’s 2016 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design

December 23, 2016 at 2:03 pm

It’s hard to believe 2016 is coming to a close! We’ve just announced’s 2016 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design for you vegetated building envelope lovers.

Now in our tenth year, for 2016 Design Editor Haven Kiers and I, as Publisher, compiled a special 10th Anniversary Edition of our popular “Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design” series with the theme of “What’s old (or classic) is new again!” We reviewed our trendsetting categories of yearly en vogue market drivers and architectural designs of the past decade and featured our favorite top 10 groupings we considered most timely and significant – yet revitalized with new and exciting projects and designers.

Our favorite green architecture designers are here including Emilio Ambasz, Bjarket Ingels Group (BIG), Vincent Callebaut, just to name a few. So here goes:

2016 Top 10 List Hot Trends in Greenroof Greenwall Design

The “Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design”:

10) Client Specific ‘Boutique’ Greenroofs & Greenwalls

9) PreFab Modular Homes are Fabulous

8) Earth-Sheltering for Sustainable Site Design

7) Gardens in the Clouds: Stacking & Stepping with Vegetation

6) LID Strategies: Celebrating Water with Greenroofs, Rain Gardens, Stormwater Catchment & Beyond

5) Innovative Greenwalls: Stretching Design & Our Imagination

4) Educational Facilities as Green Living Laboratories

3) España: A Progressive Líder in Green Design

2) Sky Farms on the (High)Rise

1) Skyscraping Sky Gardens on Roofs, Walls & Skybridges

Always striving for a captivating combination of ecosensitivity and chic sustainability, 2016 once again featured some of the best and brightest designs as inspiration to us all. Some of the projects selected include:

10) Client Specific ‘Boutique’ Greenroofs & Greenwalls – a perennial favorite category, 2016 includes the Veneto Eye Bank Foundation (Fondazione Banca degli Occhi del Veneto Onlus) – giving metaphorical life to the blind in Venice-Mestre, Italy. The two extreme points of the trapezoidal 12m high walls seem about to touch each other, reminiscent of The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo. The entry to the eye transplant and stem cell research facility opens to stepped gardens and greenroof, and is surrounded and located over a large on structure greenroof over the parking garage. In Bogotá, Colombia, the “Seedkeeper” guards culture and biodiversity. The small Terracita Organica (Organic Terrace) embraces urban ag in heart of the city and ensures native plant survival. Run in secret and part of an underground movement, the rooftop seed reservoir preserves heritage and provides food security for Colombia: retrieving seeds, recovering knowledge, recovering memory.

9) PreFab Modular Homes are Fabulous – The “3box” system in Paris adds prefabricated elements on top of and between existing buildings. The low income housing system does not require the purchase of sites; instead, the right to build is obtained in exchange for renovating existing buildings. Tangier Bay in Morocco is a modular social housing project with adjustable greenroofed habitats. Buildings are equipped with loggias and terraces with several functions: provide beautiful views of the ocean, facilitate natural ventilation and allow natural lighting through.

8) Earth-Sheltering for Sustainable Site Design – The Great Wall of WA in northwest Australia is a serpentine structure encompassing 12 homes sharing a rammed earth façade. Rammed earth extracted from the local clay pans, pebbles and gravel quarried from the river bed are the palette of materials that blend into the landscape. The Wasit Nature Reserve outside of Sharjah, UAE, is a former waste-water and landfill site transformed into a visitor center. The earth-sheltered site is now home to 350 different bird species, as well as a landing zone for over 30,000 migrating birds.

7) Gardens in the Clouds: Stacking & Stepping with Vegetation – ‘489-539 King Street West’ is a current redevelopment scheme in Toronto and will be a staggered cubic ziggurat with verdant rooftop sky gardens. The 500 stepped apartments on top will cover the lower floors of mixed-use. The Marina One in Singapore is a current multi-use project with luxury condos. Stacking and stepping internally, its inner core forms a 3-D void dripping with vegetation. This ‘Green heart’ is the largest public plaza in the CBD; and, the building footprint is penetrated by air wells and slots to ensure natural ventilation.

6) LID Strategies: Celebrating Water with Greenroofs, Rain Gardens, Stormwater Catchment & Beyond – The highly innovative blue-greenroof Cira Green at Cira Centre South is Philadelphia’s first elevated park which also aggressively manages stormwater 11 stories up. Placed below the greenroof paving, “Pancake Cisterns” are thin detention cisterns which capture rainfall and release it gradually to the adjacent planted areas via a system of Sutro weirs. The 2.9 acre site of the Center for Sustainable Landscape, part of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, is Net Zero Water and Net Zero Energy. Designed with multiple LIDs, it’s the first and only building to meet 4 of the highest green certifications: Living Building Challenge, world’s most rigorous green building standard; LEED® Platinum — tied for highest points awarded under version 2.2; first and only Four Stars Sustainable SITES Initiative™ (SITES™) for landscapes project (pilot); and the first and only WELL Building Platinum project (pilot).

5) Innovative Greenwalls: Stretching Design & Our ImaginationThe Global Change Institute is the University of Queensland’s landmark zero-carbon, six-star collaborative hub which generates more energy than it consumes. It has paneled greenwalls over the indoor air-conditioning vents designed to draw and expel air through the plants in order to maximize dust and VOC reduction giving a biological treatment to air in the building as well as providing amenity. Naman Retreat the Babylon in Ngu Hành Son, Da Nang, Vietnam, boasts a building façade combining concrete louvers with interspersed greenery and the wire-trellised green wall provides a visual barrier to enhance the privacy of the resort. The harmonious mix of greenery, natural stone and bamboo provide a perfect atmosphere that enable the guests a maximum body and mind purification and relaxation.

4) Educational Facilities as Green Living Laboratories – Completed this year, the National Health, Wellness and Learning Center at Community School 55 in the South Bronx is a School Garden to School Cafe Site by the Green Bronx Machine. Headed up by educator and administrator Stephen Ritz, a Global Teacher Prize Finalist who donated his $25,000 winnings to refurbish an area of the 100+ year old reclaimed school, it is NYC’s 1st elementary-workforce development school and training for residents. Facilities include indoor and outdoor gardens, robotics, a 100% mobile classroom kitchen with broadcast capabilities, solar and pedal power stations, and computer lab. In Barcelona, Spain, a series of vertical edible gardens designed and implemented by landscape artist Marc Grañén informs and creates an urban network of biological info vital for understanding natural biological rhythms of the city. He received support from the environmental department of the Barcelona City Council and School Agenda 21, with the collaboration of Obra Social La Caixa.

3) España: A Progressive Líder in Green Design –The new Joan Maragall Library in Barcelona preserves open space and gardens by moving them up to the roof, creating a new social hub. The architects decided to create a terrace and place the library program underneath, while the greenroofs now constitute the new garden known as the ‘Garden of Light.’ La Calahorra Green Wall in Elche addresses the challenge of combining a coffee shop within a vertical garden with the complexity of a structure attached to a historic building, built in the late twelfth and early thirteenth century. The addition of the robust living wall created a destination and new landmark with 3,000+ plants and 15 species of five different families, mostly endemic to the Mediterranean region.

2) Sky Farms on the (High)Rise – The Farming Kindergarten Dongnai in Vietnam has a continuous looped greenroof used as both a large, safe playground and as an agricultural area for the adjacent shoe factory workers’ children. It grow five types of vegetables planted in an experimental 200 m2 roof garden for agriculture education and also serves as a prototype of a sustainable, low-budget education space in a tropical climate. “HYPERIONS” in Jaypee, India are garden towers of agroecology and sustainable food systems growing up around 6-multi use wooden and timber-framed towers. Double objective of energy decentralization and food deindustrialization. The architect claims that converting worldwide agriculture into organic techniques and bio-sourced construction could reduce worldwide CO2 emissions by about 40% by 2030.

1) Skyscraping Sky Gardens on Roofs, Walls & Skybridges – The Mile is a conceptual design for the world’s highest vertical park and public observation deck at one mile (1,609 meters) offering a natural ecosystem, eventually covered with plants and greenery and inhabited by hundreds of animal species. The architect says “Imagine you take New York’s Central Park, turn it vertical, roll it and twirl it.” Adding to transformation of New York City’s skyline is The Spiral, is a 65-story office tower that is fully wrapped in a cascading ribbon of lushly planted terraces, hanging gardens and soaring atria. Its architect states “The Spiral will punctuate the northern end of the High Line, and the linear park will appear to carry through into the tower, forming an ascending ribbon of lively green spaces, extending the High Line to the skyline.” And finally, Forest City in Iskandar, Malaysia to be completed by 2036, is a $40.9 billion masterplan to be new global cluster of commerce and culture. Set to be south-east Asia’s largest mixed use green development and the world’s largest greenroof system, it will consist of a rooftop network of interconnected parks and gardens.

I presented the 2016 Top 10 List solo at this year’s Cities Alive Conference in Washington, D.C. since Haven couldn’t make it, and you can see the entire “ 2016 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design + a Look into 2017” video at our upcoming 2017 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit coming in April.

By Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA, LEED AP, GRP Publisher

Don’t Miss the Last Early Bird Discount for 2015 CitiesAlive Ending This Friday, September 18!

September 16, 2015 at 4:19 pm

Last Chance for the CitiesAlive 2015 in NYC Early Bird Discount Plus the Exclusive Hotel Rate!

Hosted by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) for the 13th time, the 2015 CitiesAlive Green Roof and Wall Conference in Brooklyn is just around the corner!  Have you finalized all of your plans yet?  Most importantly, have you registered?


Don’t forget to:

Register before September 18th for the Last Early Bird Discount  + Special Hotel Rate!

That’s this Friday!

As usual, CitiesAlive is going to be a great event with tons of activities, learning, networking, and just plain fun.  And you can’t get a better city than New York to accommodate it all!

GRHC has done a great job in putting all of this together.  Join over 60 expert speakers in the field of sustainability examining themes of resilience including:


Terrapin partner and co-founder Bill Browning has received this year’s Design for Humanity Award, presented by the American Society for Interior Designers.
Bill Browning will be featured at CitiesAlive as a keynote speaker. His address will inform you about the science of biophilic design and how living architecture contributes to productivity, health, and happiness.
Birgit Siber is a principal at Diamond Schmitt Architects where sustainable design is central to her work. She incorporated the first large scale living wall biofilter at the University of Guelph-Humber.
Along with Alan Darlington, Founder and Vice President of Nedlaw Living Walls, Birgit will explore the design, functionality, and return on investment of living wall biofilters.
Bruce Fowle co-founded FXFOWLE in 1978 and has guided the firm to international recognition for excellence in design, pioneering socially and  environmentally responsible architecture and planning.
Using the renovation and expansion of the Javits Center as a case study, Bruce will discuss the complexity of choreographing the updating of the building systems.

I would be pretty amiss if I also didn’t say to please come and see our Design Editor Haven Kiers and my presentation at CitiesAlive – our annual Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design for 2015 .  We’ll be releasing the 2015 Top 10 List Press Release soon, so stay tuned for that, too:


Linda Velazquez, ASLA, GRP, LEED AP, is the founder and publisher of (1999) and the principal of Sky Gardens Design. publishes The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database, The Greenroof & Greenwall Directory, and the GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube. produces the biennial Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summits (2015, 2013, 2011).
Haven Kiers, MLA, LEED AP, GRP, designs and presents nationally about greenroofs and is a founding partner of GreenSwell Design and Planning. She is a trainer with Green Roofs for Healthy Cities where she facilitates the Green Roof 101, 201, & 401 Courses. Haven also teaches courses at the University of California, Davis. Haven is the Design Editor on (2005).

Other activities at CitiesAlive include:

A la carte Registration to fit your schedule
Attend exclusive networking Events like a rooftop dinner and a networking cruise
Receive a special discounted rate for On-Site Accommodations
Discover products and people at the Trade Show
Cutting-edge Training opportunities
Full show Program available for details.

And, check out just some of these awesome CitiesAlive tours on Wednesday, October 7:


L – R Photos: Mark Morrison; Art Elmers; David Sundberg.

Visionaire Rooftop
Wednesday October 7th
3pm – 5pm: $29
1 Hotel Central Park
Wednesday October 7th
3pm – 5pm: $29

Jacob K. Javits Convention Center Roof
Wednesday October 7th
3pm – 5pm: $29
Attend this unique tour of a roof terrace designed by Mark K. Morrison Landscape Architecture, located on the 35th floor of a LEED Platinum-certified condominium in lower Manhattan. This project features a large potager vegetable garden with vertical screens for climbing vegetables and a fruit orchard with dwarf trees as well as a cold frame for year round harvest, an herb garden in a knot design, and a patch for berries. Visit this new green hotel on Sixth Avenue just one block from Central Park in the heart of Manhattan and explore the inner workings of the efficiency irrigation and fertilization system installed by Netafim that supports a three-story exterior living wall.  Other eco-friendly design features, including the use of reclaimed and natural materials throughout the hotel, reflect 1 Hotel’s commitment to sustainability.
Visit the Javits Convention Center, home to the second largest green roof on a single, free-standing building in the USA installed by Xeroflor. This 292,000 square foot rooftop has been transformed into an energy-saving green haven using sedum grown on a farm in Upstate New York. A recent study found that the roof has attracted nearly a dozen different species of birds who are using the green roof for nesting and breeding.

And these tours on Thursday, October 8:


L – R Photos: Greensulate; Sun Works Center for Environmental Studies; Barbara Norman.

Regis High School
Thursday October 8th
3pm – 5pm: $29
Sun Works Center for Environmental Studies
Thursday October 8th
3pm – 5pm: $29
PS41 – The Greenwich Village School Green Roof, Thursday October 8th, 3pm – 5pm: $29
Explore one of New York City’s largest green roofs with this exclusive tour of Regis High School’s rooftop gardens. Tucked away above Regis’ stately, landmark designated facade, this mini-ecosystem includes native grasses, solar panels, an observatory, apiaries, and herb gardens that supply the school’s cafeteria. Joining us to discuss the design and the environmental benefits of the green roof will be Alexander Roth, Greensulate’s lead landscape designer. The Tour will conclude with a small wine reception. The Sun Works Center for Environmental Studies at P.S. 333, The Manhattan School for Children, is a rooftop environmental education greenhouse, producing hydroponically grown vegetables on the Upper West Side. The project was designed by NY Sun Works, a non-profit organization that builds hydroponic science labs in urban schools. It provides science and sustainability education for approximately 150 K-8th grade students every day. The GELL Project Greenroof Environmental Literacy Laboratory is the first green roof installed by the New York City Department of School Construction Authority (SCA). A 15,000 sq. ft. LiveRoof system covers the building with a wide variety of sedums and New York native plants. The tour will be led by science teacher and project founder Vicki Sando, who will discuss navigating the design process, funding, and construction of this $2 million-dollar project along with how the green roof is integrated into the curriculum.

See all of the tour descriptions at CitiesAlive here.


And, don’t miss the Closing Dinner on Wednesday October 5th which is sure to be an outstanding event, courtesy of Rooflite, on the Brooklyn Grange Roof Farm #1.


We here at hope to see you next month at CitiesAlive 2015!

~ Linda V.