Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011 Episode 12: Wind. Water. Heat. Grow. Greenroofs. Panel Presentation

February 29, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Today we have the pleasure to air the panel presentation “Wind. Water. Heat. Grow. Greenroofs.” from our inaugural  2011 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit with Dr. Bill Retzlaff, David Aponte, Kevin Songer, and Joe Webb  on and our  GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube.

A couple I’d known for years and the others were newer aquaintances, but  I was very excited to get these four professionals together – with their combined years of experience designing greenroofs in high-wind prone areas across the U.S., I knew we’d have a great discussion:

Aramis and I met Dr. Bill in 2006 at  Southern Illinois University Edwardsville  when I was invited to speak there through Kelly Luckett, AKA The Green Roof Guy – the president of Green Roof Blocks, a contributing editor of ours, and a good friend.  Kelly had been collaborating with Dr. Bill and his  G.R.E.E.N. program – a relationship of trialing  different aspects of greenroofing, including wind testing in June 2009, that has lasted for quite a few years now.  Although he hasn’t shared anything new in a few years,  Dr. Bill is also a contributing editor of; you can read about his work here.

I met architect Joe a few years ago at one of the Greening Rooftops for  Sustainable  Communities  Conferences when he talked about his emphasis on sustainability and presented on one of his greenroof projects,  Cheyenne I (251 Medical Center Blvd.).  In 2008 the building with its new greenroof came through Hurricane Ike, which  barreled  through Houston, unscathed.

We met fellow Latin, David, in Singapore in November, 2010 when we both spoke at the  International Skyrise Greenery Conference.  David talked about the similarities and differences between the climates of tropical Singapore and sub-tropical Puerto Rico.  Of course, his island is known for its prime location during hurricane season.

We still haven’t met Kevin in person (but hope to!), but were very impressed with his knowledge and experience with greenroofs in Jacksonville, Florida, having corresponded with him as well as read his blog posts and discussion board posts on native plants and wind trials.

This panel of experts say that greenroofs are impacted by wind, water and heat on an unrelenting basis.  Through wind trials and real hurricane survival stories in Houston, TX, Jacksonville, FL, Edwardsville, IL, and Puerto Rico, we have met those challenges and will discuss various projects’ responses and successes to Hurricanes Ike and (any others?). Drought, hot winds, and unseasonable 100 ° days can also quickly desiccate or kill greenroof plants.

Dr. Bill Retzlaff moderates discussing wind studies and plant trials for greenroofs at  Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.  Joe Webb talks about his project which endured 110 to 120 mph winds and 11″ of rain in 24 hours and shares water mapping and Living Building Challenge Water requirements.  Kevin Songer talks about the Outdoor Turbine Hurricane Simulator at the University of Florida, water conservation through ‘nature-based irrigation design,’ and the importance of biodiversity.  David Aponte speaks to his experience of engineering and designing greenroofs with the correct growing media and plants in hurricane-prone, sub-tropical Puerto Rico.

Bill Retzlaff, PhD, Co-Director of G.R.E.E.N., Chairman of the Research Committee of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, Biological Sciences Professor and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), has conducted wind tunnel testing of green roof systems and contributed research data for the new green roof wind uplift standard.  In addition, a 16,000 sf green roof on the SIUE campus has just experienced a wind “event” with no uplift or damage.  Dr. Bill is also a contributing editor on (2006); he is the G.R.E.E.N. Editor and talks about the various trials at the SIUE Green Roof Research Center.

David L Aponte, MSCE, GRP has a Master’s of Engineering in Water Resource Engineering and a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Environmental Engineering with several years experience in green roof design and the construction industry.  He is founder of PR Green Design, Inc. (PRGD) which is responsible for 80% of all the green roofs built in the island of Puerto Rico.  Projects range from small ecological roof to big scale intensive greening.   Since 1996, more than 150,000 sf of green roofs have been installed in Puerto Rico, but not all have survived the harsh environment of the tropics, especially in the extensive category.   As this new wave of green roof construction is reaching the Caribbean market many doubts and misconceptions have taken over local designers.   Should green roofs be designed here equally to those in northern climates?

Kevin Songer’s passion is restoring ‘volumetric green’ to the urban core, designing green roofs for MetroVerde.  MetroVerde’s green roof designs are structured for cyclone and hurricane impacted areas with native plants.  He holds a B.S. in Biology and a Juris Doctor in law (environmental and land use).  Kevin writes a daily green roof blog, Living Green Roofs.  He is a LEED BG+C and an ISA Certified Arborist & Municipal Specialist Arborist.  Follow @kevinsonger on twitter.

Joe Douglas Webb, AIA, is the principal of a small Houston based architecture and planning firm, Webb Architects, that specializes in commercial architecture, planning and city design projects.  Registered to practice architecture in 14 states, he is currently chair of Blueprint Houston, a past president of AIA Houston, a member of APA, USGBC, ULI and a NCARB Certificate holder.

After the presentation on the second day of the 2011 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit, Dr. Bill, David, Joe, and Kevin were available for a live Q & A session; the transcript was available archived for 30 days for participants of the Virtual Summit – unfortunately, we do not have it available now – one of the reasons to participate in this year’s Virtual Summit!

Note: Due to technical and other difficulties from the second party vendor who filmed our illustrious panel of four, this video did not have our standard 2011 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit branding initially, including the shots from Google Earth. We did, however, add it to the four affected panel presentations so that they would be effectively identified for posterity.

Enjoy!  Visit to see the Panel Session “Wind. Water. Heat. Grow. Greenroofs.” or click below:

Watch earlier videos on our exclusive Virtual Summit play list, or see the following Virtual Summit videos now available on our GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube:

Episode #11: “GreenRoofs in Australasia”  by  Matthew Dillon.
Episode #10: “The Vertical Garden – from Nature to Cities: An Interview with Patrick Blanc”  by  Patrick Blanc  and  me  with an introduction  by  Caroline Menetre.
Episode #9: “Sloped and Complex Green Roofs”  by  Richard Hayden.
Episode #8: “The Portland Ecoroof Program: A Cross-section of the Green Roof Movement in Portland, Oregon”  with  Tom Liptan,  Matt Burlin,  Amy Chomowicz,  Casey Cunningham, and  Alice Meyers.
Episode #7: “Constructing Gardens in the Sky”  by  Terry McGlade.
Episode# 6:  “Sky Meadows – Integrating People and Nature: Sustainable Green Roofs and Roof Gardens”  by  Dr. Nigel Dunnett.
Episode #5:  “Greenroofs & Walls for Educational & Social Equity in the Bronx”  Panel Session with  New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera,  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.,  Robert Bieder,  Jon Beuttler,  Jess Dannhauser,  Javier Lopez  and  Steve Ritz.
Episode #4:  Keynote Address “CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility – The Who, What, Where, When and How” by  Ralph Velasquez.
Episode #3:  “CDA Leads the Way for Incorporating Green Roof Space in an Airport Environment”  by  Rosemarie Andolino.
Episode #2:  “2011 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design”  by  Haven Kiers  and  me.
Episode #1:  Opening Keynote Address “A New Place”  by  Charlie Miller.
VS2011 Opening Address  by Linda Velazquez (me!).

If you’re looking for an overview, make sure to see our  2011 Virtual Summit Highlights video (6:18) and our  2011 Virtual Summit Trailer (2:59).

Check back next week on GreenroofsTV for our 13th installment from the Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011!

~ Linda V.

Chic Sustainability Watch: Trends, Projects & People – Some Newly Started, Almost Done, & Finished

February 28, 2012 at 1:34 pm

As you know if you’re keeping up with us here at the Sky Gardens Blog, Haven Kiers and I will be taking turns highlighting some important, unusual or just stunning greenroof and greenwall projects for our new bi-monthly reporting series, “Chic Sustainability Watch.”

For my inaugural turn, rather than focus on a specific typology of chic sustainability – like Haven did with her inaugural report a couple of weeks ago on Chickens and Urban Agriculture – I’m taking a more general approach and will report on a variety of cool projects that I’ve seen across online news channels and the blogosphere that have either just broken ground, are almost completed, or have been newly opened for business and enjoyment.


Here’s one stunner that would have fit into our 2010 Top 10 List in the # 1 position – Tower Oases as Skyrise Urban Ag:

Image via: Treehugger

Swedish-American company Plantagon has just broken ground on the International Centre of Excellence for Urban Agriculture, the first of a series of massive skyscraper greenhouses in Linkoping, Sweden.  The prototype building will be an urban farming living laboratory to test new growing technologies.  This demo-plant of Swedish green technology relies on a transportation helix system where trays of plants are grown, irrigated, and harvested from the top of the “Plantscraper” on down to the basement. It’s great to see some of these visionary skyscrapers actually being built!

See Treehugger’s “Plantagon Breaks Ground On Their First Vertical Farm” by Lloyd Alter of February 14, 2012.  See the  Press Release.

Image via: Treehugger


Construction has started on the new monumental Taipei Performing Arts Center, or TPAC, in Taiwan.  OMA, a Dutch firm, beat out 135 entries from 25 countries to design the flexible, 3-volume performing platform complex that will hold a total of 3,100 seats in its three theaters.

Image via: designboom; Image © OMA

The design invites people with and without tickets into the structure with the “outdoor public loop,” and you’ll also find living architecture here at various levels.  In the section of the “Super Theatre” seen below you can see a couple of rooftops greened and the outdoor courtyards and promenades over the massive underground garage. The “Proscenium Playhouse” has similar features.

Image via: designboom; Image © OMA

See designboom’s “OMA: taipei performing arts center breaks ground” by andrea of February 17, 2012.


Downtown Miami will soon have another addition to its Museum Park – the Miami Science Museum (or MSM – not to be confused with the Miami Sound Machine!), designed by Grimshaw Architects.  Aside from some very cool exhibits such as a 600,000 gallon aquarium facility and a full dome 3-D planetarium, MSM will embrace sustainable elements and smart design including a constructed wetland, high performance ventilation and maximized site design to capture Miami breezes.

Image via: Inhabitat; Image ©Grimshaw Architects

Touted as a living building, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science is a 250,000 square-foot complex that will have “a living core, vegetated roofs, and advanced systems that will allow it to physically and visibly change in response to weather, events, and the mood of the city.”

Image via: Inhabitat; Image ©Grimshaw Architects

See Inhabitat’s “Grimshaw Breaks Ground on the Miami Science Museum That Will Be Its Own Living Exhibit” by Bridgette Meinhold of February 27, 2012.


The affordable housing complex Via Verde by Jonathan Rose Companies and Dattner Architects in the South Bronx has been in the design world news for several years because of its social equity and sustainable design ethics.  In fact, we included it in our 2009 Top 10 List in the #3 position, Healthy, Efficient & Affordable Green Housing.

“You can literally walk into the courtyard and spiral your way up all of these green roofs, starting with an amphitheater, which will have summertime performances. Evergreen trees on the third floor roof, dwarfed fruit trees, the entire fifth floor roof is all gardening beds for residents to grow their own fruits and vegetables. Then there’s a fitness center on the seventh floor with an extensive green roof outside.” ~  Ari Goldstein, Senior Project Manager, Jonathan Rose Companies

The project is finally close to completion – the 71 co-op unit and 151 rental multi-family residence will be ready for occupancy by the end of March.  How awesome for Via Verde to be setting this new standard for affordable housing in New York City!

Image via: NY 1; click to see 2:00 video

See NY 1’s “New South Bronx Housing Complex Is Not ‘Green’ To Environmentally Friendly Ideas” by Jill Urban of February 26, 2012.


One amazing project that was just completed is Daniel Libeskind‘s residential complex Reflections at Keppel Bay in tropical Singapore – Aramis and I saw this when we visited there in November, 2010 and it was quite a sight to behold with its signature curved towers!  If only it had finished a few months earlier, Haven and I would have included it in last year’s Top 10 List for 2011 in the #1 position – Skyscraping Sky Gardens on Roofs, Walls & Skybridges.

Image via: designboom

The 6-highrise tower, 2 million sf complex has 1,129 units, and you’ll find a roof garden at the top of each tower as well as in the interconnecting skybridges.

Image via: designboom

See designboom’s “daniel libeskind: reflections at keppel bay” by lauren of February 2, 2012.


Designed by Perkins+Will, the spectacular LEED Platinum VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre in Vancouver, B.C. has just opened to the public.  Inspired by the shape of a native orchid, the multi-petal shaped greenroof was designed by Cornelia Oberlander‘s firm.  Haven and I had the pleasure of meeting Cornelia at the 2010 CitiesAlive Conference and learning a bit about this wonderful project.

In fact, we loved it so much we  included it in our  Top 10 List for 2011 in the #5 position, Green + Blue Roofs = Integrated Water Management.  Pending  certification from the Living Building Challenge,  the Visitor Centre expects to achieve net-zero energy on an annual basis through various ingenious systems.  I’ll definitely visit this one the next time I’m in beautiful Vancouver, B.C.!

See Inhabitat’s “Canada’s Gorgeous Green-Roofed VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre Opens to the Public!” by Diane Pham of February 12, 2012

Check back with us in a couple of weeks or so when it’ll be Haven’s turn to update you on our Chic Sustainability Watch: Trends, Projects & People!

Happy greening,

Linda V.

Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011 Episode 11: GreenRoofs in Australasia by Matthew Dillon

February 22, 2012 at 9:33 am

Today we have the pleasure to air Matthew Dillon’s “GreenRoofs in Australasia” from our inaugural  2011 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit on and our GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube.

Matthew is a hoot of a straight-shootin’ Aussie – a great guy with a dry sense of humor and passion for promoting greenroofs within Australia and New Zealand with  GreenRoofs Australasia (formerly Green Roofs Australia).    Supported by the City of Sydney, last November they presented the 5th National Greening Cities Conference, in Sydney, Australia.

“Green Roofs Australia is a not-for-profit membership organization with an elected committee that draws together the various governmental, organizational and business groups and individuals interested in being kept informed about green roof science, technology, practice, regulations and specifications.” ~  GreenRoofs Australasia

Although we had corresponded,  Aramis and I  finally  met him in Mexico City in October, 2010, when we both spoke at the WGIN Mexico City World Green Roof Congress – El Congreso Mundial de Azoteas Verdes México 2010  (see Reflections of Fall 2010 Greenroof Conferences: Mexico City, Part 1).

Not only did Mathew present at our inaugural Virtual Summit,  GreenRoofs Australasia supported our efforts and was represented in our Associates Pavilion at the  Expo.

We had the extreme pleasure of seeing him again and meeting  his beautiful girlfriend last December in Philadelphia as well.   Here are Aramis and Matt at the Closing Party from CitiesAlive in Philly:

Matthew Dillon hails from Newtown, Australia and since 1980 has expanded his architectural discipline to also encompass interior architecture, sustainable building design, landscape design, public sculpture and green infrastructure for the built form.  He is the current vice president of GreenRoofs Australasia and a member of World Green Infrastructure Network (WGIN), being primarily focused on advocacy to promote the industry.

In his “GreenRoofs in Australasia” video (where he is joined briefly by his four-legged best friend), Matthew says, “As the impacts of climate change have now become a significant political issue and a major public concern in Australia there is a growing support for green infrastructure technology for the built form in urban planning.

“This is a chronological record of the industry in Australia from 1986 – 2011 and the role which GreenRoofs Australasia has played, as the peak body promoting the industry.”

Enjoy!  Visit to see “GreenRoofs in Australasia” or click below:

VS2011 Greenroofs Australasia by Matthew Dillon

Watch earlier videos on our exclusive Virtual Summit play list, or see the following Virtual Summit videos now available on our GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube:

If you’re looking for an overview, make sure to see our  2011 Virtual Summit Highlights video (6:18) and our  2011 Virtual Summit Trailer (2:59).

Check back next week on GreenroofsTV for our 12th installment from the Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011!

~ Linda V.

Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011 Episode 10: The Vertical Garden – from Nature to Cities: An Interview with Patrick Blanc

February 15, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Today we have the pleasure to air my own pre-summit interview with Patrick Blanc followed by his excerpted video presentation of “The Vertical Garden – from Nature to Cities” from our inaugural  2011 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit on and our GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube.

The ever-popular and elusive Patrick Blanc has been an inspiration for thousands of botanists, designers, and lovers of lush, tropical-looking living walls alike.

Aramis and I first met him in lovely Singapore in November, 2010 when I spoke at the  International Skyrise Greenery Conference and we were thrilled when we were able to set up this interview in Chicago for our 2011 Virtual Summit.  I flew up there last September with Caroline Menetre and my  son,  Joey Velazquez (known for his  photography and  film work – he’s also the director/videographer for the  Sky Gardens – Greenroofs of the World™  videos), who filmed the interview segment.

We had a great time with Patrick, who’s very warm and inviting.  You can read more about our visit at Notre Voyage Fantastique: Chicago & Patrick Blanc, by Caroline Menetre and me.

Patrick Blanc, PhD is the creator of the Vertical Garden (Le Mur Végétal)  hydroponic living wall system and is a botanist at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, where he specializes in plants from subtropical forests.  Since 1982, he has studied the many ways plants adapt to extreme conditions.  Patrick has received numerous awards and worked with Jean Nouvel, Andree Putman, Frances Soler, Edouard Francois, Jaqueline et Henri Boiffils, Herzog et de Meuron, Mark Newson, Saguez et Partners, and many others.  Patrick is the author of The Vertical Garden: From Nature to the City, 2008, and the upcoming revised edition coming in April of this year.

In his The Vertical Garden – from Nature to Cities Patrick explains that “Since more than half the human population is now living in cities, the façades of the high rise building must be seen as a valuable place for bringing back the nature into the cities.

“For each new single project, I have answered with new shapes and new plant species.  The Vertical Garden is no longer a vertical panel; it is now possible to freely create it on various structures like columns, spirals, slopes or even vegetal ceilings.”

I’m sure you’ll enjoy our interview with Patrick Blanc which  precedes his awesome video presentation which  was filmed previously in front of a live audience.  We talk about many subjects including how he chooses his plants, his travels across the world in search of new ones, current projects, and plans for the future.  Learn all about Patrick’s work at his website, Vertical Garden Patrick Blanc.

Enjoy!  Visit to see “The Vertical Garden – from Nature to Cities: An Interview with Patrick Blanc” or click below:

Watch earlier videos on our exclusive Virtual Summit play list, or see the following Virtual Summit videos now available on our GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube:

If you’re looking for an overview, make sure to see our  2011 Virtual Summit Highlights video (6:18) and our  2011 Virtual Summit Trailer (2:59).

Check back next week on GreenroofsTV for our 11th installment from the Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011!

~ Linda V.