GPW: Vancouver 2010 Olympic Village, Southeast False Creek (Millennium Water)

February 17, 2010 at 5:18 pm

2010 Vancouver:The Civic Centre's Greenroof on 10.27.09; City of Vancouver

What’s GPW?   I’m starting a new blog feature here on Sky Gardens ~ where cool green meets lofty blue, to go along with’s “Greenroof/Greenwall Project of the Week” – or GPW.   I’ll note back stories for each selected project and include updates,  new photos, etc.,  and  share why I feel this is a noteworthy and interesting case study.

Olympic and Paralympic Village aerial of December 17, 2009; City of Vancouver

Also known as Millennium Water, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Village at  Southeast False Creek (SEFC) will eventually become home to 16,000  residents and commercial users after the Winter Games with  250 affordable housing units in its first phase, a 45,000 square foot community center, three child care centers, an elementary school, community garden, public plaza, and much more.   The 32 hectare (80 acres) SEFC community is a former industrial site on the shores of False Creek near downtown Vancouver, B.C.   More than half of the land is owned by the City, while the remainder is owned privately.  

2010 Vancouver on 10.27.09; City of Vancouver

Millennium Development Corporation  developed the $1-billion-plus waterfront property, and the master plan for the sustainable community provided a unique opportunity to develop an urban center for residential, commercial and public use.   The City of Vancouver is to be recognized as a governmental trailblazer and recommended for dictating 50% greenroof coverage for the entire area!

Mayor Gregor receiving the LEED Platinum plaque for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Village, via CTV

Dubbed “The most sustainable neighbourhood on Earth,”  on Tuesday the Olympic Village in Vancouver’s Southeast False Creek was awarded LEED ® Platinum ND certification by the U.S. Green Building Council for a variety of factors, including its proximity to the downtown core, mix of uses, affordable housing, green buildings and habitat restoration.   And the Canadian Green Building Council announced the Gold certification of all residential buildings on the Millennium Water site.

 “This should be a source of pride for residents and an example to the rest of the world.”   ~ Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson

 Millennium Water model; photo by Danny Singer, courtesy NATIONAL

Back in 2007 our Design Editor, Haven Kiers, and I included the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Village (Millennium Water) in our inaugural Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof Design, as a current example of trendsetting sustainability efforts on a  city scale.   We showed it as an example of the #1 category  on our 2007 list for  “Visionary Proposed Projects”  – see the PowerPoint here.   NATIONAL, Millennium Development’s public relations firm, provided these images of the various models for our presentation and the  profile in The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.

Millennium Water model, north view; photo by Jonathan Cruz, courtesy NATIONAL

Last October at the inaugural 2009 CitiesAlive! World Green Roof Infrastructure Congress  in Toronto, I attended Dr. Karen Liu of Xero Flor Canada‘s presentation, “Special Green Roof Projects in B.C.” where she shared the company’s design and engineering  experiences for their part in the Olympic Village’s  extensive greenroofs.   In the  Master Planting  Plan (see below) the landscape architect, Durante Kreuk,  had  created  vegetated silhouettes of Olympic sports figures atop the buildings, so to achieve this, a combination of various planted Sedum plugs, annuals and lightweight red lava rock  were used.   Shallow aluminum edging helps define the different color and plant zones:

The Master Planting Plan by Durante Kreuk

Detail of a skiier by Durante Kreuk landscape architects using Xero Flor products

Olympic & Paralympic Village 2010: City of Vancouver

To update the profile, I relied on the excellent case study by The Challenge Series entitled “Millennium Water: The Southeast False Creek Olympic Village –  Vancouver, Canada.”   The story of the development is told in  a seven-chapter book that documents the decisions and challenges involved  in creating such a showcase and world-class example of green  development strategies.   You can access the entire book online above, order printed copies, or subscribe to their newsletter.   Referring to the recent LEED awards, Roger Bayley of  The Challenge Series stated:

“This esteemed certification reflects the dedication to sustainable community development that is found throughout the Millennium Water: SEFC community, and is a truly commendable achievement for all those who were a part of the planning, design and construction process.” ~ Roger Bayley

Athlete's Recreation Centre using LiveRoof modules, Courtesy and by NATS Nursery

Of course Vanouver has many beautiful greenroofs and greenwalls, and just one of numerous  other great buildings with a spectacular greenroof not to be missed is the Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Project, which we’ve  previously highlighted as our “Greenroof Project of the Week.”

Completed just last November, 2009, it will be interesting to see how the Olympic Village rooftop vegetation fills in and greens up after a few seasons, and we certainly look forward to visiting this beautiful city with many eco-friendly projects  in November, 2010.

2010 Vancouver Olympic & Paralympic Village close-up; City of Vancouver

Kudos to the people of Vancouver, B.C. and all involved in the many years of making the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Village at  Southeast False Creek a wonderful, welcoming place for  the athletes, officials,  and visitors, and for designing Millennium Water as  a future sustainable home to Vancouverites!

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic & Paralympic Village at sunset

~ Linda V.

How Do We Select the Greenroof/Greenwall Project of the Week (GPW)?

February 9, 2010 at 7:53 pm

A Midwestern prairie in the sky; photo courtesy The Kestrel Design Group

The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database has been up and open to the world since 2004, evolving from the “International and North American Case Studies” portion of my initial 1999 independent research study “Greenroof Technology: A Viable Roofing Alternative” that was the basis for  The initial 30 or so profiles have grown to over a thousand, and we feel sharing these is an important learning experience for us all.

The Philips Eco-Enterprise Greenroof in Minneapolis, MN; photo courtesy The Kestrel Design Group.

Our Project of the Week feature started in March, 2006 when we selected the profile of Phillips Eco-Enterprise Center (PEEC), above, submitted by Peter MacDonagh of The Kestrel Design Group.  The idea stemmed from the notion that a weekly highlight showcasing very different living roofs would stimulate interest in both the industry at large and our Projects Database – which it has!  Since then we’ve shown about 190 vegetated roofs and in 2008 we displayed our first Greenwall Project of the Week, Anthropologies, below, submitted by George Irwin of Green Living Technologies.

Anthropologies' Greenwall in Hunstville, AL; photo courtesy GLT

I often get asked, how do I pick each greenroof/wall case study out of and over so many other profiles?  The answer is actually very simple – at its core, I’m basically choosing completed profiles.  That means all the fields are completed, there is a lot of descriptive text, and all 11 of the photos/graphics are there.  The emotionally and physically attractive, sexy part about living architecture is the living part – the planting design –  and people want to see photos!

Purple haze on a greenroof (PEEC); photo courtesy The Kestrel Design Group

After the aesthetics of the profile itself, I try and alternate U.S. and international projects, although it doesn’t always come out that way.  My goal is to show different types (extensive, intensive) and various applications, too (research, municipal, multi/single-family residential, commercial, educational) along with system types (conventional built-in place, modular, custom).

So if you’d like your company or organization’s project highlighted, check to see if we at least have an initial case study up, if not, send one in either by filling out the easy online form here, or by sending us an email to:  If we do have your project listed, review it and send us any edits or additions along with updated graphics and/or photos (each profile can hold up to 11).

Sweetwater Creek; design by Gerding Collaborative; Photo Source: ArchitectureWeek

When possible, I’ll highlight a project that has something going on that week or month, for example I like to select profiles whose city is having a conference at the moment, or as in the case of this week’s project, a Green Building Tour this Sunday:

Our current Greenroof Project of the Week features the Sweetwater Creek State Park Visitors™ Center and Museum in Lithia Springs, GA.  Set within a 2,500-acre conservation area, this beautiful LEED Platinum certified building was the first to achieve this rating in the southeastern United States.  (Click on the project title to see who was involved in this very green building.)  And if you’re in the area, you can join a Green Building Tour of the Sweetwater Creek State Park Visitors™ Center and Museum this upcoming Sunday, February 14, 2010 from 2 PM to 3:30 PM and learn about sustainability, green buildings and what makes this one so special for just $5 plus $5 parking; for more info call: 770-732-5871.

Sweetwater Creek, design by Gerding Collaborative; photo source: ArchitectureWeek

The Greenroof/Greenwall Project of the Week feature on is a great way to have readers – researchers, students, media, and potential clients – see what’s been done, where, how, and by whom.  You’ll always find a new one on the Home Page every Sunday afternoon – just click on either the photo itself or the “Where in the Greenroof World?” hyperlink below to learn all about each unique greenroof or greenwall. Home Page on 020910
Happy Greening!
~ Linda V.