Final Reflections of Fall 2010 Greenroof Conferences: Vancouver, B.C., Part 3

February 14, 2011 at 4:44 am

Vancouver, B.C.

The stunning Vancouver, B.C. with its mix of rugged beauty, eclectic architecture, and progressive thinking was our last stop on our “international conference tour” at the end of last year –  after previously having presented the Greenroofs.com  “2010 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design” in Mexico City  and Singapore.

Aramis and I  were excited to attend and exhibit at CitiesAlive!, the 8th Annual Green Roof and Wall Conference on November 30 through December 4, 2010  in this beautiful harbor  city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada,  co-hosted by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) and the British Columbia Institute of Technology  (BCIT).    Neither  of us  had been here, and  we really had been looking forward to seeing  this naturally gorgeous  city surrounded by majestic snow covered mountain peaks, and we weren’t disappointed!

Celebrating its 125th Anniversary on April 6 of this year, Vancouver, B.C. is “Canada’s Cultural capital.”   Originally inhabited by the Coast Salish people – the ancestors of the Squamish, Burrard, TsleilWaututh, Musqueam (Xw’muthk’i’um), Tsawwassen, Coquitlam (Kwayhquitlam), Katzie and Semiahmoo Indian bands, Spanish explorers first “discovered” Canada’s west coast in the early 1590’s.   Captain George Vancouver arrived 200 years later, and fur trading, gold mining, and  tree logging soon followed by the mid 1800’s. Vancouver’s cultural diversity is reflected everywhere – you have a huge selection of shopping, restaurants, bars, pubs, and nightclubs in various locales throughout the city.

 

Vancouver also has professed a steadfast commitment to sustainability – their long term goal is to lead the world in green building design and construction, and it promises to be “the greenest city in the world” by 2020.   Vancouver’s targets include requiring all buildings constructed from 2020 onward to be carbon neutral in operations and reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in existing buildings by 20% over 2007 levels.   Reportedly, Vancouver has the greenest building code for new homes in North America, but they don’t plan to stop here  – they believe the technology already exists to support a more ambitious new construction requirement: net zero or carbon neutral new buildings.   Read the “GC 2020 Draft Green Building Action Plan” here.

“These green building innovations will create thousands of new jobs, create a significant economic stimulus, increase the value of buildings, reduce property owners’ operating costs, help Vancouver become more resilient to climate change and energy price fluctuations, and position Vancouver as a global leader in green building technologies and expertise.” ~ Talk Green Vancouver/ City of Vancouver

As you may know, Corporate Knights, Canada’s magazine for clean capitalism, recently ranked Victoria and Vancouver, B.C. at the top of the list of Canada’s most sustainable cities – see the 2.9.11 Press Release.

Our  hotel and venue were both beautiful and green.   The luxurious Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel  is situated atop a pier at the magnificent Canada Place complex on Vancouver’s dramatic waterfront.   And its iconic white sails have made it a prominent landmark for the city (currently being renovated).

Part of the Green key ECO – rating program  (rated 4) itself,  the Pan Pacific is  conveniently located just a short walk above or below ground to the multiple award-winning venue, the LEED ® Platinum certified for New Construction Vancouver Convention Centre.   This expansion project is also known as  the Vancouver Convention Centre West, and last year it served as the international broadcast and media center for the XXI Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games. (Haven and I included it in 2007’s Top 10 List under the #2 category, Bigger is Better – Mega Greenroofs.)

In addition to its massive 261,360 sf living roof – the largest in Canada –  seawater heating and cooling, on-site water treatment and fish habitat are built into the foundation of the Convention Centre’s West Building, making the expansion project one of the greenest convention centers in the world.   Located  both  on land and  in the water, the views were  breathtaking and spectacular!   The  floor-to-ceiling glass allow for maximum viewing pleasure of the North Shore mountains and the harbor, its boats, and even sea planes landing at will.

Planted with more than 400,000 indigenous plants and grasses from the Gulf Islands, the roof provides a beautiful flowering  natural habitat to birds, insects and small mammals.   Many people worked on this project- see this gorgeous video taken by David Buge with Bruce  Hemstock of PWL Partnership Landscape Architects narrating on top of the Vancouver Convention Centre:

Although the greenroof is inaccessible to the public, the designers cleverly have allowed glimpses of the various angles and vegetated planes on two separate levels for visitors to enjoy, see below:

And the interior is just as cool and eco-friendly as the massive six-acre native plant greenroof overhead.    For  example, a  phenomenal mosaic of cedar and hemlock pieces  covering  the interior  walls creates a warm glow and adds multi-dimension to the expansive space.

Kudos to GRHC and BCIT for securing this fabulous, uber-sustainably designed venue!

Back to the CitiesAlive! Conference and Trade Show: We arrived on  Tuesday, November 30 to make sure we were on time for  the following day’s pre-conference activities (this was also the first day of tours, but we were too late to make it).

On Wednesday, GRHC  offered five  half-day education classes and  one anticipated  new one, the Introduction to Rooftop Agriculture – a  topic that is really hot right now.   Additionally, they had four 1.5 hour education sessions which  all sounded interesting!   But since I had to choose,  I attended the 4-hour “Integrated Water Management for Buildings & Sites”  seminar presented by Jeffrey Bruce, FASLA, GRP,  President of Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company  (and Chair of GRHC), while Aramis set up our exhibitor booth and attended the Corporate Members Committee Meeting.

I had heard mixed reviews about the course from its initial launch in Washington, D.C. last year, that it was certainly informative but a bit dry.   But as someone with a degree in landscape architecture and a fairly good background in stormwater management, I enjoyed it.     It wasn’t particularly dry, just quite technical and very in-depth in terms of definitions, policies,  and procedures – although it said it was an introductory class, I would say  it was definitely not  for beginners!   Developed by GRHC and the Association of Irrigation Consultants (ASIC), with leads Jeff Bruce and Lynda Wightman of Hunter, it embraces new approaches to design for Net Zero Water consumption.

The course covered water types and sources, and how we may manage water and energy resources more effectively including application and recapture methods.   Jeff is a very good instructor – patient and  extremely knowledgeable (his company  also developed the course)  -and  the class  was very interactive.   We had some  lively discussions from a really multi-disciplinary group of professionals from across Canada and the U.S., both from private practice and government at various levels.   And the 98-page “Integrated Water Management for Buildings & Sites” Participant’s Manual  is a veritable Bible of Integrated Water Management  information.

Greenroofs.com  was proud, once again, to be a Media Sponsor for the 8th year.   The CitiesAlive! Opening Plenary on Wednesday night, sponsored by Architek.ca,  was extremely interesting as we were greeted with a lovely traditional Coast Salish welcome from Elder Rose Point of the Musqueam First Nation and welcome song from Gerry Oleman, photo above from BCIT.

GRHC President Steven Peck was the Master of Ceremonies and he spoke about the many efforts and accomplishments of the industry association in the past year, including many firsts.   We also heard from City of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who proclaimed his city would be the greenest in world, and from Rod Goy, the Acting Dean of the School of Construction and the Environment at BCIT, who spoke about their commitment to greening the built environment.

The always popular Paul Kephart of Rana Creek Living Architecture was the eloquent keynote speaker and shared his vision as a restoration ecologist and designer of living architectural systems.   He also spoke about several of his collaborations with unique and large scale projects including the Gap Headquarters, Transbay Terminal Bay, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Croton Water Treatment Plant (Mosholu Golf Course)  in New York which, when completed, will be the largest continuous greenroof in North America at nine acres.

Afterwards the Trade Show opened, the socializing started and didn’t stop until late.   Thursday dawned overcast but the sessions started bright and early at 8:30 am.   As usual, there was a huge number of expert international speakers in every track, with four tracks in all – Policy, Design, Research, and Expert Discussion Panels.   In my opinion, it’s almost too massive a program, since it’s impossible to  experience even a fraction of all the excellent presentations.   What most people did was jump from session speaker to another to ensure they could hear their favorites.   I think the ideal would be to send four people from each company or organization to attend each and then get together and debrief, but, really,  who could afford that.

I found that I ended up splitting the next two days worth of sessions between the Design Track and the Expert Discussions.   I started off the first day, Thursday, December 2nd, with the Barriers and Opportunities to Advance Collaborative Design Practices panel and heard from Paul Kephart, landscape architect David Yocca of Conservation Design Forum, and environmental engineer Greg Allen from Sustainable Edge.   Jeff Bruce moderated, and these  four highly  seasoned professionals provided an intense interplay of personal opinion and practical experience, with plenty of audience interaction adding to the pot of working with disparate professionals.

The Temperate Green Roofs session followed and we learned about The Ted & Lois Hole Green Roof Healing Garden in Edmonton, Alberta.   Designed by the wonderful Kerry Ross, Project Architect with IBI Group Architects and Ernie Webster, Landscape Architect with IBI/Landplan, this 22,500 sf hybrid extensive/intensive green roof is located at a new facility for holistic healing, the Royal Alexandra Hospital.   Designed to commemorate Lois Hole, the former Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, and her husband Ted, it serves as a passive healing garden and visual amenity.   The  trees, shrubs, tall grasses and flowers were selected to represent the natural flora of Alberta, and were supplied by the family nursery.   Some of the beautiful features include lots of seating areas, a water fall and reflecting pool, colorful glass screens, and places for art.      

I hopped over to  Expert Discussions – Standards Development for Green Roofs and Walls – Future Directions, Challenges and Needs with Mike Curry  of Midwest Trading, Dr. Robert Berghage  of Penn State, Kelly Luckett of Green Roof Blocks, and Blair Bennett of Soprema.   Moderated by Zachary Williams of Carlisle SynTec, it was pretty interesting.   There was a lot of candid sentiment about the process and practical issues from from what appeared to  be an audience of mostly engineers, architects, city planners and the likes.   Everyone wanted to know how their product or system might fare and how to get involved, and maintenance issues and ensuring maintenance contracts were included in deliverables were also a hot topic.

But I hopped back after about 20 minutes because I didn’t want to miss Nate Griswold from American Hydrotech  and his presentation about the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts  and some of their unusual challenges with this project shaped like a hyperbolic paraboloid.   Problems arose with the varying slopes as well as the high amount foot traffic and as a result, a new steep slope product and assembly for this type of greenroof was developed.

Unfortunately, I missed out on most of  The Hugh Garner Green Roof Project – an integrated process, presented by Monica Kuhn of Monica E. Kuhn Architect, Inc. and Carolyn Moss of Moss Sund Architects, Inc., but I learned more about it when we featured this great multi-unit residential Housing Co-operative in downtown Toronto  as our first Greenroof Project of the Week for 2011:

The GRHC 2010 Awards of Excellence Luncheon followed and twelve awards were given this year – eight  for awesome buildings with greenroofs and greenwalls, including local favorite, the Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Project.   Below is Peter  MacDonagh, one of the principals of The Kestrel Design Group, who received a Special Recognition Award of Excellence for their work with The City of Minneapolis Target Center Arena, which we featured in  our 2010 Hot Trends Top 10 List in the  #9 category, “Green Sporting Venues.”

There were some other really cool projects, see them all  here, as well as four deserving individuals honored within our industry.

One of these was  Kelly Luckett, above, AKA The Green Roof Guy, who won a Civic Award of Excellence for his hard work on the RP-14 Wind Design Guideline (read his  Green Roofs, a Civic Award of Excellence, and a Lifetime of Memories  article).   Talk about someone who really should have been recognized!   He has put in years of his life (not to mention probably tens of thousands of dollars from his own pocket) to further this important issue for our industry.   And he was really excited and humbled about receiving it, too.   I can  only say how humble and proud I felt when he acknowledged me for giving him a platform to write.  Way to go, Kelly!

The Lifetime Achievement Awards  ceremony was truly poignant and inspiring as a special tribute was held for two legends of the roof garden/greenroofing industry.   Author of “Roof Gardens, History, Design and Construction,” W.W. Norton, 1999, the late Theodore Osmundson, FASLA,  was honored.   Theodore Osmundson became a Fellow of the ASLA in 1963 and was ASLA president from 1967-1969.   We heard about  his lifelong passion for landscape architecture, and roof gardens in particular, from his son, Gordon.

 

Inspired by the Rockefeller Center Roof Gardens  in New York City, industrialist Henry Kaiser hired Osmundson in 1958 to design the beautiful 3 and a half acre public park, the Kaiser Center Roof Garden  in Oakland, CA, which  became Osmundson’s best known work.  Gordon Osmundson, also a successful landscape architect, has taken  on the task of  working on a second edition of his dad’s highly successful “Roof Gardens” book.

Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, OC, FASLA, FCSLA, LMBCSLA  then graced the stage and spoke about “Reflections of six decades designing natural sites.”   Educated at Harvard University, she expressed her love and gratitude for landscape architecture where she has shone brilliantly as  a leader in garden roofs, and spoke about her early work while raising a family.   She shared the visions of some of her numerous  important projects, including the  stunning Visitor Centre Green Roof at the VanDusen Botanical Gardens.

Designed by Busby Perkins + Will  and Cornelia,  the center is slated to meet the Living Building Challenge 2.0 (as per the Cascadia Green Building Council) as well as LEED Platinum standards.  To receive its Living Building certification, the center will have to operate for 12 months with net zero energy while providing all of its own water.

Thursday afternoon was spent in and out of our Exhibit Booth on the Trade Show Floor, popping into a variety of sessions, and simply catching up with lots of people!

The Trade Show floor had a good turnout, and most exhibitors we spoke to were pleased with the quality of visitors to their booths (meaning designers and specifiers).   I have to say  our Greenroofs.com booth was hopping most of the time, and we had tons of visitors – thanks to all of you who came by to say hello!

This may have been due to our lively and lovely in-house booth mates, Contributing Editors Patrick Carey (and GRHC Trainer), Haven Kiers (also a  GRHC Trainer), and Caroline Menetre, above, who camped out here off and on.   We had some interesting booth  neighbors, including the vivacious Kathy  of BusyBee Gardening across from us, seen below, as well as neighbors Craig of MYKE ® Pro Premier Tech Biotechnology and Geneviève Nöel of Mubi Regenerative Consulting, below her:

Dr. Clayton Rugh of Xero Flor America, above,  and Xero Flor Canada were also close by and I have to say Thank you! to Joy Schmidt for giving me a copy of the lovely book “Vancouver 2010.”   All about the 17 Olympic and 10 Paralympic Games days, it  features stunning photos of Vancouver and  their Xero Flor greenroof technology that covers approximately 56,000 sf of the Millennium Water Project  – Vancouver’s Olympic Village.   Here are more Trade Show pics:



That evening, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities put on a really nice, invitation-only  GRP Reception for the first year’s class (2009-2010) of graduating Green Roof Professionals.   It was casually elegant  and beautifully set up –  the beverage and food selection was wonderful and the service was excellent.   Aramis and I saw a lot of our friends and colleagues here, and met quite a few new ones, too.

We heard Sara Loveland and Ashleigh Uiska (with Dusty Gedge) threw an awesome afterparty, but we had our own much smaller version with our band of Contributing Editors and colleagues.   By the way, Sara won our free yearly Premium Listing in The Greenroof Directory.

The Friday sessions were just as bustling and varied.   I sat through (and thoroughly enjoyed) Green Wall Case Studies II, starting with Interior Living Wall Biofilter Projects – Lessons Learned from Pioneering Experience from Dr. Alan Darlington of Nedlaw Living Walls and Birgit Siber of Diamond and Schmitt Architects.   They shared stories of years of research and project monitoring, and how living walls have the capacity to break down hundreds of different kinds of contaminants found in indoor air; they demonstrated how a biofilter can substantially reduce the need to bring in fresh air by generating its own clean air indoors.

One of my favorite presentations was next, Innovative and Cost Effective Biofilters for Residential Applications from Robert Cameron and Dr. Robert Berghage from Penn State University.   They have an experimental site on campus as well as the one Rob Cameron built at his home using a combination of materials on site, some donated, and some leftover from experiments from other Penn State projects.    They conducted studies showing that  living systems do not need to be highly sophisticated to work beautifully.

Rob  Cameron, right, asks, How can we take wasterwater and make it a resource?   Using plants, from food crops to ornamentals, he showed us how the living wall with “Living Columns” – basically vertical  plastic corrugated tubes – act like a constructed wetland and can filter out pollutants from an entire household.   At his own residence he integrated these living columns with a greenroof for downspouts and rain water harvesting, and  combined a living wall with an extensive greenroof to provide a vertical garden for tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and other veggies.

By the way, George Irwin of Green Living Technologies  (GLT) was scheduled to speak during this session, and was deemed a no-show.   Since he’s a Contributing Editor here, Caroline  texted him to see where he was – he answered that he had indeed let GRHC know early in the week that something major had come up and would not be able to make it.

That morning I also sat in on a couple of sessions from Local InterestFrom Barn Raisings to Green Roof Raisings: Community-Built Green Roof was presented by Bryce Gauthier,   Director of the Projects In Place Society.   What a great story!   Projects In Place has taken the concept from the old community-based barn raisings and applied it to building sustainable projects.   Using almost 100 volunteers  including BCIT students, this small non-profit installed a 500 sf greenroof in two days on top of a business on the edge of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.   Projects In Place Society posted their CitiesAlive PowerPoint on their website, make sure to see it.

I skipped Retrofitting Existing Buildings With Green Roofs by Dr. Karen Liu of Xero Flor International because I had already seen and loved her similar (I hope) presentation at 2009’s CitiesAlive! in Toronto.   Instead, I listened in on the Expert Discussion- How Green IS Your Green Roof: Devising a LEED Style Credit System for Green Roofs – Challenges and Opportunities with Steven Peck, Kerry Ross, Dr. Robert Berghage and Chuck Friedrich of Carolina Stalite.

Talk about a charged subject!   Some argued that we should not create yet another rating system, but should rally to make the highly universally accepted (yet sometimes controversial) U.S. Green Building Council  (USGBC)’s LEED  program work better for our industry in terms of rating greenroofs.   Others argued that GRHC knows our subject best and that starting new made the most sense rather than trying to fix another existing product.   Having both my LEED AP and GRP designations, I have opinions, but will share them in another post.

So even though I was extremely interested in this subject, I returned to the Design Track and Local Interest  to hear about The Visitor Centre Green Roof at the VanDusen Botanical Gardens  from Ken Larsson of Sharp & Diamond Landscape Architecture and the lovely Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, which was a treat, indeed!

Cornelia is a force to be reckoned with, and her exuberance shone through the entire presentation.   It is a fascinating project – 3/4 of the 20,000 sf roof is greened, while 1/4 is “blue;”  the undulating roof is based upon the shape of  a native orchid – this project  would have fit nicely in  our Top 10 List  as an example of the #3 position,Biomimicry as Eco-literacy and Holistic Design.”   Maybe for 2011.   Lunch on the Trade Show Floor followed, along with the Poster Sessions.

Next up was  Haven’s and my session where we were right in the middle  of The Big Picture View, and we were very pleased at  the turnout.   Kerry Ross started with her  extremely informative Nordic Adventures: a field study of green roofs in Norway.  She highlighted cold climate greenroofs from a recent Scandinavian trip; through her research and documentation of projects has been able to better promote greenroof design and maintenance within Canada.

We followed with  our Top 10 List presentation, and it  was jam packed!    This was the first time we had co-presented together, and Virginia (Jennie) Russell from the University of Cincinnati, our moderator extraordinaire, kept us in-line with methodical announcements for us to pick up the pace.   So, it was a bit rushed, but fun (see  our PowerPoint here).   So many great projects to show, so little time!

We were honored to be in the same session as Cornelia Oberlander, who followed us and presented along with Ross Dixon of Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg.   They shared their experiences  with the Rooftoptop Renewal – The Redevelopment of Robson Square – An Intensive Green Roof in Downtown Vancouver.

This iconic rooftop civic center courthouse complex and public plaza was originally completed in 1983 by Arthur Erickson Architects and landscape architect  Cornelia Hahn Oberlander; replacement of the original waterproofing membrane and restoration of the plantings is currently underway, and is expected to be completed sometime within this year.   Refurbishments  included surveying to see which tree specimens would be saved and evaluating the best methods for removal, safe keeping during construction, and then replanting.

The Closing Plenary opened with  its own  lively Top 10 List invitation to join GRHC at the 9th Annual CitiesAlive 2011 in Philadelphia  by members of the Philadelphia Local Host Committee.   Co-hosted by the City of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the next Green Roof and Wall Conference will be held in the City of Brotherly Love from November 29 to December 3.

The Panel Discussion Peak Oil, Urban Farming and the Roofs and Walls of Our Cities: Creating a Future We Desire wrapped up the Conference.   Delivered by visionary yet practical Keynote Speaker Greg Allen, PE, LEEP AP, of Sustainable Edge, the presentation was forward thinking but set in a very grim reality – we  must release our bonds with oil and embrace sustainable energy strategies as well as develop local urban farming on our rooftops and walls to ensure food security – basically  we need to  explore alternative food options more intelligently.

Panelists included Thomas Mueller of the Canadian Green Building Council, Vancouver Councilor Andrea Reimer, Keith Agoada of Sky Vegetables and Jeff Bruce, and a lot of people raised their own concerns about food supply and quality control, organics, and infrastructure  for urban agriculture in the sky.    Greenroofs.com was definitely in sync, as Haven Kiers and I had Tower Oases as Skyrise Urban Ag in the 2010 #1 category for our Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof and Greenwall Design.

We enjoyed our Habitat Havens Tour the next day on Saturday, and especially our tour guide, the lively and informative Tyrel Sutton from Flynn Canada.   We had a beautiful, clear day to roam around four rooftops (really three, more on that later) that were selected because they were designed to either replicate a specific ecosystem or to provide food for birds, butterflies, or bees.   We were lucky because the tours on Tuesday were rainy – in fact, at least one was cancelled.

There are quite a few publically accessible projects around Vancouver, and the Local Host Committee put together a 9-stop Self-Guided Green Roof and Wall Tour list that was included in the program.   We didn’t see much, but  Caroline did – this is her photo of the ING Green Wall, left, designed by CitiesAlive exhibitor Green over Grey – Living Walls and Design Inc.

I would say there were maybe 700 people at CitiesAlive.   With the exception of a few hiccups – spotty snacks, flimsy conference  program, tour time changes  – overall, I felt that Steven Peck and Green Roofs for Healthy Cities  did a fantastic job of planning and executing this first “international” conference.   Kind of funny since they’re Canadian,  but this was the first time the conference was held outside of the U.S.    Plus it was the first time under its new name – CitiesAlive.   (As you’ll recall, the previous seven incarnations were titled “Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities.”)

And  the Vancouver Local Host Committee (Rod Goy, Marita Luk, Andrea Martinello, Blair Bennett, Nicholas Rousseau, Dr. Katherine Dunster, Helen Goodland, Andrea Linsky, Andrea Kausel and Lyn Ross) should be commended, too, for their outstanding accomplishments and participation in this successful conference!   Visit Green Roofs for Healthy Cities’ Acknowledgements page, where I borrowed this photo below:

In general, people were very happy with everything, with minor grumblings about not enough food at the Opening Plenary  and dessert  on the Trade Show floor after the Awards of Excellence Luncheon.   Also, for the first time, CD’s of the conference proceedings were not available, but you can purchase video recordings of the over 60 speakers that go along with each’s PowerPoint presentation (“Full Compilation Streaming Media – Audio Synched to PPT”) from GRHC for $120.

In reflection, we should be happy the conference agenda is so big – I’m sure Greenbuild  had similiar growing pains, talk about a massive, multi-day, multi-track  program!   Or ASLA, or AIA, for that matter.   It simply, very clearly, illustrates the tremendous growth of our greenroof and greenwall industry, and acceptance of building integrated greenery into mainstream design.   It is impossible to attend each presentation, so it’s great that GRHC developed the Living Architecture Academy – an online learning center with technical papers from all the past conferences and proceedings.   Having such a resource at our fingertips is inmeasurable.

Regarding the Trade Show, we’ve all noticed a trend of some past exhibitors not exhibiting lately, sometimes due to the challenging economy, scheduling conflicts, or feeling resources could be better used elsewhere.   So, I would also just like to add that all of us who are members of GRHC should pay a big thanks to all of the companies who have exhibited in the past, and who faithfully continue to do so.   Being international for many of us, for Vancouver it was more cumbersome and expensive to ship everything, but conferences couldn’t be held without the support of exhibitors and sponsors.   I would encourage everyone doing business within our industry to exhibit and work together to make  our committment and exposure  even better.   Here are a few  more Trade Show pics:

One of the very best things about all these conferences is the chance to meet new colleagues and see old friends from across the world and catch up on each other’s lives and happenings – we were happy to do this with the always effervescent  Dusty Gedge of Livingroofs.org,  Kerry Ross and her husband Bob,  Chuck Friedrich and Ernie Higgins of ItSaul Natural – Mr. Natural  (also from Atlanta), Contributing Editor  Dr. Bill Retzlaff of SIUe, and too many other folks to mention!   Many of our “usual” German colleagues were missing (Manfred Köhler and  Roland Appl, among others), probably due to the numerous previous international congresses where we saw them, but it was great seeing several folks from the City of Portland’s Beaurau of Environmental Services and lots of international students, too.

I wish I had had more time with a bunch of people – the always wonderful Maureen Connelly from BCIT, Jennie Russell,  and Andrea Martinello of N.A.T.S., for example, but there will be other conferences!

I’m sorry I  couldn’t attend  Maureen’s panel session of Expert Discussion: Taking Green Roofs and Walls to the Next Level in British Columbia – A Pathway to the Future! because it conflicted with our Top 10 presentation session.   It included the fanstastic Deputy City Manager of the City of Vancouver, Sadhu Johnston – previously Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s Chief Environmental Officer and  Deputy Chief of Staff, where he headed up much of their greenroof program.

In my opinion, Maureen Connelly is the true greenroof champion in Vancouver with her many years of  dedication and research at British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Centre for the Advancement of Green Roof Technology, and should be commended for an outstanding job – keep up the great work, and thanks BCIT for all that you do!   (See their project profile in The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database here.)   Their Mission Statement:

“The mission of the BCIT Centre for Architectural Ecology – Collaborations in Green Roofs and Living Walls is to conduct world-class, innovative research on green roof and living wall systems and to provide research-based education across disciplines, to students and practitioners.”

The BCIT Centre is evaluating the function and performance of extensive greenroofs and living walls in the rainforest climate of coastal B.C.   Through collaborations with industry, government and academic partners, their vision is to help advance the widespread adoption of these technologies in this region.   It would have been great to have visited the research facility, but, just like any working trip, there simply wasn’t enough time.   Make sure to read BCIT’s “750 attend BCIT-co-hosted green roof conference” of December 13, 2010, where you can also see a huge gallery of photos.

We were here five nights and every day was devoted to conference events – although we didn’t get out to see the city and surroundings, many of our  friends did (like Caroline and  Janet Faust of JDR Enterprises).   Caroline was fortunate enough to go up on a seaplane and took this wonderful aerial  photo of Vancouver, above.    Like most people, she  also visited  Whistler Mountain, one of North America’s top ski and snowboard resorts (and  snapped this fun snow picture left).

The two greenroofed places I really wanted to visit but didn’t was the awesome Vancouver Public Library  (also known as Library Square Building)  with its  pioneering rooftop built in 1995, and  the fantastic 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Olympic Village, also known as Southeast False Creek and Millennium Water with about 287,000 sf total of greenroofs.

Read my 2.17.10 Sky Gardens post about it here.   We featured  Millennium Water in 2007’s Top 10 List in the #1 category – Visionary Proposed Projects since the City of Vancouver mandated that at least 50% of the buildings should be covered in green.   Next time!

Not content to leave things alone, upon leaving  the Vancouver International Airport (YVR), I had to take a bunch of photos of the 17-meter high YVR Canada Line Station 4 Living Wall, designed by the talented Randy Sharp of Sharp & Diamond Landscape Architecture.  As you may know, the Canada Line is Vancouver’s new rapid transit rail link connecting YVR to downtown Vancouver, and visitors are greeted by this beautiful green wall of green and silver euonymus, mondo grass, and licorice fern.   Read my 3.26.10 Sky Gardens post about it here.

We will  defintely return to Vancouver, B.C. as a vacation destination, where we can take in all the sights and locations of this gorgeous city at our leisure!   That’s it for now.

If you haven’t already, make sure to read our December, 2010 Guest Feature Article  by Janet Faust of JDR Enterprises, “CitiesAlive! 2010,” where she did a great job in describing her reflections of this eighth yearly  conference.   Her account of compares the experience to a fine wine and Janet comments  how  these Green Roofs for Healthy Cities’ conferences have gotten better with age!

If you’d like to present at the 9th Annual CitiesAlive! Green Roof and Wall Conference in Philadelphia, the Call for Paper Abstracts will be released in a few weeks.

Next up will be a series of posts about individual tour  sites from each of these unique cities we had the pleaure of visiting last year:   Mexico City, Singapore, and the lovely Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

Happy Greening from Alpharetta, Georgia,

~ Linda V.

GPW: Forest Park Forever Playground, the Dennis & Judith Jones Variety Wonderland

April 2, 2010 at 11:59 pm

 

Our GPW is the Dennis and Judith Jones Variety Wonderland, a delightful children’s playground in historic Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri.   One of the largest urban parks in the United States, Forest Park opened in 1876 and is the former site of The World’s Fair of 1904, drawing more than 20 million visitors from around the world.   At 1,293 acres (5.2 km ²), Forest Park is over 50% larger than New York’s Central Park (843 acres or 3.41 km ²)!

Home to the region’s major cultural institutions””the Zoo, Art Museum, History Museum, Science Center and the Muny Opera, today Forest Park attracts more than 12 million visitors a year.   It also serves as a sports center for all kinds of  activities and the park serves as a natural oasis for the city (see a Visitor’s Guide here).

The Dennis and Judith Jones Variety Wonderland is the City of St. Louis’ first inclusive public playground.   Designed in 2005 so that all children, able-bodied children and children with disabilities, could experience playtime together, it all began with feedback from a local organization: the Variety Family Council.   Now Variety, the Children’s Charity of St. Louis,  they couldn’t find a public playground where their children with disabilities could play with their siblings – and so a saga was born.    Variety  serves children with physical and mental disabilities in the region from infancy to the age of 21. Variety Week is April 17-24, 2010, and serves as a means to maximize awareness and fund-raising opportunities to benefit community children.

“We wanted this to be a place open to all children,” said Jan Albus, executive director of St. Louis Variety. “The most important thing was that it make it so children with disabilities could play right along with all other children.”

Three years, seven local donors, and a lot of hard work later, the $2 million state-of-the-art playground design includes 29 pieces of equipment on a soft, porous 10,100 sf surface.   The Dennis and Judith Jones Variety Wonderland playground is divided into  five sections designed according to age, physical strength and abilities.

“First Adventures” is  for children ages 2-5 and  “Big Adventures” for children ages 6 to 12.    Specialty areas are the “Observation Relaxation Deck,” “Living Shelter,” and the “Secret Garden.”   The Secret Garden contains 14 colorful perennials that attract, feed and house butterflies.   Learning stones will teach children about the life cycle of Monarchs here amidst the natural habitat.

Constructed to ADA standards for handicap accessibility, equipment includes a slide for children with cochlear implants, Braille and clock panels for the blind, talk phones, surface fountains and 8′ high ramping so children can experience a tree house affect.   You’ll also find a spyro slide, double slide, corkscrew climber, swings with bucket seats, spring pods, disc swing monkey bars with a vertical ladder, a pipe barrier with a steering wheel, and more.
 

This all-inclusive playground is located adjacent to the Dennis and Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center.   Formerly the Lindell Pavilion, it was built in 1892 as a shelter for streetcar passengers, and after a $4 million restoration, the facility is now home to Forest Park Forever, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising private funds for the restoration of Forest Park.

Kelly Luckett, LEED AP, GRP, and President of Green Roof Blocks (and one of our contributing editors, also known as “The Green Roof Guy“), was responsible for the lovely modular  greenroof atop the walkway pavilion that connects from the Visitor and Education Center and greets children to the play area.   I asked him how he became involved with Forest Park Forever, and he replied:

“I did a lunch and learn for Powers Bowersox Associates, a St. Louis architectural firm.   After lunch, they showed me the preliminary sketches of the project and said they wanted to do a green roof on the structure so that it better fit into the green landscape of Forest Park.   They liked the portability of the modular concept that allowed us to pre-grow modules so the plants were more mature for the dedication ceremony.”

The roof is constructed of 60 mil reinforced EPDM fully adhered to poly-isocyanurate over metal deck, and 76 Green Roof Blocks were grown offsite  at Jost Greenhouses for approximately 10 weeks allowing the plants to mature to 80% coverage at the time of installation.

Green Roof Blocks are low-maintenance, self contained, portable units consisting of a 24″ x 24″ module fabricated of heavy gauge anodized aluminum.   Walk pad material is fastened to the bottom, serving both to protect the roofing surface and to allow drainage under the Green Roof Blocks.  The walk pad material used is procured from the manufacturer of the building owner’s roofing system to insure compatibility and warranty integrity.

Powers Bowersox  did not like the look of the sides of the aluminum modules and they requested Kelly  to design a sheet metal trim piece that could be painted to match the edging of the roof, so a  red  metal skirt was installed at  the Forest Park playground  around the perimeter Blocks.

Remarkably, from a survival point of view (let alone plant diversity), the Green Roof Blocks were propagated with a  single  Sedum floriferum  cultivar  named ‘Weihenstephaner Gold,’ which performs beautifully in USDA Heat Zones 3-7.   Although quite  luscious in its profusion of yellow  and pink-hued summer blossoms (see above in flower from last spring 2009) as well as being  and very effective and successful, it was the company’s  last foray into  a mono-crop green roof palette.    As current policy, Green Roof Blocks  since uses multi-species for all projects.   Kelly explains:

“The plant species was selected for the evergreen characteristics, though we have since moved away from single species planting strategies for our green roof projects.   Only having one plant species planted on a green roof leaves the project vulnerable to weather anomalies or species specific pest that could affect the entire green roof.   We now plant at least five different species within each module.  This strategy establishes a diverse eco system more closely mimicking what we see in nature.   The plants on this project continue to thrive in part because the green roof plants have been included in the hundreds of thousands of plants that are under the constant watchful eye of the Forest Park Forever horticulturists.”

The growing media here  is a 4″ deep blend of 80% red lava rock and 20% composted pine bark.  The plants were initially fertilized using Scotts Osmocote with a 12 to 14 month release.   Kelly says that each year  since, he has  picked up Vic  (of Jost Greenhouses) and driven to each of their St. Louis green roof projects for maintenance and assessment.

“We give each one the spring feeding of slow release fertilizer, the plants get inspected by the trained eye of horticulturist Vic Jost, and I get a chance to get fresh photos of another year of plant growth.   We do not provide routine maintenance on our projects in other parts of the country.   Our St. Louis customers find this added perk to be a nice touch,”   Kelly Luckett adds.

Kelly says he is pleased that some stakeholders even make it a point to be present so they can discuss the project with Vic and  himself, and looks forward to  their  maintenance visit  each year.   So for almost five years, this simple vegetated roof has not only survived with minimal maintenance, by all accounts it has flourished quite nicely.

Aramis and I had the opportunity to visit  the stunning Park Forest grounds and this beautiful playground in late June of 2006 when I was invited by Dr. Bill Retzlaff  of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, IL (SIUE) and Kelly Luckett to speak at the SIUe Green Roof Symposium.   By the way, Kelly is also the author of “Green Roof Construction and Maintenance” (GreenSource Books), 2009 from The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  – a great resource, full of detailed, useful information for all of us.

Kelly and his wife Trish played wonderful hosts to us and showed off their lovely city by highlighting the Forest Park Forever playground, where I found a very cool drinking fountain feature, above, and also taking us to many attractions – the  iconic image of St. Louis –  the Gateway Arch, a Cardinals baseball game, and  the awesome and sometimes surreal  glass-blown designs of Dale Chihuly at the Missouri Botanical Gardens “Glass in the Garden” exhibition, below.

Forest Park is really a midwestern gem – a peaceful place to relax and reflect in a lush, green space filled with water, trees and sky.    As we all know, playtime is one of the strongest teachers and in such a fun and accessible environment, children will learn naturally about various forms of diversity, disability and acceptance while developing increased strength, coordination, confidence and social skills.

I had the pleasure of seeing kids of all ages and abilities benefit  while playing in this charming and educational wonderland, and I sure had a good time, too!

An important urban oasis  of green within metro St. Louis,  Forest Park  offers a respite for migrating birds and butterflies, and an integrated ecosystem where humans and nature interact – especially on one albeitly  small playground and its simple greenroof.

~ 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.