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Ecoroof Portland – Inspiring, Fun, & Free

March 5, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Multnomah County Building, Tremco Green Roof: Photo Courtesy Tremco

Known as “The Rose City” for its famous yearly Rose Festival and The Grand Floral Parade in early June, Portland Oregon could also be easily known as “The Eco City” or perhaps even “The Green City” because of their ongoing commitment to preserving their magnificent waterways and forests while promoting sustainable design and development through progressive urban policies and public outreach.   The last time we were there was for the 2nd Annual Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, Awards & Trade Show in 2004.   And we spent some time here in late 2003 when I was compiling info for my Sky Gardens ~ Travels in Landscape Architecture column on the area.    Such a beautiful city!

 The Portland Building Ecoroof, 2007: Photo Courtesy BES

On March 12-13, the lovely City of Portland will be sponsor and host to their annual free Ecoroof Portland.   What an amazing  city for supporting greenroofs – or ecoroofs, as they refer to them here.   Currently with about 200 projects within the city, ecoroofs cover about 10 acres, leading the U.S. in total area greened after Chicago.   And they were one of the first, if not the first, municipality in the nation to offer incentives.   As part of the Grey to Green Initiative, the City of Portland is offering an incentive of up to $5 per square foot for ecoroofs towards a target of 43 additional acres by 2013.   In the past year, the  Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) awarded the incentive to 50 projects for a total of over 4 acres.   Read more in Industry Support and the City’s Incentive Project Page for more information.  You can visit ecoroofs and other sustainable stormwater projects in Portland with these self-guided tours, and the City maintains an Ecoroof Blog, which is very informative, too!

Tom Liptan's Ecoroof Garage; Photo Courtesy Tom Liptan

The premier champion there of stormwater mitigation, and ecoroofs in particular, is Tom Liptan, ASLA.   I’ve known Tom for over 12 years, when I first contacted him about greenroofs back when I was a landscape architecture student at UGA a had “discovered” them myself.   Gracious, kind, and accommodating, he nurtured and fueled my passion for this earth-friendly sustainable technology.   And Tom has always put his money where his mouth is – he installed one of the first ecoroofs in Portland atop his garage in 1996.   The now famous Liptan Garage Greenroof served as early a demonstration project and testing grounds for a variety of factors – read more in the profile.

The Louisa; Photo Courtesy BES

Designed to inform a varied audience of professionals and homeowners, the lineup of speakers will educate and inspire you to consider a greenroof on your next project.   A Vendor Fair with over 60 professionals and organizations will be on-hand both days  to share their ecoroof experience, products, and services.   Featured speakers include Dr. David J. Sailor, Ed Snodgrass, and me!   Dr. Sailor is a full professor at the Mechanical and Materials Engineering faculty at Portland State University, Member Faculty of the Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center (Oregon BEST), and directs Portland State University’s Green Building Research Laboratory.   Ed Snodgrass is co-owner of Emory Knoll Farms/Green Roof Plants, a fifth generation farmer and nurseryman specializing in plants and horticultural consulting for greenroofs.   An accomplished speaker and writer (“Green Roof Plants: A Resource and Planting Guide“),  he’s also  our Plant Editor who writes his occasional column “Ask Ed”   – read my “From Llamas to Greenroofs: An Interview with Ed Snodgrass.”   See full profiles here and a complete list of all the speakers and Agenda here.

A flowering Ecoroof in Portland, OR; Photo BES

See Ed on Friday at 12:00 pm at the  Welcome and Keynote Address where Environmental Services Director Dean Marriott will welcome attendees and introduce  Ed as the Keynote Speaker.   His presentation will focus on the role of ecoroofs in sustainable cities.   On Saturday at noon, Commissioner Dan Saltzman will welcome attendees and introduce me – I will be presenting “Hot Trends in Greenroof Design,” a compilation of my favorite international projects from our Top 10 Lists from the past  with a look at some of the new, innovative, leading vanguard and projects for 2010.   On Saturday at 4:00 pm Ed will be part of  a panel where you can get some help getting started on your own ecoroof project – “The Ecoroof Doctors are IN,” along with Tom Liptan, David Elkin, and Alice Meyers from BES, and Patrick Carey of hadj design, a Green Roofs for Healthy Cities trainer, and our Architecture Editor.   Patrick writes an occasional architectural column entitled “A View from the Sky Trenches,” where he selects and discusses pertinent greenroof industry topics.

OHSU, a Xero Flor Green Roof, in May 2008; Photo Courtesy BES

Don’t miss Ecoroof Portland!   It  will run on Friday and Saturday, March 12 & 13, 2010  at  the Leftbank Annex, located at 101 N. Weidler St in downtown Portland.   It’s very close to the Rose Quarter – you can find directions by clicking  the following link.   Learn all about Ecoroof Portland 2010 at the City’s BES website.

Ecoroof Portland 2010

If you can attend, please stop by and say hello!   Happy greening,

~ Linda V.

GPW: Heinz 57 Center/Gimbels Building Restoration

February 27, 2010 at 12:51 am

heinz57-h

Formerly the Gimbel’s Department store, the Heinz 57 Center  in Pittsburgh, PA, is a wonderful example of  urban renewal.  Closed and neglected for about 14 years starting  in the late eighties, the  now restored building has been put to reuse not only in a sustainable, but beautiful  way.   In 1998 architects Burt Hill Kozar Rittlemann Associates (now Burt Hill) were brought on board to redesign the historical but ailing structure.

heinz57-lamagAlong with McKnight Development Partners, the architects incorporated a dramatic 50′ diameter octagonal atrium which runs from the roof down through seven floors.   Suddenly flooded with natural light, the Heinz Corporation was  enticed to occupy the top seven floors for their North American headquarters.   Yet curiously, environmental concerns were not driving factors for  the greenroof then; aesthetics, however, definitely were.

Although the building itself was  surrounded by  a spectacular city panorama featuring  a soaring cathedral  amidst an eclectic mixture of towering skyscrapers,  the views from the lovely floor-to-ceiling windows of the fourteenth-floor  penthouse suite  were less than exciting or acceptable: a hot black rubber roof under an equally unappealing  nine-foot-high  brick parapet wall greeted Heinz occupants.   So the architects decided a pleasing landscape atop the roof would do the trick.

The Heinz 57 Center; Photo Source: The Post-GazetteCompleted in the fall of 2001, the Heinz 57 Center was the first vegetated roof in downtown Pittsburgh,  where executives  enjoy sweeping meadow vistas wrapping their offices and blanketing the thirty-foot-wide terrace.   Four informal seating areas constructed with high-density recycled plastic lumber decking and concrete paving blocks provide informal gathering spots;  by all accounts the colorful corporate roof garden is a hit!

Last year I was interviewed by Carmen J. Lee who was writing for h – The Magazine of the Heinz Endowments, reporting how “Pittsburgh roofs are the new fertile turf for environ-mentally sustainable construction projects that aim to dig in and blossom” in her article “Top Soil” (pages 24-31).   The Heinz 57 building was, of course, one of the sites featured and you’ll see I was quoted  with more  of an inspirational bent rather than specific to the project.   Carmen also profiled the local environmental group, 3 Rivers Wet Weather, which is responsible for utilizing $525,000 in federal funding plus a $125,000 Heinz Endowments  grant to sponsor a 2005 project to create more greenroofs here.

Heinz 57 Center; Photo Courtesy of Roofscapes, Inc.

Photo Courtesy Roofscapes, Inc.

In a city with an over-burdened sewer system with frequent overflows, Pittsburgh officials and researchers cite the greenroof project often as a fine example of sustainable redevelopment.   Situated within a pedestrian-friendly mixed-use business district with shops, restaurants and businesses, the Heinz 57 Center is worker friendly as well as eco-friendly, providing their 800+ employees with a variety of alternate forms of transportation.   Although Heinz executives may not have initially specified the extensive greenroof for ecological reasons, they certainly appreciate the many noticeable environmental benefits, such as  the cooling respite from the city canyon and the reduction of stormwater runoff; it’s estimated that the roof retains 55% of  yearly rainfall.

Heinz 57Center; Photo Courtesy of Roofscapes, Inc.

Charlie Miller, P.E., and his company Roofscapes, Inc.  have been responsible for a large number of award-winning greenroof projects, including this one.   His private and public portfolio runs the gamut from municipal to corporate, institutional to retail, and even includes some single-family residences.    Charlie won the 2005 Green Roof Award of Excellence  with the Heinz 57 Center/Gimbels Building Restoration in the Extensive Industrial/Commercial category, and we featured  it in the 2009 Greenroofs of the World Calendar™ by Greenroofs.com for the month of March:Heinz 57 Center in June of 2007, as illustrated in The 2008 Greenroofs of the World Calendar  

Over 18,000 plants were selected by Roofscapes, who used their Type III: Savannah Roofmeadow ® system.   Landscape architect Steven L. Cantor researched this project in depth, and you can read  his extensive case study including complete plant lists on pages 139-142 in the excellent book  Green Roofs in Sustainable Landscape Design,” 2008, available for purchase on Amazon.com.

The Heinz 57 Center; Photo Courtesy of Roofscapes, Inc.Steven  relates how  the Heinz 57 Center plant selection encompassed “32 xeric species from nineteen plant genera, including six North American natives; approximately one-third of the plants are sedums, and the balance  is a range of herbs, meadow grasses, and meadow perennials that provide differences in plant height, texture, and bloom color.”

It’s hard to believe, but the roof is not irrigated and has flourished with minimal maintenance, which includes  twice yearly  weeding and an annual light application of fertilizer.

Pittsburgh has really come along way from its gritty  industrial Steel Town roots, emerging as a  leader in green building.   According to the Green Building Alliance, as of July, 2009 the City of Pittsburgh is home to 39 LEED-certified buildings, ranked eighth in the United States for overall number of projects.  meadowsheinz

About two dozen more eco-friendly  greenroofs are found within metro Pittsburgh; read the May 19, 2009 article  “More city buildings cultivate savings by covering roofs with plants” by Sally Kalson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to learn about additional living roofs in the area.

We only have  a handful  of those references listed, so remember to send us case studies of these other projects so we may share it with all of you in the greenroof community in The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.

Kudos to the designers, corporate leaders and all the stakeholders of this inspiring city-core  Heinz 57 Center  renovation  for their foresight –  environmental, aesthetic, or otherwise –  to successfully integrate a greenroof into the overall design for the benefit of the building’s occupants!

Heinz 57 Center, Courtesy of Roofscapes, Inc.

~ Linda V.

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 Greenroofs.com’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 Greenroofs.com.  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: projects@greenroofs.com.  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 Greenroofs.com 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.

Greenroofs.com Home Page on 020910
Happy Greening!
~ Linda V.