After a flurry of showers, tornadoes, and even a sprinkling of late snow here in the Atlanta area, leaves are boldly unfurling, flowers are sprouting, and the pollen is flowing. If you’re also in the northern hemisphere, you’re probably experiencing much of the same. Spring is in full bloom and Spring greenroof conferences are gearing up across the U.S. and the world! What better time than the season of rebirth to enjoy visiting new or favorite cities and, of course, taking in the greenroof scenery?
We’ve been busy planning for and helping to promote our two favorite conferences devoted exclusively to the organic architecture of greenroof technology: the 2nd International Green Roof Congress in Stuttgart-Nürtingen, Germany on May 25-27 and the 7th Annual Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, Awards & Trade Show here in Atlanta, GA on June 3-5. Each is an awesome opportunity to meet and greet with industry experts and greenroof colleagues, old and new. I’ll be talking about both, starting with the German event.
But first, some quick thoughts on traveling during our trying economic times – people ask me how fiscally responsible is it to spend money now on an international conference – or any conference for that matter, factoring in the expenses plus the cost of missed billing of clients or other income producing work… Great points, but I see it also as a working vacation, continuing education, an investment in our future. Referring to traveling, a recent professional acquaintance of mine commented, “Our interest lies in seeing what else is out there, what experiences (the good, the bad and the ugly) other professionals have had, and provide an opportunity to exchange ideas.” But, she added, it has to make economic sense, and be perceived as a “good value for our money.” Meaning, I believe, the educational component must be strong and varied. And I know that both of these conferences offer incredible opportunities through the lectures, workshops, tours, and just plain networking. The experiential benefits of participating in these interactive events present invaluable hands-on learning through engagement with the actual designers and planners. If you can swing it, you simply cannot replicate the knowledge obtained and lessons learned in-situ.
This will be our second participation in the International Green Roof Congress, after attending in September, 2004. Along with many international colleagues we heard from a wide variety of green roof experts, including the late Dr. Dave Beattie, Prof. Dr. Manfred Köhler, Dr. Nigel Dunnett, Susan K. Weiler, Dr. Franz Alt, and Ho Wan Weng, just to mention a few.
After the success of the first one four years ago, the second Congress is once again organized by the International Green Roof Association (IGRA) under the patronage of the German Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, Wolfgang Tiefensee, and co-hosted by the German Roof Gardener Association (DDV). They have numerous national and international supporters, including the Title Sponsor, ZinCo, Premium Sponsor Dow Hyperlast, and Greenroofs.com as the Media Sponsor. International supporters include ciria, the construction industry research and information association/UK; European Landscape Contractors Association; International Federation of Landscape Architects; and the Internationale Föderation des Dachdeckerhandwerks e.V. German national supporters include the FLL, among others (see all).
Wolfgang Ansel, the Coordinator, met up with us at last September’s World Green Roof Congress in London, and brought us up to speed with the upcoming Congress and their amazing line-up of world renown experts and practitioners – see his January Guest Feature INTERNATIONAL GREEN ROOF CONGRESS 2009: “Bringing Nature Back to Town.” They are concentrating on case studies of truly extraordinary global projects, from Copenhagen to London, Zaragoza, Nijmegen, Warsaw, Singapore and Fukuoka, Japan where the ACROS – Asian Cross Roads Over the Sea – designed by Emilio Ambasz, will be highlighted as an example of his philosophy and presentation “The Green over the Grey” – Landscape-cum-Building Designs.
Learning that famed Argentine-born, New York-based Ambasz himself would be presenting on this amazing 100,000 sf green oasis in the middle of the city sealed the deal for me – I’ve been a fan of his since I went back to school at UGA in the late 1990’s, and even selected him once to study as our architect of choice for a group project on green architecture. And in 2008 when we inaugurated our Greenroofs of the World Calendar series, we selected the ACROS Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall for the month of December – the very project I reported on!
Other not-to-be missed speakers include Bernd W. Krupka, famed German landscape architect, “certified expert” and author of technical books on greenroofs – I’m not sure how you get that designation, but I’ll find out! He’ll talk about “Basic Green Roof Planning – Vegetation Technology;” with his many years of experience in the field, Bernd was very helpful to me a few years ago when I was writing my paper “European Airport Greenroofs – A Potential Model for North America,” (2005). The always popular British plant expert, Dr. Nigel Dunnett- soft-spoken but with a bite, will present “Plant Selection Criteria for Green Roofs – The Question of Biodiversity,” American restoration ecologist Paul Kephart of Rana Creek fame will lecture on “Ecological Designs with Green Roofs,” and our knowledgeable and charming Brit colleague Dusty Gedge of Livingroofs.org will discuss “Promoting Green Roofs in the UK – The Greater London Authority Campaign.”
And we’ll hear from these distinguished German professionals as well: our colleague Roland Appl, green roof engineer, President of the International Green Roof Association: “Green Roof Technology – Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow;” Rolf Disch, architect known for integrating solar into green building design: “Sustainable Architecture in the 21st century,” another esteemed colleague of ours, Prof. Dr. Manfred Köhler, landscape architect, professor at the University of Applied Science Neubrandenburg, and President of WGRIN: “Energy Savings with Green Roofs,” and Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Gilbert Lösken of Leibniz University of Hanover and Head of the FLL Green Roof Workgroup: “Key Criteria for Creating Green Roof Guidelines.” Click here to see the complete list of speakers.
The excursions will be the real highlight for Aramis and me – last time we went on the all day ZinCo Green Roof Tour which took us to the Stuttgart region including “Hundertwasserhaus Plochingen” – the Hundertwasser Multi-Family Development, “MAG-Galerien” in Geislingen, Schule Unterensingen, ZinCo International’s Headquarters, and “Römerpark-Museum” in Köngen. So this time I think we’ll try something different – I think a jaunt to the German solar capital, Freiburg, would be highly informative, or maybe you’ll catch us cruising on the Zeppelin NT over beautiful Lake Constance in Southern Germany on the lookout for greenroofs…
So, will you be going? Finalize your plans now and hopefully we’ll see you there!
~ Linda V.