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GPW: YVR Canada Line Station 4 Living Wall

March 26, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Last week’s  Greenwall Project of the Week (GPW) was the beautiful YVR Canada Line Station 4 Living Wall, located at the Vancouver International (YVR)  Airport’s SkyTrain station.   The first Canadian airport to install a greenwall, international visitors to this beautiful city are greeted by the living tapestry, just one of the sustainable initiatives and ecological solutions for the airport.   Since YVR is situated within the estuary of the Fraser River on Sea Island, a large conservation project was created here to offset the environmental impact the airport causes, including a wildlife preserve and public beaches.

Inaugurated  early in August 2009, months in advance of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic  and Winter Paralympics, the $1.9 billion (CAD)  Canada Line is a rail-based rapid transit line linking central Richmond, Canada, the Vancouver International Airport and downtown Vancouver, B.C.    The Canada Line terminus at YVR-Airport Station is linked by a bridge to an award-winning $125-million (CAD), five-story steel and glass structure known as the Link.   Connecting to both the international and domestic terminals, the Link’s  signature  oval structure provides a unique visual connection to the land, sea and sky that surround the airport.  

Designed to eliminate visual interference, the  YVR Canada Line Station 4 station sits  60 feet high straddling a road.   Both the YVR Station and the Link were designed by Kasian Architecture with Read Jones Christoffersen as structural engineers,  and  Sharp Diamond Landscape Architecture was brought in to design the massive green wall and other features.

One of the largest living walls in North America (the largest at the time in 2009), it measures 17.0m high and 11.6m wide (about 55.8 feet x 38  feet), and houses a total of 27,391 individual plants!   Landscape architect Randy Sharp used a modular system by G-Sky, a B.C. based company, for this living wall that encompasses  2,107 stainless steel  panels.    His design concept stresses the connection of the vegetated wall  to the rapid transit station to the ground.

Randy was also  involved with the Landscape Master Plan for the Vancouver International Airport and its unique ecological environment.   He says his overall vision for the Grant McConachie Way corridor, which leads into YVR,  was to serve as a natural gateway linking Vancouver to B.C., Canada, and the world beyond.   Drawing upon the estuary thematics of Sea Island, he desired the landscape experience  to feature a four-season effect in a bold design that would grow and evolve over time.   Highlights include major tree and shrub planting to enhance view corridors, other landscape designs for various Canada Line Stations, the ongoing development of a multi-use trail system for Sea Island, and a gateway feature signage program.

“Green facades and living walls provide an exciting fresh canvas for landscape architects and designers to be creative.     These vertical landscapes provide as yet unexplored opportunities for biodiversity, greywater treatment, urban agriculture and energy performance, not to mention the creation of green collar jobs.” ~ Randy Sharp

But the stunning greenwall isn’t the only green  element here – two  greenroofs, one extensive and the second intensive – are also featured.   First Nations art inside and outside the terminal grace the property, too, and enhance the sense of place.

Randy has designed and installed another  of metro Vancouver’s most significant living walls, the  Aquaquest, the Marilyn Blusson Learning Centre, Vancouver Aquarium  – the first modular living wall in North America, as well as many greenroofs, too.   In fact, he and his company have received multiple awards in design excellence for both greenroofs and walls.

There’s been a lot of public commentary (and pride) about the green design of  YVR Canada Line Station 4’s living wall, particularly in the blogosphere.   While not everyone appreciates the environmental benefits of greenwalls, everyone loves the aesthetics.   Responding to a blog post last summer in Price Tags, John Wilson retorted:

“This specific green wall sends a message to everyone visiting Vancouver (and Canada). That message is that we’re a progressive cosmopolitan city that cares about the world and the environment, and we’re open to using new methods and technologies because we’re also big on innovation. We’re a player in the world. Interesting things are happening here.”

Vancouver, B.C., is indeed a progressive,  green city that’s always included  at the top of the world’s most livable cities.   The Vancouver Airport Authority also maintains a Public Observation Area here where people of all ages can see take-offs and landings and learn about the area’s unique ecology and history, too, with all sorts of hands-on activities.   See a video about it here.

Next time you’re at YVR, check out their new green wall  at Canada Line Station 4.   According to locals, the best views are from the parkade bridge connecting the International Terminal at Departures level 3, or from Chester Johnson Park, International Terminal Arrivals level 2.

~ Linda V.

Earth Hour 2010

March 25, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Where will you be at Earth Hour 2010?   When is that, you say?   Easy:   Always the last Saturday in March or this Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 8:30 p.m. local, wherever.

What is that?   Earth Hour is  a movement sponsored by the international conservation organization WWF to bring attention to energy waste and global warming.   Since its inception three years ago, Earth Hour’s non-partisan approach has captured the world’s imagination and became a global phenomenon.   Nearly one billion people turned out for Earth Hour 2009 – involving 4,100 cities in 87 countries on seven continents.  

Aramis and  I  here at Greenroofs.com have been observing Earth Hour since 2008 when we had a lovely dinner and played cards by candlelight.   We also blacked out a portion of our Home Page to commemorate the event.   We’ve now gotten our grown kids and their friends to join in!

So why don’t you  sign up, spread the word, and switch off your lights, too!   You’ll be in good company:   So far 30 U.S. States, Washington D.C. and 150 other municipalities are officially supporting Earth Hour.   In fact, 3,100 cities in 121 countries on all seven continents are confirmed to turn off their lights on Saturday, March 27, 2010  at 8:30 p.m. local time.

Is Earth Hour the answer to our rampant energy consumption and dependency on oil?   No, of course not.    The website states:

“On Earth Hour hundreds of millions of people around the world will come together to call for action on climate change by doing something quite simple””turning off their lights for one hour. The movement symbolizes that by working together, each of us can make a positive impact in this fight, protecting our future and that of future generations.”

At best it  serves as a call to action and commitment to cleaner air, evolving into a more enlightened society, finding alternative ways to power our planet.   At least it can serve us to becoming  more aware of our actions, one hour at a time.

Happy Earth Hour 2010! ~ Linda and Aramis V.

Day 2 of Ecoroof Portland, a Win-Win for All!

March 24, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Before the second day of Ecoroof Portland‘s Vendor Fair and program sessions, Tom Liptan co-led an ecoroof tour starting at 8:30 a.m.   Along with Jason King of TERRA.fluxus, on March 13 the group was comfortably and efficiently  transported by ecoShuttle around northeast Portland to see a variety of roofs, below.

The five sites visited on Saturday morning  were the Metro Regional Headquarters Ecoroof and Yakuza Restaurant (above),  K-4 Condominiums (left), and the O’Brien  and Omey residences (below).

I’m sorry to say we just couldn’t make ourselves get up early enough to join in!   But our trusty friends Casey Cunningham at the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services and Jason shared these photos with us (I hope to add/update these profiles soon to The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database) – by the way, Jason King is a very talented landscape architect here and has been involved with many ecoroof projects, including the Multnomah County Multnomah Building, top photo above.

After the 10:30 Intro to Portland Ecoroof session, Commissioner Dan Saltzman welcomed everyone and spoke about the City’s vision for a sustainable future and some of their ongoing projects.   Then I was introduced as the keynote speaker, sharing my presentation “Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design.”   A  compilation of my favorites from the past three years  of Haven Kiers, our Design Editor, and my Top 10 List of Hot Design Trends in Greenroof Design,  I also  added  some outstanding projects that will make our Top 10 for 2010 (under construction), including this one below, the  $90 million Oregon Sustainability Center, designed by Portland firms SERA Architects and GBD Architects:

 

Saturday’s first afternoon session was all about case studies – small and large, public and private.   Kevin Falkerson, AIA,  and Kerrie Lee Cole, GRP,  of SYMBIOS  shared their experience of design-based solutions with the Salmon Creek School  living roof, from  concept through construction and follow-up.   The LEED  Platinum Sonoma County, California environmental center has many eco-friendly features, offering  the students of this K-8 grade school numerous opportunities for place-based learning – about the ecology of the natural site and the  greenroof itself.

The semi-intensive roof sports a diverse palette of non-native and native sedums and succulents, accented with beautiful detail plantings including boulders and rocks.   See a photo gallery here.

 

Next up was the energetic Walt Quade, a general contractor with Cully Construction Co. (and Green Home Oregon), who built his own energy-conscious, partially underground  home with a custom-designed 1,490 sf greenroof in north Portland.   He also started from research to conception through several design options, before deciding on the one that would best suit his family’s needs and desires.   Walt not only described the construction process step-by-step, he also provided insights on lessons learned.   His message was clear:   ecoroofs do not need to be a high cost item if you are knowledgeable about products, and they are not that difficult to execute – but you do need to know your limitations and hire professionals when necessary.   See his photo gallery here.

Karl Schultz from the Port of Portland followed with the new  sustainable headquarters facility  for the Port of Portland at PDX, Portland International Airport.   Situated in front of the terminal  which is  connected to the parking garage, the 10-floor LEED Gold-designed facility has extensive daylighting, high performance glazing, radiant heating and cooling ceiling, reflective membrane, and a Living Machine – an organic wastewater treatment system that treats wastewater onsite to be used in the building for non-potable uses.

The structure also features an intensive built in place greenroof on the 8th floor  and  the larger 10,000 sf  LiveRoof modular greenroof on top of the 9th floor on the north side  installed for rainwater treatment   – both incorporate “adaptive plant Micromist irrigation.”

The final session was the very interesting, informal, and lively  “The Ecoroof Doctors are IN” panel with Tom Liptan, Ed Snodgrass, Patrick Carey, Dave Elkin,  and Alice Meyers from the  BES Ecoroof Incentive Program.   They offered advice and fielded many questions from architects, homeowners, and designers about a ton of  subjects – from which are the best plants to benefits of modular vs. built in place systems to construction details.

Earlier this year, March was declared “Ecoroof Portland” month by Mayor Adams, and the learning and fun didn’t stop with Ecoroof Portland 2010 –  here are  a few  more opportunities to learn what they’re all about from sponsors the Portland Audubon Society, Urban Greenspaces Institute, and the City of Portland (check for space availability):

South Waterfront Ecoroof Tour, March 27th
Green Roofs and Living Walls for Wildlife, March 30th – with one of our perennial favorites, Brit Dusty Gedge of Livingroofs.org  
Downtown Ecoroof Tour, March 31st

We left Portland with a greater understanding of how City employees, from the  Mayor to City Commissioners to everyone at BES, view their work.   I felt  that the employee buy-in for  eco-friendly stormwater management  options for a cleaner and greener Portland is just amazing!   It was evident from everyone we met how much they loved their jobs and how strongly they felt that ecoroofs were a real solution.   They really impressed me with their friendliness, professionalism, and dedication – thanks for inviting me!

Oregon is a land of widely different people, places, and ecosystems, and the beautiful City of Roses is always a pleasure to visit.   The City of Portland serves as a shining example to the rest of the U.S. on how municipal government can really work effectively for and with their people to promote healthy,  sustainable development.   Ecoroof Portland is a win-win event for everyone here – the citizens, the City employees, and as a result from all the support and financial incentives, the local environment as well.   Stay in touch by visiting the City’s BES website.

~ Linda V.

Monbiot on current biodiversity issues

March 24, 2010 at 6:21 am

If you dare to read this essay by George Monbiot, be forewarned that you will be updated on current biodiversity issues via samurai-sharp intellect. Stunning on all counts.

http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2010/03/15/the-naming-of-things/

~ Christine