Day 2 of Ecoroof Portland, a Win-Win for All!

March 24, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Before the second day of Ecoroof Portland‘s Vendor Fair and program sessions, Tom Liptan co-led an ecoroof tour starting at 8:30 a.m.   Along with Jason King of TERRA.fluxus, on March 13 the group was comfortably and efficiently  transported by ecoShuttle around northeast Portland to see a variety of roofs, below.

The five sites visited on Saturday morning  were the Metro Regional Headquarters Ecoroof and Yakuza Restaurant (above),  K-4 Condominiums (left), and the O’Brien  and Omey residences (below).

I’m sorry to say we just couldn’t make ourselves get up early enough to join in!   But our trusty friends Casey Cunningham at the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services and Jason shared these photos with us (I hope to add/update these profiles soon to The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database) – by the way, Jason King is a very talented landscape architect here and has been involved with many ecoroof projects, including the Multnomah County Multnomah Building, top photo above.

After the 10:30 Intro to Portland Ecoroof session, Commissioner Dan Saltzman welcomed everyone and spoke about the City’s vision for a sustainable future and some of their ongoing projects.   Then I was introduced as the keynote speaker, sharing my presentation “Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design.”   A  compilation of my favorites from the past three years  of Haven Kiers, our Design Editor, and my Top 10 List of Hot Design Trends in Greenroof Design,  I also  added  some outstanding projects that will make our Top 10 for 2010 (under construction), including this one below, the  $90 million Oregon Sustainability Center, designed by Portland firms SERA Architects and GBD Architects:

 

Saturday’s first afternoon session was all about case studies – small and large, public and private.   Kevin Falkerson, AIA,  and Kerrie Lee Cole, GRP,  of SYMBIOS  shared their experience of design-based solutions with the Salmon Creek School  living roof, from  concept through construction and follow-up.   The LEED  Platinum Sonoma County, California environmental center has many eco-friendly features, offering  the students of this K-8 grade school numerous opportunities for place-based learning – about the ecology of the natural site and the  greenroof itself.

The semi-intensive roof sports a diverse palette of non-native and native sedums and succulents, accented with beautiful detail plantings including boulders and rocks.   See a photo gallery here.

 

Next up was the energetic Walt Quade, a general contractor with Cully Construction Co. (and Green Home Oregon), who built his own energy-conscious, partially underground  home with a custom-designed 1,490 sf greenroof in north Portland.   He also started from research to conception through several design options, before deciding on the one that would best suit his family’s needs and desires.   Walt not only described the construction process step-by-step, he also provided insights on lessons learned.   His message was clear:   ecoroofs do not need to be a high cost item if you are knowledgeable about products, and they are not that difficult to execute – but you do need to know your limitations and hire professionals when necessary.   See his photo gallery here.

Karl Schultz from the Port of Portland followed with the new  sustainable headquarters facility  for the Port of Portland at PDX, Portland International Airport.   Situated in front of the terminal  which is  connected to the parking garage, the 10-floor LEED Gold-designed facility has extensive daylighting, high performance glazing, radiant heating and cooling ceiling, reflective membrane, and a Living Machine – an organic wastewater treatment system that treats wastewater onsite to be used in the building for non-potable uses.

The structure also features an intensive built in place greenroof on the 8th floor  and  the larger 10,000 sf  LiveRoof modular greenroof on top of the 9th floor on the north side  installed for rainwater treatment   – both incorporate “adaptive plant Micromist irrigation.”

The final session was the very interesting, informal, and lively  “The Ecoroof Doctors are IN” panel with Tom Liptan, Ed Snodgrass, Patrick Carey, Dave Elkin,  and Alice Meyers from the  BES Ecoroof Incentive Program.   They offered advice and fielded many questions from architects, homeowners, and designers about a ton of  subjects – from which are the best plants to benefits of modular vs. built in place systems to construction details.

Earlier this year, March was declared “Ecoroof Portland” month by Mayor Adams, and the learning and fun didn’t stop with Ecoroof Portland 2010 –  here are  a few  more opportunities to learn what they’re all about from sponsors the Portland Audubon Society, Urban Greenspaces Institute, and the City of Portland (check for space availability):

South Waterfront Ecoroof Tour, March 27th
Green Roofs and Living Walls for Wildlife, March 30th – with one of our perennial favorites, Brit Dusty Gedge of Livingroofs.org  
Downtown Ecoroof Tour, March 31st

We left Portland with a greater understanding of how City employees, from the  Mayor to City Commissioners to everyone at BES, view their work.   I felt  that the employee buy-in for  eco-friendly stormwater management  options for a cleaner and greener Portland is just amazing!   It was evident from everyone we met how much they loved their jobs and how strongly they felt that ecoroofs were a real solution.   They really impressed me with their friendliness, professionalism, and dedication – thanks for inviting me!

Oregon is a land of widely different people, places, and ecosystems, and the beautiful City of Roses is always a pleasure to visit.   The City of Portland serves as a shining example to the rest of the U.S. on how municipal government can really work effectively for and with their people to promote healthy,  sustainable development.   Ecoroof Portland is a win-win event for everyone here – the citizens, the City employees, and as a result from all the support and financial incentives, the local environment as well.   Stay in touch by visiting the City’s BES website.

~ Linda V.

Ecoroof Portland, Day 1

March 23, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Since the 1990s, Portland, Oregon,  has worked hard to  earn its reputation as a sustainable building pioneer.   Very socially conscious, it’s also a very young city  in terms of energy and spirit.   As the host of Ecoroof Portland 2010, the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services  (BES) does  a great  service to its citizens with this free yearly event with information and technical assistance about ecoroofs – other sponsors included ReDirect Guide, EcoMetro, KXL radio, KINK radio, Portland Business Journal, Left Bank Annex, and ecoShuttle.

A large number of BES staff was on hand to assist, but Matt ran the show.   Matt Burlin  is the  Outreach Coordinator, Sustainable Stormwater Management, City of Portland Environmental Services, and  did an excellent job of organizing and coordinating everything!   Held at the Left Bank Annex  close to the Rose Quarter,  Ecoroof Portland  was easily accessible by public transportation, and in fact, the city encouraged folks to do just that.   The industrial urban space venue was chock full of environmentally friendly features including great daylighting, recycling bins everywhere, and water conservation features in the restrooms.

The program provided options for all levels of sophistication – beginner, professional, researcher, and those who were ready to put  an ecoroof  on their own house or commercial structure.   Friday started out at a very civil 10:30, with  “An Introduction to Ecoroofs in Portland” given by Matt and Amy Chomowicz (also offered on Saturday morning).   Attendees heard about general ecoroof information – how they work, why they’re important, and what resources are available in Portland  to help you get started on your own project  to  gain skills and experience in the industry.

 
The Vendor Fair was open at 10:00, and I was surprised to see how full both the intro session and exhibitor area was for a Friday morning.   We skipped the intro and perused the trade show on the main floor, mingling with  old friends and meeting new ones.

These regional expos are so important for a variety of reasons, and it also gives us an opportunity to meet with local reps of some of our advertisers, too, and learn about business in their neck of the woods – we connected with “new” folks from Tremco, Tournesol Siteworks, American Hydrotech, Xero Flor America, GreenGrid, ILD, and Etera Green Roof Plants (Northwest Horticulture), below.

I was pleased that there was  such a high number of professional firms  exhibiting  among the manufacturers and suppliers, for example landscape architects Lando & Associates Landscape Architecture(who have worked on many ecoroofs here including The Metro Headquarters Greenroof) and  Walker Macy (who worked on the Platinum LEED OHSU CHH building, among others).   Architects, consultants, contractors, structural engineers, and researchers also had booths.

In addition to product and service vendors, non-profit organizations and community organizations were also here including the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities booth, which was manned by Patrick Carey, a trainer for all of the courses needed to get your GRP designation – the 101, 201, 301 and 401.

And it was great to see Ecoroofs Everywhere  and meet Greg Haines,  above left, after all these years (who used to work at BES, seen with Matt, right).   Greg has been installing ecoroofs in Portland since 2002 when he co-founded Ecoroofs Everywhere as a non-profit organization (since 2007 it has been a for-profit partnership).   Of course, the City of Portland had  booths to answer questions about their Ecoroof Grant Program (they gave out beautiful posters) and WorkingGreenPortland.com, a  website  and tool to educate and motivate people about site specific stormwater management options, and city grants and incentives for each.

   

At noon,  Environmental Services Director Dean Marriott welcomed everyone, gave us a quick  update on the Ecoroof Grant program and introduced the keynote speaker, Ed Snodgrass.   Ed, in his usual laid back and affable way,  presented “Ecosystem Services: How Ecoroofs Contribute to Sustainable Cities” sharing his thoughts on how greenroofs  add benefits to our highly sealed urban areas by mimicking natural processes within the bigger picture.   He showed multiple examples of how the natural technologies of plants and soil protect the environment, economy, and equity in cities through connecting living roofs, rain gardens,  porous paving/vegetated parking lots and other systems, while  providing  stormwater management, energy reduction, cooling properties, treatment of graywater and sewage, wildlife habitat and more – for example  the corporate campus of Mercedes-Benz, below, a model of sustainability.

Next  came current research and monitoring efforts specific to the area.  Portland State University (PSU) graduate student Debbie Beck gave a presentation on “Greenroof Soil and Water Quality – Changes in Runoff Water Quality When Biochar is Mixed into a Greenroof Soil.”   Growing media needs to be designed to ensure low concentrations of nutrients in stormwater runoff;  biochar is a soil amendment made from the pyrolysis of waste products, ranging from biomass to tires in a carbon-net-negative process.   It was evaluated for its ability to retain nutrients in greenroof soils, and Debbie also  presented findings on its cleansing properties.

Tim Kurtz, PE, from the City of Portland BES  talked about  “Stormwater Monitoring of Three Ecoroofs in Portland, Oregon”  explaining that although ecoroofs have become a primary option for reducing roof runoff into sewers and streams, at present they’re all treated the same, regardless of growing media depth or composition.   Data was presented from the Hamilton Apartments, the Multnomah County Multnomah Building, and the Portland Building, above,  to determine which greenroof design and maintenance variables are most important to maximize stormwater retention.

 And featured speaker  Dr. David Sailor from PSU presented “Energy Performance of Ecoroofs – the Role of the Roof in Affecting Building Energy and the Urban Atmospheric Environment” – enlightening us how energy analysis of ecoroof performance requires sophisticated techniques and that complex energy balances on vegetative roofs vary from time of day and season to season.   Dr. Sailor concluded with his initial results of studies involving both greenroofs and photovoltaics, with a focus on potential system interactions and synergies.   His findings clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of the two technologies working together – the plants fare better with some shading from the harsh sun and the panels perform better from a cooler rooftop.

“Portland’s Shift to a Sustainable Future: The Role of Ecoroofs” took over the late Friday afternoon session with an interactive panel featuring Dan Vizzini of City of Portland Environmental Services, Tom Puttman of  David Evans and Associates, and Tom Liptan, ASLA, Ecoroof Technical Program Manager with BES.   Fourteen years after ecoroof guru Liptan installed his own atop his garage, the City continues to boost implementation of green infrastructure practices, including a target of 43 acres of ecoroofs by 2013. The panelists discussed their evolution from “grey to green” and how these changes will influence the fabric of  their city.

At 6:00 pm the Vendor Fair was closed to the public, and the City provided a lovely reception for the exhibitors and speakers.   This casual gathering and networking opportunity was a great time just to relax a bit.   Matt and Linda Dobson  (she manages  BES’s Stormwater Team) welcomed Portland Mayor  Sam Adams and it was easy to understand the city’s success with their ecoroof initiatives – you could feel the Mayor’s pride, commitment and  passion for their projects and staff.   He extended an open invitation to all to embrace sustainable business practices and sustainable design, and let us know that the City was looking into funding low interest loans.   He also informed us that he was talking up the challenge to green his own garage roof,  Ã  la Tom Liptan!

Tom Liptan then introduced me in such a nice way, reminiscing about my student days at UGA and how I called him back in 1998 wanting to know all about his garage greenroof and what could we do to promote these earth-friendly roof covers.   I presented a short demo of The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database – how it began with my 1999 research study when I initially had about 30 case studies, to how it’s grown to 1,023 at the moment; why I felt the industry needed an open, free resource for compiling and maintaining a clearing house of sorts.

Ed was up next and Tom also shared his funny recollections of meeting him several years ago.   Ed showed some very unique and interesting” Greenroofs from Around the World” with a fast-paced show of his highlight reel.

Afterwards we were off to the  richly decorated  Alu Wine Bar for a glass of a spectacular local pinot noir (2007 Arterberry Maresh from Dundee Hills, OR) with a bevy of BES people.   From there  Aramis, Ed and I  met Patrick and Brian Heather, GRP,  from SolTerra  for dinner at the very funky and famous Cajun Montage – quite a noisy and fun local favorite!   Patrick and Brian have been collaborating on various projects in Portland and Seattle, and we topped the evening off with a visit to the mixed-use SolTerra offices to see some of their innovative handiwork.   SolTerra provides a variety of services and products for the solar, ecoroof, and living wall markets, and what we saw looked very impressive!

Tomorrow I’ll wrap up our visit  and experiences at Ecoroof Portland 2010 ~ Linda V.

Greenroofs.com Homepage Redesign: A Feature Breakdown

March 9, 2010 at 7:06 pm

We’ve begun the Greenroofs.com website redesign starting with the Homepage. Our new design is about improving page navigation and making it easier for our visitors to find the content they want.   More white space has been created and we changed the font type and size for better reading.  We also kept in mind that search engines like to have a sense of what role a page plays in the bigger picture of our site, and we think that this has been accomplished.

New Homepage for www.greenroofs.com

HERE’S WHAT’S NEW:

Project of the Week
The Project of the Week section has been moved to the top of the left side in order to attract the first look of our visitors.   Well-documented eyetool analysis has revealed “hotspots” where visitors looked the most on a webpageand people look most at the left top side. This visual image of the featured greenroof project should instigate additional interest and thus a click-through that brings the latest project profile to the forefront in a separate window.   As you probably know, the project profile contains various photos and detailed content describing many important and relevant aspects of the case study.   The data associated with these profiles is administered on our MySQL Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database via PHP scripts.   Our database currently has 1,022 project profiles with many more being added every day. By the way, the content of this database is currently indexed by Google and Google News – which means when visitors search online, the results page will contain links to the data from our database.

The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database has been open to the world since 2004, evolving from the “International and North American Case Studies” portion of Linda Velazquez’ initial 1999 independent research study.    Read more about how Linda selects the Project of the Week.

The Greenroof Directory
Visitors looking for companies to work with on their projects now have a quick search capability from the homepage, direct to the Greenroof Directory.

The Greenroof Directory is also a MySQL database which contains essential information (contact, products, services, photos, etc.) about Manufacturers, Suppliers, Professional Services, and Organizations in the greenroof industry.

All this information is searchable from the main Directory page and now, for the first time, from our homepage with our new quick search feature.   The most popular main categories are highlighted in this new search box, and you can also access more categories from here, too.

By the way, the content in this directory is also indexed by Google and Google News.

In a guest feature article submitted by Adam Henige, a Web consultant, he states “An analysis of search engine data for 2009 clearly demonstrates a rising trend in the general public’s awareness of and interest in green roofs. Looking at these estimates for a cross section of the most popular general roofing terms and green roofing terms performed on search engines, there was growth in both areas, but by November the monthly search volume had grown only 51 percent for general roofing terms while green roofing terms had grown 155 percent.”

No one knows the secret formula that search engines use in order to optimize  a particular  site and improve rankings, but fortunately for us, we have enjoyed the number one spot in all the top search engines for the most significant keywords in our industry for over 10 years.   In addition to creating lots of organic content on a consistent basis, we also have a high number of sites that consider us a great resource and thus add links back to us, which also improves search results positioning and site PageRank.   So, if you want your company to be found online, make sure you get listed with us (shameless plug!).

Video player
An embedded video player showing the latest videos from our greenroofsTV channel on YouTube has been moved to the top right side for better viewing.   YouTube is the most popular video hosting and sharing service and is owned by Google.   Their service lets users view and upload video files, and in addition to hosting videos, the service lets users rate videos, add comments, and subscribe to their favorite producers.

Public videos uploaded by YouTube online users are selected by us based on their relevance to the greenroof and greenwall industry, and then added to the respective playlist that feed the various video players throughout our entire website.   We encourage all of you to upload your videos to showcase and increase your exposure by sharing experiences, projects, interviews, tours, product demonstrations – with our  marketplace and the rest of the world.

Industry News, ResearchLinks & Industry Support
The extremely long Industry News content that used to be displayed in the  center column has been consolidated to a short list of the latest news with links to a new separate page fully dedicated to all the industry news associated with the greenroof and greenwall community.

The ResearchLinks section on the Navigation Bar has now been replaced simply with Industry, which now houses Industry News, Industry Support  and ResearchLinks.   Industry Support used to be under Greenroofs 101, which was the basis for Linda’s 1999 paper and Greenroofs.com.

Guest Features
You’ll find them now in a highlighted box displaying the latest two features with links to the full articles. If you are an expert on a particular greenroof or greenwall design topic, you may submit your content to our Editor and it will be reviewed for publishing on our site – just email your information to: submissions@greenroofs.com.

NewsLinks
The long list of NewsLinks has also been reduced to a shorter one of the latest few, with links for more news on our page dedicated to all our NewsLinks.   We have also added a section that will highlight a particular event during the month – like the 2010 Olympics, Earth Hour, etc.   Make sure you visit often for all your industry news!

Contributing Editor Columns
Similar to Guest Features, another highlighted section now houses the latest from our contributing editors, prominently displayed within the body of the homepage with links to the respective columns.

Other changes
·
The Google Search Box that allows for searching our entire website is now more visible.

·   The banners on the top and bottom of the page rotate randomly with a fade transition instead of the old slide in a sequential order.   This will allow for all of our advertisers’ banner ads to have equal exposure to our visitors.

·   Social Media icons are now top and center for easy clicks.   Make sure you stay connected with us by following us on Twitter, becoming a fan of our Facebook wall, joining our Greenroofs.com Network group in LinkedIn, subscribing to the greenroofsTV channel on YouTube and our monthly eNewsletter.

·   Finally, the bottom of the page is now filled with small logos from all our sponsors linkable to their respective color brochures in The Greenroof Directory filled with lots of pertinent information about their products and services.

·   The Sky Gardens blog box, Upcoming Events, JobLinks, and our Advertiser Press Releases and are still pretty much in their respective spots, just cleaned up a bit.

We’re still in our tweaking stages, and have a lot more work to do to the rest of our site, but we welcome your feedback for what we have done so far.   Keep us informed of all your greenroof and greenwall happenings, and stay on top of the greenroof world with Greenroofs.com!   We look forward to hearing back from you.

 

Ecoroof Portland – Inspiring, Fun, & Free

March 5, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Multnomah County Building, Tremco Green Roof: Photo Courtesy Tremco

Known as “The Rose City” for its famous yearly Rose Festival and The Grand Floral Parade in early June, Portland Oregon could also be easily known as “The Eco City” or perhaps even “The Green City” because of their ongoing commitment to preserving their magnificent waterways and forests while promoting sustainable design and development through progressive urban policies and public outreach.   The last time we were there was for the 2nd Annual Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, Awards & Trade Show in 2004.   And we spent some time here in late 2003 when I was compiling info for my Sky Gardens ~ Travels in Landscape Architecture column on the area.    Such a beautiful city!

 The Portland Building Ecoroof, 2007: Photo Courtesy BES

On March 12-13, the lovely City of Portland will be sponsor and host to their annual free Ecoroof Portland.   What an amazing  city for supporting greenroofs – or ecoroofs, as they refer to them here.   Currently with about 200 projects within the city, ecoroofs cover about 10 acres, leading the U.S. in total area greened after Chicago.   And they were one of the first, if not the first, municipality in the nation to offer incentives.   As part of the Grey to Green Initiative, the City of Portland is offering an incentive of up to $5 per square foot for ecoroofs towards a target of 43 additional acres by 2013.   In the past year, the  Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) awarded the incentive to 50 projects for a total of over 4 acres.   Read more in Industry Support and the City’s Incentive Project Page for more information.  You can visit ecoroofs and other sustainable stormwater projects in Portland with these self-guided tours, and the City maintains an Ecoroof Blog, which is very informative, too!

Tom Liptan's Ecoroof Garage; Photo Courtesy Tom Liptan

The premier champion there of stormwater mitigation, and ecoroofs in particular, is Tom Liptan, ASLA.   I’ve known Tom for over 12 years, when I first contacted him about greenroofs back when I was a landscape architecture student at UGA a had “discovered” them myself.   Gracious, kind, and accommodating, he nurtured and fueled my passion for this earth-friendly sustainable technology.   And Tom has always put his money where his mouth is – he installed one of the first ecoroofs in Portland atop his garage in 1996.   The now famous Liptan Garage Greenroof served as early a demonstration project and testing grounds for a variety of factors – read more in the profile.

The Louisa; Photo Courtesy BES

Designed to inform a varied audience of professionals and homeowners, the lineup of speakers will educate and inspire you to consider a greenroof on your next project.   A Vendor Fair with over 60 professionals and organizations will be on-hand both days  to share their ecoroof experience, products, and services.   Featured speakers include Dr. David J. Sailor, Ed Snodgrass, and me!   Dr. Sailor is a full professor at the Mechanical and Materials Engineering faculty at Portland State University, Member Faculty of the Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center (Oregon BEST), and directs Portland State University’s Green Building Research Laboratory.   Ed Snodgrass is co-owner of Emory Knoll Farms/Green Roof Plants, a fifth generation farmer and nurseryman specializing in plants and horticultural consulting for greenroofs.   An accomplished speaker and writer (“Green Roof Plants: A Resource and Planting Guide“),  he’s also  our Plant Editor who writes his occasional column “Ask Ed”   – read my “From Llamas to Greenroofs: An Interview with Ed Snodgrass.”   See full profiles here and a complete list of all the speakers and Agenda here.

A flowering Ecoroof in Portland, OR; Photo BES

See Ed on Friday at 12:00 pm at the  Welcome and Keynote Address where Environmental Services Director Dean Marriott will welcome attendees and introduce  Ed as the Keynote Speaker.   His presentation will focus on the role of ecoroofs in sustainable cities.   On Saturday at noon, Commissioner Dan Saltzman will welcome attendees and introduce me – I will be presenting “Hot Trends in Greenroof Design,” a compilation of my favorite international projects from our Top 10 Lists from the past  with a look at some of the new, innovative, leading vanguard and projects for 2010.   On Saturday at 4:00 pm Ed will be part of  a panel where you can get some help getting started on your own ecoroof project – “The Ecoroof Doctors are IN,” along with Tom Liptan, David Elkin, and Alice Meyers from BES, and Patrick Carey of hadj design, a Green Roofs for Healthy Cities trainer, and our Architecture Editor.   Patrick writes an occasional architectural column entitled “A View from the Sky Trenches,” where he selects and discusses pertinent greenroof industry topics.

OHSU, a Xero Flor Green Roof, in May 2008; Photo Courtesy BES

Don’t miss Ecoroof Portland!   It  will run on Friday and Saturday, March 12 & 13, 2010  at  the Leftbank Annex, located at 101 N. Weidler St in downtown Portland.   It’s very close to the Rose Quarter – you can find directions by clicking  the following link.   Learn all about Ecoroof Portland 2010 at the City’s BES website.

Ecoroof Portland 2010

If you can attend, please stop by and say hello!   Happy greening,

~ Linda V.