GLT in NYC: A Weekend of Training, Education, & Fun

January 21, 2011 at 7:10 pm

By Caroline Menetre

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

Hi all – Linda and I have just returned from Green Living Technologies‘ Professional Installer Certification Training in New York City this past weekend, January 15-17, 2011.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline MenetreWe were guests of George Irwin, Chairman / CEO Green Living Technologies LLC (GLT).  George is also known to most of you as the Green Wall Editor here at  George wanted  us to see firsthand how their green roof and green wall training can benefit underprivileged youth and under-served adults getting into or returning to the work force, providing practical hands-on experience resulting in green collar jobs.  And as designers ourselves as well, we really wanted to learn more, too.

Part of the GLT Institute, the training certification is backed by the future degree track diploma being developed by The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education for the new Hunts Point High School for Sustainable Community Initiatives in the Bronx, New York City.  This four-year high school degree track centers on green technologies including a base curriculum around the GLT technologies.  Supported by the New York Department of Education as part of a CTE (Career Technical Education) program, the GLT Training is the precursor to its core curriculum, and aligns with New York State and National Learning Standards.

This course was obviously also developed to meet the preliminary objectives for professionals to become a Certified GLT Installer, and provides the intellectual property and know how to receive more advanced hands-on supervision for their patented products.

So far, GLT has trained over 750 representatives around the world and in seven countries.  George says the certification course is unlike any other green roof or wall training available since it encompasses extensive knowledge about all aspects of green roofs and walls – waterproofing, urban agriculture, edible walls – and provides hands-on learning, continued support, and much more.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

The training was held at the Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School and led by George.  His dynamic personality and commitment to learning, developing, and teaching the latest technologies in the field are a direct testament to the success of his company.  Their recent project with Impacto Verde (their licensed South American manufacturer and distributor), is the Hotel InterContinental in Santiago, Chile, which boasts the world’s largest modular Green Living Wall at 17,000 sf (maybe the world’s largest overall? I’m not sure).

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

Green Job Training

The certification was attended by industry architects, landscape architects, designers, general contractors, landscape contractors and installers, educators from the U.S. and abroad, and also about 30 students, including several from Discovery High School in the Bronx, NY.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline MenetrePart Bronx activist and part youth advocate, these students are fortunate to have Steve Ritz of Discovery High School as their classroom teacher.  The Teacher/Administrator says, “Green is the new black!”  The older ones were the first student class to have graduated from this GLT course last year, and are now helping with the younger group.

Mr. Ritz’s enthusiasm for the program – and passion for teaching his students – is infectious, and it was inspiring to hear him speak on the opportunities and rewards of the program.  The success of his classes is what has has propelled the GLT program into the core degree track for the new Career Training School in the Bronx, to open later in 2011.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline MenetreWe learned that Steve met George on the set of Good Morning America last June when GLT products were featured along with Steve’s outstanding students.  Their innovative public-private partnership started when George later taught a 40-minute class at Discovery High School.

This led to a GLT-funded scholarship program that took the students from the Bronx to Boston for formal training with GLT affiliate Cityscapes, Inc.  Following their graduation from this intensive training, they returned to the Bronx extremely excited!  After receiving their certifications from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., the students and faculty had the opportunity to meet New York Mayor Michael  Bloomberg and celebrity chef Rachel Ray, who praised their work and commitment.  The best part is that while the students are growing fresh organic vegetables they had grown from seeds in their classroom using GLT walls (and taking them home), they’re actually getting paid real living wages as installers while learning practical job skills outside  a traditional classroom setting.

Hands-on and More Hands-on

Friday centered on greenroofs and their different systems and options, and the highlight was the mock installation of the GLT modular panel greenroof system.  All the young people (and anyone else who wanted to participate) formed groups of five and collaborated to ensure safety, preparation of the job site, good communication skills, and quality control while installing the green roof materials.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

On Saturday we covered a lot more material on greenwalls, and then received more hands-on work.  We placed the proprietary growing medium (GLT bioSoil) into several stainless steel greenwall units, and then planted them with a variety of vegetable seeds including different types of lettuce, radishes, carrots and chives.  This edible greenwall will be placed in Steve Ritz’s classroom in the Bronx as part of their urban crops learning – they not only cook their freshly grown vegetables for the school cafeteria on special events, they also sell their harvest at the local farmer’s market and then reap the profits, too.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

Steve incorporates GLT’s philosophy of “zero miles” – from farm to table with indoor and outdoor edible walls for growing fresh fruits and vegetables in urban environments.  The new GLT Mobile Edible Wall ® (MEW) Urban Food Production Units (pictured at left) and commercial A frames are designed to advance urban food production and edible wall technology, and work great in schools because they are on wheels and can be rolled from classroom to classroom as needed.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

But the day’s highlight was the actual hands-on installation for the greenwall at the school where attended the class – the Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School.  Everyone gathered around as George took us through the installation process, step by step.  The students eagerly participated and took turns wearing safety goggles, measuring, using a level, pre-drilling, drilling  and installing the modules.  The easy drip irrigation that is part of the modular system had been discussed previously, but here it wasn’t necessary because this greenwall will be hand watered from the top, with excess water falling into the catch basin at the base.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

These GLT greenwall units were donated by GLT and pre-grown at Parker Nursery and have a selection of gorgeous tropical plants.  A total of six units were installed to create this living tapestry, and the end result was fantastic.  What a great sight to see when you come through the school lobby!

On Monday, we heard from Tom Walsh, GRP, of Parker Nursery and Parker Urban Greenscapes, licensed GLT distributor, who spoke to us about many important items to consider about design and maintenance – from water needs to plant health, he covered variables such as irrigation, plant selection, light, temperatures, and a rigorous maintenance schedule.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

Great People

We met such great people from all over, who all share the same passion in this exciting field.  Here Linda and I are proud to be pictured with some new friends – all great professional, inspiring, talented women in their own right.  Below we are from left to right: Lynn Torgerson, Liz Holloway, Caroline, Linda, and Naomi Person at Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School:

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

Some extra-curricular activities of the conference weekend included some excellent New York food (of course) at nearby restaurants, and a great evening out after class on Sunday at a neighborhood jazz-supper club with George and friends.  We saw the fantastic KJ Denhert and her band at Smoke, below.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

It was great to meet Mike Bucci and Angela DiPrima-Bucci, too, the talents of G-Space, a Philadelphia architecture and design/build firm.  Perhaps you have seen their spectacular PNC Bank greenwall in our 2011 Greenroofs & Walls of the World Calendar™ – featured this month for January.  They shared stories about the trials and tribulations of erecting the 10-story high green wall in Pittsburgh – the largest in North America at the time in 2009, at 2,380 sf:

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre
Also we enjoyed the visiting after hours with Chris Wark, Energy Editor at, and his lovely wife, Wendy.  On Saturday, Linda and I enjoyed drinks and hors d’oeuvres with them in their beautiful Manhattan home and then out to dinner afterwards.  Below is the incredible view from our gracious hosts’ apartment.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

They even took us up on their rooftop for equally spectacular views of the city, below.  There’s nothing better than having New Yorkers show you around their city, and hearing all their great stories about the area – things you could never know as being just the occasional tourist to the city.  It was such a treat to meet them!

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

Our flight was soon after our final half-day class on Monday, but Linda and I crammed in a quick trip to the NBC Experience Store to see that much talked-about green wall that Steve Ritz’s students had installed last November (visit NBC’s Green is Universal website for more information).  It was beautiful, and I’m glad that we had just enough time to see it before heading out to the airport.  (I rather liked that greenwalls took precedence over shopping in NYC.)

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

See this fantastic YouTube video from NBC – it’s all about corporate and personal passion and commitments, showing Steve Ritz’s for his students, George Irwin’s for this private-public relationship, and NBC’s overall belief that Green is Universal!  You can see the students (many of whom who were in our class) installing the NBC Experience Store greenwall, too.

 GLT NYC Weekend of Training Education Fun Caroline Menetre

All in all, it was a wonderful learning experience – really invaluable information that I feel very fortunate to have been a part of, and I’d like to personally thank George for that.  Also, we’d also like to thank Steve Ritz and his wife Lizette (great lady!) and the students for their hard work in making everything run smoothly (and feeding us).  Great City, Great People, Great Training Event!

And finally, I’d like to express my gratitude to Linda and Aramis – not only for the opportunities and experiences I’ve had because of them – but also for their friendship.  I first interned with a couple of years ago during my career change, and since then have continued to work with them occasionally as a marketing and design contributor, and also working with Linda on several local projects.

I’ve learned so much from their dedication to sharing everything there is to know about the industry through their invaluable website, and through them, I’ve also met the best people in the industry, and acquired some great new friends along the way.  So thanks, guys!

~ Caroline as one of the “Top 50 Green Construction Blogs”

January 10, 2011 at 11:20 pm

I’m pleased to say that has been included in the‘s “Top 50 Green Construction Blogs.”   I never thought of us as a construction blog per se, but we’ll take it!

A website serving educational purposes, Chase Gugenheim created in 2010:

“My mission for creating the website came when I was searching for the right school to get my degree in construction management. After spending time on numerous websites and researching what programs was the right fit, I decided to make a site that had all the information in one place.   After compiling loads of research, I was able to organize and confine this data to a complete list of schools that offer a degree in construction management, along with a link to basic information about the program. Hopefully this site will allow future students to have an easy and broad list of schools when choosing the right campus.” ~ Chase Gugenheim

Which takes me back…kinda sounds like me back in 1999 when we started from my University of Georgia independent research paper “Greenroof Technology: A Viable Roofing  System and Appropriate Tool for Addressing Urgent Ecological Development Issues.”   That’s when our website was also simply serving educational purposes, and looked like this (our format changed in 2003 to an online media and marketing company focus):

When we changed formats, the paper became “Greenroofs 101” which was meant to be a living research document:

So in any case, Chase says that all things green – especially sustainable design – have been in the spotlight for a long time now, and the construction industry is no exception.   With this blog post, he has celebrated this spirit of innovation by highlighting the top 50 green construction blogs “Written by everyone from government officials to individuals building their own dream green home, they have loads to offer on tips, planning, what to expect, LEED certification, and much more.”

He’s compiled a pretty formidable list of green online resources that you should keep handy.   Their Top 50 List includes six categories:

Top Green Architecture Blogs (a favorite of ours, Inhabitat, is #1);   Top Green Home Construction Blogs (another favorite,JetsonGreen, is # 13); Top Local Green Construction Blogs; Top Green Construction Blogs by an Individual; Top Green Construction Blogs by a Group; and Top Specialty Green Construction Blogs – where we fall in along with fave’s, and   Here’s what says about us:

Top Specialty Green Construction Blogs: These green construction blogs deal with a specific aspect of it.

47. Greenroofs
Stop here for a virtual resource portal to green roofing. In addition to a project of the week, there are also related videos to watch. There are also options for students and job seekers.

Of course, we’re more than that, but it’s a great start and we’re in some pretty nice company!

Construction management is really one area where we greenroof and greenwall professionals certainly would  welcome a professional with green credentials on board our design team, don’t you agree?   Kudos and thanks to  Chase and his academic and perhaps future entrepreneurial start up!   We wish you and your website the best in this brand new year.

~ Happy Greening,

Linda V.


The Roots of Washington DC”™s Green Roof Boom

October 27, 2010 at 11:59 pm

By Dave Hilary

Roofs are turning green all around the Washington DC area.   Every year since 2005, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC), a network of public and private organizations promoting the green roof industry, has performed ranked cities by total square footage of new green roof installations for their corporate members.   And every year, Washington DC has been on the list.   In 2006 DC had 301,751 square feet of green roofs, and by 2009 it was approaching two million square feet of green roofs.   What’s behind this dramatic rise?  
GRHC points out that municipalities appearing near the top of the list, as Washington DC does in all but 2007, usually have governments that encourage green roofs through policies and programs.   Those governmental efforts are also closely tied to improving water quality.

According to a report by the Casey Trees Endowment Fund and Limno-Tech, Inc.,  DC has to vastly better manage its sewer outflows since the Anacostia, Potomac and Rock Creek Rivers currently do not meet federal water quality standards.   (Publisher’s Note: On a related note, see our 2006  Guest Feature by Gregory Long, RLA.) By an account in the Washington Post, just half-an-inch of rain washes billions of gallons of raw sewage and runoff directly into the Anacostia, mostly because of an outdated storm water system.   The fix on the drawing boards is three underground storm water storage tunnels with an estimated cost of $1.9 billion when the project was first dreamed up, but now closer to $2 billion as the city continues trying to put the funds together.

And while the media coverage for commercial and government green roof projects is robust, the residential scene appears to be a sleeping giant.   A thesis  by Harriet Zipp and Britt Zimmerman found that just by installing green roofs on DC’s many traditional, flat roof, row houses the area could reduce its storm water flows by more than 12 percent.

But water quality improvement is not the only environmental issue DC is trying to address with its green roof build out.  The area lost 64 percent of its heavy tree cover between 1970 and 2000, according to an American Forests, Urban Ecosystems Analysis.   Trees and plant life help to keep the urban environment cooler and also help to clean the air, something that could go a long way toward lowering the city’s high asthma rates.   The Children’s Environmental Health Network and the DC Department of Health, put the area’s asthma rates at 6.5 percent for children and 5 percent for adults in 2004.

The federal government with its large real estate footprint in DC has been keen on green roofs from all perspectives since a series of environmentally-focused executive orders.   From the early beginnings by the United States Department of Agriculture in 2006 on its  1,200 square foot  departmental administration building greenroof  (plus a brand new 3,700 square foot one on their Whitten Building, below), to the Department of Transportation’s 2007 building sporting a 68,000 square foot green roof, the federal government has been setting the example.

Responsible for the natural and indoor environments in the District of Columbia, the The District Department of the Environment (DDOE)  is #2 in the USA for area of green roofs (1 million square feet of installed green roofs).   In 2008 DC’s mayor called for the city to come up with its own green roof demonstration project before the end of the year.   In response, the Reeves Center now supports a 4,000 square-foot green roof and One Judiciary Square has an 8,000 square-foot green roof.

Private organizations and corporations are also heavily investing in green roofs in DC.   Recently, the World Wildlife Fund replaced a decrepit 24-year-old roof with a green roof that is claimed to be the third largest in the city.   The organization received a $7 per-square-foot grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to fund a portion of the project.   And the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) retofitted their headquarters with a green roof in 2006.

Parking lots offer their fair share of runoff to the overburdened storm water system but in at least one case the parking lot has been replaced by a building with not only a green roof, but one that retains all the storm water from the site.   The Walter E. Washington Convention Center collects and uses that storm water to irrigate the green roof and its street level plantings.

In addition to government and private sector clients, DC is also home to a growing number of community organizations that work to educate citizens about the benefits of going green.   Chief among these in the green roof field is DC Greenworks, a non-profit that works with city residents and builders to promote sustainable building and urban agriculture.   DC Greenworks also helps job seekers train for and connect with green jobs around the area.     You can also check out some of their featured projects here.

So what is it about the Washington area that makes it such a haven for green roofs and other sustainable design projects?   The most important factors seem to be a committed local green building community on the supply side, and a critical environmental need (in this case the Anacostia River runoff water crisis) combined with a healthy dose of government incentives to help stimulate the demand side.   The federal government is certainly a major player on some projects, but by no means the only game in town.

Dave Hilary is a Washington DC-based green roof enthusiast who maintains Green Roof Plan, an informational resource on green roof design, construction and maintenance.  


Green Roof Construction-Structural Considerations

October 7, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Structural Support of the Green Roof

Excerpts from  Green Roof Construction and Maintenance,  by Kelly Luckett, 2009, published by McGraw-Hill’s GreenSource Books

Hi Green Roof Fans,

As one of the contributing editors here on – you may know me as “The Green Roof Guy” – I’m starting a series of excerpts from my book Green Roof Construction and Maintenance:

Rooftop Garden – Public Access
Having determined that the rooftop garden will be the place for people to gather and having provided access, one must ensure that the roof structure has the necessary structural capacity to support rooftop activity. Building codes may vary, so it is important to determine the local requirement for live loads and dead loads, and to understand how the green roof being built relates to weight requirement. The entire green roof assembly, including plants and the water required to saturate the growth media, is considered part of the dead load of the structure. Water in excess of that which saturates the growth media, snow and people visiting the green roof are all considered part of the live load of the structure. One must formulate a preliminary idea of what type of plants are desired and the proper growth media depth required to support them.

Saturated weight data should be available from the manufacturers of the intended green roof components. Typical rooftop gardens incorporate varying growth media depths and planters to support various plant choices. This will require calculations of the point loading of these various plant choices. Evaluating loading requirements and upgrading the structure to support  the green roof is easiest and most economical in the design phase of the construction of the building. Evaluating the structural capacity and making upgrades to an existing structure is significantly more difficult and more expensive. Many retrofit green roof plans die at this stage due to inadequate structural capacity and the prohibitive cost of upgrades. While there are some creative strategies of employing irrigation systems to reduce growth media depths in order to reduce dead loading, live load requirements could mean abandoning public accessibility to the rooftop garden and opting to design a simpler, extensive roof.

Green roof – No public access
When the green roof will not be a public gathering space, the live load structural requirements for the green roof are less complicated. Once the load requirements of the local building code have been determined, one must calculate the saturated weight of the green roof system to determine if structural upgrades will be necessary. Again, this is going to require some idea of the type of plants intended to grow on the green roof and the growth media depth required to support them. Typically the entire green roof will have a uniform dead load based on the saturated weight of the green roof assembly, though one may considering positioning planters or mounded growth media over structural support members to incorporate some strategically located deeper growth media for larger showcase plants. The plant palette is significantly expanded by increasing the growth media depth. As increased depth results in increased weight, there are often trade offs that balance structural cost with plant selection. Once the dead load of the green roof has been determined, a new structure can be designed with the required capacity. For an existing structure, one must begin by determining the structural capacity and design within those parameters. Irrigation systems have been successfully used to reduce growth media depth, and thus weight of the green roof system, for projects that would have otherwise required costly structural upgrades. For example, the green roof on the Ford Rouge Dearborn Truck Plant thrives in less than 3 inches of growth media and is sustained during periods of drought by the strategic use of supplemental irrigation.

Make sure to read my column, and to learn more about my company,  visit my website at:  or send me an email to:

Kelly Luckett, A/K/A The Green Roof Guy