the Royal Alexandra Hospital.   Designed to commemorate Lois Hole, the former Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, and her husband Ted, it serves as a passive healing garden and visual amenity.   The  trees, shrubs, tall grasses and flowers were selected to represent the natural flora of Alberta, and were supplied by the family nursery.   Some of the beautiful features include lots of seating areas, a water fall and reflecting pool, colorful glass screens, and places for art.      

I hopped over to  Expert Discussions – Standards Development for Green Roofs and Walls – Future Directions, Challenges and Needs with Mike Curry  of Midwest Trading, Dr. Robert Berghage  of Penn State, Kelly Luckett of Green Roof Blocks, and Blair Bennett of Soprema.   Moderated by Zachary Williams of Carlisle SynTec, it was pretty interesting.   There was a lot of candid sentiment about the process and practical issues from from what appeared to  be an audience of mostly engineers, architects, city planners and the likes.   Everyone wanted to know how their product or system might fare and how to get involved, and maintenance issues and ensuring maintenance contracts were included in deliverables were also a hot topic.

But I hopped back after about 20 minutes because I didn’t want to miss Nate Griswold from American Hydrotech  and his presentation about the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts  and some of their unusual challenges with this project shaped like a hyperbolic paraboloid.   Problems arose with the varying slopes as well as the high amount foot traffic and as a result, a new steep slope product and assembly for this type of greenroof was developed.

Unfortunately, I missed out on most of  The Hugh Garner Green Roof Project – an integrated process, presented by Monica Kuhn of Monica E. Kuhn Architect, Inc. and Carolyn Moss of Moss Sund Architects, Inc., but I learned more about it when we featured this great multi-unit residential Housing Co-operative in downtown Toronto  as our first Greenroof Project of the Week for 2011:

The GRHC 2010 Awards of Excellence Luncheon followed and twelve awards were given this year – eight  for awesome buildings with greenroofs and greenwalls, including local favorite, the Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Project.   Below is Peter  MacDonagh, one of the principals of The Kestrel Design Group, who received a Special Recognition Award of Excellence for their work with The City of Minneapolis Target Center Arena, which we featured in  our 2010 Hot Trends Top 10 List in the  #9 category, “Green Sporting Venues.”

There were some other really cool projects, see them all  here, as well as four deserving individuals honored within our industry.

One of these was  Kelly Luckett, above, AKA The Green Roof Guy, who won a Civic Award of Excellence for his hard work on the RP-14 Wind Design Guideline (read his  Green Roofs, a Civic Award of Excellence, and a Lifetime of Memories  article).   Talk about someone who really should have been recognized!   He has put in years of his life (not to mention probably tens of thousands of dollars from his own pocket) to further this important issue for our industry.   And he was really excited and humbled about receiving it, too.   I can  only say how humble and proud I felt when he acknowledged me for giving him a platform to write.  Way to go, Kelly!

The Lifetime Achievement Awards  ceremony was truly poignant and inspiring as a special tribute was held for two legends of the roof garden/greenroofing industry.   Author of “Roof Gardens, History, Design and Construction,” W.W. Norton, 1999, the late Theodore Osmundson, FASLA,  was honored.   Theodore Osmundson became a Fellow of the ASLA in 1963 and was ASLA president from 1967-1969.   We heard about  his lifelong passion for landscape architecture, and roof gardens in particular, from his son, Gordon.

 

Inspired by the Rockefeller Center Roof Gardens  in New York City, industrialist Henry Kaiser hired Osmundson in 1958 to design the beautiful 3 and a half acre public park, the Kaiser Center Roof Garden  in Oakland, CA, which  became Osmundson’s best known work.  Gordon Osmundson, also a successful landscape architect, has taken  on the task of  working on a second edition of his dad’s highly successful “Roof Gardens” book.

Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, OC, FASLA, FCSLA, LMBCSLA  then graced the stage and spoke about “Reflections of six decades designing natural sites.”   Educated at Harvard University, she expressed her love and gratitude for landscape architecture where she has shone brilliantly as  a leader in garden roofs, and spoke about her early work while raising a family.   She shared the visions of some of her numerous  important projects, including the  stunning Visitor Centre Green Roof at the VanDusen Botanical Gardens.

Designed by Busby Perkins + Will  and Cornelia,  the center is slated to meet the Living Building Challenge 2.0 (as per the Cascadia Green Building Council) as well as LEED Platinum standards.  To receive its Living Building certification, the center will have to operate for 12 months with net zero energy while providing all of its own water.

Thursday afternoon was spent in and out of our Exhibit Booth on the Trade Show Floor, popping into a variety of sessions, and simply catching up with lots of people!

The Trade Show floor had a good turnout, and most exhibitors we spoke to were pleased with the quality of visitors to their booths (meaning designers and specifiers).   I have to say  our Greenroofs.com booth was hopping most of the time, and we had tons of visitors – thanks to all of you who came by to say hello!

This may have been due to our lively and lovely in-house booth mates, Contributing Editors Patrick Carey (and GRHC Trainer), Haven Kiers (also a  GRHC Trainer), and Caroline Menetre, above, who camped out here off and on.   We had some interesting booth  neighbors, including the vivacious Kathy  of BusyBee Gardening across from us, seen below, as well as neighbors Craig of MYKE ® Pro Premier Tech Biotechnology and Geneviève Nöel of Mubi Regenerative Consulting, below her:

Dr. Clayton Rugh of Xero Flor America, above,  and Xero Flor Canada were also close by and I have to say Thank you! to Joy Schmidt for giving me a copy of the lovely book “Vancouver 2010.”   All about the 17 Olympic and 10 Paralympic Games days, it  features stunning photos of Vancouver and  their Xero Flor greenroof technology that covers approximately 56,000 sf of the Millennium Water Project  – Vancouver’s Olympic Village.   Here are more Trade Show pics:



That evening, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities put on a really nice, invitation-only  GRP Reception for the first year’s class (2009-2010) of graduating Green Roof Professionals.   It was casually elegant  and beautifully set up –  the beverage and food selection was wonderful and the service was excellent.   Aramis and I saw a lot of our friends and colleagues here, and met quite a few new ones, too.

We heard Sara Loveland and Ashleigh Uiska (with Dusty Gedge) threw an awesome afterparty, but we had our own much smaller version with our band of Contributing Editors and colleagues.   By the way, Sara won our free yearly Premium Listing in The Greenroof Directory.

The Friday sessions were just as bustling and varied.   I sat through (and thoroughly enjoyed) Green Wall Case Studies II, starting with Interior Living Wall Biofilter Projects – Lessons Learned from Pioneering Experience from Dr. Alan Darlington of Nedlaw Living Walls and Birgit Siber of Diamond and Schmitt Architects.   They shared stories of years of research and project monitoring, and how living walls have the capacity to break down hundreds of different kinds of contaminants found in indoor air; they demonstrated how a biofilter can substantially reduce the need to bring in fresh air by generating its own clean air indoors.

One of my favorite presentations was next, Innovative and Cost Effective Biofilters for Residential Applications from Robert Cameron and Dr. Robert Berghage from Penn State University.   They have an experimental site on campus as well as the one Rob Cameron built at his home using a combination of materials on site, some donated, and some leftover from experiments from other Penn State projects.    They conducted studies showing that  living systems do not need to be highly sophisticated to work beautifully.

Rob  Cameron, right, asks, How can we take wasterwater and make it a resource?   Using plants, from food crops to ornamentals, he showed us how the living wall with “Living Columns” – basically vertical  plastic corrugated tubes – act like a constructed wetland and can filter out pollutants from an entire household.   At his own residence he integrated these living columns with a greenroof for downspouts and rain water harvesting, and  combined a living wall with an extensive greenroof to provide a vertical garden for tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and other veggies.

By the way, George Irwin of Green Living Technologies  (GLT) was scheduled to speak during this session, and was deemed a no-show.   Since he’s a Contributing Editor here, Caroline  texted him to see where he was – he answered that he had indeed let GRHC know early in the week that something major had come up and would not be able to make it.

That morning I also sat in on a couple of sessions from Local InterestFrom Barn Raisings to Green Roof Raisings: Community-Built Green Roof was presented by Bryce Gauthier,   Director of the Projects In Place Society.   What a great story!   Projects In Place has taken the concept from the old community-based barn raisings and applied it to building sustainable projects.   Using almost 100 volunteers  including BCIT students, this small non-profit installed a 500 sf greenroof in two days on top of a business on the edge of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.   Projects In Place Society posted their CitiesAlive PowerPoint on their website, make sure to see it.

I skipped Retrofitting Existing Buildings With Green Roofs by Dr. Karen Liu of Xero Flor International because I had already seen and loved her similar (I hope) presentation at 2009’s CitiesAlive! in Toronto.   Instead, I listened in on the Expert Discussion- How Green IS Your Green Roof: Devising a LEED Style Credit System for Green Roofs – Challenges and Opportunities with Steven Peck, Kerry Ross, Dr. Robert Berghage and Chuck Friedrich of Carolina Stalite.

Talk about a charged subject!   Some argued that we should not create yet another rating system, but should rally to make the highly universally accepted (yet sometimes controversial) U.S. Green Building Council  (USGBC)’s LEED  program work better for our industry in terms of rating greenroofs.   Others argued that GRHC knows our subject best and that starting new made the most sense rather than trying to fix another existing product.   Having both my LEED AP and GRP designations, I have opinions, but will share them in another post.

So even though I was extremely interested in this subject, I returned to the Design Track and Local Interest  to hear about The Visitor Centre Green Roof at the VanDusen Botanical Gardens  from Ken Larsson of Sharp & Diamond Landscape Architecture and the lovely Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, which was a treat, indeed!

Cornelia is a force to be reckoned with, and her exuberance shone through the entire presentation.   It is a fascinating project – 3/4 of the 20,000 sf roof is greened, while 1/4 is “blue;”  the undulating roof is based upon the shape of  a native orchid – this project  would have fit nicely in  our Top 10 List  as an example of the #3 position,Biomimicry as Eco-literacy and Holistic Design.”   Maybe for 2011.   Lunch on the Trade Show Floor followed, along with the Poster Sessions.

Next up was  Haven’s and my session where we were right in the middle  of The Big Picture View, and we were very pleased at  the turnout.   Kerry Ross started with her  extremely informative Nordic Adventures: a field study of green roofs in Norway.  She highlighted cold climate greenroofs from a recent Scandinavian trip; through her research and documentation of projects has been able to better promote greenroof design and maintenance within Canada.

We followed with  our Top 10 List presentation, and it  was jam packed!    This was the first time we had co-presented together, and Virginia (Jennie) Russell from the University of Cincinnati, our moderator extraordinaire, kept us in-line with methodical announcements for us to pick up the pace.   So, it was a bit rushed, but fun (see  our PowerPoint here).   So many great projects to show, so little time!

We were honored to be in the same session as Cornelia Oberlander, who followed us and presented along with Ross Dixon of Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg.   They shared their experiences  with the Rooftoptop Renewal – The Redevelopment of Robson Square – An Intensive Green Roof in Downtown Vancouver.

This iconic rooftop civic center courthouse complex and public plaza was originally completed in 1983 by Arthur Erickson Architects and landscape architect  Cornelia Hahn Oberlander; replacement of the original waterproofing membrane and restoration of the plantings is currently underway, and is expected to be completed sometime within this year.   Refurbishments  included surveying to see which tree specimens would be saved and evaluating the best methods for removal, safe keeping during construction, and then replanting.

The Closing Plenary opened with  its own  lively Top 10 List invitation to join GRHC at the 9th Annual CitiesAlive 2011 in Philadelphia  by members of the Philadelphia Local Host Committee.   Co-hosted by the City of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the next Green Roof and Wall Conference will be held in the City of Brotherly Love from November 29 to December 3.

The Panel Discussion Peak Oil, Urban Farming and the Roofs and Walls of Our Cities: Creating a Future We Desire wrapped up the Conference.   Delivered by visionary yet practical Keynote Speaker Greg Allen, PE, LEEP AP, of Sustainable Edge, the presentation was forward thinking but set in a very grim reality – we  must release our bonds with oil and embrace sustainable energy strategies as well as develop local urban farming on our rooftops and walls to ensure food security – basically  we need to  explore alternative food options more intelligently.

Panelists included Thomas Mueller of the Canadian Green Building Council, Vancouver Councilor Andrea Reimer, Keith Agoada of Sky Vegetables and Jeff Bruce, and a lot of people raised their own concerns about food supply and quality control, organics, and infrastructure  for urban agriculture in the sky.    Greenroofs.com was definitely in sync, as Haven Kiers and I had Tower Oases as Skyrise Urban Ag in the 2010 #1 category for our Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof and Greenwall Design.

We enjoyed our Habitat Havens Tour the next day on Saturday, and especially our tour guide, the lively and informative Tyrel Sutton from Flynn Canada.   We had a beautiful, clear day to roam around four rooftops (really three, more on that later) that were selected because they were designed to either replicate a specific ecosystem or to provide food for birds, butterflies, or bees.   We were lucky because the tours on Tuesday were rainy – in fact, at least one was cancelled.

There are quite a few publically accessible projects around Vancouver, and the Local Host Committee put together a 9-stop Self-Guided Green Roof and Wall Tour list that was included in the program.   We didn’t see much, but  Caroline did – this is her photo of the ING Green Wall, left, designed by CitiesAlive exhibitor Green over Grey – Living Walls and Design Inc.

I would say there were maybe 700 people at CitiesAlive.   With the exception of a few hiccups – spotty snacks, flimsy conference  program, tour time changes  – overall, I felt that Steven Peck and Green Roofs for Healthy Cities  did a fantastic job of planning and executing this first “international” conference.   Kind of funny since they’re Canadian,  but this was the first time the conference was held outside of the U.S.    Plus it was the first time under its new name – CitiesAlive.   (As you’ll recall, the previous seven incarnations were titled “Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities.”)

And  the Vancouver Local Host Committee (Rod Goy, Marita Luk, Andrea Martinello, Blair Bennett, Nicholas Rousseau, Dr. Katherine Dunster, Helen Goodland, Andrea Linsky, Andrea Kausel and Lyn Ross) should be commended, too, for their outstanding accomplishments and participation in this successful conference!   Visit Green Roofs for Healthy Cities’ Acknowledgements page, where I borrowed this photo below:

In general, people were very happy with everything, with minor grumblings about not enough food at the Opening Plenary  and dessert  on the Trade Show floor after the Awards of Excellence Luncheon.   Also, for the first time, CD’s of the conference proceedings were not available, but you can purchase video recordings of the over 60 speakers that go along with each’s PowerPoint presentation (“Full Compilation Streaming Media – Audio Synched to PPT”) from GRHC for $120.

In reflection, we should be happy the conference agenda is so big – I’m sure Greenbuild  had similiar growing pains, talk about a massive, multi-day, multi-track  program!   Or ASLA, or AIA, for that matter.   It simply, very clearly, illustrates the tremendous growth of our greenroof and greenwall industry, and acceptance of building integrated greenery into mainstream design.   It is impossible to attend each presentation, so it’s great that GRHC developed the Living Architecture Academy – an online learning center with technical papers from all the past conferences and proceedings.   Having such a resource at our fingertips is inmeasurable.

Regarding the Trade Show, we’ve all noticed a trend of some past exhibitors not exhibiting lately, sometimes due to the challenging economy, scheduling conflicts, or feeling resources could be better used elsewhere.   So, I would also just like to add that all of us who are members of GRHC should pay a big thanks to all of the companies who have exhibited in the past, and who faithfully continue to do so.   Being international for many of us, for Vancouver it was more cumbersome and expensive to ship everything, but conferences couldn’t be held without the support of exhibitors and sponsors.   I would encourage everyone doing business within our industry to exhibit and work together to make  our committment and exposure  even better.   Here are a few  more Trade Show pics:

One of the very best things about all these conferences is the chance to meet new colleagues and see old friends from across the world and catch up on each other’s lives and happenings – we were happy to do this with the always effervescent  Dusty Gedge of Livingroofs.org,  Kerry Ross and her husband Bob,  Chuck Friedrich and Ernie Higgins of ItSaul Natural – Mr. Natural  (also from Atlanta), Contributing Editor  Dr. Bill Retzlaff of SIUe, and too many other folks to mention!   Many of our “usual” German colleagues were missing (Manfred Köhler and  Roland Appl, among others), probably due to the numerous previous international congresses where we saw them, but it was great seeing several folks from the City of Portland’s Beaurau of Environmental Services and lots of international students, too.

I wish I had had more time with a bunch of people – the always wonderful Maureen Connelly from BCIT, Jennie Russell,  and Andrea Martinello of N.A.T.S., for example, but there will be other conferences!

I’m sorry I  couldn’t attend  Maureen’s panel session of Expert Discussion: Taking Green Roofs and Walls to the Next Level in British Columbia – A Pathway to the Future! because it conflicted with our Top 10 presentation session.   It included the fanstastic Deputy City Manager of the City of Vancouver, Sadhu Johnston – previously Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s Chief Environmental Officer and  Deputy Chief of Staff, where he headed up much of their greenroof program.

In my opinion, Maureen Connelly is the true greenroof champion in Vancouver with her many years of  dedication and research at British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Centre for the Advancement of Green Roof Technology, and should be commended for an outstanding job – keep up the great work, and thanks BCIT for all that you do!   (See their project profile in The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database here.)   Their Mission Statement:

“The mission of the BCIT Centre for Architectural Ecology – Collaborations in Green Roofs and Living Walls is to conduct world-class, innovative research on green roof and living wall systems and to provide research-based education across disciplines, to students and practitioners.”

The BCIT Centre is evaluating the function and performance of extensive greenroofs and living walls in the rainforest climate of coastal B.C.   Through collaborations with industry, government and academic partners, their vision is to help advance the widespread adoption of these technologies in this region.   It would have been great to have visited the research facility, but, just like any working trip, there simply wasn’t enough time.   Make sure to read BCIT’s “750 attend BCIT-co-hosted green roof conference” of December 13, 2010, where you can also see a huge gallery of photos.

We were here five nights and every day was devoted to conference events – although we didn’t get out to see the city and surroundings, many of our  friends did (like Caroline and  Janet Faust of JDR Enterprises).   Caroline was fortunate enough to go up on a seaplane and took this wonderful aerial  photo of Vancouver, above.    Like most people, she  also visited  Whistler Mountain, one of North America’s top ski and snowboard resorts (and  snapped this fun snow picture left).

The two greenroofed places I really wanted to visit but didn’t was the awesome Vancouver Public Library  (also known as Library Square Building)  with its  pioneering rooftop built in 1995, and  the fantastic 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Olympic Village, also known as Southeast False Creek and Millennium Water with about 287,000 sf total of greenroofs.

Read my 2.17.10 Sky Gardens post about it here.   We featured  Millennium Water in 2007’s Top 10 List in the #1 category – Visionary Proposed Projects since the City of Vancouver mandated that at least 50% of the buildings should be covered in green.   Next time!

Not content to leave things alone, upon leaving  the Vancouver International Airport (YVR), I had to take a bunch of photos of the 17-meter high YVR Canada Line Station 4 Living Wall, designed by the talented Randy Sharp of Sharp & Diamond Landscape Architecture.  As you may know, the Canada Line is Vancouver’s new rapid transit rail link connecting YVR to downtown Vancouver, and visitors are greeted by this beautiful green wall of green and silver euonymus, mondo grass, and licorice fern.   Read my 3.26.10 Sky Gardens post about it here.

We will  defintely return to Vancouver, B.C. as a vacation destination, where we can take in all the sights and locations of this gorgeous city at our leisure!   That’s it for now.

If you haven’t already, make sure to read our December, 2010 Guest Feature Article  by Janet Faust of JDR Enterprises, “CitiesAlive! 2010,” where she did a great job in describing her reflections of this eighth yearly  conference.   Her account of compares the experience to a fine wine and Janet comments  how  these Green Roofs for Healthy Cities’ conferences have gotten better with age!

If you’d like to present at the 9th Annual CitiesAlive! Green Roof and Wall Conference in Philadelphia, the Call for Paper Abstracts will be released in a few weeks.

Next up will be a series of posts about individual tour  sites from each of these unique cities we had the pleaure of visiting last year:   Mexico City, Singapore, and the lovely Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

Happy Greening from Alpharetta, Georgia,

~ Linda V.

See Our 2010 Hot Trends Top 10 List PowerPoint!

January 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Did you know that you can see the all the PowerPoint presentations for Haven Kiers and my “2010 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design”  here on Greenroofs.com?”   Powered by authorSTREAM,  you can view them in their entirety  for 2007, 2008, 2009, and now 2010:  

What I’ve done is compile all of the project slides that made it to my presentations this year from showing it  at Ecoroof Portland,  in Atlanta  for  our  local  USGBC Chapter,  in Mexico City, Singapore, and most recently Vancouver, B.C.   Each was just a bit different, as my/our presentation times varied by as much as 10 minutes (a really long time when you’re talking really fast) – plus the fact that I tried to highlight local projects more in each city, too.

So, I hope you enjoy our “2010 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design” presentation and all the simply awesome projects from across the world that Haven and I have gathered for you which we felt best portrayed the current pulse of the design community.

And remember, it’s never too early to start sending us ideas for trendy categories and specific projects for the 2011 Top 10!   Feedback is always appreciated –  in fact, we thrive  on it!   Send info to Haven Kiers at:   DesignEditor@greenroofs.com and me at: Linda@greenroofs.com.

We’ll be presenting  the Greenroofs.com  2011 Top 10 List at the CitiesAlive 2011 9th Annual Green Roof & Wall Conference in  Philadelphia, PA next November 29 – December 3, plus a few more international cities in the works, so stay tuned.

~ Happy Greening!

 

GLT in NYC: A Weekend of Training, Education, & Fun

January 21, 2011 at 7:10 pm

By Caroline Menetre

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

Hi all – Linda and I have just returned from Green Living Technologies‘ Professional Installer Certification Training in New York City this past weekend, January 15-17, 2011.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline MenetreWe were guests of George Irwin, Chairman / CEO Green Living Technologies LLC (GLT).  George is also known to most of you as the Green Wall Editor here at Greenroofs.com.  George wanted  us to see firsthand how their green roof and green wall training can benefit underprivileged youth and under-served adults getting into or returning to the work force, providing practical hands-on experience resulting in green collar jobs.  And as designers ourselves as well, we really wanted to learn more, too.

Part of the GLT Institute, the training certification is backed by the future degree track diploma being developed by The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education for the new Hunts Point High School for Sustainable Community Initiatives in the Bronx, New York City.  This four-year high school degree track centers on green technologies including a base curriculum around the GLT technologies.  Supported by the New York Department of Education as part of a CTE (Career Technical Education) program, the GLT Training is the precursor to its core curriculum, and aligns with New York State and National Learning Standards.

This course was obviously also developed to meet the preliminary objectives for professionals to become a Certified GLT Installer, and provides the intellectual property and know how to receive more advanced hands-on supervision for their patented products.

So far, GLT has trained over 750 representatives around the world and in seven countries.  George says the certification course is unlike any other green roof or wall training available since it encompasses extensive knowledge about all aspects of green roofs and walls – waterproofing, urban agriculture, edible walls – and provides hands-on learning, continued support, and much more.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

The training was held at the Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School and led by George.  His dynamic personality and commitment to learning, developing, and teaching the latest technologies in the field are a direct testament to the success of his company.  Their recent project with Impacto Verde (their licensed South American manufacturer and distributor), is the Hotel InterContinental in Santiago, Chile, which boasts the world’s largest modular Green Living Wall at 17,000 sf (maybe the world’s largest overall? I’m not sure).

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

Green Job Training

The certification was attended by industry architects, landscape architects, designers, general contractors, landscape contractors and installers, educators from the U.S. and abroad, and also about 30 students, including several from Discovery High School in the Bronx, NY.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline MenetrePart Bronx activist and part youth advocate, these students are fortunate to have Steve Ritz of Discovery High School as their classroom teacher.  The Teacher/Administrator says, “Green is the new black!”  The older ones were the first student class to have graduated from this GLT course last year, and are now helping with the younger group.

Mr. Ritz’s enthusiasm for the program – and passion for teaching his students – is infectious, and it was inspiring to hear him speak on the opportunities and rewards of the program.  The success of his classes is what has has propelled the GLT program into the core degree track for the new Career Training School in the Bronx, to open later in 2011.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline MenetreWe learned that Steve met George on the set of Good Morning America last June when GLT products were featured along with Steve’s outstanding students.  Their innovative public-private partnership started when George later taught a 40-minute class at Discovery High School.

This led to a GLT-funded scholarship program that took the students from the Bronx to Boston for formal training with GLT affiliate Cityscapes, Inc.  Following their graduation from this intensive training, they returned to the Bronx extremely excited!  After receiving their certifications from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., the students and faculty had the opportunity to meet New York Mayor Michael  Bloomberg and celebrity chef Rachel Ray, who praised their work and commitment.  The best part is that while the students are growing fresh organic vegetables they had grown from seeds in their classroom using GLT walls (and taking them home), they’re actually getting paid real living wages as installers while learning practical job skills outside  a traditional classroom setting.

Hands-on and More Hands-on

Friday centered on greenroofs and their different systems and options, and the highlight was the mock installation of the GLT modular panel greenroof system.  All the young people (and anyone else who wanted to participate) formed groups of five and collaborated to ensure safety, preparation of the job site, good communication skills, and quality control while installing the green roof materials.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

On Saturday we covered a lot more material on greenwalls, and then received more hands-on work.  We placed the proprietary growing medium (GLT bioSoil) into several stainless steel greenwall units, and then planted them with a variety of vegetable seeds including different types of lettuce, radishes, carrots and chives.  This edible greenwall will be placed in Steve Ritz’s classroom in the Bronx as part of their urban crops learning – they not only cook their freshly grown vegetables for the school cafeteria on special events, they also sell their harvest at the local farmer’s market and then reap the profits, too.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

Steve incorporates GLT’s philosophy of “zero miles” – from farm to table with indoor and outdoor edible walls for growing fresh fruits and vegetables in urban environments.  The new GLT Mobile Edible Wall ® (MEW) Urban Food Production Units (pictured at left) and commercial A frames are designed to advance urban food production and edible wall technology, and work great in schools because they are on wheels and can be rolled from classroom to classroom as needed.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

But the day’s highlight was the actual hands-on installation for the greenwall at the school where attended the class – the Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School.  Everyone gathered around as George took us through the installation process, step by step.  The students eagerly participated and took turns wearing safety goggles, measuring, using a level, pre-drilling, drilling  and installing the modules.  The easy drip irrigation that is part of the modular system had been discussed previously, but here it wasn’t necessary because this greenwall will be hand watered from the top, with excess water falling into the catch basin at the base.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

These GLT greenwall units were donated by GLT and pre-grown at Parker Nursery and have a selection of gorgeous tropical plants.  A total of six units were installed to create this living tapestry, and the end result was fantastic.  What a great sight to see when you come through the school lobby!

On Monday, we heard from Tom Walsh, GRP, of Parker Nursery and Parker Urban Greenscapes, licensed GLT distributor, who spoke to us about many important items to consider about design and maintenance – from water needs to plant health, he covered variables such as irrigation, plant selection, light, temperatures, and a rigorous maintenance schedule.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

Great People

We met such great people from all over, who all share the same passion in this exciting field.  Here Linda and I are proud to be pictured with some new friends – all great professional, inspiring, talented women in their own right.  Below we are from left to right: Lynn Torgerson, Liz Holloway, Caroline, Linda, and Naomi Person at Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School:

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

Some extra-curricular activities of the conference weekend included some excellent New York food (of course) at nearby restaurants, and a great evening out after class on Sunday at a neighborhood jazz-supper club with George and friends.  We saw the fantastic KJ Denhert and her band at Smoke, below.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

It was great to meet Mike Bucci and Angela DiPrima-Bucci, too, the talents of G-Space, a Philadelphia architecture and design/build firm.  Perhaps you have seen their spectacular PNC Bank greenwall in our 2011 Greenroofs & Walls of the World Calendar™ – featured this month for January.  They shared stories about the trials and tribulations of erecting the 10-story high green wall in Pittsburgh – the largest in North America at the time in 2009, at 2,380 sf:

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre
Also we enjoyed the visiting after hours with Chris Wark, Energy Editor at Greenroofs.com, and his lovely wife, Wendy.  On Saturday, Linda and I enjoyed drinks and hors d’oeuvres with them in their beautiful Manhattan home and then out to dinner afterwards.  Below is the incredible view from our gracious hosts’ apartment.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

They even took us up on their rooftop for equally spectacular views of the city, below.  There’s nothing better than having New Yorkers show you around their city, and hearing all their great stories about the area – things you could never know as being just the occasional tourist to the city.  It was such a treat to meet them!

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

Our flight was soon after our final half-day class on Monday, but Linda and I crammed in a quick trip to the NBC Experience Store to see that much talked-about green wall that Steve Ritz’s students had installed last November (visit NBC’s Green is Universal website for more information).  It was beautiful, and I’m glad that we had just enough time to see it before heading out to the airport.  (I rather liked that greenwalls took precedence over shopping in NYC.)

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

See this fantastic YouTube video from NBC – it’s all about corporate and personal passion and commitments, showing Steve Ritz’s for his students, George Irwin’s for this private-public relationship, and NBC’s overall belief that Green is Universal!  You can see the students (many of whom who were in our class) installing the NBC Experience Store greenwall, too.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

All in all, it was a wonderful learning experience – really invaluable information that I feel very fortunate to have been a part of, and I’d like to personally thank George for that.  Also, we’d also like to thank Steve Ritz and his wife Lizette (great lady!) and the students for their hard work in making everything run smoothly (and feeding us).  Great City, Great People, Great Training Event!

And finally, I’d like to express my gratitude to Linda and Aramis – not only for the opportunities and experiences I’ve had because of them – but also for their friendship.  I first interned with Greenroofs.com a couple of years ago during my career change, and since then have continued to work with them occasionally as a marketing and design contributor, and also working with Linda on several local projects.

I’ve learned so much from their dedication to sharing everything there is to know about the industry through their invaluable website, and through them, I’ve also met the best people in the industry, and acquired some great new friends along the way.  So thanks, guys!

~ Caroline

Reflections of Fall 2010 Greenroof Conferences: Singapore, Part 2

January 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Singapore is Part 2 of reflections of our travels this past late Autumn 2010 – as you probably know by now, during the past three months I’ve presented the Greenroofs.com “2010 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design” in Mexico City, Singapore, and most recently Vancouver, B.C.

Singapore

Singapore (Singapura in Malay) is officially the Republic of Singapore, a gorgeous island country off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia.  Although only about 600 sq km in size, Singapore is the world’s fourth leading financial center and its port is one of the five busiest in the world, playing a key role in international trade and finance.

Due to its prime location at the Equator, with its climate of perpetual summer and high rainfall, Singapore offers a rich diversity of flora and fauna, and influences from a multi-ethnic society make dining, shopping, and entertainment top draws, too.

Interestingly, it’s also known as The Lion City, although it is not believed that these animals ever lived on the island.

The inaugural International Skyrise Greenery Conference was held here from November 1 -3, 2010, but we stayed for about 7 days – hey, if you’re going to travel half-way around the world, you may as well stay a while and see as many sights as you can!  This was before getting stuck in Narita, Japan, one night on our trek – that’s another story.  But we made the best of it, and since we had been there before, we ended up eating at a Chinese restaurant in our hotel by the airport (go figure).

And what did we find the next day on our way to our ANA flight to Singapore at the Narita International Departures Terminal?  Extensive greenroofs!  See below:

The International Skyrise Greenery Conference organizers were CUGE (The Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology), a project of the National Parks Board of Singapore (NParks), and the International Green Roof Association (IGRA).  This 3-day international conference focused on the latest technological developments and new areas of application in the field of greenroofs and vertical greenery.

Greenroofs.com was a Media Sponsor, and participants were able to receive a huge discount through us!  We feel they did a fantastic job all around.  I’m not sure of the attendance numbers, but I would estimate around 550-600 people, with a large (and very friendly) contingent from China – about 75 delegates.  We met folks from all over including many lovely Chinese professionals – plus delegates from the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, the UK, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, The Philippines, Indonesia, Denmark, India, Iran, Macau, and probably more!

All the speakers here were awesome, too, and the projects on the tours were simply over the top!  No, really. Check out the simply amazing SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands below – the one hectare Sky Park covers three 55-story hotel towers and cantilevers 65 meters over the edge.  Yes, this is a graphic below, but it really looks like this!  I did take the photo below it.

I’m not trying to compare any other conference city to Singapore – it would be unfair to all other locales and simply impossible to compare cities apples to apples, let alone top it.  We’ve never seen a cleaner and greener city in all our travels – even Roland Appl of ZinCo, who lives in the beautiful green Stuttgart area, was flabbergasted (sorry, it’s the only word that describes it) at the sheer amount of greenery and detail to greening practices.

Did you know that every tree in Singapore is tagged with a microchip to account for maintenance practices, and it’s a misdemeanor to trim a tree without city permission, let alone cut one down?  Of course it may have to do with local politics…they take their trees and urban greenery very seriously here.

And there certainly appears to be no economic slowdown here, either.  There was construction at every turn, and it seemed like each building was designed to be a stand-out, iconic structure, too.  Not surprisingly, Singapore claimed the title of fastest-growing economy in the world last year, with GDP growth of 17.9% in the first half of 2010!

In any case, skyscrapers and sky gardens reign here ~ about 90-95% of people live in high rise buildings (mostly public housing blocks) on this small island city-state nation, so it’s no wonder that a government so dedicated to greening practices wants to provide its citizens with as much nature within a tight city as possible.

Currently, about a third of the nation’s approximately 650 housing units have greenroofs, with plans to have them all greened soon. You can see the rooftops of seven huge housing blocks below in this photo:

Singaporeans are lucky to have the support of the government, who introduced the Green Roof Incentive Scheme in 2009 to encourage owners of existing buildings to green their rooftops, among other measures. The three-year program offers a cash grant equal to 50% of actual installation costs, subject to a maximum of $75 (Singapore) per square-meter of planted area.

Additional incentives include the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) LUSH (Landscaping for Urban Spaces and High Rises) which consists of four parts – Landscape Replacement Policy for Strategic Areas; Outdoor Refreshment Area on Landscaped Roof tops; GFA Exemption for Communal Sky Terraces; and Landscaped Deck.  This program was designed to consolidate and synergize a number of new and existing green initiatives.

And the BCA Green Mark Certification and Incentive Scheme, launched in January 2005, is an initiative to drive Singapore’s construction industry towards more environment-friendly buildings.  Several points in the scoring system can be achieved by installing greenroofs and greenwalls.

Getting back to the International Skyrise Greenery Conference, to be honest, everything about it was top-notch and highly impressive.  Our hotel was the beautiful Carlton Hotel Singapore, above, which was about a 4-minute walk away from the venue.  Held at the National Library of Singapore, below,the beautiful structure was designed by renown green architect-planner, ecologist and author Dr. Ken Yeang, of Llewlyn Davies Yeang, UK.  In 2005, this project received the  BCA Green Platinum Award for its green-accredited tower design.

It’s an innovative green building designed using bioclimatic design techniques perfectly suited to the tropics, with extensive landscaping and sky gardens.  It was pretty cool how they set everything up to fully enjoy the site – the Exhibition Hall was open air, set on the ground floor Level 1, The Plaza, which was warm but comfortable since it captured the balmy pass-through breezes due to the design of the wide spaces and high ceilings.  We also had the lunches and tea breaks here, too.  I have to say that the food and refreshments were outstanding!

The sessions were held inside in the plush auditorium-style theaters, and everything was close at hand with many conference staff available for assistance.  The Opening Ceremony of the International Skyrise Greenery Conference 2010 was officiated by Guest-of-Honor Ms. Grace Fu, Senior Minister of State for National Development and Education, and she said:

“In today’s context of rapid urbanisation, 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by the year 2050.  Cities will increasingly face competing uses of land, and it will be challenging to set aside sufficient land for parks and greenery.

It is therefore not surprising that skyrise greenery, in the form of green roofs, vertical greenery and sky gardens, is growing among cities around the world.  It is especially an attractive proposition for cities that are limited by space, but seek to provide a quality living environment for their people.” ~ Ms. Grace Fu

SIA-NParks (Singapore Institute of Architects and National Parks Board) then presented the winners of their third annual Skyrise Greenery Awards 2010, which aims to promote and recognize the greening of high-rise developments – to encourage creative and original ideas and to highlight the importance of team effort in their design, implementation, and maintenance.  There were some pretty cool projects featured here – three projects received first, second, and third prizes for Completed Projects, and one received the first prize for Unbuilt Projects/Ideas.

The organizers opted for two Plenary Sessions and we were treated to four keynote speakers, two on each day.  On Monday, November 1, we were intrigued (and entertained) by French botanist Dr. Patrick Blanc, above, from the French National Centre for Scientific Research (and creator of the Vertical Garden or Mur Vegetal) who presented “The Vertical Garden – From Nature to Cities.”  The always popular German Professor Dr. Manfred Koehler from University Neubrandenburg then shared his thoughts “On Green Design & Planning.”

I was honored to follow them with our Top 10 List, and then we heard from Roland Appl, President of the International Green Roof Association (and ZinCo Technical Director) who shared “The Development of Green Roofs – A Look Behind the Scenes.” Afterwards the program broke out into three parallel workshops – so Aramis and I divided.

On the second day, Tuesday, November 2, we were enlightened by keynote speaker Argentine-born U.S architect (and my personal favorite) Emilio Ambasz, below, and his reflections of “Architecture and Nature – Towards a Pact of Reconciliation.”  He spoke about his design philosophy over 35 years of experience designing “to integrate architecture into design,” making it accessible to all and to be used by the community at large.  He also showed his firm’s film “Green Over the Grey” which is the story of designing a building in the middle of a garden where 100% of the disturbed ground plane is recovered with green – where “the House AND the Garden” are organically integrated.  “People should be their own gardeners,” Emilio says.

Our fourth keynote, Malaysian born architect Dr. Ken Yeang, below, followed with “Vertical Greenery and Urban Water Management.”  He explained the need to create an ecological nexus between species and architecture, and spoke about the current Solaris project in Singapore, which among other features will contain the longest linear park at 1.3 km in the world when completed.

Each wowed us with their very unique personalities and distinct presentation styles!  For example, Mr. Ambasz said, “Architecture is a state of spirit, not diplomas,” and Dr. Yeang said, “A green building should look green, which means hairy!” Since Day 2 offered an entire plenary session, no choosing of sessions was necessary.

After the first day, the attendees were treated to a lovely personal guided tour of the National Orchid Garden and Welcome Dinner with an orchestra to entertain us at the Villa Halia in the stunning Ginger Gardens in the Singapore Botanic Gardens.  The Orchid Garden offers over 20,000 orchid plants on display, with every size, shape and color imaginable.  They have it divided into four sections to represent the four seasons, with a representative color scheme for each.  I think I took 100 photos here alone – what a magical place!  Here are a few to enjoy:

Within the Orchid Garden is the Tan Hoon Siang Misthouse, which was a cool refreshment after walking through the steamy tropical forest – check these out:

I didn’t take this one of the greenroof on site – I didn’t know it was there!  I found it on Wikipedia:

We made lots of new friends here, including Italian agronomist and green designer Laura Gatti from Studio Laura Gatti, seated below,with us.

The French red and white wine selection was fabulous, and since it was rather hot in the tropical rain forest climate, Aramis and I were very happy to sip on the white wine all evening.  We appreciated it even more afterwords!

Side Note:  We had arrived the afternoon before on Sunday and met many of the other speakers and attendees at Brotzeit Raffles City (with its own fabulous “garnish farm” greenroof over it), a popular German Bier Bar & Restaurant, where we obviously drank beer (kind of expensive at about $14 each).  So this wonderful experience at the Botanic Garden was our first full evening in Singapore with dinner.

Well, you can imagine our surprise (ignorance, I suppose) on the following evening when we found out that the cheapest bottle of wine in any restaurant was about $60!  We found out that all alcohol is highly taxed here, and the extra expensive prices were also due to the fact that we were hanging out in the exclusive Orchard Road area (the road which led to former nutmeg plantations).  So did we ever have a famous Singapore Sling? This traditional cocktail is a mixture of gin, cherry liqueur, grenadine, pineapple and lemon juice, very tropical-like, and of course we had to try one  – but at about $16 a pop, we only had one each!

Overall, we each had numerous favorite presentations, but I think my second favorite one (after Emilio) was from Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Associate Partner, BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group of Denmark – it had the definite wow factor of the conference!  His presentation started with the eye-catching, frenetic “Yes is More” video highlighting the young firm itself plus some of its equally eye-catching projects.  We had one as a project in Haven Kiers‘ and my 2010 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design this year – the cool World Village of Women Sports (WVWS) in Malmo, Sweden – in the #9 category, “Green Sporting Venues.”  Also, it turns out that Kai-Uwe actually grew up here in the Atlanta area, of all places.  (By the way, the YES IS MORE EBOOK app is now available for download on iTunes.)

Jaron Lubin, Associate, Safdie Architects (two photos below) described the incredible experience of “The SkyPark at the Marina Bay Sands” – a true marvel of engineering with its unique infinity edge pool, jogging paths, public observatory, restaurants and lounges – offering spectacular views of Singapore, towering 200 meters in the sky:

The 150-meter infinity swimming pool is the world’s largest outdoor pool at this height.

Professor Wang Xian Min, Secretary General of the International Promotion Center for Vertical Planting from China presented “Vertical Planting in Shanghai World Expo-Good Measure of Build Energy-Saving” and gave his experiences on the recent (May 2010) Expo there.  As also the Secretary-General of the Hainan China World Green Roof Conference 2011, he invited all of us to attend this conference on March 18-21, 2011.  “This World Green Roof Conference (WGRC) will be held in the three most special cities of Hainan (Haikou, Boao and Sanya). WGRC wants to further the cause of roof greening, vertical planting and ecological restoration and improve the various technologies for ecological, environmental protection and sustainable development through international communication.”

We were pleased to finally meet David Aponte, Founder of PR Green Design, who we’ve been corresponding with about his many projects in Puerto Rico who asked “Are All Green Roofs Created Equal? Green Roof Installation in the Caribbean Region” and then compared similarities between his area of the sub-tropical world to tropical Singapore.  David’s seen above between an attendee from The Netherlands, left, (forgot her name!) and Sidonie Carpenter, right, of Australia.

Dr. Tan Puay Yok, Deputy Director of the Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology, National Parks Board presented “The Greening of the Highrise Environment in Singapore:  An Overview of Policy and Projects” which was extremely interesting in its scope (read Wolfgang Ansel’s and his October 2010 Guest Feature about the Skyrise Conference here).  And the always affable Ho Wan Weng, IGRA Singapore Representative (whom we had met previously in Nurtingen, Germany – read my October 2004 Sky Gardens ~ Travels in Landscape Architecture column about it), talked about the “Sustainable Green Roof in Tropical Asia – Beyond the Horizon.

And “A Hospital Within a Healing Garden – Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore” (above) was extremely enjoyable, too, in particular due to the delightful speaker, Mr. Liak Teng Lit, CEO of Alexandra Health, who manages the hospital. He’s not your typical CEO – he’s very hands on and proud of all his employees – and had us laughing, too.

Designed by CPG Consultants, Peridian Asia, and Tropical Environment, the lovely Khoo Teck Puat Hospital project won the First Prize for the SIA-NParks Skyrise Greenery Awards 2010.  Rooftop garden spaces were designed to promote patient healing in weaving, terraced levels, and all of the staff was involved in the entire process.

Andrew Grant, President of Grant Associates, presented the stunning “Gardens by the Bay, Singapore,” another wow project.  Designed by Grant Associates and Wilkinson Eyre Architects, three distinct, orchid-shape (the country’s national flower) waterfront botanical gardens are being set here on 10 hectares.  Noted for its “Supertrees,” 18 vertical gardens rising from 25, 40 and 55 meters above ground will power the conservatories and act as energy centers for solar hot water heaters and solar panels, plus provide rainwater harvesting. This project was listed in our Top 10 List as an example of the #3 position,“Biomimicry as Eco-literacy and Holistic Design.”  Phase 1 of the Gardens is scheduled to be completed in November, 2011.

We visited the site – under construction above – on our tour (I took the photo from the SkyPark at the Marina Sands), and you can see how far they’ve come with the conservatories.  See all those columns?  Those will be the Supertrees, shown to the right in the photo above, and in the graphic below at night when the canopies will come alive in Marina South Gardens with lighting and projected media (also on the cover of our PowerPoint, above).  They will be planted with tropical climbers, epiphytes, and ferns and are sure to create quite a visually stunning display!

We also enjoyed hearing – and seeing once again – from perennial favorites Wolfgang Ansel, Director of IGRA (“Green Roof Policies – An International Review of Current Practices and Future Trends”); Susan Weiler, Landscape Architect with Olin Partnership (“A Land Ethic: Replenishing Our Diminishing Resources”); Sidonie Carpenter, President of Green Roofs Australia Inc. and Principal of Green Canopy Design, Australia (“Green Roof and Wall Trends and Projects in Australia”); Professor Hitesh Doshi of Ryerson University, in Toronto (“The Toronto Green Roof Bylaw and the Green Roof Construction Standard”) and Dr. Nigel Dunnett, Director of the Green Roof Centre at the University of Sheffield (“Integrating People and Nature: Sustainable Green Roofs and Roof Gardens”), seen at right.

It’s impossible to mention everyone, but you can see the Programme Details here to see all the wonderful presenters and their topics.  By the way, the sturdy Conference Programme was highly informative and is a great keepsake of the event, with biographies, many photos and resources.

On a related note, I was asked to write an article about Greenroofs.com, our company, philosophy and future plans for CITYGREEN, a bi-annual publication of CUGE.  The 1st issue was launched in April of 2010 and it’s described as “The latest interdisciplinary periodical on greening cities, CITYGREEN contains a selection of articles, written by professionals and specialists, on urban green projects, programs, research and technologies.”

The beautiful, full-color glossy 104-page Issue #2/2011 with The Solaris by Dr. Ken Yeang on the cover (and with my “The International Greenroof Industry’s Online Information Portal: Greenroofs.com” article inside) was included in all the registrants’ bags.

As I already mentioned, the Exhibitor Hall was arranged on the expansive ground floor of the National Library around the break area, and there were many people to visit, with lots of new products and companies.  Some were familiar, such as Elmich, below, where we reconnected with Victor Tan, but most were unfamiliar to us. But by the end of the conference, we had visited all of them.  Here are just a few shots:

In the Conference Closing, Friends of the High Line received the International Green Roof Association (IGRA) “Green Roof Leadership Award 2010,” presented to Dr. John H. Alschuler, Jr. of HR & A Advisors, Inc. (who also had an amazing, inspirational presentation on the subject), by IGRA President Roland Appl for the wonderful High Line project (see the 11.9.10 press release).

We all went on our way, and then the entire third day was devoted to the excellent bus tour, which I’ll talk about in detail at another time.

The day after the tour, Aramis and I hopped aboard the highly efficient public rail transit system, MRT, to explore the island a bit, and in particular my quest involved having to see the beautiful School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University – whose stunning photos have been circulating the Web now for a few years (and we had in the 2008 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof Design under “Cool Green Schools of Higher Education”).

It was a bit far out but easy to get to, involving only one transfer and a bit of walking.  Our first impression is seen below, its glass facade and embracing greenroof arms peeking out as we approached the campus (more later):

Next on our self-guided tour was the Suburu Showroom, which we had included in our very first Top 10 List in 2007, under the #9 category of “Sports & Recreation in Unexpected Places.”  Unexpected indeed, the rugged yet lushly planted intensive greenroof sits atop the dealership and is the area for test driving SUV’s and off-road vehicles!

We were extremely disappointed when we were not allowed access, but in fairness, we should have made prior arrangements.  So we took a few photos anyway from the street:

We concluded our long day of searching for greenroofs at the highly recommended Night Safari– a unique experience as the world’s first wildlife park built for night visits.  We rode through the park on a tram that took us through dark but scenic landscapes teeming with nocturnal animals – many of whom I’m sorry to say that you couldn’t see very well!  We saw more when we tracked back along the walking trails, though.  The Night Safari’s cultural performance was pretty spectacular, with lots of fire-breathing antics.  It was definitely worth the far-out visit.

I’ll briefly mention the fantastic Walking Tour that The International Skyrise Greenery Conference organizers put together (more later):  Thirteen really outstanding projects were mapped and routed for us, along with a brief description or each.  We only made it to about six or seven (two were included on the all day tour), and actually found a few more “random greenery” sites of our own along the way!

All in all, Singapore was a trip of a lifetime – of course, we are fortunate to travel extensively.  This world-class conference was one of those unique opportunities to combine a working vacation with a world-class city. Aramis and I have wonderful memories of the cosmopolitan city that is Singapore, and will surely return here, most probably when the incredibly stunning Gardens by the Bay at Marina South is finished.  And I want to fully explore the Singapore Botanic Gardens at my leisure, too!

Singapore is evolving from “The Garden City” into a “City Within a Garden,” much more a philosophy of a way of living as opposed to simply a coveted title.  I think it’s safe for me to say that urban greenery innovations are growing almost daily here, literally!  And their continued promotion of green initiatives will help strengthen Singapore’s distinct identity as a tropical City-in-a-Garden.

That’s it for now, I’ll be blogging about all our stops on the tour soon.

But for now, reflections on the cooler climate of the gorgeous city of Vancouver, B.C. are next!

~ Happy Greening, Linda V.