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GPW: Westview Condos

April 25, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Where can you find urban rooftop sophistication that meets a native Tennessee landscape on a rehabilitated condo building?   Greenroofs.com’s Greenroof Project of the Week is the Westview Condos in Nashville, Tennessee –  a wonderful example of urban renewal by incorporating  beautiful and  much needed nature on an exclusive,  10-unit residential  building  in the heart of a bustling city.   Originally a corporate office building, the renovated property was converted to high-end, mid-rise condos in 2005.

 

The first residential greenroof in Nashville,  the 8-story  structure was redeveloped to provide exclusive and luxurious loft condominiums with spectacular views of downtown.    A lobby and commercial space occupy the first floor with indoor parking on the second level, leaving six floors for residences, topped off with a lush vegetated roof used by residents as recreational space.

The eco-friendly project won the 2006 residential award for greenroof design from the  USGBC Tennessee chapter.

Developer Ron McClaron of McClaron and Associates chose to replace the  previous roof with a greenroof because he considered the Westview a prime location for launching an environmental demonstration project.   I met Ron in August, 2003 when he came to visit my first built greenroof project in downtown Atlanta, the 3TEN HauStudio.   He was starting research into the possibility of renovating  this former Southern Bell building into condos and wanted to pick my brain about costs, plants, etc.

The Nashville roof was in poor condition and as he looked at options, he desired considering greening the roof to take advantage of the environmental advantages and as a means of possibly enhancing the building’s value and marketability.   He knew that weight wasn’t a particular consideration in this application since the basic structural support was pre-stressed concrete –  the building was designed with the idea that Southern Bell might have desired to add additional floors at some point.

Yet, the process wasn’t as easy as might have been expected, given all the environmental and economic benefits of living roofs:

“…city officials had to be convinced this project’s benefits would outweigh difficult logistics associated with downtown construction and transportation of greenroof building material, and potential fire safety hazards.” ~ Southeast Watershed Forum Case Study

The Tennessee Valley Authority  (TVA) contributed funds in the form of grants in order to use this as a demonstration project of their commitment to sustainability.   You must agree that Ron’s original vision for a more sustainable redevelopment was successful – the condos range from 2,300 to 5,00 sf and all ten units were sold quickly.    In fact, many homeowners had identified the greenroof as their top reason for buying in The Westview.

The private roof top garden provides a 360 degree vista of Nashville including the State Capitol,  and homeowners entertain their guests in four separate sitting areas, including  a gazebo, while watching butterflies and listening to birds.   They even have a gas grill and wine chiller for comfortable dining al fresco, surrounded by trees, shrubs, grasses, and blooming perennials!

As you may know, Ralph Velasquez is our Sustainable Roofing Editor, but in 2005 he was the Greenroof Consultant for the Westview Condos project as president of  his previous company, Integrated Building Technologies (currently he is now Director, Sustainable Technologies  Group with Tremco Inc.).   FAMOS GmbH  greenroofing membranes and two-ply modified bitumen built up system were used, supplied  through Building Logics  (see more details in the project profile).
 

The RD Herbert Roofing Company installed the roof system and provided metal edgings and other custom metal products.   And the case study  on their website adds that “wall flashings were covered with a soy-based reflective coating for aesthetic and environmental reasons.”   Another ecological feature is the pavers, which are made of recycled tires.   Landscape architectural services were provided by Lose & Associates.
 

Landscaped with all native southeastern U.S. plants from GroWild, the  peaceful retreat  includes American Smoketree, Serviceberry, Blueberry, Prairie Dropseed, Little Bluestem and the federally endangered Tennessee Coneflower.   Owned by the husband and wife team of Mike Berkley and Terri Barnes, GroWild  is a Tennessee plant nursery specializing in native North American plants.   GroWild has over 850 species and cultivars of native perennials, wildflowers, trees, shrubs, vines, and grasses.

The growing media from Mr. Natural contains Permatill, an expanded slate,  and  other rooftop mixtures, provided by Ernie Higgins of  ItSaul Natural, with a depth that  ranges from 6″ to 30″ .     The lightweight “Roof Planting Soil” for intensive greenroofs provides the native plantings all they need for sustained health and growth.

Metro Nashville now has many greenroofs in place, with more planned or on the boards.   I haven’t been to Nashville in many years, and would love to see this gorgeous vegetated roof, along with several others here, the next time I’m in the area.   You’ll be happy to know that this roof is available for occasional viewing, by appointment only.   To schedule a tour of the  Westview Condos greenroof, please contact Mike Berkley at GroWild, Inc. at: 615.799.1910 or growildtb@aol.com.

 ~ Linda V.

Happy Earth Day 2010!

April 22, 2010 at 11:15 am

Happy Earth Day 2010!   It’s the 40th anniversary of observing this date, and April has been unofficially dubbed Earth Month, too, in its honor.   April is also Landscape Architecture Month, a fitting selection for a profession so dedicated to respecting the Earth through responsible environmental design.

So how am I celebrating Earth Day and Month?   Well, you know we started our first annual “Love the Earth! Plant a Roof Earth Day Photo Contest”  – it’s open until April 28 for entering your favorite living roof and for voting.   By the way, there’s one clear early leader so far with over 200 votes!   Get your friends and colleagues to vote for your roof shot now.   We’ll announce the winner on April 30.

My hands-on project involves a local area  Daisy Troop – eleven young girls aged 7 and 8 who attend Birmingham Falls Elementary  in Milton, Georgia.   Their Girl Scout Leader, mom Sandra Nichols, contacted me a while back about speaking to the troop about the greenroof I designed at Rock Mill Park  in Alpharetta, GA.   The girls are working towards one of their badges, the  Clover Project, which involves preserving and protecting a local treasure and saving resources.   Since Sandra had been to the park before, she felt this would be a great learning opportunity to present the greenroof idea to the girls to educate them about saving water and reducing energy usage.

By the way, our Student Intern, Caroline Menetre – below, and I had just been up to the roof last week, doing routine weeding and taking notes to see which plants had fared well and which ones didn’t – more on that later.

Being a mom of three myself, and now a grandmom, of course I said yes!   I met with them this past Tuesday and had a blast speaking about rain water, stormwater, and an introduction to greenroofs to this lively and rambunctious group.   They especially loved touching all the plants in our four Greenroof Trial Garden tabletops – and they all got to try the garlicky Alliums in the Non-native Module!

I’ll be following up with them at their school this upcoming Tuesday to help them plant two 2′ x 2′ x 4″ greenroof modules of their own – both Green Roof Blocks and GreenGrid  donated a module each, which will be on display at the school for all the children to have hands-on experience and learn about different types of greenroof plants.   Thanks to Kelly Luckett of Green Roof Blocks, and Jim Lindell and Greg Harper of GreenGrid!   I should add a thanks to GreenTech as well – they offered their larger 4′ x 4′ x 8 1/2″ module, but it was decided  two smaller modules placed in two locations would better serve the students.

Also, Bobby Saul of Saul Nurseries  here in Atlanta and Alpharetta, GA, is donating the plants for both modules, as well as the growing media from ItSaul Natural.   After my little talk, I presented each girl with her own greenroof plant from Saul Nurseries to take home – a beautiful green  Jovibarba ‘Green Carpet’ –  succulent and spiky!   You know how kids like to touch things, well, they loved these!

I know that many of you are passionate about protecting the planet, and hopefully you are doing something this April to honor our land.   I’ll leave with this quote:

“Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species – man – acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world.” ~ Rachel Carson

~ Linda V.

GPW: Asphof Hen Unit

April 17, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Our Greenroof Project of the Week (GPW) is the rustic extensive 1,000 m ²   “Asphof Hen Unit” greenroof in the beautiful countryside of Rothenfluh, Switzerland.   A conglomeration of seven medieval villages, Rothenfluh is a picturesque municipality in the district of Sissach in the canton of Basel-Country in northern Switzerland.

Aramis and I had the pleasure of visiting the lovely area in September, 2005  where I presented my paper “An International Call for The Greenroof Projects Database” at the first  The World Green Roof Congress held at the University of Basel,  Switzerland.   The Congress was co-organized by ZHAW – Zurich University of Applied Sciences Institute of Environment and Nature Resources, Centre Urban Greening, Competence Centre Green Roofs (Hochschule Wädenswil) – and the  International Green Roof Association (IGRA),  among others,  and the tours were led by graduate students and volunteers from ZHAW/The World Green Roof Congress.

We jumped at the opportunity to join one of the local tours that encompassed “Green Roof Week” from September 12 -17.   Congress attendees had a choice of a wide-ranging excursion program ranging  from one to three-day trips, “showing examples of good practice on famous green roofs in Switzerland and the surrounding area of Basel.”    We opted for a one-day tour and wonderful host and guide was  Nathalie Baumann, MSc / Biogeograph, ZHAW Research Associate, who specializes in the ground-breeding Lapwing bird population nesting atop various brown and greenroofs in the area.

We visited six very different applications, from one of Nathalie’s research sites atop a huge pharmaceutical manufacturer to the largest solar roof installation with greenroofs in Switzerland, to a greenroofed cattle barn and this organic chicken farm with two greenroofed structures, where we enjoyed a fantastic Swiss lunch, too.

The owner, Matthias Eglin, really wanted to tread lightly upon the land in terms of blending the large chicken barn/coop into the landscape and providing  a literally cooler environment for his 2,000 organically-raised chickens.  

He turned to renown biodiversity researcher Dr. Stephan Brenneisen of Hochschule Wädenswil (also the coordinator of the  World Green Roof Congress and president  of the  Green Roof Competence Centre), who served as project consultant for the Canton Basle Rural’s Nature and Countryside Protection Commission – see the federal service project on ZHAW’s website.   Their intent was to establish  an extremely  low maintenance xeric landscape  on top of an agricultural utility building and have it eventually naturalize  to mimic the surrounding terrain.

So in 2002 they constructed the Asphof Hen Unit using inexpensive local materials – so local in fact that they harvested and shred Miscanthus sinensis (China grass/reed) from Mathias’ own property to serve as an inexpensive lower substrate and water retention layer.   They excavated  5 cm of loamy humus topsoil from their former orchard area and used it  as a free growing medium.   The annual Phacelia tanacetifolia (Lacy Phacelia), used extensively in Europe both as a cover crop and as bee forage, was included in the grass  seed to break up the soil mix and act as erosion control.   Other herbs were included in the roof as well.   Here’s the roof, below,  in 2002:

And below, three years later, in 2005:

The  natural temperature control reduces the heat by up to seven degrees in the summer (relative to outside temperatures), due to cooling effects of evaporation, resulting in more stress-free chickens!   When we were there it was fun to watch them roam freely about the property, hopping from one roof to the next.

Getting up to the roof took some care and trust that people were holding the ladder on both ends – and as usual I didn’t have the best shoes on..but it was fun!   And it was very grassy:

The second 1,200 sf greenroof is found on the Hay Shed Greenroof, constructed in 2005,  which shelters hay rolls used on the farm property.

Christine Thuring served as a Congress team member and guide on one of the other tours during the Congress.   Co-founder of Green Roof Safari (and Chlorophyllocity and, of course, one of our contributing editors), along with Jörg Breuning (of Green Roof Service, LLC)  she has lead tours here since, as well.   Green Roof Safari offers special access to the European greenroof industry with custom designed tours with multi-lingual guides specializing in highlighting current and historical trends in policy, research and design for the areas visited.

Christine shared these two photos with me and informed me that the roof continues to be monitored, especially the soil substrate and how it has developed with time – Dr. Brenneisen above with the group, and measuring the roof soil below:

Christine succinctly says of the project:

“The Asphof chicken shed demonstrates innovative, economic, simple success.” ~ Christine Thuring

So successful that they don’t even mow it – the roof meadow acts as a self-sustaining system, fully integrated into the landscape.

If you’re interested in seeing this project, you’re in luck.   Now in its sixth year Livingroofs.org Ltd will be again partnering with Hochschule Wädenswil for their famous “Swiss Green Roof Tour 2010” which  will be held on May 6-7, 2010.    You’ll not only get  Dr. Stephan Brenneisen, but also the indomitable Dusty Gedge, Director of Livingroofs.org, both of whom are internationally recognized for their work on greenroofs and biodiversity.   Much of the focus of the tour is how research in Switzerland has developed an approach to green roofing that has biodiversity at the heart of their design.

From roofs designed for lizards, to those that have been designed for rare bees, beetles and spiders, this year the tour includes visits to roofs where Swiss researchers are studying ground nesting birds – and to where chickens are happy, too, on the ground and on the roofs.

~ Linda V.

Enter the “Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!” Earth Day Photo Contest

April 14, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Some of you may recall back a couple of years ago that Greenroofs.com was a semi-finalist in a competition from The Green on the Sundance Channel called “What’s the Big Idea?” Contest with our 60-second video “Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!”  While we didn’t win, the tag line stuck with me – simple and direct.  April 22, 2010 marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and we are excited to honor Earth Day, really the entire Earth Month of April, with our first photo contest ever!

The “Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!” Photo Contest is designed to be quick, simple, and fun.  Any and all types of greenroofs are eligible, any place on Earth.  Send us* your favorite shot of that special greenroof which graphically epitomizes its relationship to our planet – how it is a living example of loving the Earth.  We’ll be keeping everyone updated on Greenroofs.com with a special page for all the contest photos, and on Twitter.

Tell us how it is a living example in 285 characters or less for the write up on the Love the Earth, Plant a Roof! Voting Page next to your thumbnail photo to let people why they should vote for this particular project and you.  Include a photo source/credit, not part of the 285 count.

For the Greenroofs.com tweet, pare it down to the meat and bones in 120 characters for all to see (we need 20 characters for the link to your photo – so people can click and vote immediately!). Don’t follow us on Twitter yet?  Do so here.

Here’s an example for inspiration – this precious child is my own grandson, Nicky, at The Greenroof Pavilion and Trial Gardens of Rock Mill Park here in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA:

Example tweet @ 120 characters:

Vote Rock Mill Park! The design honors the land & Cherokee heritage with hands-on models & signage for young and old.

The contest is open to everyone, not just the roof owner or the designers of record.  And voting is open to everyone, too, as many times as you like, so tell your friends to vote for your submission!

Entries will be accepted today and voting will be open to everyone until Wednesday, April 28 at 5:00 p.m. EST – but, of course, you’ll increase your chances of receiving the most votes by entering early!  Enter now and rally your forces – don’t delay.

Vote as often as you wish by clicking on your selected photo.  Include your real name and contact info or it will be discarded.

The winner will be announced on the last day of Earth Month, Friday, April 30, 2010, in our Top 10 List for the “Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!” Photo Contest.  The winner will have “their” project highlighted on Greenroofs.com as an upcoming Greenroof Project of the Week and we’ll feature you in a Sky Gardens interview so you can really tell us more about this living roof and why you love it so much.

And, as a humble token of our esteem, the winner will also receive your choice of a $100 gift card to either The Home Depot or Lowe’s for your spring projects or just a good old fashioned check!

Some requirements:

  • ~ You can enter as often as you wish, but only one photo per project for the Contest (send more photos and project description for the blog post if you win, but send the contest photo clearly identified as such).
  • ~ It has to be a real project, no Photoshopping!
  • ~ Didn’t take the photo yourself?  Make sure you credit the source and check for any copyright issues – we’re not liable!
  • ~ Don’t break any laws or bones while taking the photos!
  • ~ Minimum size: 491 x 367
  • ~ And, obviously, by submitting the photo you agree to its being published.

* Include your real name and contact information; a 120-character including spaces description for the tweet starting with “Vote (Name of Project)!…”; a 285-character including spaces (or less) description for the write up including Name of Project, City, State, and/or Country; any additional photos in case you win, but that can come later.

Submit away and good luck – start telling your friends now!  Vote for your favorite here on the Love the Earth, Plant a Roof! Voting Page.

Happy Greening for the Earth, ~ Linda V.