GPW: Southface Eco Office

June 2, 2011 at 6:21 pm Project of the Week: 5/31/11
Southface Eco Office
Atlanta, GA, USA
2,000 sf. Greenroof

Year: 2008
Owner: Southface Energy Institute
Location: Atlanta, GA, USA
Building Type: Commercial
Type: Extensive
System: Custom
Size: 2,000 sq.ft.
Slope: 4%
Access: Accessible, By Appointment

Google Map:

Project Description & Details

Southface is the U.S. Southeast’s non-profit leader in the promotion of sustainable homes, workplaces and communities. Built by a consortium of construction firms using widely available, off-the-shelf products, materials and technologies, the Platinum LEED Southface Eco Office is a three-story structure with a rooftop green roof open to the public for educational tours. Also holding an ENERGY STAR label and EarthCraft Light Commercial certification, as well as meeting The 2030 Challenge, the Eco Office is noted for its average energy cost of less than $25 per day.

The Turner Foundation Green Roof on top of the third floor expands the office space into a rooftop patio with a spectacular view of downtown Atlanta. The growing media is about 4″ deep, and was planted by staff and volunteers with a variety of Sedums, Delospermas, Talinums, and Hens and Chicks. It’s also home to a 6.4 kW photovoltaic array and a 1,750-gallon rainwater collection cistern. Waterproofing was supplied by American Hydrotech, J-DRain by JDR Enterprises, Mr. Natural growing media by ItSaul Natural, and plants by Saul Nurseries.

Designers/Manufacturers of Record

Architect: Lord, Aeck & Sargent
Landscape Architect: ECOS
Plant Supplier: Saul Nurseries
Growing Media: Mr. Natural, ItSaul Natural
Waterproofing & Green Roof System: American Hydrotech
Drainage: J-DRain by JDR Enterprises

Additional Info

For over 30 years, Southface Energy Institute has promoted sustainable homes, workplaces and communities through education, research, advocacy and technical assistance.  Driven by the Atlanta area’s growing need to save energy and water, and to preserve our natural resources, Southface proactively encourages responsible solutions for environmental living.  For example, all paved surfaces on the site are constructed of porous concrete to reduce the impacts of stormwater runoff, and the rooftop cistern below, collects rainwater from the building’s solar photovoltaic array.

I first visited Southface in the early ’00’s, when I was initially involved with the Atlanta City Hall Pilot Greenroof, and it was very green then.  They used to host the monthly Cool Communities meetings there with government, industry, academic and other non-profit stakeholders.  Then I became involved a bit with the volunteers who designed and provided materials and services for the new Eco Office.  It has always been an enlightening and rewarding place – they do great work!  Once the Eco Office was finished in 2008, it was over-the-top green!

Speaking of great work, for over 10 years now Southface has been involved with the Greenprints Conference and Trade Show.  Co-hosted by Southface and the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA), Greenprints is a two-day, high-impact educational event that addresses forward-thinking strategies for sustainable planning, policy, design and construction.  Living here in the Atlanta area, I’ve been several years, and spoke there in 2009 – it’s extremely informative and interactive.

Below is a view of the Southface Energy Office seen from the south at dusk, 2009:

“The Eco Office presents a striking profile against the evening sky and provides an appealing location for an evening soiree. Greenroof on right, and adjacent is the Southface Resource Center which was completed in 1996 to show off the best of residential green building design,” ~ Photo Courtesy Southface, Photo By and Copyright Jonathan Hillyer Photography

At 10,100 sf, the Southface Eco Office is the same size as about 74% of all commercial buildings in the U.S., but it uses 84 percent less potable water, primarily by using captured rainwater for all sewage conveyance and irrigation therefore significantly reducing its need for municipally provided potable water.  It also uses 53 percent less energy than a comparable building!

Fully instrumented to measure its resources on a 24/7 basis, you can check out performance results in real time daily, while it stores historic data for later analysis.  You can do this online via Lucid Design Group’s Building Dashboard, screens above and below, or at the touch screen located at their office.

Some other cool features you can learn about online are the tubular skylights on the Eco Office’s greenroof that provide natural daylighting with minimal solar heat gain eliminating the need for artificial lighting during the day:

Southface has a redesigned website that’s pretty awesome, and have an amazing virtual tour showing features of the exterior, interior, and systems.  Make sure you visit it to learn more.  But if you’re in the area on Wednesdays, read here for real tours.

“The Eco Office proves that effective green building by firms like Lord, Aeck & Sargent can result in designing and constructing buildings that live up to energy efficiency expectations. The firm’s Director of Sustainability, Jim Nicolow, states “The green building movement needs to move beyond intuition to validation. A necessity of high-performance design is the use of quantitative analysis to inform design decisions.” ~ as seen in TriplePundit

In 2009, Southface received the Conserve Georgia Natural Leaders Award for Water Conservation for its LEED Platinum-certified Eco Office.  By the way, if you’re in the market, you can rent The Turner Foundation Green Roof, with its spectacular, panoramic city views and capacity for up to 50 people!

It’s a model of sustainability, new technologies, educational resources, and aesthetically striking – what more could you ask for from an eco-office?

Did we miss something?  We’d love to hear from you!  Click here to see more information about this project in The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.  See how you can submit yours here.

Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!

~ Linda V.


GPW: Unilever Corporate Headquarters

May 26, 2011 at 4:57 pm Project of the Week: 5/23/11
Unilever Corporate Headquarters
Englewood Cliffs, NJ, USA
16,000  sf. Greenroof

Year: 2009
Owner: Unilever
Location: EJ, USA
Building Type: Corporate
Type: Extensive
System: Custom
Size: 16,000 sq.ft.  
Slope: 1%
Access: Inaccessible, Private

Google Map:

Project Description & Details

HDR was commissioned to assist Unilever in the relocation of approximately 400 employees to their campus at Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.  A major renovation of the facilities would be required to support the consolidation and maintain the Unilever Headquarters image. The green roof project was an outgrowth of updating the facility and promoted Unilever’s proactive stand on sustainability.

The Unilever Green Roof Project is a 16,000 SF membrane roof retrofit over a 4-story office building.  13,000 SF of the green roof resides over the 3rd floor and the remaining 3,000 SF resides between two open atriums over the 2nd floor.  Specific project challenges involved high visibility from adjacent conference and executive office space; existing railings that did not meet current building codes; existing roof leaks; minimal roof slope; concrete waffle slab structure; and existing load capacity.  A new Hydrotech monolithic membrane system with an extensive LiveRoof pre-vegetated tray system including 15 types of Sedum and one Delosperma was implemented.

Designers/Manufacturers of Record

Architect/Engineer: HDR, Inc.
Modular Greenroof System: LiveRoof
Waterproofing Manufacturer: American Hydrotech
Waterproofing Contractor: Grandview Waterproofing Inc.
Greenroof Contractor: Parker Urban Greenscapes
LiveRoof Grower/Nursery: Creek Hill Nursery
Rooftop Pavers: Hanover Architectural Products
Edge Resistant Systems: Permaloc


Additional Info

HDR, Inc.’s work included a full renovation of a 1970’s vintage office space, as well as 24,000 square feet of new construction for modern office areas.  They also created a central campus conference center and renovated the 16,000-square-foot 700 Campus cafeteria.

Special emphasis on the design was placed on developing interaction among the various business groups; “engagement areas” allow employees to come together and explore product innovations and marketing strategies; site planning also included  a “vitality trail” around the campus.

See the Unilever roof below before the greenroof, during the waterproofing phase, and after.  Read HDR, Inc.’s case study  here.

This is not the first commitment from Unilever to green architecture.  In fact, their European headquarters located in Hamburg, Germany’s HafenCity on the Elbe River, is considered much more than an office complex. Designed by Behnisch Architects, the vision is for it to act as an extension of a new burgeoning city core.  Envisioned like a vertical village, the huge inside atrium embraces tons of natural light, supplemented by super efficient LED interior lights.  Read more about this at Inhabitat: “Unilever’s Energy Efficient Office is One of the Greenest in Europe.”

Did we miss something?  We’d love to hear from you!  Click  here to see more information about this project in  The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.  See how you can submit yours  here.

Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!

~ Linda V.


Ecoroof Incentive Deadline – One Week Away!

May 26, 2011 at 1:24 pm

By Matt Burlin

Portland is preparing for the deadline of the sixth round of the Ecoroof Incentive.  The City offers $5 per square foot of ecoroof (extensive green roofs) on all approved projects, and the next deadline is June 1, 2011.

Since 2008, the ecoroof incentive has been awarded to 125 projects for 8.3 acres.  In total there are close to 300 ecoroofs in Portland covering 14 acres, and 421 green roofs (extensive and intensive) totaling nearly 30 acres.  Here are a couple of Portland ecoroof incentive recipients:

On a smaller scale, the project above is a Portland State University Bike Shelter with a total of 1,120 ft ² of ecoroof.

On a considerably larger scale, above you can see The Ramona – Affordable Housing in Northwest Portland with 31,000 ft ².

The incentive round follows a successful month of March – designated “˜Ecoroof Month‘ by Portland City Council.  One great outcome was the completion of ecoroof test plots designed for habitat and biodiversity, below:

The project evolved from discussions with  Stephan Brenneisen during his visit in March, and the test plots were installed with the help of his colleague Raphael Schneider during April.

Finally, the Greenroof Information Think-tank, a network of businesses, organizations, and green roof professionals in the Pacific Northwest, has grown to 270 since 2009.  This past year, the group consulted with Gunderson Manufacturing in the design of a pilot habitat ecoroof on their industrial property in Northwest Portland, seen above.

~ Matt Burlin

Matt Burlin is the Outreach Coordinator for Sustainable Stormwater Management with the City of Portland Environmental Services (BES). Contact Matt at 503.823.7863 or his new email address: Visit the City of Portland’s website for complete info. You can also stay up to date by liking their facebook page.”™s “This Week in Review” on GreenroofsTV: May 20th, 2011

May 22, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Each week you can expect to learn What’s New here on through our “This Week in Review” video.   Here’s the transcript covering May 20 and May 13, 2011 from our daughter, Anjuli –  click on the photo below to see the video, or here.   Enjoy!

– Hello, I’m Anjuli Velazquez and welcome to This Week in Review for May 20th as well as for May 13th, 2011, on    GreenroofsTV since we took a week off.

–  Project of the Week

–  Our project of the week is SeQuential’s Biofueling Retail Station built in 2006 in Eugene, Oregon.  This biofuel station is an example of realistic, feasible, and sustainable technologies demonstrating real world solutions that reduce energy usage and local water quality impacts.  These features include solar panels on the fuel pump canopies, passive solar design of the convenience store, and a vegetated roof that is part of a site-stormwater system including bioswales and a detention pond.  Habitats staff, who were also project managers, designed the fuel station site plan, landscape and stormwater features, and designed, installed and planted the vegetated roof, which contains over 4,800 individual plants in 5 inches of soil.

–  Last week we featured Aqua, the winner of our “Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!” Earth Day Photo Contest.  Designed to comply with LEED certification, Aqua is a mixed-use residential skyscraper overlooking Harbor Park on the shores of Lake Michigan and is setting new heights for innovation and beauty among Chicago skyscrapers.  Each floor of the 82-story tower has an architectonic facade of curvaceous white concrete balconies, and the 80,000 sf intensive Greenroof-Roofscapes ® System roof garden by Barrett Company caps Aqua’s three-story podium roof, providing a naturalistic, eco-friendly landscape.  And an International Leak Detection (ILD) system was installed to protect against membrane damage as well as other electric field leakage problems.

–  To learn more about SeQuential’s Biofueling Retail Station, click on our project of the week photo on our  homepage, and for Aqua, go to the Projects Database landing page and under Keyword > Project ID # > simply type in “1136.”

–   “What’s New“

–  Joblinks:    Apex Green Roofs is looking for an Office Administrator/Manager in Boston area, MA.  You can go to more information on this job and other Green Roof Job postings.

–  Advertiser Press Release:  Bel Air receives its first Green Roof donated by local green roof design firm Green Roof Service.

–  Industry News

–   Green Roofs for Healthy Cities is pleased to announce that it is now accepting submissions for the 2011 Green Roof and Wall Design Awards of Excellence, presented at CitiesAlive: the 9th Annual Green Roof & Wall Conference in Philadelphia, PA November 30th through December 3rd, 2011.

– Make sure to check out our latest Guest Blog post on the Sky Gardens Blog, “Rainwater Harvesting on Greenroofs?“ by Steve Williams.

– And while at Sky Gardens, read Linda’s latest posts about the last two GPW’s for “SeQuential’s Biofueling Retail Station“ and “Aqua;” “Dr. Karen Weber Receives NEWIEE Achievement Award;” and “’s “˜This Week in Review’ on GreenroofsTV: May 6th, 2011.”

–   “Upcoming Events“

–  -Today and tomorrow, May 21st: is Green Living Technologies International (GLTi) Certification Training in Detroit, MI.

– And on May 22nd: is GLTi Urban Farming & Edible Walls in Detroit, MI.

– May 21st-22nd: is Green Festival – A Joint project of Global exchange & Green America in Seattle, WA.

– May 23rd-29th: is the 3rd Annual High-Performance Building Week, in Washington, DC.

– May 23rd: is ARCSA’s 100-Level Workshop, Introduction to Rainwater Harvesting in Athens, GA.

– And May 24th-25th: is the 200-Level 2-Day ARCSA Rainwater Harvesting Accreditation Course in Athens, GA with the 300-Level 2-Day ARCSA 2-Day Design & Construction Workshop on May 26th-27th.

– May 24th-28th: is the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Royal Hospital Chelsea in Chelsea, London.

–  For more Upcoming Events visit our homepage.

–   “In the News“

–  Bobby Tanzilo of reports on “Central Library renews environment via green roof.”  Instead of going for a conventional roof last year when the library needed to replace its 25-year-old roof, a 30,000 sf greenroof was constructed and 132 solar electric panels were added to generate about 36,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year.  On the first floor, there is an area dedicated to the greenroof initiative and the library’s public services manager, Christine Arkenberg, says “everyone’s very enthused about it.”

– The Norman Transcript announces “University of Okla. receives EPA Award.”  The University of Oklahoma was among winners of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awards presented earlier this week at the state Capitol.  The university received the 2010 Performance and Innovation in the State Revolving Fund Creating Environmental Success in EPA Region 6, because of its experimental green roof project that reduces stormwater runoff and blocks solar radiation.

– The Clemson Newsroom releases “Clemson University institute to study ‘vertical farming’ feasibility in Charleston.”  Research elements of the proposed vertical are water and energy self-sufficiency by incorporating elements of alternative energy sources and gray water collection and reuse; greenroof and vertical garden technologies; sustainable production of high-quality organic foods within a reduced urban footprint; enhanced hydroponics; rooftop and vertical wetlands for water quality treatment; and community-based sustainable development education.

– Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune reflects on “A mayor who left his mark on Chicago’s cityscape.”   His (Mayor Richard Daley) record-setting 22 years in office led to an urban legacy and dramatic changes including mega-projects like Millennium Park, former commuter railroad tracks which now arguably houses the world’s largest greenroof.  In total, Chicago now boasts more than 7 million sf “” more than any other city in America “” of planted roofs.

–   To learn more about these stories and new ones posted daily, go to our  In the News or  newslinks section of our website.

–   Have something you think we should know about and post on our website?   You can send us your green articles, videos and images to

–   Stay up-to-date with what’s going on at by subscribing to our  greenroofsTV channel on YouTube, following us on  Twitter, liking us on  Facebook and being a member of our network on  LinkedIn.

–   This has been This Week in Review for  May 20th and May 13th,    2011 on GreenroofsTV.  I’m Anjuli Velazquez and I’ll see you next week!

*This week’s episode is sponsored by  The Greenroof Directory, brought to you by*

Did we miss something?   We’d love to hear from you!

~ Linda V.