Spectacular Eco-Palazzo Park in Costa Rica

August 19, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Plans were recently approved for the vegetation-clad Palazzo Park Hotel & Residences, the first luxury beachfront hotel and condominium resort in Costa Rica to be built with the latest green building techniques, including the country’s largest greenroof at 40,000 square feet.

Designing the luxury development in Manuel Antonio, one of the world’s premier eco tourism destinations, is Arqueco Ltda., an environmentally-aware Costa Rican architectural and engineering firm.   Incorporating LEED-certified materials, construction plans include building techniques and technologies aimed at creating a human habitat with negative carbon footprint.   A key component of Palazzo Park is Costa Rica’s first large-scale  living roof, proposed by project developer KC Development Group.

The project team announced its alliance with the Eco Preservation Society, Palazzo Park Eco Action, to renew and preserve land adjacent to Manuel Antonio Park.   More than 500 acres of land at Playa El Rey adjoins  the Park, which will expand the habitat for the endangered, but peaceful and playful, Mono Titi squirrel monkey.

What’s very cool is that a portion of each sale at Palazzo Park will fund the Eco Action Program!

“Palazzo Park has made a truly revolutionary commitment to habitat restoration with the Palazzo Park Eco Action Program. We are unaware of any similar programs associated with a major resort and residence developments anywhere in the world. This program integrates our efforts to save endangered species with guests and residents who will be continuously connected to the researchers, conservationists and other like-minded individuals.  It’s truly a groundbreaking effort.” ~ Kevin Peterson, Eco Preservation Society

An open-air common area with vistas of the rainforest and the sea, Palazzo Park’s greenroof will provide over 40,000 square feet of native vegetation designed specifically as habitat for indigenous species.

“Each unit will sponsor a portion of land and oversee its reforestation and preservation. It is a great opportunity for owners to get involved in a way that they can actually see things happening for a great cause for years to come.” ~ Carlton Solle, The Costa Rica Real Estate Company and Coldwell Banker

Fabled Costa Rican hospitality, cool ocean breezes, lush plantings, spectacular views, and helping to preserve native forests and monkeys  – now that’s guilt-free living!

For more info, see the Press Release and visit http://www.palazzopark.com/, www.ecopreservationsociety.org, www.kcdevelopmentgrp.com and www.arqueco.co.cr.

Pura Vida!   ~ Linda V.

Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square Podium Green Roof Opens!

June 30, 2010 at 3:33 pm

The City of Toronto has many great greening initiatives going for it, including their groundbreaking Green Roof Bylaw put into effect in May of 2009.  In fact, they were one of the first municipalities in North America – if not the first – to install a test/research greenroof in 2000:  The Toronto City Hall Green Roof Demonstration Project.

Now obsolete/defunct, we’ve kept the original profile up in The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database for research and archive purposes (but it’s not included in the total project or sf/m2 numbers).

Why is it obsolete?  In 2009 the City of Toronto started the much larger Nathan Phillips Square Podium Green Roof, which encompasses the public square surrounding Toronto City Hall.  Completed in late May, the grand opening of the brand new 36,500 sf Nathan Phillips Square Podium Green Roof was held on May 29 and May 30, 2010 to coincide with Doors Open Toronto 2010, the yearly architectural open house of interesting and important buildings across the city.

Kees Govers of LiveRoof Ontario Inc. supplied the modular LiveRoof system, and shares some photos of the opening day celebration of the Nathan Phillips Square Podium Green Roof “in all its glory” from May 29:

Kees says that Greenroof Designer/Contractor Terry McGlade of Flynn Canada Ltd, Gardens in the Sky, considers this the best greenroof his company has ever installed!

“I must say that this project is by far the most outstanding that our company has done to date- both from a beauty perspective and an end use.  And because we were the general contractor and the green roof installer we were able to have input on the quality of workmanship.” ~ Terry McGlade

From all accounts, similar sentiments were felt from the David Miller, Mayor of Toronto, Joe Pantalone, the Deputy Mayor, and their staff.  Green Roofs for Healthy Cities‘ Steven Peck was also on hand, seen below left with Kees in the middle and Terry McGlade, right:

“This project was more than 12 years in the making.  It’s not everyday a city gets a new park in the downtown.” ~ Steven Peck

According to the City of Toronto tally, 22,000 people visited the Nathan Phillips Square Podium Green Roof during Doors Open Toronto this year. Aramis and I saw it under construction from our hotel room in late October of last year, when we attended the CitiesAlive! World Green Roof Congress, photo left from my blog post.

Read the in-depth coverage in the Daily Commercial News’ “Building Toronto city hall green roof posed host of challenges” by Saul Chernos of June 25, 2010; Globe and Mail’s “An oasis at the top of City Hall” by Lisa Rochon of May 31, 2010, and see more photos and learn more about this lovely municipal living roofspace in The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database here.

Patrick Biller, Green Roof Maintenance & Installation with Flynn Canada, Gardens in the Sky, sent us the following two recent photos of the Nathan Phillips Square Podium Green Roof (when he was working on the project):

If you have any updated info and/or photos, please send them!

Happy Greening,

~ Linda V.


A Historic Day in Atlanta: the First Greenroof Wedding!

May 31, 2010 at 9:46 am

On Saturday, May 22, 2010 we believe history was made in downtown ATL when Bill Brigham and Beate Allio took their wedding vows.   A traditional affair  with silk and lace, ribbons, flowers, and lovely music, this was still no ordinary wedding ceremony ~ we’ve all heard about going down to City Hall to get hitched, but our bride and groom were married in front of about 50 family and friends high above the city street on the Atlanta City Hall Pilot Greenroof!

We’re sure it was the first wedding on the Atlanta City Hall Greenroof, and believe it was the first on an ATL  living roof, maybe the southeast or even the   U.S. – if you know better, please let us know and we’ll blog about it, too.   But until then, Bill and Beate will claim the title.

I’ve known Bill Brigham, ASLA, Principal Landscape Architect/Project Manager, Bureau of Watershed Protection, Department of Watershed Management, City of Atlanta since 2001 when I was involved in the initial planning sessions for the greenroof on the Atlanta City Hall, back when then Environmental Manager Ben Taube and team were considering the old Atlanta City Hall East…   Bill eventually designed the greenroof on the new City Hall at 55 Trinity Avenue, and we’ve attended many meetings and conferences together, were on the Atlanta Local Host Committee for last year’s Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, plus we filmed him here last October (see Rooftop Hopping in Metro Atlanta, photo below), and anyone who knows Bill is immediately impressed by his extreme good nature and sense of humor (landscape architecture skills not withstanding!).Bill getting ready for his interview with Landon!Due to weight and space limitations, the guest list was very selective, so  Aramis and I  felt honored to have been included in the couple’s special day.   A second marriage for both, it was very touching to see the blended family together.   Bill’s son, Roland, was the Best Man, and Beate’s daughter, Nicole, was the Maid of Honor.   The bride’s two sons, Chris and Devon, were Groomsmen and both the Mother of the Bride, Mrs. Renate Freter, and the Mother of the Groom, Mrs. Charlotte Larsen, were part of the wedding party.

Scott Lubar was the Officiant uniting the couple, and we all enjoyed Bill Grabbe, the pianist, and Carol Smart, the soloist with their  delightful music and voice.

The colorful,  intimate setting was perfect for a man so instrumental in the design, ongoing research and maintenance of the greenroof, and fitting for a woman who was introduced to the future groom  by Lucy Smethurst, a conservationist, plantswoman, artist,  and neighbor of Saul Nurseries‘ “Swamp” location.   Bobby Saul donated all the plants for the project in 2001 along with the greenroof growing media from Ernie Higgins of ItSaul Natural – Mr. Natural  (both in attendance),  and Bobby had afterwards  introduced Bill to  Lucy, and then Lucy introduced the bride and groom!   So you could say  greenroofs and kismet played a part in the couple’s future.

“Plant love.   Leave no waste.”

That could have been the motto of the wedding.   The invitation was printed on 100% post consumer waste, on seeded, plantable paper – all we have to do now is plant the invitation in a sunny corner and  keep it moist, and we’ll have a mini wildflower field to remind us of the balmy late spring day.

And wait, it gets better!   Instead of throwing rice or bird seed during the recessional  -Bill  had said, “Heaven forbid!”   The couple opted for a safer alternative, both  environmentally conscious  and beneficial:

“We  will be using the green rice look-a-like”¦ sedum leaflets  stripped from the sedum species  already being used up on the existing roof.   (Another one of my crazy ideas.)   This way it keeps any “invasive” plant species from destroying the roof and will instead act as a “re-seed” to the existing roof’s sedums.” ~ Bill Brigham  

Regeneration at its best with pretty sedum packets  after the expression of vows, exchange of rings and announcement of marriage!   The reception followed at Lucy Smethurst’s estate, which is  nestled in a beautiful natural wooded area with  naturalistic plantings, trails and artist gallery.

Thanks to Bruce Morton of Exposure Media Photo  for sharing his photos with Greenroofs.com (which are available for purchase).  

Congratulations to  Bill and Beate and the new Brigham-Allio  family!   Perhaps  this will be just  the first of many more greenroof weddings to come  at Atlanta City Hall.

~ Linda V.


The Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm Project

May 25, 2010 at 2:53 pm

What an awesome concept the Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm project is!  I first heard about this late last year but then about a week ago colleagues Bill Foley and Wendy Wark alerted me again, and so now I finally took action this afternoon by donating $50 to the cause.  Not a lot of money, but enough to show Greenroofs.com‘s support for an extremely worthwhile undertaking.

As we all know in this green industry of ours, underutilized rooftop space is one of the greatest real estate potentials for greenroof implementation.  In this age of trying to come together as a community, organic farming, and healthy food plus security issues, what better way to help mitigate the developmental woes of a building’s footprint that planting crops at rooftop level?  And (hopefully) make a profit?

That’s exactly what Brooklyn Grange is doing for their own community – they’re in the process of starting a rooftop farm with a team of five partners and a whole bunch of friends, and the organizer, Ben Flanner, says it’s “A big project that requires a lot of hard work to say the least, and one that sets an example for using under-utilized rooftop space across this dense city to do something productive.  There are many benefits to the city and community from such an operation.”  Most certainly, and we can all help by donating even just $1 – by this Friday, May 28, 2010 – but $10 gets a bee named after you!  Actually, for all donations of $10 or more, they will list you as a donor on their website and name one of their honeybees after you.

They’ve setup a campaign on an interesting new website called kickstarter, which is designed to help raise funds for enterprising people to start new projects – such as this one.  Kickstarter has a unique platform where you set your goal at the onset of the campaign, and then you need to hit that goal from online pledges to receive funding, otherwise all of your pledges are simply returned to the pledgers.  People can click on your project and pledge any amount during the course of the campaign.

So what is the project really all about?  Their page on kickstarter  says:

“Brooklyn Grange will be a 1 acre rooftop farm situated in New York City. Such a commercially-viable rooftop farm has yet to be realized in this country. We will use simple greenroof infrastructure to install over 1 million pounds of soil on the roof of an industrial building on which we will grow vegetables nine months of the year. Being in the country’s largest city, the farm will create a new system of providing local communities with access to fresh, seasonal produce. We plan to expand quickly in the first few years, covering multiple acres of New York City’s unused rooftops with vegetables. The business has many environmental and community benefits, and allows our city dwelling customers to know their farmer, learn where their food comes from, and become involved.”

Ironically, as it turns out, Brooklyn Grange’s first project isn’t in Brooklyn but on a 40,000 square foot, 6-story industrial rooftop in Queens!  And the group is very happy to have the good fortune  of this company’s backing, too, and they’ll be selling their produce in both boroughs as well, including tomatoes, eggplants, chilies, and various leafy greens.  The farm will be run by Ben Flanner, who started and ran a proof of concept rooftop farm in the summer of 2009.  The beyond-organic produce will be sold directly to the community at an onsite stand, affording shoppers a direct relationship with the farm and farmers.  Additional produce will be sold to a small group of market-driven local restaurants.  He explains the business philosophy:

“We are a for-profit business. We believe in adding fiscal sustainability to the sustainability rubric so that urban rooftop farms can expand across the city, the Northeast and even the world! Any profits we make will go towards paying our farmer a living wage and whatever remains will be reinvested in the business so we can keep growing.” ~ Ben Flanner

In what stage is the project now?  In a newsletter today, May 25, 2010, Ben shares that “At this moment, we’ve installed about two-thirds of the rooftop soil, and we have about 110 sacks (~300,000 lbs) to lift yet with the crane, continuing tomorrow morning early.”

Brooklyn Grange needed to hit their goal of $20,000 by Friday, May 28, to get some important funds for the farm through kickstarter, and I’m pleased to report they have!  As of right now, supporters and fans have pledged $20,740.50, but please consider contributing more to their entrepreneurial greening efforts.  To pledge now, visit here, and they’d love it if you would also help spread the word!  Read “High Above Queens, the Dirt Is Deep, and Good” by Diane Cardwell  in the New York Times of May 13, 2010, see their profile on kickstarter.

For more info, visit  Brooklyn Grange’s own website or contact Ben at: ben.flanner@gmail.com or 608.215.0218.

Happy veggie rooftop greening! ~ Linda V.