The 1st National Green Roof Student Conference @ The Green Roof Centre

February 17, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Eleven years since Britain’s first (peer-reviewed) green roof experiment, this field of research has attained a zenith of sorts.  Never before have so many postgraduate (PG) students across the land been engaged by Master’s and PhD degrees as direct contributions to green roof research and application.

To celebrate and unite young researchers in Britain and beyond, the University of Sheffield and  The Green Roof Centre are proud to announce the 1st National Green Roof Student Conference, 16th- 17th May 2011.   In addition to sharing findings and facilitating discussion, the aim of the conference is to help develop a community of early stage researchers focused on green roof function, performance, benefits and design.

This 1st National Green Roof Student Conference partly represents the critical mass that green roofs are approaching in Britain, but it also reflects momentum hosted in Sheffield. Currently, at least 10 postgraduate (PG) students are doing green roof research at the University of Sheffield, and several departments are involved in green roof projects at undergraduate levels.   A major cause of momentum is possibly the biggest international green roof research projects ever, as supported by a  EU Marie Curie Industry Academia Partnership grant.

Overall, the Marie Curie project is supporting 6 early career researchers (including 3 PhDs), 3 experienced researchers, and the exchange of permanent staff between the University of Sheffield and its industry partner in Germany,  ZinCo GmbH.

I’m one of the PhD students in this scheme, and am hosted by the Department of Landscape to work on the plants package (I may share a blurb of my work soon, so stay tuned!).   Another PhD student, Gianni Vesuviano, is in the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering and looking at matters of hydrology and modelling.   The third PhD student will start next year, with the role of whole systems investigation.

 

The University of Sheffield has a global reputation for both teaching and research, but also for innovation in the structure and delivery of graduate education.   According to Shanghai Jiao Tong Institute’s Academic Ranking of World Universities 2003, out of more than 500 European universities, Sheffield ranks 18th.   It is also one of the largest UK universities, with over 23,000 students (5,000 postgraduate) from over 120 countries.

With regards to green roof research, the Green Roof Centre at the University of Sheffield has built significant networks with public end-users in the UK (e.g., municipal authorities).  The Green Roof Centre is the only British research group to join the informal network of green roof associations around the world (e.g. Sweden, Switzerland, U.S., Canada).   Outside of big-city London, Sheffield has the most green roofs of any city in Britain.

 

Update: Abstracts to the  1st National Green Roof Student Conference must be submitted by 25th  March to the Green Roof Centre.  Full papers are due by 25th April.   The conference fee ( £25) must be made by cheque to ‘University of Sheffield’ before the event.   Please see the Green Roof Centre link for complete details.

I hope to see you there!

~ Christine

Reflections of Fall 2010 Greenroof Conferences: Singapore, Part 2

January 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm

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

Singapore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Happy Greening, Linda V.

An Awesome World Green Roof Congress in London! Day 1

November 10, 2008 at 2:09 am

Jet lag a thing of the distant past, we’ve been  back here at Greenroofs.com for a few weeks after our extremely interesting and entertaining trip to the UK capitol and the 2008 World Green Roof Congress (WGRC).   Many of our readers expressed a lot of advance interest in attending  this particular conference because of  the location and their opportunity to do additional sightseeing in the beautiful English countryside and beyond.   In fact, most of our fellow participants did just that, adding vacation days to their trip across the pond to take full advantage of their stay.

Due to time constraints, we opted to arrive the morning of the first day of the Congress on Wednesday September 17 figuring (wrongly) we’d get there in plenty of time.  Manuevering  from Gatwick to our hotel was quite a workout with bags in tow (not to mention horrifically expensive at about $130 for two, round trip) – and I can honestly say that Grand Central Station in New York  doesn’t even come close to the hustle and bustle of Victoria Station! “Move It or Lose It” should be their motto.

We hadn’t seen Dusty Gedge of Livingroofs.org in a few years, and he welcomed us warmly and enthusiastically – in fact, both Aramis and I felt right at home among seasoned colleagues and new friends, too.   In particular, Paul Shaffer and Nipa Patel of CIRIA were just wonderful.   I’ve e-worked with Paul before,  having reviewed the successful “BUILDING GREENer – Guidance on the use of green roofs, green walls and complementary features on buildings (C644),” (by Paul Early, Dusty Gedge, John Newton, and Steve Wilson, 2007 from CIRIA,)  but meeting Nipa and Paul was very special – they’re really good people with not only great patience and organizational skills, but a great sense of humor, too.   All characteristics which must come in handy  while planning an international conference of this stature.

Delayed bags made us unfortunately miss the better portion of the Wednesday morning session: Jim McLelland, Editor of sustain’ magazine (and the Congress Media Partner), opened the Congress with the Chairman’s Introduction followed by the Keynote Address from Richard Blakeway, Advisor to the Mayor of London on environment issues.   The London Plan addresses sustainability from many aspects and incorporates green roofs and green walls.   London climate change partnerships were discussed along with achievements and plans for the future.   The North American and German perspectives were tackled by Peter Lowitt of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities and Wolfgang Ansel of the International Green Roof Association (IGRA), respectively, addressing the drivers for implementing greenroofs, the benefits and achievements of their approach, challenges faced and lessons learned, ending with future plans.

Speaking of the International Green Roof Association, make plans now to attend the International Green Roof Congress 2009 in Nuertingen, Germany on May 25-27, 2009.   Under the patronage of the German Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, the congress will be hosted by IGRA and the Deutscher Dachgärtner Verband e.V. (DDV).   Wolfgang is extremely excited about the program which will include the latest technological developments within our industry as well as detailed case studies of spectacular greenroof projects from renown international architects and designers.   Of course, there will be hands-on workshops and excursions to Stuttgart and Freiburg, too.

Edmund Maurer from Linz, Austria, gave “Green Roofs in Linz – A European municipality perspective on green roofs” including the history and development of the Linz Green Roof Policy, incentives, rationale, and barriers to implementation.   The City of Linz uses a combination of legal framework, financial grants, and policy incentives.   In 1985 legally binding development plans required greeenroofs, either extensive or intensive and a green roof subsidy was implemented in 1989, marking the first direct financial incentive in Austria.   At present, Linz has approximately 440 funded greenroofs with a total greened of about 500,000 m2 (5,381,955 sf), which includes the Bindermichl Landscape Park at 81,000 m2, designed with playgrounds above a motorway tunnel.

Paul Collins, Head of Design Environment at Nottingham Trent University followed with his presentation of “Green roofs:  British policy responses and practice.”   It was nice to finally meet Paul later, too, as we had been corresponding for many years.

We arrived at the beautiful glass  structure of One Bishops Square in Spitalfields, home to the London offices of Allen & Overy, the WGRC  host, close to noon and joined the other 300 attendees in time to hear Duncan Young of  Lend Lease, UK talk about “Commercial drivers for green roofs”  which was very heartening.   He talked about some of the amazing projects that Lend Lease is currently working on, both in the UK and Australia.   Lots of green buildings and greenroofs!   For example, one of the UK’s largest regeneration schemes is  Greenwich Peninsula which is being developed by a joint venture between Lend Lease and Quintain, working with English Partnerships.   Over the next 15 years, the £5 billion regeneration of Greenwich Peninsula will be transformed into a thriving riverside community with about 20,000 residents and 24,000 workers.   Upon completion, at 190 acres this extensive new quarter of London is expected to form Europe’s largest mass of greenroofs.   And we were told that approximately 70% of the 2012 London Olympic Games structures will be greenroofed!

Update of July, 2011: 70% was a bit optimistic back in 2008, but there will be greenroofs.  For example, to meet green building regulations, the International Broadcast Center will incorporate a ‘brown roof’ and recycling non-drinking water (via About.com).  Of course, a brown roof is very similar to a greenroof, but it more greatly encourages the creation of biodiversity because of the high rubble/mineral substrate and wide, open  sparsely  planted roof.  The gravel, moss, and other low nutrient  plant life  will encourage insects, invertebrates and habitats for  the reported 100 bird and bat boxes to be incorporated on site.

The morning  Question and Answer session  followed with many people asking about insurance issues, especially as recently raised by Swiss insurance giant Zurich Re – see the related article in Building.co.uk “Insurers warn of fire risk from green roofs” by Michael Willoughby of September 5, 2008.   People discussed how non-vegetated fire breaks are critical as well as setting a maintenance regime and having supplemental water available.   In terms of leaks, respondents said that just like in all of the roofing world, flat roofs, greened or not, are the problem.   And it was brought up that many European insurance giants actually have greenroofs on their own buildings, including Munich Re!   Austrian Edmund Maurer added that his country in general has problems related to greenroof maintenance, and several German delegates agreed that this issue was present in their homeland as well.   Also, with the current financial crisis in London (and elsewhere), it was asked how important is it to have incentives from government to promote further greenroof development.   As important as it is to have local and national governments behind the promotion of greenroofs, many people responded that we really need to  focus on  greenroofs as amenity driven, not policy driven.   Dusty said that after climate change, biodiversity is a major concern in the UK and that living roofs provide solutions for both.

Next we  enjoyed our lunch, and I have to say that overall the catering and service was excellent, which  can be  rare for these types of events.   The exhibitor booths  were arranged very smartly, in a U-shaped  embrace of sorts around the central hall and all refreshments, lunches and snacks were set on tables within the exhibitor rooms to make it very easy to flow through, visit and network with other attendees  and the greenroof trade show participants.

The afternoon session was also  lively and we heard from some real leaders and mavericks in the field of architecture and research.   Known for  his design of  visionary green “bioclimatic” skyscrapers, Dr. Ken Yeang of Llewelyn Davies Yeang offered “Designing for ecological sustainability” which talked about his philosophy of “mound to ground” and the need to connect greenroofs to the ground level through a series of corridors and fingers utilizing living walls and “landscaped skycourts.”   He showed innovative designs from Hong Kong, New Delhi, Istanbul, Macao and Singapore.   Dr. Yeang also stressed the importance of bio integration of the physical, systemic and temporal nature of each site, and that each project  needs to be  program-specific.

Another colleague of ours, Dr. Stephan Brenneisen of the University of Applied Sciences in Basel, followed with “Benefits for biodiversity” and the Swiss approach for creating higher biodiversity and cost effective greenroofs.   Stephan said the low biotic diversity of many greenroofs is due to a  very thin substrate layer, and using different types of local substrates and varying the depths ( 5, 8, and 12 cm, for example) creates various types of environments where a variety of flora and fauna may thrive.   Referring to the growing media mix, he added that the greater the water storing capacity, the more biomass you’ll get on  your roof which in turn creates greater opportunities for higher diversity.   He also presented case studies including the Basel Exhibition Centre; Klinikum 2, Cantonal Hospital of Basel and the new Monument Development in London, which features the greenroof as a combination of art, design, and nature conservation.

Our German friend Dr. Manfred Kohler from the University of Applied Sciences in Neubrandenburg and the President of the World Green Roof Network (WGRIN), spoke about “Benefits for sustainable water management”  and how it is possible to design zero runoff properties.  Greenroofs were discussed in relation to decentralized rainwater management with examples of research studies in Berlin.    Manfred also informed us that at present, the 2008 FLL Proceedings are being finished.

David Sailor from Portland State University presented “Energy and urban climate benefits of green roofs,” which could have been a boring, dry subject if that’s not your thing, but it wasn’t!   A very likable fellow, Dave talked about the solar radiation properties of greenroofs – they reflect 20% – and the thermal  variances between winter and summer.   For example, a greenroof is 10 degrees C cooler in the summer, which is pretty standard, although a greater than 30 degree C heat flux is possible.    Unfortunately, greenroofs can be warmer at night since they retain some of the day’s heat, but overall greenroofs reduce summer roof temperatures by 10 -30 degrees C.   He  gave examples of various energy studies including monitoring from ACROS in 1995 and the City of Portland, Oregon.   Dave told us the DOE EnergyPlus 2007 modeling software  incorporated his greenroof module which includes details of greenroof energy balance (see “A green roof model for building energy simulation programs” published in Energy and Buildings).

Dr. Nigel Dunnett of Sheffield University and The Green Roof Centre talked about “Landscape and Amenity: a UK Perspective.”   Nigel suggested we “liberate design opportunities in the UK horticultural tradition” and wants us designers to be more liberal overall, utilizing both native and non-native plant species  to  create dramatic visual impact.   His point was that we can design a living roof to be functional and attractive, and in fact the very important attribute of aesthetics will help promote the market.   The Sharrow School in Sheffield was highlighted as a case study, with greenroofs at three levels.   Modelled on the distinctive urban habitats  of the region,  its 8,000 m2 rooftop is a wildlife habitat of mounds and  valleys with areas of: a small wetland, an open brownfield / rubble section, birch forest, limestone grassland, wildflower meadow and a colorful annual meadow.

Closing the afternoon session was Robert Runcie of  Environment Agency from England and Wales – he presented “Partnership approach to implementing green roofs.”    Robert asked, “How do we use development as a stimulus?”   Environment Agency is a national body working with colleagues in government and industry with the capacity to roll this as a best practice policy out across England and Wales.    Over the past two years, they helped ensure that eight hectares of greenroofs were included in London.   As part of their Green Roof Toolkit, they recently launched “Environment Agency’s Building a better environment: A guide for developers – Environment Agency advice on adding value to your site,” a web-based resource for developers and planners for the Thames Region.

The pursuant Q & A session  caused quite a stir  and  some people were dubbed  “Native Plant Nazis”  putting forth  the classic argument of how we should be only using native plant species on our greenroofs.   Basically the questions asked were Are aesthetics important enough for us to  give up the biodiversity benefits that using native plants offer?   Is it really necessary to use introduced species just for the wow factor?   Many people responded that actually both natives and non-natives provide a multitude of benefits to wildlife, including valuable habitat, food and cover, and a variety of plants  can be used for seasonal color and interest.   A little tolerance, people!   Don’t get me started – I’d like to write much more about this topic, so look for it later.

After the close of this first day of the WGRC, the Congress Reception was held on the beautiful  10th floor intensive greenroof terrace of  Congress Supporter Allen & Overy where we were treated to a  lavish selection of tasty barbecue and lovely local UK wines and later, innovative lemon and chocolate mousse dessert shots.

The area encompasses three landscaped greenroof terraces, and a fourth terrace is covered with  photovoltaic cells.   The terrace layout offered intimate areas for reconnecting with far flung associates and social networking – who’s doing what and where, and what a view!   The ever expanding London skyline was beautiful in the rosy hues of dusk.

At the end of the  evening we  heard from Congress Sponsor The Wildlife Trusts who introduced their  Biodiversity Benchmark  for Green Roofs.   The Biodiversity Benchmark for Green Roofs  was created to support the increased development of  living roofs  in the UK and is the first standard to encourage excellence in design, implementation and management of green roofs for the benefit of wildlife.   It was set up to support the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) to help increase the contribution that businesses can make towards enhancing biodiversity, and guidance materials provide advice on how to integrate biodiversity with environmental management processes.

It was great just hanging out with friends who share the same passion as we do in a relaxing greenspace in a wonderful city.   Stay tuned for a little more about the 2008 World Green Roof Congress and beyond when I’ll talk a bit about Day 2 and then our whirlwind London greenroof tour with Dusty and about 25 of his visiting colleagues!

~ Linda

Post-Safari reflections

September 30, 2008 at 4:59 pm

So much for blogging while on the road! Two weeks have passed since Green Roof Safari ended, and I’m only getting caught up now. That said, after the Safari ended, I got swept up by the World Green Roof Congress, and then by a week in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Grosses Walsertal. Apologies, as I digress (but must admit they are nice memories!!).

This blog posting is meant to share some reflections of the Safari. Since I’m only skimming the 6 day study tour, please don’t hesitate to send me your questions, either as a comment (at the bottom of this posting), or via email.

Hundertwasser Waldspirale

T-Mobile in Stuttgart

A wetland roof at Gemperle AG.

For its first run, Green Roof Safari visited between 4 and 6 sites a day, with a range of project designs which included Hundertwasser, intensive public spaces, extensive Sedum ‘deserts’ and ecologically designed roof habitats. For integrative, holistic projects, we visited two sustainable communities –Scharnhauser Park (near Stuttgart) and the Vauban District of Freiburg. Both are former military barracks remodeled for efficiency and mixed-use.

The tour met with a number of local experts representing policy and municipal campaigning, green roof design, research, and installation. The tour is indebted to the generosity of Stephan Brenneisen (Zurich University of Applied Sciences), John Doeveling (City Stuttgart), Christian Lang (Top Gruen), Christian Mathys (City of Basel), as well as our colleagues at Gemperle AG. Thanks also to Hotel Contel and Hotel Abalon for entertaining our curiosties.

We had great weather the whole trip, right up until the last day. And then, my, did the weather turn BAD! The downpour was torrential, and relentless. Nonetheless, we visited some unbelievable living facade projects in Zurich-Oerlikon. Doesn’t Brent’s red umbrella add a nice touch to MFO Park?

Brent is miniaturized in this grandiose park of living facades.

The night spent in the Alps, on the Rigi at 1,500 m above sea level, was literally in the clouds, so we didn’t get much of a view. Not of the Alps across Lake Lucerne, and hardly even of the little green roof bar on the terrace. Still, we knew that through the haze was the representing ‘green roof above 1000 m’. The photo below was taken in early August.

There is not a date for Green Roof Safari 2009 yet, but stay tuned to the website. Please don’t hesitate with questions or inquiries, and I’d love to hear any comments below.

Truly,

~ Christine