Boston GreenFest 2011 is Open!

August 18, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Boston GreenFest 2011 just opened at Boston City Hall at 5:00 pm!

Organized by Dr. Karen Weber and The Foundation for a Green Future, Inc., it’s the region’s largest environmental and multicultural festival.   Boston GreenFest celebrates the many ways we can create a better world by greening our lives and our communities.

Boston GreenFest 2011 HOURS:

Thursday, August 18: 5 pm – 9:30 pm:  Performers & Food –  Bill McKibben will be your EcoMC!
Friday, August 19: noon – 9:30 pm:  Exhibitors/Food/Vendors/Performers
Saturday, August 20: 11 am – 8 pm:  Exhibitors/Food/Vendors/Performers

The EcoParty continues every night at the  Hard Rock Café presented by Afrodesiacity!

The website says to stop by the EcoKids area for Radio Disney, TryOutToys and FIRST Lego Robots and that MassBike will run a Valet Bike Parking Service all day Friday & Saturday at the City Hall steps.


– Native American Drum Ceremony
– Green Fireworks and Light Show
– Transportation Tomorrow Today!
– Over 200 Exhibitors
– 200 Live Performances
– GreenSouleStage
– Great Escape with Alexanderia!
– EcoSalsa Fashion Show
– Jambalaya and Samba Dancers
– YMAA Kung Fu Demonstration
– NESA Gymnastic Presentation
– Tap Off with Boston Tap Company
– Green Entrepreneur Small Biz Forum
– EcoCafé, EcoGallery, EcoBazaar
– GreenFilmFest
– EcoFashion Pop-Up Shop
– One Gallon ChallengeTM
– EcoTimeTrail
– BPS EcoPhoto Contest
– EcoPoetry with Seitu
– Boston GreenFest Quilt
– Fun for Kids!

The Foundation for a Green Future, Inc. is dedicated to ensuring a green future for our planet and is proud to host this event.  We must teach, support and model sustainable ways to live for ourselves and our children. Green roofs are an important part of the solution.  This festival will go beyond our roofs.  It will get to the core of  GREEN SOLUTIONS for our  entire Boston Community.”

These are the EcoThemes for 2011:

Ң Green Roofs, Green CitiesӢ EcoDesign and Green BuildingsӢ Sustainable Business & InvestingӢ College ImpactӢ CommunicationsӢ Our Food & FarmsӢ WaterӢ EnergyӢ GreenTech,CleanTechӢ Our CommunityӢ Green HomesӢ Green LifestylesӢ TransportationӢ Walk & BikeӢ Health & WellnessӢ Healthy Minds & SpiritӢ Fitness & RecreationӢ EcoFashion & ShowsӢ International PerspectivesӢ Green PerspectivesӢ EcoKids

Speaking of “EcoThemes,” don’t miss one of our contributing editors, George Irwin – The Green Wall Editor –  of Green Living Technologies International (GLTi), who will be speaking about greenroofs and walls.  His lecture is part of an interactive hands on demonstration of an authentic  800 sf  greenroof installed on the Boston City Hall plaza as part of the weekend display.

The set up is part of an AIA lecture series by GLTi and they are offering AIA credit hours at no cost to attendees.  Visit the GLTi booth to learn all about vegetative roofs and living walls, and to pick up a free copy of‘s Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ 2011 Calendar (limited number)!

If you live in the Boston area, you’ll find lots of music, fun, and learning activities here for the whole family, and get to participate in a really clean and green  environment.  Visit  Boston GreenFest 2011 for more info.

~ Linda V.

Roofmeadow Creates Philly”™s First Bus Shelter Green Roof

July 4, 2011 at 1:40 pm

First of all, you probably know by now that Roofscapes has changed its name to Roofmeadow, right?  Headed up by president and founder Charlie Miller, P.E. – one of our favorite people, and one of my very earliest mentors – Roofmeadow has been one of the trailblazers in our industry starting in the 1990’s and has provided much inspiration to many of us.

They’ve started a new blog, and you’ve got to check out their post about “Philly’s First Bus Shelter Green Roof.”   We first alerted you about it from a series of articles posted in NewsLinks:  Philadelphia Unrolls A “˜Green’ Roof On A SEPTA Bus Shelter, Waiting for the rain: Green-topped bus stop a first in Philly, and Green roofs: That bus stop shelter is only the beginning.

As part of its Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters plan, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) has commissioned Roofmeadow to create a deployable prefab bus shelter green roof kit.  With much fanfare, the first small but highly visible 60 sf prototype was installed at a bus shelter across the street from City Hall on June 15, 2011.

In fact, Mayor Michael Nutter, middle, launched the installation of the series and the event was very well publicized and attended.

“The bus shelter project will benefit the city by increasing Philadelphians’ familiarity with a new type of city greening.” ~ Charlie Miller, P.E.

Charlie’s son, Ari, designed the installation so it could be replicated as a “kit” for other bus stop roofs in the city.  Roofmeadow also has committed to maintaining the roof for its first two years.  Now it will receive regular watering, but after the first growing season the greenroof will not need to be watered.

In the photos below, you see Roofmeadow’s crew of Ari and Lauren on June 14 preparing to remove the existing bus shelter’s polycarbon”‹ate top and below it, the final green result!

“Much like a scaled down version of Roofmeadow’s 1.2 acre green roof on the PECO building, the bus shelter green roof was constructed using pre-grown mats. The mats are made up of drought tolerant succulents (primarily Sedum species) and allow for an instant cover of vegetation. You may also notice flowering Dianthus (also known as Sweet William or Wild carnation) and Portulaca poking through at two of the four corners where the growing media increases to 6.00 inches.” ~ Roofmeadow Blog

Signage will direct people to the Philadelphia Water Department’s Office of Watersheds “Green Roof Bus Shelter”  website with more information about things residents can do.

“We basically see this project as an opportunity to inspire homeowners. A lot of the green roofs that are really fabulous and gorgeous are on high-rises – invisible to most. We thought it would be fun to bring it down to eye level.” ~ Project Coordinator  Tiffany Ledesma Groll, Office of Watersheds (via

Roofmeadow has also put up a Picasa web album that shows the entire installation process as well as the unveiling last month, see them here.  Watch a cool video about the installation below:

These Roofmeadow designed kits can be put up around city bus shelters by others, too. What a nice way to celebrate your city – Happy 4th of July, Philadelphia and everyone!

~ Linda V.

GPW: Ruthven Garage

June 10, 2011 at 12:30 am Project of the Week: 6/6/11
Ruthven Garage
Tacoma, WA, USA
441 sf. Greenroof

Year: 2010
Owner: Sandra and Jeff Ruthven
Location: Tacoma, WA, USA
Building Type: Single Family Residential
Type: Extensive
System: Custom
Size: 441 sq.ft.  
Slope: 45%
Access: Inaccessible, By Appointment

Project Description & Details

As a horticulture student at Oregon State University, in 2010 Jenny Ruthven wanted to design and install her own greenroof, and her parents’ garage seemed like the perfect spot. Family and friends joined in and additional structural support was added in ceiling joists, collar ties, ledgers, vertical braces between joists and rafters, and plywood next to the double doors for increased vertical stability.

Old shingles were removed and since the plywood underneath was still in good condition, they stapled felt paper on top to protect the 20′ x 30′ piece of EPDM waterproof membrane.  The 35 degree slope required soil stabilization in the form of pressure treated 2×4’s placed on end in a grid pattern to ensure minimal slumping of the soil.  A custom 3-4″ growing medium was used and they planted 432 plants – about 60 different species and varieties total including: 24 types of Sedums, bugleweed, heather, ice plant, wintercreeper euonymous, purple leafed heuchera, candytuft, Lithodora, Bee Balm, and Black-eyed Susan.  Soaker hoses cover irrigation needs.

Designers/Manufacturers of RecordGreenroof Designer & Project Manager: Jenny Ruthven
Designer: Brendan Fishback
Structural Help: Jill Sousa and Bob Drury
Construction: Brendan Fishback, Kevin Drost and Jerry Ruthven
Media Mixing: Jenny Ruthven, Megan Ruthven and Shiori Oki
Planting: Jill Sousa, Lisa Snyder, Jenny & Jerry Ruthven, Wynne Brown, Janice Mabin, and Brendan Fishback
Planting Design: Sandra Ruthven

Additional Info

Jenny’s parent’s garage wasn’t ugly beforehand, as you can appreciate below, but it wasn’t particularly interesting either –  let alone green in any way:

Before actually greenroofing it, Jenny Ruthven spent a lot of time online researching greenroofs, especially and how to install the membrane, edging and soil stabilization boards.  Her friend Brendan and she also attended the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Sciences two day ecoroof seminar series, to whom she credits much of their success.

Jenny also credits her  Grandpa Jerry Ruthven, above right, for his help and ideas, and to Jill Sousa and Bob Drury for structural suggestions.

After structural considerations were addressed, the team tackled the roof itself. After the 29-year old shingles and tar paper were torn off and new EPDM was installed, 1 x 6 cedar boards were placed on either end of the roof.  The membrane was wrapped up and over the boards, with metal flashing placed on top.  On the front and back Trex boards with L-brackets were used, screwed down through the membrane into rafters below every 2 ft.

Jenny decided to concoct her own growing media blend – it sounded a bit high on on the organic side to me, but she made a custom made blend consisting of about 52% inorganic and 48% organic.  The inorganic potion is all pumice, with a bit of perlite thrown in, and half of the organic component is cedar grove compost – the rest is coconut fiber, peat moss, mushroom compost, chicken compost, and steer compost.

Since Jenny’s mom, Sandra, is a plant person (she works at Portland Avenue Nursery), she handled the planting design and selection and decided to use 4″ pots and plant one per sf.  She even propagated about 75% of the plants herself in the months before.    As with everything else, on planting day the Ruthvens had a lot of help and planting!  This is what it looked like right afterwards:

And this is what the Ruthven Garage looks like now, in mid-May – the south-facing side (below top) is growing more abundantly in comparison to the north-facing slope (below bottom):

In retrospective, Mom Sandra says that she  figured that she’d really like her greenroof, but had never anticipated how much.

“Green roofs are amazing!  The plants grow so fast and I had so much fun propagating and designing the roof.  We have since done another green roof on my mom’s garage that we planted late March of this year.  And I want to do more in the future.  I’m always up on the ladder just looking to see how everything’s doing.  I’m definitely hooked on them.” ~ Sandra (Sass) Ruthven

In mid May, 2011 after about a year after from installation, Jenny told me:

“We’ve had really good survival with the plants.  Only lost a few mondo grass and some lithodora.” ~ Jenny Ruthven

She also says the total materials cost of the Ruthven Garage project was a mere $4.18/sf, and on a side note, during the roof’s first real rainfall of 2010 it rained .17 inches, and had a 91 % retention rate!

Jenny says she’s up for to questions or if you would like help with a project in the Portland or Tacoma area, contact her at:

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.