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The GRP Accreditation: An Interview with Jeffrey L. Bruce

May 29, 2009 at 12:49 am

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Bruce, president of Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company, Chair of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) and the GRHC Training and Accreditation Committee which developed the Green Roof Professional – or GRP – Accreditation program, last week on May 19, 2009.   Jeff and many others have devoted countless hours to developing a rigorous and comprehensive offering to the marketplace, and I wanted to learn more about the program itself as well as Jeff and his company.

Jeffrey L. Bruce, FASLA

Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company has been around for close to 30 years and has a strong reputation with projects involving landscape architecture, comprehensive master planning, site design, recreation planning, urban design and more – offering design and specialized technical support including irrigation engineering and green roof technology.

Linda:   Jeff, please tell us about your Company’s program as a professional firm – its overarching mission and goals, and how sustainability fits in?

Jeff:   Well, we’re a bit of a unique firm in so far as in the past we’ve incorporated scientists and particularly agronomy in our practice area which gave us a bit of a technology focus.   So we supply other landscape architectural groups, as well as architects and engineers, highly specialized services and green technologies, greenroofs and things of that nature.   We have a nationwide practice that helps support that little niche we’ve been fortunate to find.

Linda:   I did notice that you’re definitely national in scope and your company has been involved with many award-winning greenroof projects such as the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park, Soldier Field, and more.   Can you briefly describe some of these experiences?

Millenium Park

Jeff:  Yes, they’re some of the more rewarding projects we’ve ever worked on.   At Lurie Garden we were the irrigation consultant and did some soil consulting for Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd., the lead landscape architects.   That was a very beautiful project, as well as the North Burnham Park renovation at Soldier Field where we did all the soil consulting, turf consulting, and green roof consulting for Peter Schaudt’s office.   We’ve also had three other greenroof awards for projects we’ve been fortunate enough to work on, so we’ve been able to find the right clients that allowed us to work on these exceptional projects.

Soldier Field

Linda:   You’ve had a lot of wide array of awards and honors, so kudos to you and your firm.

Jeff:   It’s finding the right client that wants to do the right project and gives us a little latitude to be creative.

Linda:   True, and I always tell people I think that it’s up to us as designers to inform our clients, to let them know all the possibilities that are out there.

Jeff:   We also have a phrase, “You can’t save an owner from himself!”   So having the right combination is certainly a blessing when it comes to assembling a team and getting the right individuals involved in it.

Linda:   The 7th Annual Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference  is coming up next week, and Atlanta will offer the inaugural Green Roof Professional Accreditation test on June 5.   The ad says that “by 2013, the overall green building market is forecasted to more than double.   Be ready to embrace these changing times and become a recognized professional by taking the Green Roof Professional Accreditation Exam.”   Before we get into the program itself, though, how did you first become involved with Green Roofs for Healthy Cities?

Jeff:   Well, it goes back probably 6 or 7 years –  when we submitted an abstract for the Washington, D.C. conference and the abstract at the time was “The Weakest Link in the Delivery of Green Roof Projects.”   It got the attention of the executive director,  Steven Peck, who at the time was looking for someone to chair an implementation workshop which was the 201, so he tracked me down and asked me if I’d chair that taskforce to write the GRHC 201 Implementation course.

Linda:   Now that you’ve given me the genesis of your participation, how about a little bit of the process you and the team experienced – the vision and collaboration.

Jeff:   It was quite an extensive process in so far as developing the course work and the manuals, all four courses, and then the first step in the GRP process was an occupational analysis by a task force established in 2005.   I believe about 30 professionals met in Toronto and outlined all of the needs, skills and knowledge base that a green roof professional would require, and out of that came the occupational analysis which ended up weighting the importance of each of those pieces of knowledge that a professional would possess in that process.   Then from that was the actual test accreditation exam committee that was assembled, and another 30 or 40 people at the Baltimore Conference sat down for an extra day with the industry experts and wrote test questions for the exam.   Prometric was the group that assisted us with developing the test.   They did a little training and then they reviewed all of the questions for accuracy and appropriate technical formatting.

The pool of test questions was brought back to the committee, and they went through each question one by one; a couple hundred test questions  were narrowed down to the most logical choices.   Final questions went back through another Prometric review.   There was a third review of the test questions with another select group of technical experts, and after about 18 months of development we”˜ve gotten to the point that we’re now prepared to roll out the test and have really become comfortable on the validity of the questions and the type of information being used for the exam.

Linda:   Was there any input from other organizations or associations?

Jeff:   There was a large peer review of all of the course material content, which really serves the basis of the GRP exam.   There was also   a number of individual people in particular expertise areas of the industry that were targeted as independent peer reviewers for us.   We looked at the roofing industry, the roofing manufacturing and landscape contracting, roofing consultants and landscape architects, and assembled a team of peer reviewers that went through the process  and gave us really good input to further clarify the questions and content.

Linda:   I was wondering if it was hard to get buy in from fellow colleagues, or if you encountered any resistance from any particular contingents in the industry?

Jeff:   Believe it or not, not really.   There is always this discussion and debate about accreditation and self-regulation.   I think everyone in the industry recognized the value of education and having a designation that helps the public understand that this particular individual has a certain understanding of the course material that would provide them a qualification in the marketplace.

Left to Right: 1992: Ocean Houses at Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, CA; 1995: Vancouver Public Library (Library Square Building), Vancouver, BC, Canada; 1997: The GAP Headquarters, 901 Cherry, San Bruno, CA

Linda:   Here in North America, we’ve been designing modern greenroofs since the mid 1990’s and as a result we have millions of square feet on roofs greened already.   Some people might say this program is unnecessary, especially to those who have been designing these living roofs, and that it’s simply a justification to promote the professional association and make some money.   I know the GRP is a measure of knowledge of established best practices, and that with the designation we can distinguish ourselves in the marketplace as well.    Why do you believe that the greenroof industry needs an accreditation program now?

Jeff:   Green roofs are somewhat unique as a practice area because they entail such a wide variety of disciplines that it’s very difficult or virtually impossible for any individual to be an expert in every aspect of the industry.

Linda:   I agree!

Jeff:   We’ve sort of coined the phrase that the green roof industry is complemented by two halves of the equation – the black arts and the green arts – and so when we’re looking at the accreditation program, we had to look at those skills and competencies that are required in order to understand the delivery process and not necessarily trying to test a roofer on Latin species of Sedums or a horticulturalist on the melting point of a certain asphaltic roofing compound.   So because of this wide range of knowledge, I think the GRP designation facilitates the ability of the public to understand how to apply these types of green technologies.

Boulevard Greenroof by Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company

Again, it is a voluntary program in that those who choose not to participate will still be able to practice in the field, so it’s not an obstacle for them.   From my perspective, it is a celebration of a technical body of knowledge an individual holds.

Linda:   Well, that’s a good way to look at it.

Jeff:   It is sort of a personal badge of commitment that we value this type of technology to the point that we’re willing to sit for the exam and to promote our understanding of it.   If you look at all other accreditation programs, they’ve run into many of the same criticisms that they’re a self-promotion vehicle and that they are self regulating a minority of individuals.   If you follow other programs over a period of time, you will find that the association side and the accreditation side typically become separate organizations at some point in the future.

We have seen that through ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) and CLARB (Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards), and even with the USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council); they’ve migrated to two associations as the accreditation program gained momentum.   Programs also gain sophistication and complexity.   In the beginning the association is a strong support component and nurturing component in order to get an accreditation program on its feet and to get it widely accepted into public domain.

Linda:   Yeah, I agree with you.   What types of companies or professionals would you like to see come on board?

Jeff:   We did not try to restrict anyone that is interested and capable of demonstrating sufficient knowledge about this to sit for the exam and become accredited.   I think it would require a certain degree of knowledge and background about the construction industry and the construction delivery process in order to be successful.   It tends to be a logical choice for architects, engineers, roofing consultants, roofing manufacturers, landscape contractors that have an interest in green roofs – or general contractors, building management, those types of individuals that have an understanding and sequencing of the construction process.

This knowledge base that we’re looking at is really specialized applied knowledge, so it’s an overlay of what an individual might already need to understand about contracting law, projects, understanding critical path of construction sequencing and how to measure performance and success in the field.   So, although we didn’t limit who takes the exam, we tried to work off some industry assumptions and direct the materials so that it was specifically for unique aspects of green roofs in the construction market.

Linda:   Getting back to landscape architecture, the profession encompasses a broad field, embracing a wide range of interests, with many of us gravitating towards one particular area, greenroofs, for example.   As a landscape architect, do you feel specialization will eventually kill or possibly dilute our profession?

Jeff:   I’ve been involved in ASLA as a trustee for many years, and have a long involvement in ASLA.   I understand the dichotomy involved in specialization.   Over the years landscape architects have always struggled to define their identity because we are so diverse and we practice in so many different phases in society.   In a technologically increasing community and environment, it is absolutely necessary that landscape architects and other professions maintain higher levels of specialization as certain aspects of the industry get more and more complex.   I think that’s a natural aspect.   When I look at landscape architects, I am very hopeful that because of their common basis of understanding and education, they’ll still be able to maintain a dialogue and a connection with landscape architecture even as the specialties continue to get more granular and complex.

909 Walnut in Kansas City, MO by Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company

I view landscape architects collectively as contextualists in that we, in solving problems, seek out other professions.   We seek out connections with the past, seek out connections with ecology, place culture and try to mend and heal places.   This reaching out as a popular culture facilitates us working as teams and embraces a recognition of diversity within the profession.

Actually, 30- 40% of our consulting work is with other landscape architects, and it is probably the most rewarding work we do because there is an affinity of understanding.   There’s a similar basis of attempting to resolve the project.   Specialization is the way for us to get better at what we do but still maintain a common core of landscape architecture.   I’m hopeful, so very hopeful, that we will be able to continue to embrace other specializations and keep our identity under the umbrella of landscape architecture.

Linda:   Well, I have to say that was very eloquent!  I can’t think off the top of my head like that!

Jeff:   The way I got to be fellow (FASLA) is I got involved in Missouri licensure of landscape architects, and we fought a very, very tough battle that took close to 12 years to get the legislation passed.   As a result we learned every tactic in the world, politically, every backroom maneuver, and we got so good at it that I was appointed to the registration assistance team at ASLA national.  As part of the registration assistance team, we travelled around and gave legislative workshops for other states.   I was involved with six states that gained licensure.   We dealt with turf battles, strategy of defining work, specializations, and tiered accreditation of licensing.   I’ve been thinking about it for about 25 years.   So my elegant statement has been constructed over a long time.

Linda:   Then you have a good memory!

Jeff:   Well, yeah, and there’s a few things you’d like to forget about that process – I always equated it to getting your cuff caught in a piece of machinery and it just dragged you through the machinery.   During the process it was like I never thought if I’d joined this committee it meant a 25-year commitment.

Linda:   Right, it kind of takes over your life.   I know people on various GRHC committees who would say the same thing!

Jeff:   Exactly.   What attracted that organization to me, I think, was the interesting perspective about licensure and accreditation and what that might mean.   The whole opportunity to look at not a singularly educated vocation, but a very multi-disciplinary organization to establish a knowledge base of information was intriguing to me.   It’s very similar to the USGBC model but not as expansive.

Linda:   What unique attributes do you think landscape architects will offer as a Green Roof Professional?

Jeff:   Good question.   Well, I alluded to it a little bit previously, which was their propensity for team management and team building, working with other professionals.   The rooftop is an extremely hostile environment in which to try and grow vegetation, and more realistically in trying to create sustainable, restorative ecosystems.   I think the landscape architects’ skill set is perfectly aligned with those unique challenges that occur on the roof, working with constructed materials, working with natural systems, working with water, harvesting soils, and all of those things provide very unique attributes for landscape  architects.

Seapointe North Plaza, by Jeffrey L. Bruce and Company

I think each of the professions that we have targeted and involved in the process also provide those very unique but different attributes.   Roofing consultants – there is an enormous amount of technical data and expertise required in waterproofing of structures, and roofing details and flashing/counterflashing details, for example.

Linda:   Right, and that’s going to be my hardest area to take – the 301!

Jeff:   Well, I can tell you that the trepidation is equally split – if you’re part of the green arts, you fear the black arts, and if you’re part of the black arts you equally fear the green arts.   But I sincerely hope that everyone that comes out of the exam really feels that the material has been well vetted, has been well thought out and then represents a reasonable representation of the skill set we need in the generalist form.   I think we’ll strike the appropriate balance between those two divergent areas of specializations.

Linda: Getting back to the Accreditation Program, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities is basing the GRP exam on the four Green Roof Courses, the 101, 201, 301, and 401, but is it a requirement that people have taken these classes already or can anyone just walk in and wing it?

Jeff:   Anyone could, in fact, sit down and take the test if they so desire.   We recognize that some people may not have the opportunity in their schedule to sit for all the courses throughout the year, so the course manuals are also available for purchase if you wanted to read through them.   As part of the legal defensibility of the exam, we had to have citable references for each of the questions and all of the questions came out of the course materials.

Linda: Can you give us some of the specifics of what to expect on the exam, like the number of questions and how it long it might take?

Jeff:   There will be 100 questions, and we’re allowed 2 hours.

Linda:   And Green Roofs for Healthy Cities is using the exam from the launch here in Atlanta as the benchmark of sorts for future tests, is that correct?

Jeff:   Yes, part of the process that we will go through with Prometric is a validation of the test questions by the first hundred or so exam takers.   So there would be, again, another quality assurance process whereby we would look aggregately at all the exam questions and see if there’s an anomaly in answers and responses so that we can make it again as fair and as defensible as possible.

Linda:   Can you give our readers any pointers or last minute advice before we take the test?

Jeff:   Well, I think, again, we tried to focus on those pieces of information that are most valuable for the professional as they facilitate teaming and delivery of green roofs.   One of the very important aspects of that was certainly the best management practices that were called out in each of the manuals.   So the best management practices are areas where we focused importance on, and you’ll see a number of questions that emerge from those particular recommendations.

Linda:   Very good, I haven’t signed up yet, just because I’m always late for everything!

Jeff:   Well, there’s always a percentage of the population that are like that so we’re looking at a really good representation of “first adopters” we’re calling them that are going to come out and represent the profession.   It should be noted that there are going to be three additional exams that will be given around the country. You can check the GRHC website for the locations and times of the other exams.

Linda:   Anything else?

Jeff:   I would just encourage everyone to come down to Atlanta and the conference –  we’ve got some extraordinary tracks that we’re looking at, one of which is food production on rooftops – rooftop agriculture – which I think is going to be a significant emerging market for us and it should be a lot of fun.

I appreciate the opportunity!

Linda: Very good, Jeff, and it really has been my pleasure to speak with you today!
 grhc_yesyoucan2

For more info on the GRP, visit the FAQ’s section from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.   I hope many professionals from multi-disciplinary fields take the challenge and get their Green Roof Accreditation – I’ll be there, too:

The Green Roof Professional (GRP) Accreditation Exam will be held on Friday, June 5, 2009   at the 7th Annual Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference from 4:00 – 6:00 pm at the Conference venue, the Hyatt Regency Hotel, in the Hanover Room, C-E.

Happy Greening and Test Taking!

~ Linda V.

Tour Exclusive Metro Atlanta Greenroofs!

May 28, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Atlanta Greenroof Tours 2009

As you should know  by now, I’ve been involved with the Atlanta Local Host Committee for the  7th Annual Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, Awards & Trade Show on June 3-5, 2009.   Janet Faust, LEED AP, Environmental Horticulturist and Greenroof Product Manager with JDR Enterprises, and I are the Co-chairs of the Tour Sub-Committee, and along with a bunch of others we’ve put together a mighty fine line up of a very diverse group of greenroof projects for the guided tours on June 2 and June 6 – many of these are private and not usually accessible and open to the general public, so take advantage!

It was really hard for us to determine which projects to include on the various tours – the Atlanta area has so many  types of intensive and extensive, retail/commercial, industrial, municipal/corporate, educational, single family and multi-family residential, multi – use, you name it!   We tried to keep each varied within a common theme with  examples of conventional built-in-place, modular, custom, and  by different system providers, too.   By no means do our tours represent all of Metro Atlanta, but it will give the visitor an all-around flavor.   To see more of Georgia’s many living roofs, search The Greenroof Projects Database by Location: State: Georgia.

The tours are filling up fast, and if you’re considering joining us, you need to sign up quickly!   They are $35 each, and you can register here.   See the tri-fold Tour Brochure  – the outer side here and the inner here, designed by Caroline Menetre – our Student Intern, environmental horticulturalist and graphic artist extraordinaire –  who did a great job, by the way!   These are the details with some photos to get you inspired:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009:

TOUR # 1: Cooling It in Hotlanta
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Tour Coordinators: Greg Harper, GreenGrid  and Ernie Higgins, ItSaulnatural
Tour Hosts: David Floyd and  Greg Harper

Midtown Atlanta is vibrant and exciting with a dynamic mix of cosmopolitan retail, restaurants and entertainment.   Join us at the epicenter of the Atlanta cultural scene as we stroll through midtown touring contemporary multi-use corporate/office buildings, commercial/institutional complexes and multi-use retail/condominiums.   Midtown boasts the area’s most concentrated number of intensive/extensive greenroofs and even a stunning green wall at the luxurious W Hotel.   Many living roofs are within a mile radius; you will not be disappointed with the projects and a great opportunity for spectacular views of the city.   Guests will use the MARTA rapid trail system and should expect a good amount of walking, too!

Viewpoint, Photo Courtesy Scott King of ERTH products  1. Viewpoint:  855 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta.   Twenty-six stories high, the Viewpoint offers luxury condo residences and over 50,000 sf of eclectic retail located in Atlanta’s trendy Midtown district.   From here you can see amazing views of the city and other greenroofs, including those on the equally stunning Spire Midtown (as well as their green walls)  and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Building  greenroof, too.

2. 1010 Midtown:   1010 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta.   Neighboring Piedmont Park, the High Museum, and the Fox Theatre, 1010 Midtown is the first phase of 12th & Midtown, a massive 4-block master-planned development located in the heart of Midtown Atlanta.   The property also features a lush “Park in the Sky” with a signature swimming pool, cabanas, and manicured gardens.

1010 Midtown

The W Hotel, Green Wall by G-Sky  3. The W Hotel: 188 14th Street, NE, Atlanta.   This Green Wall  in W Hotel’s new Midtown Atlanta property is the showpiece of the exterior design.   Showcasing stylish LED lights interspersed throughout the wall, the architects successfully married the trademark chic W style with a beautiful green feature wall that greets guests at the hotel’s main entrance.

4. 1180 Peachtree: 1180 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta.   1180 Peachtree, also known as the Symphony Tower, is a Gold LEED-CS 41-story skyscraper (24 floors of office in main tower,  three podium floors on top of the parking deck, 12 levels of parking incorporated into the structure and a 2-level, 40-foot high lobby).   The plaza level has an intensive over structure garden roof and where the garden tower steps back at the 18th level, a  non-publicly accessible greenroof was installed as well.

1180 Peachtree

High Museum and Woodruff Arts center; Photo Source: Picasa, by Mike

5a. Woodruff Arts Center:   1280 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta.    The Woodruff Arts Center is the heartbeat of Atlanta’s arts community.   Located in midtown, the large over-structure Center offers Atlantans a bold variety of performing and visual arts – both traditional and avant-garde.   For 30 years, Woodruff Center has set the arts standard for Atlanta and the Southeast.

Frances Bunzl Administration Center of the High Museum of Art; Photo Courtesy GreenGrid5b. Bunzl Administration Center of the High Museum of Art:   1280 Peachtree Street, N.E., Atlanta.   This greenroof  is the largest modular system installed to date in the metropolitan Atlanta area.   The 6,680 square foot greenroof sets an example of how vegetated green roofs would benefit the City of Atlanta by cleaning and reducing stormwater runoff, reducing the urban heat island effect, reducing energy consumption, extending roof life and improving air quality.

TOUR # 2: Goodbye City, Hello “˜Burbs
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Tour Coordinator:  Linda Velazquez, Greenroofs.com/Sky Gardens Design
Tour Hosts: Jeannie Hunt, Linda Velazquez, Terry Porter, Alan Wieczynski
and Bobby Saul

Southern hospitality is also found in the suburbs of Atlanta.   Travel north of the city as we visit some of metropolitan Atlanta’s oldest and newest vegetated roofs.   Referred to locally as “˜the building with trees growing on the sides of it’ Northpark 400/500 is a flagship commercial/office park with strong geometric design, combining fully landscaped garden roofs, outdoor dining terraces and walkways and two 56-foot dome skylights.  Also on the northern corridor is Rock Mill Park, an award-winning municipal park with Cherokee heritage.   Rock Mill Park is a showcase for stormwater quality treatment and includes constructed wetlands, sand and bio-filtration ponds, vegetated swales and the Greenroof Pavilion/Greenroof Trial Gardens, all set within the 100-year floodplain.   We end the tour at Saul Nursery; for 22 years, Saul Nurseries has introduced many new plant cultivars and has supplied thousands of plants for greenroofs in the southeast.   You will see a variety of extensive greenroof plants including Sedums, Delospermas and other succulents alongside a diversity of flowering herbaceous perennials, and Saul’s own test greenroof and green wall.

1a. Northpark 400: 1100 Abernathy Rd NE Atlanta, GA.   Part of the award-winning Northpark Town Center, Northpark 400 is an 18-story, 581,000-square foot office tower connected to unique garden office suites, and atop the suites is a 2-acre park, complete with a restaurant and cascading waterfall.   Northpark Town Center anticipates receiving LEED certification in the second quarter of 2009.   Northpark is one of our oldest greenroofs, planted in 1994, and the mature trees and vegetation are flourishing, including maples, hollies, crepe myrtles, grasses and more.

Northpark 400

Northpark 5001b. Northpark 500: 1100 Abernathy Rd NE Atlanta, GA.   Although Northpark 500 has been around since 1989, the garden roof was newly waterproofed and a new greenroof system was applied in 2007.   The $6 million rehabilitation project involved removing the building’s 56,000 square-foot green roof and replacing it  with a high-performance waterproofing membrane combined with lightweight, low profile, green roof technology.   A fully landscaped roof garden with outdoor dining terraces and a walkway connection to the office tower is one of the many unique features at the 18-story 500 Northpark office tower.

2. Rock Mill Park Greenroof Pavilion & Trial Gardens: 3100 Kimball Bridge Road, Alpharetta GA.    The award-winning City of Alpharetta’s Rock Mill Park is open and inviting and connects to the popular Big Creek Greenway path system.   The original owner of the site back in the early 1800’s was “Sitawake,” a full-blood Cherokee, and design features include the cultural significance of the Cherokee ownership.   The Greenroof Pavilion uses many native and non-native plants, including succulents, grasses, and flowering herbaceous perennials.   Funded in part by an EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 Grant and the recipient of greenroof material donations from many companies, the Pavilion and Trial Gardens offer respite and educational opportunties through hand-on models and interpretive signage.

The Greenroof Pavilion and Trial Gardens of Rock Mill Park; Photo c 2008 by Harris Hatcher Photography

3. Saul Nursery,  “˜The Swamp’: 1115 W. Nancy Creek Drive, Atlanta GA.   Saul Nurseries  in Atlanta and Alpharetta, Georgia, produces over 1200 varieties of  plants and has supplied thousands for area greenroofs, both extensive and intensive, including the Atlanta City Hall.   The owners wanted to install a small test greenroof to trial appropriate plants for the hot, humid climate, and it has been featured many times on television.   We’ll stroll through the Nursery greenhouses and outdoor aisles, see and feel the numerous succulents they’re growing, and learn which herbaceous plants will work on greenroofs in the South.   Come meet Bobby Saul at the Swamp!

Saul Nursery Test Greenroof at

TOUR # 3: Green, Greener, Greenest
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Tour Coordinator: James Johnson, Emory University
Tour Hosts:    James Johnson and Michael Vaughn

Visit two forward-looking “˜campuses’  with tour emphasis on green achievement.   Emory University was the first building on a university campus to earn gold-level “LEED-EB” and is now home to 11 buildings (including several with greenroofs) that have been, or are being designed “˜LEED.’   In addition to LEED buildings, the university boasts many environmental initiatives, including an extensive alternative transportation program, the creation and continued development of a core walking campus, and a nationally recognized recycling program.   The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) founded in 1894, is an international organization.   Their newly renovated corporate headquarter campus has applied for LEED Gold Certification and truly reflects how ASHRAE standards and guidelines, put into practice, result in high-performance buildings.   The Foundation Learning Center also boasts an 1,800 square foot greenroof.

1. Emory University:   201 Dowman Drive, Atlanta GA.   Completed in October, 2008, The Emory University Department of Environmental Studies installed 420 square feet of greenroof on the Math and Science building with the intent to conduct pilot studies on the modular greenroof.   Three other test greenroofs on another demonstration roof will also be visited.   A mix of Sedums and Delospermas are planted to assess a variety of greenroof plants in the Atlanta climate.

One of Emory's University Test Greenroofs

ASHRAE Atlanta Headquarters2. ASHRAE Headquarters: 1791 Tullie Circle, N.E., Atlanta GA.   The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers  advances technology to serve humanity and promote a sustainable world.   Their newly renovated headquarters provides a healthy and productive environment for the staff and showcase ASHRAE technology while demonstrating the organization’s commitment to sustainability.   The Daikin Sustainability Garden is a vegetative roof garden above the new ASHRAE Foundation Learning Center.

Tour # 4: Lessons Learned Along the Way
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
 Tour Coordinators & Hosts: Bourke Reeve, Southface Energy Institute
and Bill Brigham, City of Altanta

Learn the ins and outs, and lessons learned along the way, of two very community centered greenroof projects.   Since 2003, the 3,000 square foot patio outside Atlanta City Hall’s fifth floor cafeteria has been home to the first city-owned greenroof in the Southeast.   The project was completed with the assistance of more than 10 companies and has been a model to downtown businesses.   Another “˜it takes a village’ greenroof project is located at the new LEED Platinum certified Southface Eco Office.   Southface has spent the last 25 years promoting “real-world” solutions for environmental living, and their new Eco Office showcases state-of-the-art energy, water and waste-reducing strategies and a 2,000 square foot greenroof.   Expect MARTA-hopping as well as moderate walking, here, too.

1. Atlanta City Hall Greenroof:  55 Trinity Avenue, Atlanta, GA.   The City of Atlanta is setting an example of sustainable and ecological design for its citizens with the investment of a 3,000 square foot greenroof on Atlanta City Hall.   By implementing this  vegetated roof project, the City of Atlanta hopes to generate reliable technical data on greenroof performance in areas such as energy efficiency, stormwater retention, the extension of roof membrane life span, and plant survival.   In 2009 the City installed an additional  100 square feet of two types of test modules looking at  plant material growth in 4″ and 8″ depths.

City of Atlanta Test Greenroof: Photo by Bill Brigham

2. Southface Eco Office: 241 Pine St. N.E., Atlanta GA.   One of the targets established during the initial  inter-disciplinary design charrette was a 60 percent reduction in energy use below that of conventional design and construction practices, with a goal of achieving all 10 LEED Energy Optimization credits.   The greenroof area on top of the third floor expands the office space to a rooftop patio with a spectacular view of downtown Atlanta.

The Southface Eco-Office Greenroof in late May, 2009: Photo by LSV

Saturday, June 6, 2009:

Tour # 5: “˜Wow’ in the Woods
9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Tour Coordinator: Janet Faust, JDR Enterprises
Tour Hosts: Steve Cannon and Janet Faust

“˜Wow’ is the word you will hear exclaimed as you tour the largest sloped greenroof in the southeast.   The LEED Gold certified Gwinnett County Environmental & Heritage Center sits amid a 233-acre wooded natural park and has approximately 12 miles of paved greenway and mulched trails.   Part science and nature center, part energy institute, and part history center, it is a premier living and breathing model of educational opportunities.   The tour will highlight the uniqueness of the natural pine facility, the acre oxygen producing vegetative roof, and allow time to enjoy the hands-on science exhibits or trails.   The GEHC is a multi-sensory experience and “˜wow’ a great way to spend a leisurely Saturday morning.

1. Gwinnett County Environmental & Heritage Center:  2020 Clean Water Drive, Buford.   As a result of the award-winning Gold LEED Center’s sustainable design strategies, there is: no additional stormwater runoff; improved indoor air quality; 35% energy-use reduction; 50% water-use reduction; and demonstration of best management practices.   Some of the most important LEED features of the building include pervious paving, bio-swales, wetlands and the largest sloping greenroof in the Southeastern U.S.   The 40,000 square foot greenroof is planted with a variety of succulents.   A smaller roof on the premises is being tested exclusively with native plants, both succulent and herbaceous plant material.

 Gwinnett County Environmental & Heritage Center; Photo Courtesy Janet Faust

TOUR # 6:   Downtown Atlanta by Foot   – Anytime
Tour Coordinator: Southface

This is a free, unguided sightseeing tour,  but most of the venues require an entrance fee.   The  Georgia World Congress Center/Georgia International Plaza, Centennial Olympic Park, CNN, Philips Arena, World of Coca-Cola and the The Far Coast Pavilion, the Georgia Aquarium,  and the Fairlie Poplar Historic Dristrict are just some of the attractions you can visit with some good walking shoes.   Some either have greenroofs or are greenroofs, as many of these large venues are built over-structure!   See the Brochure for details.

All Green Roof Tours depart from the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Hotel Lobby at 265 Peachtree St., NE, Atlanta.   By the way, you do not have to be attending the Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference to  participate in  a tour.   Thanks to the many people on the Atlanta Local Host Committee for all their hard work, and especially to those on our Tours Sub-Committee!

Thanks to Caroline Menetre for the beautiful graphic art!

I do hope you choose one of these tours and take advantage of some of these secret, and not-so-secret greenroofs in Atlanta – see you around  town!

~ Linda V.

Golfing for a Cause in the ATL

May 26, 2009 at 11:00 pm

The Beautiful Boby Jones Course, Photo by apuustin

Did you know that you could actually promote the greenroof effort and have a great time golfing with buddies while you’re here in Atlanta next week for the 7th Annual Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, Awards & Trade Show on June 3-5?   Well, yes, you can!

All you golfers (and wannabe’s) should mark your calendars now for next Tuesday, June 2!   Participate in the first annual  Green Roofs for Healthy Cities  Golf Tournament  at the lovely Bobby Jones Golf Course.    This is a charitable event with all proceeds going to support the newly formed Green Infrastructure Foundation (GIF) that is open to all GRHC members, their employees, guests, spouses and prospective members.   Create your own foursome or let GRHC assign you to one.   This is a great networking event and an excuse to have some good fun in the sun (hopefully).

Bobby Jones Colf Course, photo by Gusto

Now, I’m not a golfer myself, and in any case I’ll be leading my own tour that day, but I am happy to say we will have a foursome there and that Greenroofs.com will be represented by my husband, Aramis; our son-in-law, Joe; The Green Roof Guy, Kelly Luckett of Green Roof Blocks; and  the  G.R.E.E.N. Editor, Dr. Bill Retzlaff, of SIUe.  

I think it’s a great cause and if you like to golf and are going to be here anyway, I’d encourage you to sign up  here, and learn more about the whole experience on the Green Roofs for Healthy Cites Conference page.   Some specifics:

Date: Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Tee Time:   1:00 pm (shotgun start)
Cost:   $140 per person, and Fee Includes:                  
        Green fees
        Cart fees
        Six pack of beer
        Logo t-shirt
        Barbecue dinner

The write up says, “The Bobby Jones Golf Course was recently renovated with new Champion Bermuda greens and is an 18 hole public golf course that rests in the heart of Buckhead and just ten minutes from downtown Atlanta.   Built in 1932, this John Van Kleek design has a rich history dating back to the Civil War.   The Battle of Peachtree Creek, one of the most pivotal battles of the Civil War, took place in the valley of the golf course surrounding the clubhouse.   Today, Peachtree Battle Creek meanders through this tree-lined par 71 championship golf course and comes into play on five of the eighteen holes.   Elevated tees on many of our holes offer scenic views of the midtown Atlanta skyline.   The tightly placed greens offer a challenging round for the skilled golfer, while the open fairways create a pleasant round for golfers of all skill levels.”

And, I believe there may be some Sponsorship opportunities still available where you can profile your company and support the work of the Green Infrastructure Foundation:

Sponsor A Hole “¦ Sponsor Longest Drive “¦ Sponsor A Hole in One “¦

9th green at Bobby Jones Golf Course; Photo Source: Panoramio by apuustin

Sponsors will be recognized with signage on-site.   Golden Intensive, Intensive and Semi-Intensive will all be offered four complimentary golf tournament passes for distribution to clients and colleagues.   For more information, please contact Jennifer Sprout at jsprout@greenroofs.org or Tim Barrett, Barrett Roofing at timbarrett@prodigy.net.

Next up is the Tours!

~ Linda V.

The Swiss-Canadian Green Roof Gal: An Interview with Christine Thüring

May 24, 2009 at 10:19 pm

Butterfly  

Christine Thuring, really Christine Thüring, has a background in field botany and restoration ecology, and a MSc. Horticulture from  Pennsylvania State University’s “Centre for Green Roof Research“ (2005).   Christine enjoys addressing the complexes of ecological design within the urban/ architectural interface, and has worked with green roofs in various capacities, including research, design, education, and communication.   Christine is an active volunteer with Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, and helped develop the GRHC 401 course on plant and substrate selection for green roofs.   She is quite the globetrotter, visiting friends and family in Europe and North America on a regular basis.
 
Christine is also our second Contributing Editor here on Greenroofs.com, and the focus of this  interview in our “Meet the Editors” series.   As our Student Editor since July 2004, she has been writing a biannual ramble in her column ‘Green Roofs on the Curve’ and her newsletter “Students on Green Roofs.”    Her goal is to get students at all levels involved in the green roof movement by sharing research, projects and ideas through Guest Student Articles, the Student Forum, and by getting listed in the free Student Directory.

Linda:   Christine, you have a Master’s in Horticulture, so you must have had an early love affair with plants and the green side of things.   Please talk about early influences, and when did you encounter your first greenroof and did the concept immediately strike you as important, or did it develop over time?
 
Christine:   Prior to specializing in green roofs, I worked for many seasons as a field botanist in aspects of restoration ecology and botanical inventory.   Frequent engagements with species-at-risk (most often due to habitat loss) and habitat fragmentation by residential and commercial development became so frustrating that the close of my contracts always ended in tears.   I’ve always had an ‘environmentalist’ streak in me, but it’s been my connection with the natural world that has consistently undercut my activist tendencies.    To watch a natural community – places where frogs live and birds sing – get ploughed over for cookie-cutter housing is so painfully sad.

Photo Source: www.liladelman.com

In 2001, I stumbled upon the green roof demonstration launch at Toronto City Hall.   Since I was looking for work at the time, I was able to stay to the close of the event and ended up going for pints with Steven Peck, Brad Bass, Kaaren Pearce and a few others.   I saw these folks quite frequently over the next year.   I suppose the major turning point occurred when I joined Brad Bass on his annual “alma mater mecca” to Penn State, where I met my future advisors, Drs. Beattie and Berghage.

Penn State green roof family, 2007: Dr. Beattie, Dr. Ayako Nagase, Dr. Shazia Husein, Sarah Murphy, Ed Snodgrass, Christine Thüring, Dr. Rob Berghage, Jörg Breuning

I was really excited by green roofs, although in retrospect I think I just needed to get into something more optimistic.   It was good to take a breather from species at risk and talk about Sedums for stormwater management.   After interning with Optigrün, one of Germany’s largest green roof franchises, I went to Penn State to do my MSc. Horticulture at the “Centre for Green Roof Research” (2005).  

IKEA Sedum roof, Freiburg, Germany on a Green Roof Safari

My Master’s research focused on extensive green roofs (with the question of “how low can you go?”), and it was only upon meeting Stephan Brenneisen at the first GRHC conference in Chicago (2003), that my background in plant ecology was given new inspiration and meaning.   Looking back to these early influences, my identity as a plant person has developed in such a way that I’ve returned to my roots in plant ecology but from a platform that is better for my spirits.
 
Linda:   You’re very much a “people person,” yet you’ve also devoted a lot of time to research and study.   You’ve lived in the U.S, Canada, and Switzerland, and you’re fluent in German and I know have a good grasp of a few other languages.   I know the German comes in very handy in our greenroof industry!   Can you tell us a little about growing up Swiss-Canadian and how perhaps the experience helped set you up on your greenroof journey?   And how do you believe your world travels have influenced your world views, at least on the design side of greenroofs?

Christine:   My parents are both Swiss and although I grew up in Elmira, Canada, our family spent 3-4 months every 2nd summer in Switzerland, from infancy onwards.   We thereby maintain close ties with our relatives, friends, dialects and culture.   For some reason, I’ve never kicked the two year cultural cycle: I can’t be in North America for longer than two years before I need another European residency (usually Swiss, German or Austrian).  

At some point, I really crave ubiquitous public timepieces (I never liked wearing a watch), delectable ice cream creations (“Coupes” in Switzerland, “Eis Becher” in Germany), and the cross-generational status quo of fitness.   Of course the level of environmental awareness is always refreshing, and to see Best Management Practices as commonplace.   I’m always impressed by the size of the population that truly honours, respects and knows nature.   I love European cities, and the proximity an ease of travelling around, and have a soft spot for living in villages (especially in the Alps).
Left: Skiing with a friend in the Tyrolean Alps, 2009; Right: Ice cream creations, these are just some of my favourite things!
When I discovered extensive green roofs, the German rooting of the technology definitely made it feel like a good match for me.   I grew up with several first languages (Swiss-German at home, English and French at school, German school on the weekend, ech), and have always enjoyed communicating across cultures.   When I met Stephan Brenneisen  for the first time in Chicago, it was glorious to find someone to talk Swiss German with over espressos (not to mention talking about his work and coming full circle in my own little world)!

In the last year, I’ve been offering translation and copy-editing support for colleagues in the German green roof market, which has been a very positive experience.   The copy-editing relationship is a neat one, because it’s basically the native-speaker refinement of English papers written by German authors.   Ultimately, this can determine whether a paper is accepted or rejected.

 Medieval architecture has an element of green we can learn from.

With regards to world travel, especially to developing countries, I’ve always felt strongly about helping the developing world side-step the blunders that industrial society has already accomplished.   Backpacking around Central America and South India opened my eyes to the fact that development in these places is occurring, whether we help steer its direction or not.   My experience from accessing the first green roof in India is summarized in an article from March 2009.   With regards to design, these general observations make one thing clear: if living architecture is to achieve its full potential in today’s civilization, we need varied options and flexible alternatives that make the technology accessible.

Of course governing bodies need to be informed and motivated to do their part on behalf of the public they represent.   But if at least part of the market could be steered towards supporting intuitive do-it-yourselfers, the benefits would be far more widespread (and interesting).   For example, if a building owner in Mumbai wishes to clad the façade with climbers, ideally they could find a minimum of good information with relative ease, and have the intuitive confidence to make it happen rather than waiting for someone from far away to come and do it for them.   Of course this “good information” must be based on current standards and enforceable regulations.

Linda:   Your professor and mentor while at PSU, Dr. David Beattie, passed away in March, 2008.   Can you share with us the experience of studying and working with him?   And what did you learn most from Dr. Beattie as an advisor and colleague?
 
Christine:   David Beattie was a classic horticulturalist with varied interests and a good scientific ethic.   He was already dealing with cancer when I first met him in the summer of 2001, but always had a good energy to him.   Must be the Irish!   Fellow students in the Dept. of Horticulture perceived that he must be super fun to work with; he had an easy laugh that would echo down the hallways of Tyson Building.   He definitely was good to work with, although it was far from fun and games.   He was a good mentor by being available and by bringing big-picture wisdom to foggy moments.

Linda:   You have a ton of zeal and everyone who meets you loves your energy!   Aside from your obvious youth, to what would you attribute your passion and zest for life?
 
Christine:   When I’m fully engaged in something I believe in, this tremendous energy radiates outwards from the depths of my soul.   I am not really aware of it myself, although I’m now wise enough to recognize it when it reflects off those around me.   Green roofs definitely inspire this energy, but the same can be said for bog restoration, self-propelled transportation, glaciers, surfing, and ice cream creations.
Left: A uniquely Swiss creation, Couple Schoggistängeli includes two Schoggistängelis (chocolate sticks with nougat and hazelnuts inside); Right: For wannabe meat-eaters, the Beefsteak has been the highlight of my vegetarian life.  Notice the two fried egg replicas, adding to the mock-cholesterol fun. Thank you, GelatOK in Reutte, Tyrol!
Aside from my youth (you realize I’m 33 now, yes?), I try to abide by some simple rules to be fundamentally happy.   Among these: don’t take anything personally, always do your best, never make assumptions, simplify your problems, and say what you mean (mean what you say).  I find putting fundamental philosophies into practice very rewarding, both personally and professionally.

Ravi Enjoying the Coupe Hot Berry Confection

Linda:    As Student Editor, what would you like to see students more engaged in?   Overall, what issues do you feel are important within our industry, and where do you see us heading in the next few years?   What would you like to see changed or addressed?

Christine:   I’m glad you ask this question!   I’m inspired by students who are empowered and asking “˜real’ questions.   In my early newsletters, I used to write about topics that weren’t being addressed by the green roof community, hoping that a student on the hunt for a meaningful thesis topic would bite.   By “˜real’ questions, I mean those based by the fundamental principles of sustainability.   Removing petroleum-based products completely from the roster, for example, or using water more creatively.

This interview is timely, actually, as I think the time has come for me to rescind the Student Editor role and pass it along.   Being in the academic setting is a definite plus to this role, and since my graduation I feel my editorial focus has evolved somewhat. If any of our readers are interested in taking on the role of Student Editor, feel free to contact me: StudentEditor@greenroofs.com

Linda:   Overall, what issues do you feel are important within our industry, and where do you see us heading in the next few years?   What would you like to see changed or addressed?

Christine:   I’m concerned about the risks that green-washing poses to the green roof industries that are emerging around the world.   Like any industry with “green” in its name, we believe we’re doing good for the earth because we’re “green” by definition!    However, if we think for a moment how a subject’s over-arching mission can be diluted, whittled and/ or adapted, then green-washing within the green roof industry can sacrifice not only the vision, but more importantly the integrity of the technology – and community – “˜s potential.

Taking this a step further, consider that many of our materials have high embodied energies, whether engineered media, modules, drain boards or even plants.   When that energy depends on access to a fuel that is getting more and more expensive, the cost of green roofs will also rise.   If we think green roofs are being value engineered out of projects now already, where will they stand when oil is at $250/ barrel?   And where is the logic of installing green roofs if they support even just a small percentage of tar sands  activity?

New regions still require regulated materials for green roofs, performance evaluations and design optimization, no argument there.   But I think it is essential that we expand our focus and creativity to support the use of local materials as much as possible, beyond the enticingly cheap products subsidized from afar.

Further to this, I think we must challenge the limitations presented by human aesethetics with the practical advantages of function.   For example, given that we recognize how much knowledge we lack on the ecology front, doesn’t it seem rueful to invest so much energy/ time/ money into removing plants that freely colonize green roofs?   Those same plants may bring tremendous benefits, not only to the green roof but to a greater ecosystem but on a level of intricacy that we will never comprehend.   Indeed, this very aspect of green roof presentation (and maintenance) is so striking in Europe, where weeds are treated with greater respect than in North America.   One thing is true:   human regard for what is “attractive” is very easy to manipulate.   Just look at fashion: we’re back in the 80s for crying out loud!

Other themes for green roofs that I find important/ bearing great potential for a sustainable future include (very broadly): urban agriculture, mineral nutrient cycles, the magical rhizosphere, cost-benefit assessment, progressive policy-making, closed loop resource management, rainwater harvesting, low maintenance ecological design, passivhaus, do-it-yourself support, invasive exotics, etc.

Linda:   You’ve collaborated on the design  of a few greenroofs.   People are constructing living roofs and green walls for so many reasons nowadays, but your interest has always been more on sustainable habitat and the reintroduction of flora and fauna – how important do you believe it is to design for biodiversity, and what should we as designers take into consideration?  

Christine:   On the one hand it is desirable to simply vegetate as many roofs as we can, regardless of system, plants or design.   We know that extensive Sedum roofs do a great job of stormwater mitigation, so why not simply focus on getting the costs down, expand a skilled workforce and cover as much surface area as possible.   Green roofs designed especially for biodiversity, by contrast, require more attention, consultation and planning.   Fortunately, this is not an either-or scenario and there is room for all types of designs.  

Fundamentally, I tend to refer to one consistent motto for this topic: diversity equals stability.   The more diverse a system, the more resilient it is to collapse.   This can apply to individual green roof design, and extend all the way up to market constituents (i.e. the constituent services available within an industry).

Genevieve with one of her residential projects in Vancouver.  All plants are native to the Pacific Northwest.Still, recalling the resemblance that pure Sedum roofs bear to deserts, adding small elements to enhance the site’s diversity doesn’t take much and can make a big difference to the ecological value of the site.   Pieces of wood, topographic variation, and so on.   Using locally available materials and seed would seal the deal.   The key is to have the knowledge and support on-hand for site-specific inputs.

One of the most exciting designers I’ve been blessed to collaborate with is Genevieve Noel, of MUBI Regenerative Consulting in Vancouver.  A true ecological designer, with a degree in industrial design and a background in silviculture, Genevieve has developed a number of impressive living wall systems and is determined to use native plants wherever possible.   One of her many brilliant projects, on Quadra Island, recreates the habitat on the roof space that permits the loading.  The overall roof supports native sedum and mosses while deeper areas feature bulbs, ferns and perennials that were inventoried on site.

Linda:   You’ve had a few jobs within the plant research/ecological horticulture/greenroof marketplace since graduating from Penn State.   In a perfect world, what do you think the perfect job or career would be for you?   And tell us about your new venture, Green Roof Safari – it sounds fascinating, and seems a perfect fit for your talents!

NATS colourful green roof plant trial gazebo.

Christine:
  I really enjoyed working for NATS Nursery in Langley, B.C., where I had one of the longest (but perfect) titles ever: Resident Ecologist and Green Roof Specialist.   Being new to the Pacific Northwest, working for a native plant nursery was a fantastic way to become familiar with the flora!   I got to experiment with plants on the green roof trial facility, monitored the plant experiments for the 6 acre Vancouver Convention Centre green roof, and assembled plant lists for everything including exterior living walls, green roofs, biofiltration, all types of wetlands, and roadside restoration.   I was very happy at BCIT, too, which offered a nice mix of education and research, not to mention inter-disciplinary goodness.   At BCIT’s Centre for Architectural Ecology, directed by the fabulous Maureen Connelly, I did everything from project coordination (UN World Urban Festival, see below) to research (Elevated Research Platform), and also discovered my capacity for marketing and communications.   I’m not sure what my perfect job or career would be; I think I’m finding out as I go along.

ct-earthworldurbanfestival1

In early 2008, I decided to explore a new path and established a small business, Chlorophyllocity.   Just as the name combines various words- chlorophyll, city, velocity – Chlorophyllocity’s scope is intentionally diverse, which permits a great range for collaborations and other relationships.   In my first year, for example, Green Roof Safari  ran its first study tour, several projects slowly advanced closer to reality, I supported three green roof colleagues with translation and copy-editing of exciting new research papers, contributed my own research interests as a panelist for “Future Directions for Green Roof Research” at the GRHC conference in Baltimore, did some field work, and got some secret experiments up and running on my balcony. I’ve never considered myself a business woman, so we’ll see what happens.

Chlorophyllocity to Green Roof Safari

At the moment I’m very excited about Green Roof Safari, which is a collaborative project with Jörg Breuning.   Green Roof Safari’s goal is to provide participants with the scope, information, and contacts to bring broadened horizons back to their hometowns and effect positive change. The unique service that Green Roof Safari supplies is access to a diversity of (otherwise inaccessible) green roofs in a condensed time frame. We also arrange meetings with local experts to learn about success stories in policy, research and design from direct experience.

These study tours are designed to equip participants with knowledge, scope and contacts, but also reinforce the spirit for sharing and community that is key to sustainability.   Our next tour runs from September 14 – 19, 2009.

Linda:   Is there one particular project which is your favorite, or maybe particularly important in your eyes?

Christine:   I’m deeply impressed by the innovative development going into wet roofs, such as projects by Gaia Institute in New York.

Linda:   I think you are a passionate advocate for respecting nature and the built environment, and have a bright future ahead of you.   You’re just beginning to conquer the world of greenroofs and sustainable design!   If there was one thing that you’d like people to know about you that hasn’t been mentioned or how you see the world, what would that be?
 
Christine:   I love bogs and believe their protection and restoration represents a key to our global environmental plight.   Carbon sequestration aside, bogs (and other wetlands) are amazingly rich biologically, and do so much for our air and water.   Over the summer of 2007 I volunteered my earlier experiences in bog restoration to the Burns Bog Conservation Society, supporting and guiding a summer student in developing a long-term experimental design in the lee of the largest domed peat bog in western North America.   Botanical inventories from permanent vegetation plots permit the correlation between natural succession and the changing water table.

Left: Doing vegetation surveys in Burns Bog (B.C.), June 2007; Right: Representing bogs alongside Raging Grannies at

When in Vancouver, I try to join the “˜Crazy Boggers’ work parties at Camosun bog on Saturday mornings.   I’ve been experimenting with the propagation of peat moss, with the dream of establishing bogs on rooftops.   Stay tuned!

Christine Thuring on the Vancouver Public Library (Library Square Building) Greenroof

Linda:   Thanks, Christine, for sharing, and good luck in all your pursuits.   If you’d like to contact Christine Thüring, otherwise sometimes known as The Green Roof Gal, email her at:  StudentEditor@greenroofs.com.  

Christine is currently in Stuttgart-Nürtingen, Germany attending the International Green Roof Congress 2009 through May 28, 2009, representing her varied interests along with Greenroofs.com.   Unfortunately, at the last moment we had to cancel our trip but Christine will do a fine job of reporting with an article after the Congress, so look for one coming soon!

Next up in “Meet the Editors” series is  Kelly Luckett, LEED AP, formerly “The Roving Exhibitor,” president of Green Roof Blocks and St. Louis Metalworks Company, and now simply known as “The Green Roof Guy.”

Happy Greening Everyone,

~ Linda V.