New Arup Report Says Arid Cities Need Design Paradigm Shift to Remain Viable

April 3, 2018 at 11:56 pm
Arup Report Arid Cities Need Design Paradigm Shift Remain Viable

Arup: The model arid city.

Sustainability means a lot of different things to different people.

In an increasingly climate-challenged planet, some may say it’s counter intuitive- let alone against sustainability principles- to try and green the world’s arid regions with vegetation:

How can the use of water for green infrastructure, including building integrated greenery, be reconciled against its limited availability?  Could the practice even be considered irresponsible?  Can and are greenroofs and greenwalls really sustainable in the desert?

Arid Cities Need a Design Paradigm Shift to Remain Viable

As always, sustainable design principles can be applied in every built environment – we just have to pick and choose the correct ones.  All sustainable design should be city and site-specific, with systems and low impact development working in tandem with its local ecology.

“Cities in arid regions are expected to experience the highest rates of natural population growth and urbanisation in the coming century. Yet most are still being planned and designed based on a global city-making paradigm from the 1950s. Cities need to adapt strategies that combine technological innovation with locally adapted and climatically appropriate solutions.

Even simple things such as building orientation and the resulting shade can have a significant impact – allowing people to socialise outdoors, rather than rushing from car to building. Rethinking the way we design public space, can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of citizens.” ~ Arup Associate, Hrvoje Cindric

International Green Roof Congress 2018 Kuwait

During February’s 5th International Green Roof Congress 2018 Kuwait, held for the first time in the Persian Gulf region, we had the pleasure of hearing from Rudi Scheuermann.  He’s Arup’s Global Leader of the Building Envelope Design Team, Arup Fellow, and Global Façades leader.  Rudi spoke about the new downloadable Arup Report, Cities Alive – Rethinking Cities in Arid Environments.

He gave a great overview of the Report’s research and stressed the importance of teamwork and necessity of a design paradigm shift for city planners and designers working in arid environments.

The International Green Roof Congress 2018 Kuwait was held in the very green municipal Al Shaheed Park, one of the biggest greenroofs in the world.  On the evening of the first night, we had a sumptuous dinner atop the venue on a beautiful, clear evening.

Arup Report Arid Cities Need Design Paradigm Shift Remain Viable

Arup Report Arid Cities Need Design Paradigm Shift Remain Viable

The Trade Show, the excellent lunches, and refreshment breaks were held in a covered breezeway outdoors.

As if on cue, after rain greeted us when we arrived on the second day of the fantastic Kuwait Congress, we experienced a sandstorm!  It was a little scary but the couple-hour long event drove home the point that although our surroundings were quite sustainable in design, we were situated within a desert.

Arup Report Arid Cities Need Design Paradigm Shift Remain Viable

From our hotel we can see the sandstorm approaching on the morning of February 18 as we were leaving for the 2nd day of the IGRC Kuwait 2018 Congress.

Arup Report on Arid Cities: Rethink Planning and Design

Released a couple of weeks ago, the Arup Report outlines three key recommendations to shape the next century of city building in arid regions:

  1. Learning from the past. Build upon locally adapted climate-specific design solutions.
  2. Invest in green and blue infrastructure that is designed to work with local environmental and ecological systems.
  3. Designing intelligent buildings and public spaces that can meet the needs of people in changing climates.

Arup Report Arid Cities Need Design Paradigm Shift Remain Viable

“The report is structured to present best practices for sustainable design in arid environments at the scale of cities, spaces, and buildings. The best practices are presented with illustrated examples showing implementation as well as critical reflections from leading practitioners on the forefront of city making in arid regions around the world.” ~ Cities Alive – Rethinking Cities in Arid

One Third of Our Land Surface is Arid

My own Kuwait Congress presentation was entitled “Top 10 Living Architecture Trends in Dry and Sub-Humid Regions.”  Arid and semi-arid lands, grasslands and savannahs, and Mediterranean landscapes encompass 47.39% of the global terrestrial area, and I showed some awesome and sustainably designed, climate appropriate projects.

Arup Report Arid Cities Need Design Paradigm Shift Remain Viable

In a world where almost a third of our land surface is classified as arid, the Arup Report is very timely.

The report points to examples of initiatives in arid cities that are making them more sustainable, healthier and better places to live, including:

Arup Report Arid Cities Need Design Paradigm Shift Remain Viable

Arup: Fog is a common occurrence in Dubai and other arid Gulf cities.

Fog and dew harvesting: new technology is allowing harvesting systems and materials to be optimised to extract large amounts of water, even in arid environments with low levels of humidity. The Sustainability Pavilion at the upcoming Dubai Expo 2020 will use hybrid structures that generate renewable solar energy and capture water from humidity in the air to supply a significant proportion of the pavilion’s water requirements.

Cool pavements: small changes to existing designs can make an impact. For example, a rethink of public spaces could improve the quality of lives for citizens. The City of Los Angeles has begun coating its streets with a special paint, CoolSeal, to reduce the temperature of the city. In an initial test it has been shown to reduce ambient temperatures by 6.6 degrees Celsius.

Energy efficient buildings: buildings can be designed to play an active role in reducing reliance on air conditioning and mitigating the Urban Heat Island effect. The Al Bahar Towers in Abu Dhabi have a unique dynamic shading system – a modular ‘Mashrabiya’ that opens and closes to provide self-shading as the sun moves around the building. The system is predicted to reduce the solar energy entering the building by 20% – reducing the amount of air conditioning and energy consumption of the building. Work is also underway to develop buildings that have a cooling effect on their surroundings.

Green roofs and walls: these are not just beautiful but provide cities with greater resilience. A Xeriscape approach, using plant species selected to maximise effective shade and shelter, reducing noise, glare, dust and air pollution, can deliver highly functional areas with a microclimate suitable for people to enjoy throughout the year. Green roof designs in arid climates should aim for a larger percentage of hard surfaces and fewer green elements, reducing the need for irrigation water. The Brewbooks Cactus Garden Roof in Los Angeles is a good example of this.

Open air living: Attractive and comfortable public spaces are vital to the success of cities, significantly impacting their social and economic success. In arid regions the number of public spaces has shrunk dramatically in recent decades. Reversing this trend, the Downtown Project in Las Vegas has aimed to redevelop the city’s old centre, to promote the benefits of a more walkable neighbourhood. The project has made substantial investments in street art and installations to make walking more interesting and comfortable to encourage people to think beyond the car.” ~ Cities Alive – Rethinking Cities in Arid Environments

Arup Report Arid Cities Need Design Paradigm Shift Remain Viable

Arup: Proposed Sustainability Pavilion at the World Expo 2020 in Dubai.

Well-researched with numerous case studies, we find project examples from around the world including the Middle East, Chile, Australia, and the U.S.  In addition to being very interesting, Cities Alive – Rethinking Cities in Arid Environments is well worth your time to review and see what many locales are doing for their own environments.

Enjoy, and we look forward to your comments!

By Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA, LEED AP, GRP Publisher & Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summits Host

Grow. Smarter. Cities. The City of Atlanta’s 2nd Annual AgLanta Conference March 27th & 28th

March 21, 2018 at 4:42 pm

Atlanta, GA. – (March 21, 2018) – Global thought-leaders in urban and controlled environment agriculture (CEA) will convene in the City of Atlanta on March 27th and 28th at the 2nd Annual AgLanta Conference to share new technological advances in the field and discuss how cities can better plan for the future by making local food systems more resilient worldwide.

Smart Ag for Smart Cities AgLanta Conference 2018

“Atlanta is honored to host some of the best and brightest minds in the urban and controlled environment agriculture sector,” said Mario Cambardella, Director of Urban Agriculture for the Mayor’s Office of Resilience. “We believe new and innovative ideas come from these gatherings which help our city become more resilient in an ever changing world.”

This year’s theme “Smart Ag for Smart Cities”, comes at a time when cities are facing major challenges with aging infrastructure, technology and transportation systems. A rise in the interest of “Smart City” resilience strategies is sweeping the world as leaders look to mitigate the effects of complicated problems like global warming coupled with catastrophic weather events and food insecurity. Rather surprisingly, local food production through urban and controlled environment agriculture have been largely left out of the conversation.

“Urban agriculture has the ability to solve many of the challenges that cities are facing today,” said Henry Gordon-Smith, founder of Agritecture Consulting, the firm that organized the AgLanta Conference. Agritecture Consulting is developing structured frameworks for urban agriculture production and distribution in an effort to make cities more resilient. “Part of our mission at Agritecture for the next few years is to help cities see the critical role urban agriculture can play and conferences like AgLanta accelerate the discussion.”

Featured speakers include Otis Rolley, Regional Director of North America 100 Resilient Cities, a global initiative supported by the Rockefeller Foundation that assists cities to become stronger in an increasingly challenging world environment; Vonnie Estes, 2017 winner of the Rosalind Franklin Award in Biotechnology and an expert in Ag innovation; Ambassador Andrew Young; Robyn Metcalfe, Director of Food + City; Jeff Bisberg, CEO of Illumitex; Mark Korzilius, Founder of Farmers Cut and Viki Radden, CEO, Honor Harvest, to name only a few.

The Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Resilience is hosting the conference and expecting 300 attendees representing a wide range of disciplines including urban planners, architects, entrepreneurs, technologists, business owners, and urban farmers for this premium networking and knowledge sharing opportunity.

Atlanta is the perfect location for agribusiness to set root. It is home to a business-friendly environment with abundant and affordable workers, innovative technology resources, and thought-leaders in the burgeoning urban agriculture industry. Aggressive population growth projections coupled with the quality of life benefits the City of Atlanta has to offer creates the ideal setting for work in the urban agriculture industry. As of December 2015, Atlanta is one of a handful of cities with an Urban Agriculture Director, dedicated to working on food access generating policy, advocacy, and development.

Furthermore, Southern Company, the nation’s 2nd largest utility company, will again be a banner sponsor for the AgLanta Conference. Southern Company believes that locally sourced produce is not only healthier and more sustainable, but also that it can also be highly marketable and lucrative. Thus, Southern Company and the Mayor’s Office of Atlanta are proud to recognize and support the positive health and community outcomes from this budding industry.

Join us next week on March 27th and 28th at the South’s only CEA focused conference. For press passes or to interview the organizers please contact Mario Cambardella ( or Jessica Toledano (

For more information about the AgLanta Conference, please visit
Follow the AgLanta Conference on Facebook. Follow the Mayor’s Office of Resilience on Twitter.
Follow Agritecture Consulting on Facebook, and Twitter and Instagram

Mario Cambardella
Director of Urban Agriculture
Mayor’s Office of Resilience

Jessica Toledano
Director, External Affairs
Agritecture Consulting





NOTE: As Media Partners, invites you to join the AgLanta Conference 2018 on March 27th and 28th with a special offer to their social media network. Use the Promo Code “greenroofs” when you register for a 15% discount! Project of the Week for March 19, 2018: FOOD ROOF Farm

March 19, 2018 at 10:47 am Project Week Food Roof Farm St Louis

St. Louis, MO, USA
8,500 sf. Greenroof & Hydroponic Towers Project Week Food Roof Farm St Louis Project Week Food Roof Farm St Louis Project of the Week: March 19, 2018

The availability of fresh, local produce is so important in our cities, and not often found farm-to-table.  But urban agriculture on greenroofs makes rooftop farm-to-table easily accessible!  With AgLanta next week on our minds, we’re once again showcasing the success of the FOOD ROOF Farm in St. Louis by Urban Harvest STL.

We were thrilled to have also featured this wonderful project in our 2017 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit with the video “FOOD ROOF Farm: Grow Food, Grow Community” from the founder and farm manager, Mary E. Ostafi.  As the Executive Director of Urban Harvest STL, Mary spoke on how they are fostering food system change in their community. Project Week Food Roof Farm St Louis

Mini Description & Details

Urban Harvest STL, a St. Louis nonprofit, empowers communities to cultivate equitable access to healthy, sustainably grown food and enhance biodiversity in cities.  After years of gardening on the ground, the Urban Harvest STL founders combined their background in architecture with HOK with their experience in urban agriculture to design and build St Louis’s first rooftop farm, the FOOD ROOF Farm.

Community engagement drove the design and the project illustrates various rooftop farming growing techniques including the intensive greenroof, hydroponic towers, raised beds, modular planters and greenhouse and tracks best practices for growing each crop efficiently. Project Week Food Roof Farm St Louis Project Week Food Roof Farm St Louis

Built in 2015, the 8,500 square foot FOOD ROOF Farm is located in the heart of downtown St Louis above a two-story storage facility utilizing a Sika Sarnafil PVC waterproofing membrane, which doubles as a root barrier; capillary, protective & filter fleece and drainage boards from Optigrün international AG / Optigreen; and pavers from Bison Innovative Products.  With additional consulting and design services from Hanging Gardens, the hybrid intensive greenroof system and farm was built in conjunction with volunteers along with Urban Harvest STL. Project Week Food Roof Farm St Louis

Over 250 varieties of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers are grown annually and more than 4,000 pounds of organic food was produced in 2017.  The majority is donated to people who need it the most in the community.

Other notable farm features include a Milkweed for Monarchs pollinator garden and keeping over 40,000 honeybees and 5 chickens. Project Week Food Roof Farm St Louis


The community hub space hosts over 20 educational workshops and activities each year.  And, the robust green roof infrastructure captures up to 17,000 gallons of stormwater per storm event, which equates to over 1,819,000 gallons annually.  Rainwater captured is utilized for plant growth, reducing irrigation needs by up to 50%.

Urban Harvest STL set out to not only create a social impact but also create an ecological return as well; they are increasing biodiversity gains and pollinator health on their rooftop.  The FOOD ROOF Farm is growing healthy food and a community of healthy people. Project Week Food Roof Farm St Louis Project Week Food Roof Farm St Louis

Year: 2015
Owner: Urban Harvest STL
Location: St. Louis, MO, USA
Building Type: Commercial
Type: Intensive
System: Custom
Size: 8500 sq.ft.
Slope: 1%
Access: Accessible, By Appointment Project Week Food Roof Farm St Louis

Designers/Manufacturers of Record:

Urban Harvest STL Executive Director, Co-Founder & Designer: Mary Ostafi, AIA, LEED-AP
Urban Harvest STL Co-Founder & Designer: Joseph Ostafi AIA, LEED-AP, Regional Leader for Science and Technology, HOK
Architect: Charlie Lutz, Senior Designer, HOK
Greenroof Design & Consultant: Anthony Mayer GRP, LEED AP, Chief Executive Officer, Hanging Gardens
Roofing Contractor: Tom Cox, President, Bi-State Roof Systems, Inc.
Waterproofing Membrane: John Bernardi, Regional Manager, Sika Sarnafil
Certified Irrigation Designer: Craig Pisarkiewicz, MPR Supply Company
Paver Provider: David Mudd, Hardscapes Sales, Midwest Block & Brick
Paver Provider: Hilary Porter, Central Regional Sales Manager, Bison Innovative Products
Greenhouse Provider: Greg Garbos, Owner, Small Farm Tools
Structural Engineer: Kent MacPeek, Frontenac Engineering
Growing Media: St. Louis Composting
Growing Media: WaterGrip Brownie
Capillary, Protective & Filter Fleece and Drainage Boards: Optigrün international AG / Optigreen Project Week Food Roof Farm St Louis

All the Info:

View the FOOD ROOF Farm project profile to see ALL of the Photos and Additional Information about this particular project in The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database. Project Week Food Roof Farm St Louis

Project of the Week Video Feature

Watch the FOOD ROOF Farm Project of the Week Video below or see it on our GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube: Project of the Week 3/19/18 video credits: Project of the Week video photo credits: All courtesy of Urban Harvest STL © by: Eldar Beiseitov, Christopher Faller, Jonathan Gayman, and Urban Harvest STL.

Did we miss your contribution? Please let us know to add you to the FOOD ROOF Farm profile.

Would you like one of your projects to be featured on We have to have a profile first! Submit Your Project Profile.

Love the Earth, Plant a Roof (or Wall)!

By Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA, LEED AP, GRP Publisher & Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summits Host

Special 15% Discount to the AgLanta Conference 2018 on March 27 & 28!

March 14, 2018 at 2:31 pm

15% Discount to the AgLanta Conference 2018

15% Discount to the AgLanta Conference 2018

Have you bought your tickets to the AgLanta Conference 2018 yet?

As Media Partners, we at invite you to join us for the AgLanta Conference 2018 on March 27th and 28th!  And as a special offer to our social media network, use the Promo Code “greenroofs” when you register for a 15% discount!

The Premier Urban Agriculture Conference in Atlanta

Back for its 2nd year, the AgLanta Conference is a premier urban agriculture conference organized by Agritecture and hosted by the City of Atlanta’s Office of Resilience.   Urban and controlled environment agriculture (CEA) innovation will be showcased, and AgLanta 2018 promises to foster community engagement and generate economic development as well. is the South’s biggest urban agriculture community, coming from the Mayor’s Office of Resilience in the City of Atlanta.  We all know a city with a strong local food economy is a resilient city, and explores the smart technologies and strategies that connect agriculture with the city of Atlanta.

15% Discount to the AgLanta Conference 2018

Can a City Really be “Smart” without Agriculture?

Cities and companies around the world are recognizing the growing demand for local food coupled with an ever growing urban population.  As a result, urban and controlled environment agriculture has emerged as a promising and viable solution.

Urban agriculture and CEA can work together to drive food access, economic development, as well as social, environmental, and health benefits.

Smart Ag for Smart Cities

15% Discount to the AgLanta Conference 2018

Over the past few years, we have seen an increasing pattern of cities and conferences focusing on the “Smart City.”  These conversations tend to encompass everything from IoT to energy efficiency, but almost always leave agriculture out of the picture, which is why this year’s theme is “Smart Ag for Smart Cities.”

30+ Speakers

AgLanta Conference 2018 will feature 30+ speakers across seven Smart Agriculture and Smart Cities topics.  Also, there are bonus workshops and two huge keynote speakers.  Otis Rolley, Regional Director, North America with 100 Resilient Cities, is the Day 1 Keynote Speaker.  Otis’ entire career has been dedicated toward resilience and urban development in the private, non-profit and public sectors.

Vonnie Estes, a consultant in ag innovation and the 2017 winner of the Rosalind Franklin Award for Biotechnology, is the Day 2 Keynote Speaker.  Vonnie is one of the leading female executives in the biofuels industry and will be speaking about the role of Big Data in agriculture and emerging biotechnologies as they apply to urban agriculture.

See all of the Speakers.

15% Discount to the AgLanta Conference 2018

Workshops, Exhibition Hall & Panels

Two workshops, an exhibition hall, and panels covering a range of critical Smart City topics will be featured —each with a particular focus on the multiple roles Smart Agriculture will play in making cities more efficient, resilient, and sustainable.

Not to be missed, workshops include “Smart Food Access Planning”: How to use GIS and other data sets to target local food enterprise solutions for food insecure neighborhoods and “Smart Policy for Smart Agriculture”: How farmers and policymakers can formulate strategies for the 2018 Farm Bill and beyond.

Imagine Future Cities with Agriculture

Join us on March 27 and 28 in the City of Atlanta to connect with experts in urban agriculture and smart cities.  We can envision the future of cities – on the ground, inside buildings, and on the rooftops and walls!

15% Discount to the AgLanta Conference 2018

Register with Promo Code “greenroofs” for a 15% Discount

Learn more at the AgLanta Conference website and at EventbriteRegister today with “greenroofs” to get your 15% off.

AgLanta 2018 will be held at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot in downtown Atlanta.  We’re only two weeks away ~ Aramis and I will see you there!

By Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA, LEED AP, GRP Publisher & Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summits Host