Designing with Nature and Not against It: Translation of the Spanish Interview with Linda S. Velazquez in El País

September 29, 2017 at 7:47 pm

Diseñando con la naturaleza y no contra ella: Entrevista a la arquitecta paisajista Linda S. Velazquez sobre la necesidad de una arquitectura verde en las ciudades

Spanish interview with Isabel de Felipe in Berlin, originally published by El País on July 17, 2017

Designing with Nature Linda S. Velazquez Interview El País Translation

Designing with nature and not against it:

Translation of the Spanish Interview with Linda S. Velazquez in El País on the need for green architecture in cities

Under the header of “Urban Beings” in the “Green Cities” section, here’s my translationOf course, they edited quite a bit and didn’t include all of my answers, but so be it.

NOTE: El País didn’t use any of the photos or graphics I sent, and in fact put one in of an interior courtyard landscape above – is it a greenroof?  I don’t know.  All of the photos below are my own placement!

Q & A Translation by Linda Velazquez

Designing with Nature Linda S. Velazquez Interview El País Translation

Here in Alpharetta, GA at Rock Mill Park where I designed the Greenroof Pavilion & Trial Gardens.

Linda S. Velazquez is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), GRP, LEED AP. She is also the founder and publisher of Greenroofs.com (1999) and design consultant at her company Sky Gardens Design (2004). Linda studied landscape architecture at the University of Georgia (2000).

Linda writes and reports extensively about greenroofs and living architecture and has presented across the globe. Linda’s role as Greenroofs.com publisher affords many opportunities to promote the industry.  She has collaborated on numerous books including Green Cities in the World, Vertical Garden City: Singapore, and The Rise of Living Architecture, in addition to journals, magazines and online media.

Q: From your experience as a pioneer in the analysis and dissemination of urban green infrastructure, how do you perceive its evolution in the last few years?

Designing with Nature Linda S. Velazquez Interview El País Translation

SOLARIS, Fusionopolis (Phase 2B), One North Singapore schematic by T. R. Hamzah & Yeang Sdn. Bhd., courtesy of Ken Yeang.

A. In my opinion, I believe our green architecture industry and market continues to grow each year because of the increasing general public interest and acknowledgement of important projects along with their associated multiple benefits – both public and private. We must also recognize the accomplishments of innovative leaders within the industry and design fields, businesses, and government at all levels who have promoted the idea and its progression further.

In the last 20 years we have seen dynamic and avant-garde designs that have drawn great attention to promote the greening of the planet with the integration of green: bioclimatic, biodiversity, biomimicry and sustainability.  Of course, construction follows financial cycles and we had a few years with fewer projects completed, but many people around the world are interested in green technologies, whether renewable energy or low impact development including green infrastructure like greenroofs and walls, and much more.

Q: Who or what are the most dynamic elements?  Architects, designers, entrepreneurs, institutions, NGOs …?

Designing with Nature Linda S. Velazquez Interview El País Translation

Vancouver Public Library, B.C., 1995. Currently under renovation, its new greenroof garden will be at grade with the existing maples. The top 2 floors will have a reading room, community event space, theater & public garden. Photo: American Hydrotech.

A: I think it has been a combination of experts, visionaries, and multidisciplinary professionals who have spread greenroof technology, at least here in North America.  As for early completed projects, I would have to credit collaboration between architects like Moshe Safdie and landscape architect Cornelia Oberlander with the government of Vancouver, B.C. in Canada with its spectacular Public Library (1995, currently under a major renovation to create an accessible public roof garden space).  Another innovative architect is William McDonough who worked with entrepreneurs such as the GAP in San Bruno, California (1997); the City of Chicago with its City Hall (2001), perhaps the most famous greenroof in the U.S.; and the Ford Motor Company with its River Rouge Truck Plant in Dearborn, Michigan (2003), which had the distinction of being the largest greenroof in the world for a few years, with 454,000 square feet.

Designing with Nature Linda S. Velazquez Interview El País Translation

Chicago City Hall, designed by McDonough + Partners and a multitude of multi-disciplinary professionals. Photo courtesy of Charlie Miller and Roofmeadow.

In the United States in 1997/98 the pioneers who helped me tremendously were civil engineer Charlie Miller of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; landscape architect Tom Liptan of Portland, Oregon; and the German environmental engineer Katrin Scholz-Barth who lived at that time in Minnesota.  Also, ASLA began writing on the subject during that time frame and, with thanks, I began to discover and research further, culminating in Greenroofs.com in 1999.

Q. In your presentation at the WGIC Berlin 2017 Congress, you identified the 10 most recent trends in greenroofs and walls. What are the underlying market drivers?

Designing with Nature Linda S. Velazquez Interview El País Translation

A. Each trend in greenroofs and walls has several underlying factors depending on the location of the project: variables such as the needs and desires of the public and governments or the client / owner, what type of buildings are popular or necessary, different uses of a structure, aesthetic tendencies, the weather, the available products or materials, etc.

With Greenroofs.com’s annual compilation of the most popular trends, the “Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design” (since 2007), we try to highlight cutting-edge structures and designers who are outstanding, inspiring, and magnificent – underlined by the exceptional green vegetation covering the building.

Q. What effects can green infrastructure have on the population?

Designing with Nature Linda S. Velazquez Interview El País Translation

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh: 1st & only building to meet 4 of the highest green certifications: • Living Building Challenge, world’s most rigorous green building standard • LEED® Platinum — tied for highest points awarded under version 2.2 • 1st & only Four Stars Sustainable SITES Initiative™ for landscapes project (pilot) • 1st & only WELL Building Platinum project (pilot). Photo: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

A. Instead of using “gray” infrastructure such as concrete, asphalt, or hiding rainwater in underground pipes, detention ponds, etc., designing with nature instead of against it – using vegetation and natural ecosystem services – offers a multitude of beneficial opportunities and associated effects to improve a city or locale. The integration of nature into the urban fabric produces a wide spectrum of environmental benefits for the flora, fauna and human communities of our planet.

Designing with Nature Linda S. Velazquez Interview El País Translation

Santalaia in Bogotá, Colombia. Photo by Groncol.

Green infrastructure’s greatest potential lies in the ability to cover impermeable surfaces with permeable plant material. Using plants with engineering systems for stormwater management results in cleaner, fresher water and at the same time reduces the volume intensity that eventually falls on the streets. This immensely ameliorates a city, which is mostly impermeable, during heavy storms, when there may be overflows of the sewer system. Green infrastructure also reduces the urban heat island effect, which can dramatically increase temperatures due to lack of trees, plants, and green areas in cities, affecting the health of many people.

Designing with Nature Linda S. Velazquez Interview El País Translation

Berry Architecture Office Building Green Roof, Red Deer, Canada. Bumblebee feeding on Gaillardia sp. overlooking downtown, September 2014. Photo by Cynthia Pohl.

We can re-introduce native or sometimes even endangered plants by planting roofs and walls and green facades. At the same time, this attracts wildlife back to our cities like bees, butterflies and birds. We all know that seeing and being in nature is beneficial to human beings because of biophilia, the innate attraction in our biology to connect with nature. For example, nature helps us psychologically, improves the recovery of patients, and we rejoice within its natural and open spaces.

Designing with Nature Linda S. Velazquez Interview El País Translation

Mashambas Skyscraper, a mobile educational center for Swahili, Africa: eVolo 2017 Skyscraper Competition Winner by Pawel Lipinski and Mateusz Frankowski.

The creation of green spaces in a city is extremely important but sometimes there is no where to build a park or vegetable garden. Why not put it on top of a public building? And we must not forget that sometimes the green infrastructure costs much less than the gray infrastructure because we are using natural systems. If the cost of building a greenroof, for example, is more expensive at the outset, it has to be understood that life-cycle costs will reduce the final cost because of lower replacement costs because it will last double, triple, or perhaps even longer. Also, the use and energy costs of the building will decrease while at the same time a fifth facade has been created for the building – a new roof or wall space previously not utilized for the use of the owner or the public.

Designing with Nature Linda S. Velazquez Interview El País Translation

J.R.R. Tolkien’s vision of the idyllic Middle-Earth village home in The Shire.  Frodo’s Home, Hobbiton Movie Set, Matamata, New Zealand, October, 2014. Photo by Linda S. Velazquez.

Designing with Nature Linda S. Velazquez Interview El País Translation

The World’s 1st & largest Double LEED Platinum Museum: California Academy of Sciences (CAS) Living Roof in San Francisco. Photo by Tom Fox, courtesy of SWA Group.

Finally, using a variety of low impact development techniques can reconnect people with nature. When all the environmental, aesthetic, emotional, and economic benefits are added, we can see that green infrastructure offers sustainability benefits to many. Implemented on a local or intermediate scale, green or biophilic architecture can improve the health and well-being of a community, country, and our planet Earth.

Q: With your international vision, what are the most dynamic cities in the implementation of green infrastructure and what are their drivers?

Designing with Nature Linda S. Velazquez Interview El País Translation

Potsdamer Platz in Berlin – a glowing example of green infrastructure! Photo by Linda S. Velazquez, June 2017.

A: It is impossible to talk about the most dynamic cities and not start with Germany in general, since many cities like Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart, and others have been leaders for the last 50 years. At least 48 German cities provide financial support for greenroofs. Around 35% have integrated greenroofs as part of their regulation, establishing around 86 million m2 of greenroofs which represent 14% of the total roof area of Germany. And they have established professional associations and organizations for the study of materials and best practices, such as the FLL (Forschungsgesellschaft Landschaftsentwicklung e.V.), FBB (Fachvereinigung Bauwerksbegrünung e.V.), and DDV (Deutscher Dachgartner-Verband), to name a few.

Designing with Nature Linda S. Velazquez Interview El País Translation

Oasis d’ Aboukir in Paris full bloom, one year after the plant installation, early April 2014. Photo courtesy of Patrick Blanc.

There are other numerous cities in the world that stand out with integrated green construction including Chicago, Basel, Portland, Toronto, New York, Linz, London, Paris, Mexico City, Shanghai, Washington, DC and the area, Milwaukee, Bogotá, and lately Madrid and Barcelona. American states like California and Pennsylvania have also done many projects. My favorite leader is Singapore, an island nation that currently has more than 720,000 m2 of greenroofs and over 50,000 m2 of green walls with plans for 2 million square meters of skyrise vegetation by 2030.

Designing with Nature Linda S. Velazquez Interview El País Translation

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, by Grant Associates, Wilkinson Eyre Architects plus many more. Photo by Grant Associates.

Q: Could you provide some advice on measures we can take to improve urban dwelling?

A: We need to find or identify local leaders to talk about the topic of greenroofing and other greening opportunities and how to implement policies and strategies to encourage project stakeholders to build with green infrastructure. We still need to inform the public and various governments of the benefits so they understand the importance of protecting the natural environment and improving our construction practices using green infrastructure. As designers and other project principals we need to inform our customers why and how to do achieve this. And, we have to find ways to lower the prices of greenroofs and walls, either through industry or with the support of governmental incentives, tax exemptions, subsidies, etc. Green infrastructure should be considered first, whenever possible, within our built environment.

Designing with Nature Linda S. Velazquez Interview El País Translation

1. Munich development: Connected to large park. 2. Community garden allows people to grow flowers & vegetables. 3. Most roofs covered with greenroofs, most buildings have greened balconies. 4. Open space for socializing, typically above underground parking garages. 5. Solar Garden Roofs combine to max-out environmental benefits. 6. Houses are entirely covered with PVs. Photo courtesy of Green Roof Service.

Q: The well-being of city dwellers requires action in different fields. Could you give us your opinion on the importance of biodiversity, food security, a healthy environment, water management, energy savings, and creation of green spaces and recreation?

Designing with Nature Linda S. Velazquez Interview El País Translation

ACROS Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall by Emilio Ambasz & Associates, a perfect integration of green over gray.

A: My academic background is landscape architecture. We recognize that our Earth is limited in its natural resources, and we have to protect all of us: animals, plants, and humans. We are as one, living and sharing an ecology that is this planet. We must bestow the heritage of a healthy and sustainable land to our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The Earth is not ours to plunder, but our planet to sustain and protect for generations to come! With all my being, I believe that, in part, this is possible with architecture and design that is ecological and sustainable. Urban greening diminishes the effects of the built environment and promotes a strong and beautiful green infrastructure, flourishing and healthy.

Designing with Nature Linda S. Velazquez Interview El País Translation

NAUTILUS ECO-RESORT Biophilic Learning Center: Zero-Emission, Zero-Waste, Zero-Poverty by Vincent Callebaut Architectures, Palawan 2017, Republic of the Philippines.

Author Isabel de Felipe

Designing with Nature Linda S. Velazquez Interview El País Translation

I’m honored to have been interviewed in Spain’s #1 newspaper, El País, by Isabel de Felipe, PhD and thank her for the opportunity!

Isabel is Professor Ad Honorem Polytechnic University of Madrid, on the Board of Directors for the Center for Innovation in Technology for Human Development, and has published numerous articles and books on urban greening and agriculture for development. Most importantly, she is a dear colleague of PRONATUR and WGIN.

Isabel and her husband Dr. Julian Briz participated in our second Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2013 in the Spanish-language Panel “La Agricultura Urbana en Iberoamérica y España” – “Urban Agriculture in Iberia-America and Spain” along with Dr. José María Durán-Altisent, Tanya Müller García (Moderator), Dr. Gilberto Navas, and Joaquin Sicilia Carnicer – watch it on our 2013 Virtual Summit playlist.

If you’re a Spanish speaker, you can read Diseñando con la naturaleza y no contra ella yourself at in El País.

Contact Isabel at isabel.defelipe@upm.es.

As Seen On: White House Live Stream: Vanessa Keitges Presenting to President Obama on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014

December 10, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Named to President Obama’s Export Council in September, 2013, Vanessa Keitges, CEO of Columbia Green Technologies, Inc., has been active in this committee of government and private-sector leaders which advise the President on trade and export related issues.

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“I am honored and excited to represent the green building industry among these strong business leaders. As CEO of a small business headquartered on the west coast, I believe I bring a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities for exportation of products made in the USA.” ~ Vanessa Keitges, President and CEO of Columbia Green, September, 2013

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Watch Vanessa live – click here to watch the live stream on Thursday, December 11, 2014.

Vanessa Keitges will be presenting progress against her proposal for small/green business funding to President Obama at the President’s Export Council meeting this Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. eastern, and we can all watch it via the live stream found here:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/live.

Thursday’s PRESIDENT’S EXPORT COUNCIL Agenda:

December 11, 2014
11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Washington, DC

I. Welcome & Opening Remarks

II. National Export Initiative “NEI/NEXT” Update

III. Report on the Fact-Finding Trip to Poland and Turkey

IV. Report on the Review and Prioritization of Prior Recommendations

V. Overview of the Administration’s Trade Agenda and the President’s Trip to Asia

VI. Adjournment

Don’t miss this opportunity to see Vanessa’s work in live action with the President of the United States of America!

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Happy green promoting, Vanessa, and continued success!

~ Linda V. & all the readership here on Greenroofs.com!

The People’s Climate March in NYC on September 21, 2014 and the Movie “Disruption”

September 11, 2014 at 3:55 pm

September 11 – today marks the 13th anniversary of the multiple horrific 9/11 attacks here in the U.S.  May we always remember and honor those lost.  On a more positive front, we’re thinking about a world issue and things we can do about it around the globe, and specifically in New York City:

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Climate change is one of those hotly debated subjects with so many different points of views, from the sublime to the ridiculous, from fanaticism to complete denial. But I would have to believe that most of us in the living architecture industry have an environmentalist bent and can appreciate the seriousness of this potentially larger-than-life matter at hand.

World leaders will be gathered in New York City for the landmark United Nations Climate Summit 2014 on September 23, 2014 to address the climate crisis where UN Secretary­-General Ban Ki-­moon will urge governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.

PeoplesClimateMarch2014

Are you aware of the People’s Climate March in NYC on September 21?  I wasn’t, but it was brought to our attention by our long time Student and Research Editor, Christine Thuring.  In anticipation of the UN Climate Summit, 1,000+ organizations are partnering on the peaceful March, accompanied by solidarity marches around the world.  Businesses, unions, religious groups, environmental groups, schools, social justice groups, and more are participating, including 350.org and Avaaz.org.  You can sign up at both organization for updates and sign a petition in support of climate change.

“There are several different bodies that are convening to collaborate on the People’s Climate March, including local New York-area community groups, international NGO’s, grassroots networks, churches and faith organizations, and many more.

Because this is a “movement of movements” moment, the People’s Climate March is being organized in a participatory, open-source model. This means that there isn’t a central “decision-making” body or single coalition. Rather, groups and individuals are collaborating with some basic shared agreements around respect, collaboration, trust, and many are using the Jemez Principles of Environmental Justice.” ~ PeoplesClimate.org

Released on September 7, 2014, a supporting film that you may be interested in seeing is ‘Disruption’ A Film by Kelly Nyks & Jared P. Scott.

disruption_poster

The Synopsis is below:

“‘When it comes to climate change, why do we do so little when we know so much?’

Through a relentless investigation to find the answer, Disruption takes an unflinching look at the devastating consequences of our inaction.

The exploration lays bare the terrifying science, the shattered political process, the unrelenting industry special interests and the civic stasis that have brought us to this social, moral and ecological crossroads.The film also takes us behind-the-scenes of the efforts to organize the largest climate rally in the history of the planet during the UN world climate summit.

This is the story of our unique moment in history. We are living through an age of tipping points and rapid social and planetary change. We’re the first generation to feel the impacts of climate disruption, and the last generation that can do something about it. The film enlarges the issue beyond climate impacts and makes a compelling call for bold action that is strong enough to tip the balance to build a clean energy future.” ~ WatchDisruption.com

We watched the 52:27 movie last night on Vimeo, but you can also watch it on YouTube, on WatchDisruption.com, or even here below:

Is it worth watching?  Definitely.  Is it a scientific documentary per se?  No, not quite, it’s more political in nature.  It does, however, contain enough condensed factual information to make its point.  I believe it assumes that the people who are watching it are pretty familiar with the multitude of years of climate change studies, research, etc., available to us.  Is it full of opinion and emotional heart-pulling calls to action?  It sure is; I believe that is its main purpose, and it does a great job.

The filmmakers are not trying to convince people of climate change here but asking us to join in and do something about it, specifically with the upcoming People’s Climate March in New York City where potentially hundreds of thousands of like-minded people will do the same.

I strongly believe this issue not only needs to be addressed in our lifetimes, but now.

By the way, there is a shot of solar panels galore on top of greenroofed buildings in Germany at about the 41:19 mark:

disruption_greenroofs_shot

Please share your thoughts!

~ Linda V.

As Seen on Treehouse Masters: Temple Residence Greenwall

August 22, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Welcome to my first “As Seen on…” series!

TreehouseMasters

Today we are showcasing the Temple Residence as seen on the recent 2014 “Temple of Adventure” Treehouse Masters episode on Animal Planet and The Discovery Channel.

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“Treehouse Masters has viewers climbing to a majestic world up in the treetops with visionary and tree whisperer Pete Nelson.” ~ Treehouse Masters

Temple of Adventure originally premiered on Friday, January 10, 2014:

“Pete builds an incredible, adventure-themed treehouse for a young, exploration-loving family in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. The family calls Pete and his crew to create a massive, two-story jungle masterpiece packed with secret doors and hidden passageways within a cluster of cherry trees! Pete delivers not just one but two bouncy suspension bridges, a daring rock-climbing wall and a living wall containing more than 700 live plants for this colossal treehouse, which overlooks a deep gorge. With a secret sarcophagus entrance, a second-story sleeping loft and loads of adventurous novelties, this treehouse is sure to bring the family hours of fun, especially when Pete reveals his tailored, sentimental surprise: a tribute to the family’s beloved grandmother.” ~ Treehouse Masters

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Hosted by Pete Nelson, this beautiful, leafy living wall was installed on the west side of a cool treehouse by Plant Connection (PCI) using their G-O2 Living Walls system – this is also our Project of the Week for 8.18.14. Melissa Daniels, Anthony Caggiano, and Greg Caggiano of PCI were filmed with Pete Nelson of Treehouse Masters as they installed the unique greenwall.

“It is a lot of work and very time consuming to create a television show. While the entire episode is only an hour, the treehouse takes 4 weeks to build! There are so many details that go into producing one hour of entertainment. Plant Connection is very grateful for the opportunity to be included on Treehouse Masters, working alongside the very talented Pete Nelson and his entire team. We want to thank all those who made this possible. We hope the family enjoys the living wall and the treehouse for years to come. And, we hope when people watch the show, it inspires them to think outside – and on the wall!” ~ Plant Connection

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It doesn’t seem as if you can see the entire one-hour show at Animal Planet, but you can see short video clips of it – the 3:52 Temple Treehouse – Behind the Build – click above, and the living wall reveal at the 2:29 A Treehouse Full of Adventure is Revealed – click below:

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Learn more about the Treehouse Masters Temple Residence in The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.

If you know of an upcoming segment addressing greenroofs or walls – or even if it’s after the fact – please let us know about it.  If it’s about your own company, even better – there’s nothing wrong with a little self-promotion!  But it has to be on a televised program (public TV, cable, WebTV show, etc.), independent film, or movie – not a video on YouTube (or similar) and certainly not a promo or company-sponsored piece.  By the way, you do not have to be an advertiser on Greenroofs.com (although we certainly appreciate the support!).

See anything recently?  Send us an email to: linda@greenroofs.com with the name of the show/film from any where around the world and the date it either aired or will air and any show/film links.  If it’s not in English, no problem!  Just seeing on screen will give us the gist of it.

Happy watching!

~ Linda V.