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Post-Safari reflections

September 30, 2008 at 4:59 pm

So much for blogging while on the road! Two weeks have passed since Green Roof Safari ended, and I’m only getting caught up now. That said, after the Safari ended, I got swept up by the World Green Roof Congress, and then by a week in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Grosses Walsertal. Apologies, as I digress (but must admit they are nice memories!!).

This blog posting is meant to share some reflections of the Safari. Since I’m only skimming the 6 day study tour, please don’t hesitate to send me your questions, either as a comment (at the bottom of this posting), or via email.

Hundertwasser Waldspirale

T-Mobile in Stuttgart

A wetland roof at Gemperle AG.

For its first run, Green Roof Safari visited between 4 and 6 sites a day, with a range of project designs which included Hundertwasser, intensive public spaces, extensive Sedum ‘deserts’ and ecologically designed roof habitats. For integrative, holistic projects, we visited two sustainable communities –Scharnhauser Park (near Stuttgart) and the Vauban District of Freiburg. Both are former military barracks remodeled for efficiency and mixed-use.

The tour met with a number of local experts representing policy and municipal campaigning, green roof design, research, and installation. The tour is indebted to the generosity of Stephan Brenneisen (Zurich University of Applied Sciences), John Doeveling (City Stuttgart), Christian Lang (Top Gruen), Christian Mathys (City of Basel), as well as our colleagues at Gemperle AG. Thanks also to Hotel Contel and Hotel Abalon for entertaining our curiosties.

We had great weather the whole trip, right up until the last day. And then, my, did the weather turn BAD! The downpour was torrential, and relentless. Nonetheless, we visited some unbelievable living facade projects in Zurich-Oerlikon. Doesn’t Brent’s red umbrella add a nice touch to MFO Park?

Brent is miniaturized in this grandiose park of living facades.

The night spent in the Alps, on the Rigi at 1,500 m above sea level, was literally in the clouds, so we didn’t get much of a view. Not of the Alps across Lake Lucerne, and hardly even of the little green roof bar on the terrace. Still, we knew that through the haze was the representing ‘green roof above 1000 m’. The photo below was taken in early August.

There is not a date for Green Roof Safari 2009 yet, but stay tuned to the website. Please don’t hesitate with questions or inquiries, and I’d love to hear any comments below.


~ Christine

Green Living News…Walls, Roofs and More

September 30, 2008 at 4:27 pm

Hi, I’m George Irwin, a contributing editor here on Greenroofs.com – The Green Wall Editor. I write the occassional Green Walls Column, and as promised I will convert and dedicate most of my personal blog thoughts from a prior blog site to Sky Gardens…..One thing I do not care about when Im writing is the grammar or spelling mistakes I make when Im spilling my thoughts, so if you’re reading this blog and want to comment on my mistakes….too bad:)

I think free writing is important not to be interrupted by the conscious thought of making mistakes, it takes away the creativity of transferring the thoughts to writing. The same holds true with new research and products introduced to the market. Dont be afraid to make mistakes, take chances and like Nike “Just do it”. You will make mistakes…..So there is the inspiration for my first post.

The second part of the post is our Green Living Technologies Green Living Newsletter, not associated with Greenroofs.com but I thought you might be interested in my personal business, too. This month we have some very cool changes…yes change is good…for both our green roof and green wall systems. We are also charging the way into Central America, Honduras to be exact. Im hoping to bring you into my thoughts and also provide a combination of education, stimulated thinking and comments…..as always I make myself available for contact via email at the greenwalleditor@greenroofs.com.


Green Living TM Technologies and THE GREEN LIVING NEWS
Current September Issue:

I want to welcome the new subscribers to our newsletter! Lots to talk about this month! Our dedication is to improving our products making sure they are both affordable and functional. This month we are proud to release our Roof Tray system that was designed to retain stormwater.

New Product Launch: Green LivingTM Roof Tray

Rochester NY…. Green Living TM Technologies announces the release of its advanced patent pending Green Living TM Roof Tray with water retention. The heavy gauge aluminum soon to be zinc Green Living TM Roof Tray was developed as a simplified way to install a basic green roof. The original Green Living TM Roof Modular System requires a higher level of installation skills and green roof know how. The Roof Tray has a price point similar to the cost of the original modular system but the installation labor cost is half. It’s easier to transport and can be pre-vegetated or filled and planted on the roof. “This is a great product for clients who have the ability to lift and place the trays on almost any flat or minimally sloped roof without hiring a green roof contractor.” The Green Living TM Roof Tray comes complete with a hydro-blanket that also acts as a filter. The system was designed for stormwater retention. The trays measure 20″ x 24″ (3.5 square feet) and come in standard 4″, 6″, 8″ and 12″ depths. The 4″ depth can retain up to 4.35 gallons of stormwater and still provide unlimited drainage through the large .25 drain holes within the sides of the tray. Just like the Green Living TM Roof Modular System once the tray reaches saturation the stormwater flows to the roof and into the designated drains. With embossed feet, to allow the tray to sit off the roof for air and water flow and built in handles for easy transport and carrying, two people can install a complete 1000 square foot roof in less than a day! Even fully saturated, we still maintain 15 +/- pounds per square foot.


Change is Good! for the Green Living TM Wall

With all good companies product improvement and development is a high priority. After additional R&D we have made some key changes to the Green Living TM Wall. Before we announce the changes let us make note the corner panel is now part of the standard Green LivingTM Wall System. The first change is the safety hem on the outer edges of the wall panel structure. Second is the two part assembly that led to removing any torque. The result is a green wall panel that is easier and safer to handle. With our patented cell technology we still retain the unlimited drainage and root migration within the panels themselves and unlike plastic components the Green Living TM Wall will not warp or crack with the expansion and contraction of heat and cold. Also now available in standard increments of 6 inches and custom manufacturing, powder coating and laser engraving are always available.


Green Living TM Wall Featured on Dream Home w/ Lisa Quinn on October 4th, 2008

Green LivingTM Technologies and the Green Living TM Wall was featured in one of the San Francisco area’s Dream Home episode. Join us as we work with Lisa Quinn, co-host Alexandrea Schardt and GLT’s George Irwin on how easy it is to dress up an otherwise drab wall by planting and installing a 2 – panel Green LivingTM Wall system with manual irrigation.


Green Living TM Technologies in Honduras



Green Living TM Technologies Breaks ground with Angela Stassano of Techos Verdes and her partner Lazarus & Lazarus in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. October 13th we will be in Honduras with Angela to establish the installation of the Green LivingTM Systems. In addition the location will also serve as a continuing education and eventually a growing facility. Congratulations to Techos Verdes and Lazarus & Lazarus. I will have more pictures and in depth coverage for our next newsletter!


Green Living TM Technologies reps and installer Michael and Angela Bucci, G-Space Philadelphia, showcase the Green Living Wall

Green Living TM Technologies’ Philadelphia-based and authorized representative / installer G-Space (Not to be confused with another “G” company) displays one of their latest Green LivingTM Wall projects on the exterior of the refurbished Vorhees Coliseum, home of the Arena Football League’s Philadelphia Soul. Great job to Michael and Angela Bucci and the entire G-Space staff!

I can  be reached via email also at George@agreenroof.com. If you like our Green Living TM Technologies and THE GREEN LIVING NEWS newsletter and want to receive it directly, register for email updates.

That’s it for now, look for my next Green Walls Column soon!

George Irwin, The Green Wall Editor on Greenroofs.com and President and CEO of Green Living Technologies, LLC (GLT).

“Up on the Roof” with People Magazine – a numbers game

September 28, 2008 at 2:57 pm

Check out the September 29, 2008 issue of People Magazine, and turn to the next to the last page.  “Up on the Roof” are Troy Wagner and his wife Julie – center stage on the mostly graphic two-page spread, talking about  their 110-year old home in Tacoma, Washington.    Back  at the beginning of the year  Troy had shared his experience with us about building his two greenroofs  using a  rather unique method.   Based on traditional Scandinavian turf homes, one has a  12/12 pitch planted with sod, and he actually has a resident goat who provides a unique but sustainable form of maintenance from time to time!

The second  greenroof is  over his lesser pitched garage, which he actually mows.   On one side the couple  tends to vegetables while the other is a flower garden.   Troy told me that after having owned a roofing company for 15 years and looking at 20,000 roofs he felt it was time to set an ecological example, so in 2004 they built their living roofs.   Check out the  “Troy’s Green Roof”  profile in The Greenroof Projects Database. People also has photos of the Roofscapes’ Life Expression Wellness Center,  the California Academy of Sciences, and a private residence in Sunol, California.

Known for their spectacular coverage of celebrities as well as plain old regular folk, I was surprised when one of the  People article’s authors, Maureen Harrington, called me back in July to pick my  brain about “the phenomenon of greenroofs in the U.S.”  – I guess greenroofs really  are becoming mainstream!   She was looking for facts, and Ed Snodgrass of Green Roof Plants, who was interviewed,  referred Maureen to me.

Everyone wants hard statistics (I also recently fielded some from Bloomberg News and  Newsweek), and  we get  requests  from tons of  freelance writers all over the world – the UK, Chile, France, Poland…you name it.   The point is  our industry is still accumulating these figures since research and projects, at least in North America, are relatively new.   I say relatively because although we can been studying and building modern-day living roofs here since the 1990’s, the Germans have  figures from many types  of testing and  trials from the 1970’s.   The websites of both Green Roofs for Healthy Cities  (GRHC) and  us here at Greenroofs.com have been up since 1999 and in terms of facts, each  has a lot of specific data: GRHC in their Tree of Knowledge page and from  Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference proceedings (available for purchase if you didn’t get to each one), and  Greenroofs.com in FAQ’s, ResearchLinks, Industry Support, and The Greenroof Projects Database.

But getting back to the People article, I  suggested ranges rather than hard facts  for costs and energy savings because each greenroof project is unique, something we have all been harping on for years.   And in terms of numbers of projects, I gave my best guesstimate of “more than 500” based on what we do have listed in The Greenroof Projects Database, profiles waiting to be entered, plus approximate numbers for under represented U.S. cities, including the more traditional sod homes found across the northern states.   And they only wanted figures for residential projects, so that number includes not only Single-Family but also Multi-Family and Multi-Use profiles.

That’s why it’s so important to keep compiling case studies from across the globe to show  the world  that  greenroofs are viable, demand and  construction are thriving, and the market is here to stay.   Everyone wants to know where they are, what type they are, who designed them, how big they are, etc., and of course everyone wants to see photos, too!   The Greenroof Projects Database is meant to be a free international resource, so we encourage you to continue submitting profiles with as much information as you feel comfortable sharing, and we always send readers back to the original source for follow up.

Getting back to the article, Ed has a couple of quotes and referring to the added capital investment of greenroofs, he simply says:

“It’s like getting a Prius or solar panels…It costs more upfront but there are long-term savings.”

In addition to the obvious ecologocal, economic, and aesthetic benefits, we all know that greenroofs offer habitat for displaced birds, butterflies and other wildlife.   I don’t know that goats up on a roof  are the wave of the future, but I do believe that eco-friendly architecture is.   In today’s environmentally  conscious climate, eco-trends are here to stay and as these trends become the norm and turn mainstream, we’ll see costs driven down and then the vegetated roofing market will really take off.

And who knows, maybe in a few years’ time alongside perusing the Best & Worst Dressed People issue we’ll be also reading about the Best Sustainable Design  Trends in People –  perhaps even an article  behind the greening of the White House?   Now there’s a people story!

The World Green Roof Congress ’08: Innovation, Research & Friends

September 13, 2008 at 7:24 pm

My husband (and business partner) Aramis and I were lucky  to sidestep  our film  scheduling issue and we are very pleased to be able to go to The World Green Roof Congress in stately London this upcoming Wednesday and Thursday, September 17-18!   Presented by CIRIA in partnership with Livingroofs.org, this Congress promises to offer us greenroof aficionados an interesting mix of the latest in innovation and research progress  in the UK and around the world in addition to a great working vacation.  

In 2005 we attended the  Congress in Basel, Switzerland, where I presented my paper “An International Call for The Greenroof Projects Database.”   We enjoyed a wonderful conference spending time with many old colleagues and friends; from the jokes of the late Dr. Dave Beattie  and Dr. Rob Berghage to the wonderful hospitality of Dr. Stephan Brenneisen and staff to Trish and Kelly Luckett (our travel buddies from all the Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities conferences and the International Green Roof Congress in Nuertingen, Germany  back in 2004), we learned a lot and had a grand time.   And we fully expect the same with hosts the likes of Dusty Gedge, co founder of Livingroofs.org,  and company.

                                                           Christine and her advisors, Dave Beattie & Rob Berghage in Basel, Switzerland, 2005

I’ve known Dusty now for  six years, and for those of you unfortunate ones not to have met him (yet – he’s always making new friends), he’s quite a character – in a good way, of course!   I know everything is relative, but he has quite a thick accent, and when he gets really excited he speeds up, making it a real challenge to catch everything he’s saying.   In fact, Dusty recently told Aramis, “I am practising talking slowly!”

 Examing a bee high atop Canary Wharf; Photo by LSV      Canary Wharf Underground Station in 2003; Photo by LSV

We first started corresponding in 2002, when  he was the lead for the Black Redstart Action Plan for the London Biodiversity Partnership, and this was the topic of his first  2003 Guest Feature  article for Greenroofs.com.   In October, 2003 Dusty took me on a personal greenroof tour  of projects in Deptford Creek in the Thames corridor within inner London, and across several roofs within Canary Wharf, a huge and hugely successful urban regeneration development, and his enthusiasm and knowledge –  not to mention his energy, was intensive!   In November, 2004 he contributed “Livingroofs.org ~ A New Independent Green Roof Organisation for the UK” and through  all his hard  work he has become one of the leading campaigners in the UK on greenroofs.   His commitment to promoting living roofs is genuine and wholehearted and is only comparable to his passion for sustaining and mitigating biodiversity in the built environment by incorporating living architecture.

Back to the Congress – the Keynote address will be given by Richard Blakeway, adviser to the Mayor of London on environment issues; who else will be in attendance?   Many local UK and international professionals will be speaking, and including Dusty, to name but a few are: Dr. Nigel Dunnett, University of Sheffield, UK;  Dr. Ken Yeang, Llewelyn Davies Yeang, UK; Paul Collins, Nottingham Trent University, UK; Dr. Manfred Kohler, University of Applied Sciences, Neubrandenburg, Germany and WGRIN, President; Wolfgang Ansel, International Green Roof Association (IGRA), Germany; Dr. Stephan Brenneisen, Life Sciences and Facility Management, University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland; Kristin Getter & Dr. Brad Rowe, Michigan State University; Peter Lowitt, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, North America; Dr. Elizabeth Fassman, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Auckland, New Zealand; and Dr. Sam Hui, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Hong Kong, as well as couple of our own Greenroofs.com Contributing Editors:  Ed Snodgrass  of Emory Knoll Farms/Green Roof Plants  is presenting “Green roof plant selection and landscapes” and Christine Thuring of Green Roof Safari is just  “going for fun” – after six days from guiding her first Green Roof Safari tour.

                    Allen & Overy's London modern headquarters - venue to host the WGRC; Photo source: WGRC

I’m planning on blogging while in jolly old England, taking lots of photos and film of presenters, attendees, exhibitors, and local greenroof projects.   So if you can’t go, check back here for some casual interviews and discussions with friends and associates, old and new.     You know it won’t be all work – we fully expect to enjoy a few relaxed, informal evenings with a pint or two in  some lovely English pubs with lots of local character(s), too!

Learn more about The World Green Roof Congress 2008.