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Ecoroof Portland, Day 1

March 23, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Since the 1990s, Portland, Oregon,  has worked hard to  earn its reputation as a sustainable building pioneer.   Very socially conscious, it’s also a very young city  in terms of energy and spirit.   As the host of Ecoroof Portland 2010, the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services  (BES) does  a great  service to its citizens with this free yearly event with information and technical assistance about ecoroofs – other sponsors included ReDirect Guide, EcoMetro, KXL radio, KINK radio, Portland Business Journal, Left Bank Annex, and ecoShuttle.

A large number of BES staff was on hand to assist, but Matt ran the show.   Matt Burlin  is the  Outreach Coordinator, Sustainable Stormwater Management, City of Portland Environmental Services, and  did an excellent job of organizing and coordinating everything!   Held at the Left Bank Annex  close to the Rose Quarter,  Ecoroof Portland  was easily accessible by public transportation, and in fact, the city encouraged folks to do just that.   The industrial urban space venue was chock full of environmentally friendly features including great daylighting, recycling bins everywhere, and water conservation features in the restrooms.

The program provided options for all levels of sophistication – beginner, professional, researcher, and those who were ready to put  an ecoroof  on their own house or commercial structure.   Friday started out at a very civil 10:30, with  “An Introduction to Ecoroofs in Portland” given by Matt and Amy Chomowicz (also offered on Saturday morning).   Attendees heard about general ecoroof information – how they work, why they’re important, and what resources are available in Portland  to help you get started on your own project  to  gain skills and experience in the industry.

 
The Vendor Fair was open at 10:00, and I was surprised to see how full both the intro session and exhibitor area was for a Friday morning.   We skipped the intro and perused the trade show on the main floor, mingling with  old friends and meeting new ones.

These regional expos are so important for a variety of reasons, and it also gives us an opportunity to meet with local reps of some of our advertisers, too, and learn about business in their neck of the woods – we connected with “new” folks from Tremco, Tournesol Siteworks, American Hydrotech, Xero Flor America, GreenGrid, ILD, and Etera Green Roof Plants (Northwest Horticulture), below.

I was pleased that there was  such a high number of professional firms  exhibiting  among the manufacturers and suppliers, for example landscape architects Lando & Associates Landscape Architecture(who have worked on many ecoroofs here including The Metro Headquarters Greenroof) and  Walker Macy (who worked on the Platinum LEED OHSU CHH building, among others).   Architects, consultants, contractors, structural engineers, and researchers also had booths.

In addition to product and service vendors, non-profit organizations and community organizations were also here including the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities booth, which was manned by Patrick Carey, a trainer for all of the courses needed to get your GRP designation – the 101, 201, 301 and 401.

And it was great to see Ecoroofs Everywhere  and meet Greg Haines,  above left, after all these years (who used to work at BES, seen with Matt, right).   Greg has been installing ecoroofs in Portland since 2002 when he co-founded Ecoroofs Everywhere as a non-profit organization (since 2007 it has been a for-profit partnership).   Of course, the City of Portland had  booths to answer questions about their Ecoroof Grant Program (they gave out beautiful posters) and WorkingGreenPortland.com, a  website  and tool to educate and motivate people about site specific stormwater management options, and city grants and incentives for each.

   

At noon,  Environmental Services Director Dean Marriott welcomed everyone, gave us a quick  update on the Ecoroof Grant program and introduced the keynote speaker, Ed Snodgrass.   Ed, in his usual laid back and affable way,  presented “Ecosystem Services: How Ecoroofs Contribute to Sustainable Cities” sharing his thoughts on how greenroofs  add benefits to our highly sealed urban areas by mimicking natural processes within the bigger picture.   He showed multiple examples of how the natural technologies of plants and soil protect the environment, economy, and equity in cities through connecting living roofs, rain gardens,  porous paving/vegetated parking lots and other systems, while  providing  stormwater management, energy reduction, cooling properties, treatment of graywater and sewage, wildlife habitat and more – for example  the corporate campus of Mercedes-Benz, below, a model of sustainability.

Next  came current research and monitoring efforts specific to the area.  Portland State University (PSU) graduate student Debbie Beck gave a presentation on “Greenroof Soil and Water Quality – Changes in Runoff Water Quality When Biochar is Mixed into a Greenroof Soil.”   Growing media needs to be designed to ensure low concentrations of nutrients in stormwater runoff;  biochar is a soil amendment made from the pyrolysis of waste products, ranging from biomass to tires in a carbon-net-negative process.   It was evaluated for its ability to retain nutrients in greenroof soils, and Debbie also  presented findings on its cleansing properties.

Tim Kurtz, PE, from the City of Portland BES  talked about  “Stormwater Monitoring of Three Ecoroofs in Portland, Oregon”  explaining that although ecoroofs have become a primary option for reducing roof runoff into sewers and streams, at present they’re all treated the same, regardless of growing media depth or composition.   Data was presented from the Hamilton Apartments, the Multnomah County Multnomah Building, and the Portland Building, above,  to determine which greenroof design and maintenance variables are most important to maximize stormwater retention.

 And featured speaker  Dr. David Sailor from PSU presented “Energy Performance of Ecoroofs – the Role of the Roof in Affecting Building Energy and the Urban Atmospheric Environment” – enlightening us how energy analysis of ecoroof performance requires sophisticated techniques and that complex energy balances on vegetative roofs vary from time of day and season to season.   Dr. Sailor concluded with his initial results of studies involving both greenroofs and photovoltaics, with a focus on potential system interactions and synergies.   His findings clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of the two technologies working together – the plants fare better with some shading from the harsh sun and the panels perform better from a cooler rooftop.

“Portland’s Shift to a Sustainable Future: The Role of Ecoroofs” took over the late Friday afternoon session with an interactive panel featuring Dan Vizzini of City of Portland Environmental Services, Tom Puttman of  David Evans and Associates, and Tom Liptan, ASLA, Ecoroof Technical Program Manager with BES.   Fourteen years after ecoroof guru Liptan installed his own atop his garage, the City continues to boost implementation of green infrastructure practices, including a target of 43 acres of ecoroofs by 2013. The panelists discussed their evolution from “grey to green” and how these changes will influence the fabric of  their city.

At 6:00 pm the Vendor Fair was closed to the public, and the City provided a lovely reception for the exhibitors and speakers.   This casual gathering and networking opportunity was a great time just to relax a bit.   Matt and Linda Dobson  (she manages  BES’s Stormwater Team) welcomed Portland Mayor  Sam Adams and it was easy to understand the city’s success with their ecoroof initiatives – you could feel the Mayor’s pride, commitment and  passion for their projects and staff.   He extended an open invitation to all to embrace sustainable business practices and sustainable design, and let us know that the City was looking into funding low interest loans.   He also informed us that he was talking up the challenge to green his own garage roof,  Ã  la Tom Liptan!

Tom Liptan then introduced me in such a nice way, reminiscing about my student days at UGA and how I called him back in 1998 wanting to know all about his garage greenroof and what could we do to promote these earth-friendly roof covers.   I presented a short demo of The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database – how it began with my 1999 research study when I initially had about 30 case studies, to how it’s grown to 1,023 at the moment; why I felt the industry needed an open, free resource for compiling and maintaining a clearing house of sorts.

Ed was up next and Tom also shared his funny recollections of meeting him several years ago.   Ed showed some very unique and interesting” Greenroofs from Around the World” with a fast-paced show of his highlight reel.

Afterwards we were off to the  richly decorated  Alu Wine Bar for a glass of a spectacular local pinot noir (2007 Arterberry Maresh from Dundee Hills, OR) with a bevy of BES people.   From there  Aramis, Ed and I  met Patrick and Brian Heather, GRP,  from SolTerra  for dinner at the very funky and famous Cajun Montage – quite a noisy and fun local favorite!   Patrick and Brian have been collaborating on various projects in Portland and Seattle, and we topped the evening off with a visit to the mixed-use SolTerra offices to see some of their innovative handiwork.   SolTerra provides a variety of services and products for the solar, ecoroof, and living wall markets, and what we saw looked very impressive!

Tomorrow I’ll wrap up our visit  and experiences at Ecoroof Portland 2010 ~ Linda V.

GPW: Oregon Health & Science University Center for Health & Healing

March 19, 2010 at 10:12 pm

I’m a little late for profiling last week’s Greenroof Project of the Week (GPW), the stunning Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Center for Health & Healing (CHH)  – because we were in Portland last week for Ecoroof Portland, which I’ll be blogging about next.   I’ve  been a fan of  this project for a few years – in 2008 Haven Kiers and I included it in the #1 category for our Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof Design, “The Influence of LEED on Design Professionals = Pushing the Green Envelope,” and as a judge for the 2009 Green Roofs for Healthy Cities’ Green Roof Design Awards of Excellence, I had the pleasure of reviewing it in detail  (unfortunately, it was beat out by the awesome Gary Comer Youth Center).

The Oregon Health & Science University  is dedicated to improving the health and quality of life for all Oregonians through excellence, innovation and leadership in health care, education and research.   One of the largest employers in a city and a state known worldwide for leadership and dedication to conservation and the environment, OHSU’s CHH building represents the state-of-the-art in integrative design, involving the hard work and input of many multi-disciplinary professionals.

Located in Portland’s South Waterfront neighborhood, the award-winning 16-story, 400,000 sf OHSU Center for Health & Healing is one of the first buildings to rise from this former shipyard site and the first building in their new River Campus.   The Center for Health & Healing is the most resource efficient large scale building in the region, and one of the greenest in the U.S.   A mixed-use facility for wellness, medical research, clinics, surgery, classrooms and ground floor retail, in 2007 it received Platinum LEED certification, making it the first medical and research facility in the world to have achieved this distinction.   The integrated design features this building boasts is amazing (see the profile), and as a result is 61% more energy efficient than required by Oregon code.
 

“This is a remarkable achievement given the complex array of uses and systems that were needed in the building.   We had to capture every opportunity to integrate together function, architecture and engineering.   This is really the result of a great collaborative team effort.   We have set a new standard for OHSU and for other projects in Portland.” ~ David Crawford, chief financial officer of the OHSU Medical Group (press release).

The Center is linked to Marquam Hill by the Portland Aerial Tram, which has proved to be a major success. According to OHSU, this highly efficient passenger conveyance between their facilities  is estimated to eliminate 2 million vehicle miles and 93,000 gallons of gasoline annually, and reduce yearly greenhouse emissions by more than 1,000 tons.

OHSU CHH has both extensive greenroofs (or ecoroofs) and intensive greenroofs (roof gardens), with a mixture of public and private accessibility.  

Non-accessible ecoroofs include those found on the 17th floor, and staff-only extensive gardens and office accessible balconies located off the 15th and 16th floors, above.

The accessible areas include the day patient area on the 4th floor (above) which opens out onto the restorative garden and the 5th floor (below) which opens out onto the courtyard, a common area and intensive green roof.

“Both programmed for passive recreation, these rooftop gardens allow patients, visitors, staff and faculty to enjoy scenic views of the region, informal social interactions as well as organized gatherings and events.   The roof gardens incorporate paths through lush plantings and benches for seating, offering fresh air and a green oasis as a seasonal topic for the soul amidst the stressful world.” ~ Walker Macy.

We had wanted to visit  the building, but were unable to due simply to time restraints.   But we did speak with Laura Herbon, Associate  at Walker Macy, the landscape architecture firm who designed the greenroofs (they were exhibiting at Ecoroof Portland).   Walker Macy has broad experience providing dynamic garden design for roof gardens, ecoroofs and courtyards over structures, and their work covers a broad range of sizes and purposes and includes places meant for people to gather and grow gardens as well as sites designed strictly for stormwater management.   The OHSU CHH certainly does both!  

Walker Macy has worked on many ecoroofs in the area, including The Louisa, Mercy Corps Headquarters, Bellevue Towers, and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital –  among about 18 others involving greenroofs of some sort.   Macy Walker shared the following info about OHSU’s CHH:

“The green roofs are reducing the peak run-off volumes to the storm sewer, designed to store a minimal amount of water to keep the soil saturated, since the region’s climatic pattern””extremely wet winter and extremely dry summer””generate the volume of stored water that cannot equal the demand and supplemental irrigation that is needed. The stormwater  network connects all rooftop gardens and the fertilizers used contain no phosphorous. The OHSU building incorporates both rainwater and groundwater collection systems on the roof and underground, which get mixed with the building’s own gray water and sent to the basement treatment system. Reclaimed water is stored in cisterns before being pumped upstairs or sent outside to irrigate the building’s grounds and rooftop gardens. Excess reclaimed water is piped into the nearby Willamette River.

“OHSU had to obtain a number of special permits to install its state-of-the-art water system, which includes a membrane bioreactor in the basement that basically is a small scale sewage plant. The result is that the building uses 60% less water than most buildings its size, and its outflow to the city sewage pipes is virtually nonexistent. Through the installation of a bioreactor on site, the building cleans 15,000 gallons of wastewater a day. Constructing the water system was expensive, despite a $50,000 grant from the Portland Office of Sustainable Development and more than $500,000 in system development charges the city waived because the building does not outflow into city sewage. OHSU estimates the system will not pay back its initial costs for at least 10 years. Meanwhile, the building’s $12,000 annual water bill is considerably less than the $80,000 to $100,000 bill OHSU estimates it would have paid without the water reclamation system. The CHH generates 2.1 million gallons annually in potable water savings.

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

“After deducting tax credits and other financial incentives, the green premium for this building was a mere 1.13% of the total project cost. The facility’s return on investment will be just over one year, after which the energy savings are projected to be $600,000 annually.”

Wow!  The Oregon Health & Science University  Center for Health & Healing  embraces all that a green building should be: energy and resource efficient and good for the soul, all while providing beautiful and peaceful aesthetics.   For additional information on this LEED Platinum building and how the greenroofs tie into the whole system, review this thorough case study document produced by OHSU design team member Interface Engineering  (you can also see the LEED Scorecard) or contact Walker Macy.

~ Linda V.

 

Greenroofs.com Homepage Redesign: A Feature Breakdown

March 9, 2010 at 7:06 pm

We’ve begun the Greenroofs.com website redesign starting with the Homepage. Our new design is about improving page navigation and making it easier for our visitors to find the content they want.   More white space has been created and we changed the font type and size for better reading.  We also kept in mind that search engines like to have a sense of what role a page plays in the bigger picture of our site, and we think that this has been accomplished.

New Homepage for www.greenroofs.com

HERE’S WHAT’S NEW:

Project of the Week
The Project of the Week section has been moved to the top of the left side in order to attract the first look of our visitors.   Well-documented eyetool analysis has revealed “hotspots” where visitors looked the most on a webpageand people look most at the left top side. This visual image of the featured greenroof project should instigate additional interest and thus a click-through that brings the latest project profile to the forefront in a separate window.   As you probably know, the project profile contains various photos and detailed content describing many important and relevant aspects of the case study.   The data associated with these profiles is administered on our MySQL Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database via PHP scripts.   Our database currently has 1,022 project profiles with many more being added every day. By the way, the content of this database is currently indexed by Google and Google News – which means when visitors search online, the results page will contain links to the data from our database.

The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database has been open to the world since 2004, evolving from the “International and North American Case Studies” portion of Linda Velazquez’ initial 1999 independent research study.    Read more about how Linda selects the Project of the Week.

The Greenroof Directory
Visitors looking for companies to work with on their projects now have a quick search capability from the homepage, direct to the Greenroof Directory.

The Greenroof Directory is also a MySQL database which contains essential information (contact, products, services, photos, etc.) about Manufacturers, Suppliers, Professional Services, and Organizations in the greenroof industry.

All this information is searchable from the main Directory page and now, for the first time, from our homepage with our new quick search feature.   The most popular main categories are highlighted in this new search box, and you can also access more categories from here, too.

By the way, the content in this directory is also indexed by Google and Google News.

In a guest feature article submitted by Adam Henige, a Web consultant, he states “An analysis of search engine data for 2009 clearly demonstrates a rising trend in the general public’s awareness of and interest in green roofs. Looking at these estimates for a cross section of the most popular general roofing terms and green roofing terms performed on search engines, there was growth in both areas, but by November the monthly search volume had grown only 51 percent for general roofing terms while green roofing terms had grown 155 percent.”

No one knows the secret formula that search engines use in order to optimize  a particular  site and improve rankings, but fortunately for us, we have enjoyed the number one spot in all the top search engines for the most significant keywords in our industry for over 10 years.   In addition to creating lots of organic content on a consistent basis, we also have a high number of sites that consider us a great resource and thus add links back to us, which also improves search results positioning and site PageRank.   So, if you want your company to be found online, make sure you get listed with us (shameless plug!).

Video player
An embedded video player showing the latest videos from our greenroofsTV channel on YouTube has been moved to the top right side for better viewing.   YouTube is the most popular video hosting and sharing service and is owned by Google.   Their service lets users view and upload video files, and in addition to hosting videos, the service lets users rate videos, add comments, and subscribe to their favorite producers.

Public videos uploaded by YouTube online users are selected by us based on their relevance to the greenroof and greenwall industry, and then added to the respective playlist that feed the various video players throughout our entire website.   We encourage all of you to upload your videos to showcase and increase your exposure by sharing experiences, projects, interviews, tours, product demonstrations – with our  marketplace and the rest of the world.

Industry News, ResearchLinks & Industry Support
The extremely long Industry News content that used to be displayed in the  center column has been consolidated to a short list of the latest news with links to a new separate page fully dedicated to all the industry news associated with the greenroof and greenwall community.

The ResearchLinks section on the Navigation Bar has now been replaced simply with Industry, which now houses Industry News, Industry Support  and ResearchLinks.   Industry Support used to be under Greenroofs 101, which was the basis for Linda’s 1999 paper and Greenroofs.com.

Guest Features
You’ll find them now in a highlighted box displaying the latest two features with links to the full articles. If you are an expert on a particular greenroof or greenwall design topic, you may submit your content to our Editor and it will be reviewed for publishing on our site – just email your information to: submissions@greenroofs.com.

NewsLinks
The long list of NewsLinks has also been reduced to a shorter one of the latest few, with links for more news on our page dedicated to all our NewsLinks.   We have also added a section that will highlight a particular event during the month – like the 2010 Olympics, Earth Hour, etc.   Make sure you visit often for all your industry news!

Contributing Editor Columns
Similar to Guest Features, another highlighted section now houses the latest from our contributing editors, prominently displayed within the body of the homepage with links to the respective columns.

Other changes
·
The Google Search Box that allows for searching our entire website is now more visible.

·   The banners on the top and bottom of the page rotate randomly with a fade transition instead of the old slide in a sequential order.   This will allow for all of our advertisers’ banner ads to have equal exposure to our visitors.

·   Social Media icons are now top and center for easy clicks.   Make sure you stay connected with us by following us on Twitter, becoming a fan of our Facebook wall, joining our Greenroofs.com Network group in LinkedIn, subscribing to the greenroofsTV channel on YouTube and our monthly eNewsletter.

·   Finally, the bottom of the page is now filled with small logos from all our sponsors linkable to their respective color brochures in The Greenroof Directory filled with lots of pertinent information about their products and services.

·   The Sky Gardens blog box, Upcoming Events, JobLinks, and our Advertiser Press Releases and are still pretty much in their respective spots, just cleaned up a bit.

We’re still in our tweaking stages, and have a lot more work to do to the rest of our site, but we welcome your feedback for what we have done so far.   Keep us informed of all your greenroof and greenwall happenings, and stay on top of the greenroof world with Greenroofs.com!   We look forward to hearing back from you.

 

World Green Roof Congress 2010 Abstract Submissions Due on Friday

March 9, 2010 at 11:22 am

As a final reminder, those of you wishing to present in London, UK,  this September 15-16, 2010 at the World Green Roof Congress, you  need to submit your abstracts by this Friday, March 12!   Abstracts are invited for submission on a range of topics.

The World Green Roof Congress  is hosted and delivered by CIRIA and Livingroofs.org.   We were there in 2008  and had a grand time in a wonderful setting with many knowledgeable speakers!   The Congress attracted over  300 delegates from around 15 countries and numerous exhibitors.   Hopefully you will attend this year, too, and further your greenroofing experience!

Call for Papers

“The World Green Roof Congress in 2010 will showcase green roofs and green walls, and how we can progress their delivery and achieve their mainstream inclusion in buildings. The Congress will also focus on what can be done to fully exploit the multiple benefits of green roofs and adapt to a changing climate.

The Congress committee are looking for papers, presentations and case studies that demonstrate the delivery of green roofs and green walls providing a diverse range of benefits, and the evidence base to demonstrate that they not only look aesthetically pleasing but bring significant socio and economic benefits.

The Congress is keen to have papers and presentations that cover these themes: 1. International green roof case studies; 2. British green roof case studies; 3. Policy and regulations for green roofs; 4. Up on the roof – urban agriculture, amenity and place making; 5. Planting and growing media for green roofs; 6. Biodiversity benefits; 7. Water management benefits; 8. Green roofs and climate change adaptation; 9. Retrofitting green roofs; and 10. Delivery of green roofs.”

The Call for Papers closes on March 12,  2010 –  learn  all about  the submission guidelines, requirements, and process here:    World Green Roof Congress.   For additional information or any queries, please contact Dusty Gedge  at: dusty@dustygedge.co.uk or Charles Perkin  at: charles.perkin@ciria.org – tel +44 (0)207 5493300.

~ Linda V.