Support “Treeson: The bottle that can save the planet!” at Kickstarter and Change an Industry

February 26, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Back in 2010 I was introduced to Carlton Solle, an eco-friendly real estate developer and entrepreneur who was beginning work on Palazzo Park – a 40,000 sf greenroofed eco-luxury beachfront hotel and condominium resort with land preservation in Costa Rica.


Our Design Editor Haven Kiers and I highlighted this awesome project in our 2010 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design in the #5 category: The Greening of Latin America.  Although it is currently on hold, we loved the graphics so much that we have used them for our Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summits!  Thanks again, Carlton, for sharing them.


Kickstarter Campaign

After living over 10 years in Costa Rica, Carlton Solle recently moved back to San Francisco to pursue his vision for a wonderful-sounding product called Treeson Spring Water, “The eco-friendly, toxin-free, trash eliminating, clean energy making, tree planting, best tasting, purest natural spring water ever.”

They created a Kickstarter campaign recently which runs through March 15, 2014, and they need everyone’s assistance in getting the word out and contribting – no matter how small – to get to their goal and be able to start production.


Non-petroleum based, and in fact, plant-based, the bottles are compostable and biodegradable and will not only be removed from the plastic recycling stream, they will be returned in the mail using their own packaging – at no additional cost to you – to be used to make clean power that Treeson will then use to make more bottles for their pristine spring water!


The vision of a “cradle to cradle” product with a complete lifecycle:

“By offering a truly sustainable alternative to established brands at no additional expense, we might inspire the whole industry to move to fully sustainable practices.” ~ Carlton Solle

Watch their short video below:

The Quick Version

Treeson Spring Water was created to offer a sustainable alternative to the plastic water bottles that are sold by the billions every year only to end up in landfills. Our mission is to change the bottled water industry from the inside, to lead by example and inspire the established brands to move to sustainable solutions.

  • Less than 30% of plastic bottles get recycled in the USA

  • At Treeson, we take our bottles back when you’re done

  • You mail the empties to us for free via any USPS mailbox

  • We use the returned bottles to generate clean energy

  • We plant a tree for every bottle we sell

  • Our bottles are made with 100% plant-based non-gmo materials

  • It’s clean, it’s green, we need you on our team! 

What about using refillable containers instead of packaged water?  Here’s what Carlton says:

“If you happen to live in an area with great drinking water, please continue using your canteen. More power to you! We are simply trying to create a more sustainable alternative to the plastic bottles that are already being sold by the billions.”

Visit the Treeson page on Kickstarter to read more about this potentially amazing project that, if funded, will make a huge positive impact on the environment and could even change an industry!


One super cool feature is that you will be able see a picture of the tree you helped plant along with its GPS coordinates and get even updates so you can watch it grow – all on your mobile phone.

~ Linda V.

“Vertical Garden City, Singapore” by Tan Puay Yok

November 27, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I received my copy of Dr. Puay Yok Tan’s new book Vertical Garden City, Singapore, 2013 a couple of weeks ago, and Wow, it is awesome!


Although clearly focused on the beautiful tropical island nation of Singapore, 192 pages of gorgeous color photos of skyrise gardens beautifully illustrate vertical and horizontal examples of greening from across the world.

“Singapore is a modern, cosmopolitan city that is claiming its place as a global city of the world. This has emerged amidst dramatic transformation of its landscapes since its founding at the start of the 19th century. This is only possible through a deliberate approach of actively reinstating greenery to replace natural spaces that have been inadvertently lost during urbanisation.

The emphasis on urban greening as a cornerstone of Singapore’s urban development approach continues today. One key strategy it has adopted is to green up its vertical spaces as the new frontier of urban greening. In little more than a decade since the idea of skyrise greening was actively promoted in the city, numerous skyrise greenery installations now dot the city’s landscapes. Several are striking architectural marvels, while others help to silently blend the buildings with its environment. How did the groundswell occur? What were the policy considerations and instruments used to promote the concept to the building industry? What more can and should be done?

Vertical garden city, Singapore describes the skyrise greening movement and efforts in Singapore, and profiles selected projects in the city that exemplify innovation, creativity and the boldness to try new ideas. This book also explores how an ecological perspective can help to derive more functions from skyrise greenery. It is a valuable resource to those who want to know more about Singapore’s efforts in greening its vertical spaces.” ~ Urban Redevelopment Authority

With forewords by one my own favorite green architects, Emilio Ambasz and Dr. Tan Wee Kiat of the amazing Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, Puay Yok acknowledges many early influences including Ian McHarg along with former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew who in 1963 lead the first tree planting day in his nation and started the Garden City movement.

“Mr. Lee Kuan Yew started a rapid urban greening programme and an urban planning approach in which greenery received equal, if not more, emphasis than the expansion of buildings and infrastructure.” ~ Tan Puay Yok

Five decades later, Singapore truly is a tropical City in a Garden.

I’m pleased to say that Puay Yok asked me to contribute to his book, along with Dr. Manfred Köhler and Steven Peck.  I wrote “Worldwide Trends in Greenroof and Green Wall Implementation,” where I spoke about the Top 10 general categories of trends that we here at have been observing over the past decade or so.  Thanks, Puay Yok, for this honor!

Topics include typologies of skyrise greenery, research and development, key policies, and prospects for the future, which Puay Yok says “The Way Forward is Up.”




A large selection of Singapore’s thriving installations and signature sky gardens can found including: The Skypark at Marina Bay Integrated Resorts, School of Art, Design and Media, Solaris, Universal Studios Singapore, Marina Barrage, T3 Changi Airport, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, School of the Arts, The Pinnacle@Duxton, Reflections at Keppel Bay, Sky Gardens House, Gardens by the Bay, and many more. (Not surprisingly, over the years we have highlighted all of these in Haven Kiers and my Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design!)




School of the Arts

Available for purchase, you can either pick one up at the Urban Redevelopment Authority in Singapore, or through the mail – find out more here.

Thoughtfully presented and flawlessly published, Vertical Garden City, Singapore is not only a stunning coffee table book, its presentation of Singapore’s legacy of building green infrastructure and urban biodiversity conservation makes it an essential addition to your living architecture library!  Wouldn’t it be great if all governments could follow suit?

~ Linda V.

From “Green roofs may be a source of pollution” to “Pollution accumulated in green roof soils could contaminate water” to “Do Green Roofs Do more Harm than Good?” to “Green roofs may be a mixed blessing”

November 18, 2013 at 10:47 pm

It’s true that new content really is hard to find on the web today – most of it is regurgitated, and in this case, regurgitated violently…

You know how I felt regarding the title of “Green roofs may be a source of pollution” for a recent article in Planet Earth Online from my November 14 post “Green roofs may be a source of pollution” – Over Simplification of a Study Misunderstood or Grievous Offense?

Today I heard back from the Media & Public Engagement Manager of Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), who publishes Planet Earth Online, and after review they changed the title from “Green roofs may be a source of pollution” to: “Pollution accumulated in green roof soils could contaminate water” and some of Dr. Andrew Speak’s comments were amended as well.


While initially I did not add my own comments to the online article, but chose to contact the editors directly, today I did.  You can see them here along with the others.  While I appreciate NERC’s consideration and find the new article title better, it still only tells half of the story.  Here is my second post and point at issue that I shared at Planet Earth Online but hasn’t yet been approved:

“Perhaps a more accurate (but less newsworthy) read would be “Just like at grade, pollution accumulated in green roof soils could contaminate water.

The bottom line is that soils found anywhere can accumulate and bind pollution, and under the right conditions leach them. First we have to stop the sources of the pollution, and then see how to ameliorate the accumulations – at grade and rooftop level. But greenroof soils pose no greater threat to humankind than those found elsewhere, and in fact, greenroofs do capture and cleanse other types of pollution + manage stormwater + reduce the urban heat island effect + offer flora and fauna habitat + offer the potential for food production + relate to biophilia and horticultural therapy, plus, plus, plus.” ~ Linda Velazquez

Although less inflammatory, the new title still sounds like greenroofs per se could be potentially hazardous.

Have you read the latest regurgitated piece online with the moronic title “Do Green Roofs Do more Harm than Good?” from  I should have left the term “Grievous Offense” for this one!


Of course, it references the same Dr. Andrew Speak (lead author) study published in the journal Environmental Pollution, but I’m assuming that its author picked up on it from either Planet Earth Online of November 11, 2013 or companion site’s of of November 12, 2013 (which didn’t change its title):  Even after referring to Dr. Speak’s study of 40+ year-old greenroofs and the fact that modern greenroofs would not contain such large amounts of the toxic metal found, it still states:

“The paper nonetheless points to green roofs being a quid pro quo for the environment as a whole, with a reduction in air pollution achieved at the expense of the quality of water runoff.  The team has offered a number of recommendations for preventing green roofs from compromising water quality in urban settings.” ~ Sourceable

This new article even had the audacity to include a photo from – from Dr. Speak’s September, 2013 Guest Feature Article “Green Roofs and Air Pollution in the UK” but clearly its author didn’t stop to read it.

And just posted late this evening on Green Building Press is “Green roofs may be a mixed blessing” – at least its title offers a mixed bag of potential – but it comes regurgitated directly via Sourceable, too:


After referring to some of greenroofs’ virtues, here’s one of their choice observations:

“A new study by a team of scientists in the UK, however, claims green roofs may simply be passing the pollution buck from one environmental sphere to another.” ~ Green Building Press

If the pollutants are bound on the vegetated roofs, then the scientific reasoning could actually be correct, but again, this could pertain to any receiving body located anywhere.  Our implementation of the living architecture of greenroofs should not be at issue here – man’s creation of pollution should be.  More study of the long term effects of pollutants in soils is definitely needed, and media outlets need to examine their contributor’s research and writing skills, too.  Look up “extrapolation” and “taken out of context,” for example.

(Maybe it’s true that you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet…)

Greenroofs compromising water quality in urban settings?  Do greenroofs do more harm than good?

Just you see – next it will be “Night of the Living Roof” or “Attack of the Killer Greenroofs!”


~ Linda V.

A Successful Nanjing World Green Roof Congress 2013 — a New Landmark of China’s Greening Industry

November 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm

By Annie Xu
Photos Courtesy of the International Rooftop Landscaping Association (IRLA)


The 2013 Nanjing World Green Roof Congress was successfully held in the Purple Palace from September 15th to the 17th.


The event was sponsored by the China Association of Building Energy Efficiency, Nanjing Municipal People’s Government, China Green Building Council of Chinese Society for Urban Studies, Department of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of Jiangsu Province, World Green Infrastructure Network and the International Rooftop Landscaping Association (IRLA).


The group pictures above are of the smog in Beijing this past June.  We can see clearly there are 18 days of haze in merely a month, which brought Beijing to the top 10 cities with the worst air quality in China.  In fact, it’s not only Beijing that is in this situation, but many other cities in China are suffering from this severe pollution as well.  As the air quality and environmental pollution are getting worse and worse, the Chinese government has also realized that it’s time we should do our best to restore fresh air, clear water and vigorous nature, which contributed to the theme of the Nanjing Congress: vertical greening dispelling haze, conservation culture beautifying cities and towns.

During the congress, we visited several outstanding greening projects in Nanjing, all of which expouse advanced ideas and technologies.  For example, all buildings in the Zidong International Creative Park, the cooperator of the congress, have attained the standard of national green building, and all of the buildings have green roofs.


“Phoenix Valley” boasts mobile remote controlling for all of its rooftops offering precise irrigation solutions.



A little different from Phoenix Valley, here you can see “Hexi New Ecocity,” with the idea and realization of the new ecocity as green architecture and smart city, along with vertical greening.

Tree Cube

Among all the projects, the most creative one should be the “Tree Cube” in Changzhou, because the buildings have made micro circulation and zero garbage discharge come true.




These projects are just typical representatives of green architecture in China.  Through this Congress, Chinese designers and people who are enthusiastic in greening can exchange ideas with experts all over the world, and also learn experience from them, thus enabling more people to construct more green projects like these.

With this goal, and to facilitate the communication among designers from different countries, the award ceremony of the Green Award International Landscape Planning Competition* was held simultaneously with the 2013 Nanjing World Green Roof Congress.  Academician Zhaozhen Meng, left below, attended the ceremony as award presenter.


The 2013 Nanjing Congress, with over a thousand attendees, greatly inspired students, manufacturers and designers as well.


Above you can see the Award Ceremony of the highly successful Green Award International Landscape Planning Competition, with IRLA Vice Chairman Wang Xianmin, left middle, and Zhaozhen Meng, right middle.


The Sino-Singapore Green Land Property Forum, Sino-Japan Hanging Garden Forum and forums about new materials and technologies pointed out bright ways for relevant Chinese workers in our industry.  After the three-day congress, many attendees told the council they felt fruitful and willing to learn more about how to practice the theories.  They also expressed their anticipation of the 2014 Qingdao World Green Roof Conference.


With all these magnificent achievements from the 2013 Nanjing Congress this time, we believe that in the future, more classic projects will spring up, and our greening industry will prosper in every corner of the world.

We invite you to participate in the 2014 Qingdao World Green Roof Conference!

~ Annie Xu

*Publisher’s Note: Read more about the Green Award International Landscape Planning Competition at my blog post of July, 30, 2013, “Contributions Wanted for Green Award – an International Landscape Planning Competition & Photo Contest: Nanjing World Green Roof Congress 2013.”

Annie Xu works in the International Department of the International Rooftop Landscaping Association (IRLA). Contact Annie at:

Web:; Tel:+86 10 67115339
Address: Building 4, No. 9 Yuan, Institution of Construction, Sanlihe Road, Haidian District, 100037, Beijing, PRC