GPW: The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Headquarters

May 7, 2010 at 1:16 am

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Headquarters  in Washington, D.C. was our Greenroof Project of the Week (GPW)  from April 25 through last Sunday, May 2, 2010.   When I asked  ASLA  for some updates on the roof, they explained they were in the midst of midyear meetings, so I knew I would be a bit late reporting on this beautiful rooftop space, but here we go!   I chose this particular project to end April, aptly befitting since it was Landscape Architecture Month.   Founded in 1899, ASLA chose April  because it is the birth month of the “Father of Landscape Architecture,” Frederick Law Olmsted, and in any case it’s certainly a perfect  example of thoughtful, sustainable design to end Earth Month on a positive note, too.

Being an associate member of ASLA (I’m not full ASLA because although I have a degree in landscape architecture, I’m not licensed as a landscape architect –  aka LA), I was very proud that our professional organization became a greenroofing pioneer when they decided to retrofit their headquarters with a living roof back in 2004.   Under the leadership of landscape arcitechture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.  (MVVA) and in typical LA fashion, a creative, design-focused team of practitioners was  established to determine functionality and design intent with all the stakeholders. Multiple charrettes  afforded an open invitation to collaborative feedback and re-design.   One of the main priorities was for the roof to provide educational, viewing,  and recreational opportunities to employees and visitors – in effect, a landmark demonstration project to showcase the many benefits of greenroofs and  what landscape architects contribute to this project type.

Since weight was a potential  issue on the older building as well as accessibility, the project began with a structural assessment to ensure that the roof could accommodate the additional load of a greenroof, around 40 lbs/sf for an extensive roof.   Limitations became opportunities for creative design:

“The designers made maximum use of the structural capacity of the building, varying soil depths and plantings to take advantage of differing load capacities. For example, the elevator shaft has the greatest structural capacity and could accommodate 21 inches of soil; plantings on the elevator shaft include sumac trees, which may grow as tall as 30 feet at maturity.” ~ ASLA Green Roof Demonstration Project Fact Sheet

The ASLA greenroof is unique in so many ways!   As stewards of the Earth,  landscape architects promote native plants, which always positions a plantscape – whether on land or roof – to  accurately portray  its genius loci, or sense of place.   And yet as we all know, greenroofs most certainly are not set in native environments – the “soil” is not native as it is a highly engineered growing medium designed to  supply drainage and retain moisture, secure and anchor plant roots,  and provide aeration and nutrients in a highly unnatural environment – a rooftop usually separated from the ground plane by many feet.

 

Balancing this responsibility, ASLA decided to inform the public regarding  both options and the roof contains both native and introduced plant species – the more proven,  non-native greenroof  plant material, which for the most part has been the true survivors of the harsh effects of wind, frost, heat, and drought found on a roof, and various native selections researched to perform well under this stressful conditions.   Here’s a look at the changing aesthetics of nature, even on designed spaces – the two  photos  above show the South Wave in bloom: the top photo is from early May, 2007, and the bottom from June, 2009, which sports its current look.

[The] “desire to make the green roof feel like a garden also guided MVVA’s approach to planting the space. The idea was to use the roof as a kind of laboratory for identifying species, beyond the typical green roof sedums, that could thrive in shallow soil, and under the harsh environmental conditions typical of many urban rooftops, without extensive maintenance or watering.   We were particularly interested in plants that might offer increased environmental and experiential value.

“In addition to a variety of succulents, therefore, the plantings included flowering perennials like Goldenrod, Spiderwort, Black-eyed Susans, Artemesia, and Butterfly Milkweed, as well as a variety of grasses, including Blue Gamma Grass, and Virginia Wild Rye.   For the first two years during the establishment of the plants, we had a member of our staff make periodic visits to evaluate the success of the planting, making adjustments to the plans based on our observations.” ~ Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

So their design features two different but equally stunning elevated  “waves” featuring a 6″ deep semi-extensive system with both native (flowering herbaceous perennials and grasses) and non-native plants on the North Wave, 6′ high,  and non-native plants (mostly sedums)  on the 4.5″ deep  extensive South Wave system, 5′ high.    From the central viewing platform, plants are brought up to eye level and an aluminum grating was added so sedum is literally blooming at  visitors’ feet from another extensive greenroof system underneath.

The waves  also act as  noise insulators from the a/c units and the roof provides an urban habitat for birds, pollinating insects and butterflies.   Completed in 2006 and open to the public almost  five years now, visitors have come from around the world to view the 3,000 sf greenroof, including past First Lady Laura Bush.

MMVA provided the axonometric drawing (thumbnail) at left of the various layers of the greenroof which  shows how the design uses typical green roof materials, but in a way that is layered and exaggerated to create a space that is visually engaging and multi-functional (originally posted in the April, 2006 USATODAY.com article “Green roofs swing temperatures in urban jungles” by April Holladay  under “Anatomy of a Green Roof“).    Rachel Gleeson, Senior Associate with MVVA, explains that the  spatial innovation of the design is an extreme vertical exaggeration of the roof insulation (Styrofoam) to create the two large sloping landforms that are the “waves,” rising to heights up to six feet.   Covered with only a thin soil profile, they create a rare kind of rooftop topography that has a profound influence on the space.

 

Yet the waves posed technical challenges.  After the application of the Styrofoam, a perforated soil retention membrane was added to allow water to stream through but still   hold the plants in place.   A cable was then run through the system to prevent it from becoming airborne.   Rachel continues:   “Strong winds on the small roof threatened to shear the lightweight foam from its anchors, and the shape and angle of the landforms’ walls compounded this threat. Robert Sillman Associates, the structural engineer on the project, devised an ingenious solution that used the arcing steel frames of the landforms as armature.    [The cable] elegantly secures the two foam objects to the roof trusses below, preventing the foam from blowing off the building.”

“One of the things that MVVA felt was important with the ASLA Green Roof was to establish a precedent for a hybrid green roof garden that celebrated the unique pleasure of an urban rooftop garden without sacrificing the utility and low weight of a typical green roof.   Some of the most exciting aspects of the ASLA Green Roof are the ones that demonstrate ways that the human uses and the green roof functions could really support each other – most notably the “waves” of raised planting and also the grating that allowed for open walking surfaces above planted areas.” ~ MVVA

 

Each wave is distinct and beautiful at different times of the year and serves double-duty by not only offering all of the ecological, environmental, aesthetic and psychological benefits pertaining to greenroofing, but showing the public options for creating a living roof of their own.   And the innovative metal grating walkway system over the middle greenroof plantings allowed ASLA to utilize 90% of the greenroof by planting sedum and other succulents below the grates!  

“For the most part, sedum and green roof plants cannot be walked on, which often times creates a trade-off between having a green roof and creating an occupiable space for people.   The experimental system used in the ASLA Green Roof floats a super lightweight aluminum grating, low in heat conductivity, 3″ over a thin green roof system of sedum.   The sedum selected usually reaches about 6″ in height, so the plants are not hidden, but can poke up through the aluminum grating a bit.   In the areas of high traffic the plants that emerge through the grate get trampled a little, but this results in regeneration, rather than destruction.” (MVVA)

One more  unique feature of the project is the buy-in received from not only members of ASLA who  contributed money, but also the greenroof industry  – the majority of the products and services were donated.   Major donors include:   American Hydrotech and their Garden Roof Assembly;    Emory Knoll Farms/Green Roof Plants for vegetation; and St. Louis Metal Works for edging and drains, to name a few (see  the complete list  here).

ASLA also received a $25,000 Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grant from the Chesapeake Bay Program, a partnership between Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, the Chesapeake Bay Commission, and the federal government.

Keith Swann, Special Assistant to the Exec. VP, American Society of Landscape Architects, shares the following info with us:

The American Society of Landscape Architects Green Roof Five Years Later

The ASLA green roof still continues to amaze all who visit it. And those visitors have come from as far as the Middle East, Far East and Australia to witness its beauty. With its wide variety of soil depths and diverse plant selection, this green roof offers many microclimates for the plants to thrive. From the terrace level with three inches of growing medium, the sedums have thrived under the innovative grating system as well as the in the other areas. This grating, aluminum, light-weight and recyclable, allowed a maximum planting area and walkable space on the roof. The bonus is the sedums bloom at your feet in addition to on the “waves” bringing a wide abundance of plants and color to eye level for everyone to enjoy.
 
In addition to the terrace level and waves, the newly added staircase, which makes this a popular public project, has 12 inches of growing medium and flourishing shrubs of fragrant sumacs, Pasture rose, and New Jersey tea. The elevator shaft has 21 inches of growing medium and houses the Flame sumac and the trumpet vine that is covering the trellis for additional shade as you enter the green roof.

By using the Hobo temperature monitoring system, the green roof has shown a maximum temperature difference of 43.5 degrees lower than from a nearby tar roof.   As the plants have matured, this temperature has risen from the initial reading of 39.5 degrees lower. The expectation is that as the plants mature even more over the years, the temperature difference between the two roofs would continue to increase.   As a demonstration project, this type is data is very useful in determining the just one more attribute of how green roofs are healthier for the environment than conventional roofs.

The roof has been monitored for stormwater runoff, water quality (to determine the concentrations of contaminants of concern leaving the greenroof), and air temperature  and is  compared with data from the conventional roof on the building next door.   See a synopsis of comprehensive water monitoring data from the first year of the ASLA Headquarters’ greenroof here  or the full briefing report (both .doc files).

The ASLA is  very committed to promoting the work of landscape architects and greenroofs, so much that they have a  section of their website  devoted to the subject – Green Roof Central, where you can learn all about greenroofs in general as well as their own.    There’s a webcam showing the HQ greenroof and a page for educators and students – the ASLA Green Roof Education Program, The Roof is Growing!   The program provides print and web-based educational materials geared to a middle-school age audience (grades 6 –  8) and their teachers.   Key goals of the program are to raise awareness of environmental issues and the role green roofs can play in reducing storm water runoff, mitigating the urban heat island effect, improving air quality, and providing important biohabitat for birds and insects.   (In 2007 I  was one of the expert reviewers of the four segments of the  “The Roof Is Growing!” web component.)

Advocacy  is a also a big item for the ASLA – they focus on  state and federal issues that impact the profession of landscape architecture.  Advocacy efforts are organized around these key issues: economic recovery, transportation, sustainable design, livable communities, water & stormwater, and historic landscapes.

 

Greenroofs.com highlighted the ASLA HQ greenroof in our 2009 Greenroofs of the World™ Calendar for the month of August with the photo  above (but we Photoshopped out the ad on the brick wall per their request), and as familiar as I am with this roof, I haven’t yet visited this lovely, warm green space created with humans and nature in mind – but I promise, I will!   See a one and a half  minute video of the ASLA Green Roof from the organization  below for a quick visual of this beautifully designed, ecologically inspired, showcase of responsible architecture:

The  American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Headquarters  is located at 636 Eye Street NW, Washington D.C. 20001.   Tours of the ASLA greenroof are available for groups or individuals on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm by calling ASLA at 202.898.2444 or filling out a form.

 ~ Linda V.

2009 Top 10 List of Milestones and Accomplishments

January 21, 2010 at 11:27 pm
Sunbeams at sunset from Webshots

As we continue to ring in 2010 we hope you enjoyed warm holidays with family and friends and celebrated the New Year with renewed hope for the future.   Can you believe we’ve entered a new decade?   Shall we call it 2K10, Twenty Ten, or just good old fashioned 2,010?   In any case, we’re finally out of the 0’s, now we’re into the 10’s.

Our world economy has been through a lot in the past few years, yet with a promising light hovering just over the horizon.   Although development overall has declined, there is continued desire for green buildings from both the public and private sector, and in general our greenroof & greenwall industry has weathered quite nicely.   Many of  us are  taking time to reflect on this passage of time and make New Year’s resolutions (another topic altogether!), and I was thinking of how far  we  have come since the German experience entered our architectural radar and into our collective consciousness in the 1990’s.   Literally thousands of vegetated roofs and walls have been constructed since then in  every continent except for Antarctica, with ever growing support from forward thinking  multidisciplinary professionals: designers, government officials, organizations, companies, universities, students and other  advocates looking to make Earth a little more sustainable.

Sadly, one of those special,  innovative people passed away last November 27,  the indomitable architect Malcolm Wells.   Regarded as “the father of modern earth-sheltered architecture,” he was a staunch advocate  of living architecture, known for his way ahead-of-the-times underground earth designs with living roofs  starting in  the 1960’s, see just one example below.   He leaves a legacy of what he referred to as gentle architecture,  design that would, in his own words, “leave the land no worse than you found it.”

 

Malcom Well's design for an eco-gas station, from MalcomWells.com.

The visionary Malcolm Wells' design for an eco-gas station, from MalcolmWells.com.

 

Many inspirational people and organizations have contributed to our current market,  and I want to highlight just a few success stories from the past year, personal and global.   So in my review, here are my favorite 2009  Top 10 Milestones and Accomplishments for both Greenroofs.com as a company and our international community as a whole:

10)   In 2009 Greenroofs.com celebrated 10 years of being in business!   We’ve seen a lot of progress and change for the good here as well as across the greenroof world.   The fledgling Greenroofs.com – “exploring the ecology of organic greenroof architecture” started out as 60+ pages in 1999 as the result of an independent research study I did at the University of Georgia.

What Greenroofs.com looked like in 1999.

By 2003 we changed our format and grew  into Greenroofs.com – “the international greenroof industry’s resource and online information portal,” and contained 600+ pages  at the end of  2009 (not counting the hundreds of  .php pages from The Greenroof Directory or The Greenroof Projects Database).   At present, each month Greenroofs.com receives more than 160,000 unique visits and about 400,000 page views, and we’ve also expanded our presence in social marketing, too, so now you can stay connected with us on: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, eNewsletter (our monthly eNewsletter consists of 10,000 opt-in subscribers) & YouTube, as well as our Blog.

Greenroofs.com in 2010!

9)   The  proliferation of living architecture is greatly  spreading and permeating into the areas of  design, policy, research  and  education through numerous world  conferences, congresses, expos, trainings, tours, and other events.   For example, the World Green Infrastructure Network (WGIN) – formerly the World Green Roof Infrastructure Network (WGRIN) –  held its first CitiesAlive! World Green Roof Congress in Toronto, Canada,  with the second scheduled for Mexico City this October, 2010.   The International Green Roof Association (IGRA) hosted the 2nd International Green Roof Congress 2009 in Nürtingen, Germany and  the 3rd annual  Green Roofs Australia Conference 2009 was held at the University of Melbourne.   Longevity was evident  with  the 7th National FBB Green Roof Conference in Ditzingen, Germany  and the 7th annual Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, Awards, and Trade Show in Atlanta, Georgia.   By the way, look for the 8th annual GRHC conference to  occur in Vancouver, B.C.  on November 30 – December 2, 2010, rebranded as  “Cities Alive.”   Look for many new 2010 events throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Germany, China, Singapore, India and more under Upcoming Events, where you can also access  Past Events.

8)   For the third year, we published our 2010 Greenroofs of the World™ Calendar.   I’ve already blogged about it, and we’re very proud of our first hard product.   And we thank our Sponsors for their support: American Hydrotech, Barrett Company, Conservation Technology, Express Blower, GREEN ROOF BLOCKS,  GreenGrid,  International Leak Detection (ILD), LiveRoof, Roofscapes, Inc., Saul Nurseries, Tremco, Xero Flor America,  and ZinCo USA.   You can find the Calendar on Amazon.com, but it’s a better deal if you order from us!

The 2010 Greenroofs of the World Front Cover

7) Green walls are firmly  becoming entrenched in sustainable design, evidenced by  high media attention, as much for their green properties as for their edible  gardening possibilities. We’ve had tons of news articles posted in NewsLinks, our huge database of global articles,  concerning living walls and green façades!   In fact,  they  were listed as #31 in TIME’s 50 Best Inventions of 2009 and  Triple Pundit recently proposed:  “Gardens Grow Up: Are Vertical Landscapes the New Green Roofs?”  – both featuring  the works of  Patrick Blanc.   In our business  you’d have to be living under a rock not to know who the renowned French botanist is; his often fantastical “murs végétalisés” designs stretch the limits of horticulture and design.   Since 1994, he has created over 140 public vertical gardens as well as many private installations,  including his most famous, the  Quai Branly Museum in Paris,  shown below.   Read more about green walls from Treehugger, Daily Telegraph, Daily Commercial News, The New York Times, Times Online and CNN.com, just to name a few.

Quai Branly Museum photo by Jean-Claude Lafarge on www.jeanclaudelafarge.fr

Quai Branly Museum photo courtesy and by Jean-Claude Lafarge on http://www.jeanclaudelafarge.fr/paris.html.

In 2009  Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, the North American professional association, established greenwall research projects at the British Columbia Institute of Technology and the University of Maryland, and GRHC has included an award  category for Green Wall Excellence in Design for a couple of years now.   In 2008 Greenroofs.com added our 8th Contributing Editor, George Irwin –  aptly titled The Green Wall Editor  – to cover this growing vertical gardening field, and new for 2010 we have altered the title of our Greenroof Projects Database to reflect the inclusion of these:   The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.

6) Investing in green building and infrastructure makes good economic sense by integrating green building policies into wider economic development goals, and creates a new job market. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) has prompted a gigantic increase in federal green spending, providing new money to all levels of government, aimed at stimulating the economy, promoting job growth, and lowering energy costs, providing an unprecedented opportunity for advancing green building and sustainability efforts in the U.S.    And last December, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported at least 138 U.S. cities with populations over 50,000 people have green building programs in place (compared to only 92 in 2007).   Referring to the economic recession, the AIA said “The downturn has had a devastating effect on construction generally, but sustainable building design continues to maintain and improve its market share.”   Read their 2009 in depth study “Green Building Policy in a Changing Economic Environment” to learn more.

 

AIA 2009 Study of Green Building Programs by Cities

American Institute of Architects 2009 Study of Green Building Programs by Cities

 

U.S. economic stimulus efforts  encompass green energy and construction, including greenroofs along with other forms of green building, and  just one such example of Recovery Act funds benefit Washington D.C., where the Washington Business Journal says “Nearly $4 million would go toward building more than 100,000 sf of green roofs on city buildings, including libraries, firehouses and a demonstration project atop the parking garage deck at University of the District of Columbia.   The stimulus funds would also expand the city’s green roof rebate program to allow residents and small businesses to afford another 20,000 sf of private green roof space.”

And importantly, many green building programs are also creating “green collar” jobs.   In late 2009, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and Booz Allen Hamilton conducted a study and stated “Green building will support 7.9 million U.S. jobs and pump $554 billion into the American economy – including $396 billion in wages – over the next four years (2009-2013).    The study also determined that green construction spending currently supports more than 2 million American jobs and generates more than $100 billion in gross domestic product and wages…The full report can be downloaded at www.usgbc.org/greeneconomy, where one can also find other research, resources, tools and information about green building and its role in the economic recoveries of professionals, businesses and the nation.”   According to an analysis by American Rivers and the Alliance for Water Efficiency, the Natural Resources Defense Council reports that a $10 billion nationwide initiative to install greenroofs alone would result in almost 200,000 jobs – the Senate is expected to consider its own version of the bill in early 2010.

DC Greenworks' efforts at the Reeves Center

SSBx with Green the Ghetto participants

Some U.S. leaders offering hope and opportunity by creating greenroof/greenwall-specific green collar jobs through training include Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx) and their various programs,  i.e., “Green the Ghetto”  and “Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training (BEST)”;  D.C. Greenworks; Chicagoland Green Collar Jobs Initiative, and the  Urban Farming Food Chain.

5) Green Roofs for Healthy Cities launched the Green Roof Professional (GRP) accreditation   for North America.   The GRP is a measure of knowledge of established best practices and although a voluntary program, with the designation professionals can distinguish themselves in the marketplace.   This association milestone was at least four years in the making!   Currently with  more than 250  GRP’s in 2009,  GRHC  hopes to add more professionals in 2010.   Check their website for future  testing dates, and  consider attending one of their Green Roof Boot Camps to refresh and get you ready.   See my interview with Jeff Bruce, president of Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company, Chair of GRHC  and the GRHC Training and Accreditation Committee, which developed the Green Roof Professional program, to learn why the organization felt this accreditation was needed, how it evolved, and where it’s heading.   For more info on the GRP, see “A Video Introduction to the GRP Program” from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.

4) Within the U.S. industry, major contributions were made in the area to develop best practice  wind and fire standards for greenroof design.   Since 2007, leaders from various organizations have been working hard on prescriptive standards, and  in 2009 standards were inserted into the International Building Code from members of  GRHC and Single Ply Roofing Industry (SPRI).   Read “Green Roof Wind & Fire Design Guidelines: After Three Years, Half the Battle is Won,” written by one of our Contributing Editors, Kelly Luckett, The Green Roof Guy, to learn about this winding road’s development of RP-14 and VF-1.    And stay tuned for updates with  his column  here on Greenroofs.com.

 

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) Wind Tunnel Testing in June, 2009.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUe) Wind Tunnel Testing in June, 2009.

 

3)  The global Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database surpassed the 1,000 mark in December!   So where are all these greenroofs and greenwalls anyway?   Let’s continue to work together to grow, update, and share valuable case studies for our communal benefit, for free.   Even in today’s openly transparent society (think Google Earth), some people worry about confidentiality issues, and we only post information that is submitted to us by owners/project principals or that which is openly available through  various media channels, and we always list owners as “private” when requested.   The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database is now searchable by  24 fields, including specifically for green walls.   After our Home Page, the Projects Database is the next visited page on Greenroofs.com – make sure your projects and valuable  experiences are included here.

2)    My  albeitly biased personal favorite, Greenroofs.com inaugurated our first  episode of the Sky Gardens ~ Greenroofs of the World WebTV series.   Premiering  at Boston GreenFest in September, our new venture followed  on the GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube, and next on our own greenroofs.tv, where you can now see it in its entirety at just under 37 minutes.   By the way, you can also view our video offshoot,  “Greenroofs 101 from Greenroofs.com” (4:50) in Greenroofs 101 or directly below, which is a great way to  introduce the concept to newcomers.   Coming soon is episode 2, highlighting the gorgeous Cook+Fox Architects corporate offices in Manhattan, NY.   Our third episode is in the works, and more are being scheduled, so stay tuned!

1) 2009 saw some serious support for greenroofs, championed by professional organizations and governmental bodies alike. Global industry support has grown over the years, and many advocates continue to actively promote them worldwide.  For example, the City of Chicago, certainly the U.S. leader in greenroofs, now has over 7 million square feet of vegetated roofs completed or under development.   New support in 2009 includes:

North America:   In addition to offering eco-incentives for greenroofs,  currently Toronto has the most progressive policy in North America – last May  Toronto became the first city  here to adopt a bylaw to require and govern the construction of greenroofs.   The new bylaw will be required on all new development above 2,000 m ² (about 21,530 sf) of gross floor area and have a graduated coverage requirement ranging from 20-60%.   Working with a program budget  of $800,000/year, owners of industrial and commercial buildings can apply for grants worth up to $100,000 (Canadian) to build a greenroof.    Mayor David Miller predicts the rules and incentives will create 50 to 60 green-roofed buildings per year, in addition to their current 135 vegetated roofs.   Green Roofs for Healthy Cities supported the by-law against pressure from developers opposed to the policy.    See more details under Industry Support and at the City of Toronto website.

Toronto City Hall

Here in the U.S., in late 2009  ASLA, the American Society of Landscape Architects, worked with Congress to include the Green Act into the House-passed climate change legislation.   The Act would require the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to employ greenroofs, tree canopy coverage, and other site planning techniques to help reduce heating and cooling costs in certain HUD facilities.   Still pending before the Senate Finance Committee,  last January Senator Maria Cantwell (WA) introduced the Clean Energy Stimulus and Investment Assurance Act of 2009 (S.320), legislation geared toward creating high-wage green-collar jobs and revitalizing the economy through clean energy investments.   ASLA worked with Senator Cantwell’s office to ensure that a section of the bill was dedicated to green roof tax incentives, and  GRHC  provided technical support.   Under section 506 of the bill, residential and commercial property owners will receive a 30% tax credit for qualified greenroof expenditures.

As you may recall, Congress enacted Section 438 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) to require federal agencies to reduce stormwater runoff from federal development projects to protect water resources and in October of 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13514 on “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance” calling upon all federal agencies to lead by example and address a wide range of environmental issues, including stormwater runoff.   Federal agencies can comply with Section 438 by using a variety of green infrastructure / low impact development techniques including living roofs.   Prepared by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in coordination with other federal agencies, the “Technical Guidance on Implementing the Stormwater Runoff Requirements for Federal Projects under Section 438 of the Energy Independence and Security Act” PDF is highly detailed and  instructive.

State and municipal  governments also provided policy support:   Former  Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine signed three bills promoting incentives in 2009: HB 1975 and SB 1058 authorize localities to grant regulatory flexibility and incentives to promote the construction of vegetative roofs on private homes and businesses.  The incentives or regulatory flexibility could include a reduction in permit fees, a streamlined process for the approval of building permits, or a reduction in any gross receipts tax on greenroof contractors as defined by the local ordinance.   The third bill, HB 1828, allows water authorities to offer rate incentives for vegetative roof construction, based on the percentage of stormwater runoff reduction.   In late fall, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA), Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSDGC), and the Office of Environmental Quality created a Green Roof Loan Program utilizing money from the Water Pollution Control Loan Fund.   OEPA has made $5,000,000 available for linked deposit, below market rate loans to install green vegetative roofs within the service area of MSDGC on residential, commercial and/or industrial buildings.

Built Ecoroofs in Portland as of 12-09

Already a city offering several greenroof incentives, in October Portland‘s city commission approved a Climate Action Plan which calls for a 40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and an 80% reduction by 2050.   According to the Portland Business Journal, “The Plan calls for the city and county to take 93 actions over the next three years.  City bureaus must immediately begin implementing 15 of the new climate-related initiatives, such as establishing a tax credit for businesses that install ecoroofs and solar panels together.”   And last month, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District invited governments, organizations, school districts, and businesses within the 28 communities it serves to participate in their 2010 Regional Green Roof Initiative Program.   Among other prerequisites, proposed projects must minimize impervious roof area and maximize the reduction in the rate and/or volume of stormwater runoff.

The World:   Singapore is targeting 50 hectares of skyrise greenery by 2030 and its Urban Redevelopment Authority launched  the LUSH Programme (Landscaping for Urban Spaces and High-Rises) in April of 2009.   Offering financial and planning incentives to developers to provide greenery at the upper levels of high rise buildings, their goal is to make 80% of all buildings in  Singapore green by 2030. Quezon City, Phillipines has a new law requiring private and government-owned buildings to green part of their rooftops.    New commercial/residential buildings, under the Green Roof Ordinance (Ordinance 1940) signed into law by Mayor Feliciano R. Belmonte, Jr. last September, should  allocate at least 30% of their roof area for plants and trees.   In Australia, the Queensland Government signed a “Memorandum Of Understanding” with the Singapore National Parks Board late last year to trial vertical gardens and greenroofs in various cities in an effort to benefit from Singapore’s experience with skyrise greenery.

A splendid Sky Terrace at the One George Street building in downtown Singapore; source: The Star.com

Dubai Municipality launched a greenroof initiative in line with a Dubai law on green building specifications.    The Municipality’s strategic goal is to raise per capita green area to 23.4 square meters by the end of 2011,  with the green building project coming under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, United Arab Emirate Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.   A public awareness  campaign  for greenroofs was announced  last month, committed to the “development of laws and regulations to keep pace with international standards in the field of sustainable development by planting green roofs and facades in the Emirate of Dubai.”   Traveling display models and educational publications will circulate residential neighborhoods and shopping centers and markets for a 12-month period.   Read more on the Dubai Municipality Portal.   One spectacular greening project currently on the boards in Dubai is the self-sustained system “Food City” below, designed by Green Concepts Landscape Architects (GCLA):

Dubai Food City; photo source: Inhabitat

The proposed Dubai Food City, conceptualized by landscape architecture firm GCLA.

 Well, those are my thoughts on the  important  highlights of 2009, and while on the topic  of Top 10 lists, Haven Kiers – our Design Editor – and I are compiling our 4th annual Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof Designs for 2010, and we welcome your input with  ideas and project example submissions, as usual!   Send comments to Linda@greenroofs.com or DesignEditor@greenroofs.com.

So here we are at the start of a whole new year – we hope you’re excited and optimistic about it, just as we are!     Whatever 2009 offered you, we hope you embraced new friends and opportunities and experienced great personal and professional growth, and we thank you for your readership.   What’s in store for our new decade?   We’ll see, but as the green building industry continues with positive signs of sustained growth, let’s also continue to collaborate and create a more sustainable world with eco-architecture embracing greenroofs and greenwalls as part of the overall green living architecture strategy.

“I woke up one day to the fact that the earth’s surface was made for living plants, not industrial plants.”   ~ Malcolm Wells

Here’s a gentle toast  to continued  health, love,  and  prosperity  for you, your families, and all of our  greenroof associates in 2010!

Happy Greening ~ Linda V.

Boston GreenFest 2009

August 17, 2009 at 12:48 am

Boston GreenFest 2009Coming up this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, August  20-22 is the second annual Boston GreenFest 2009  held on the steps of City Hall in lovely Boston, Massachusetts.

Even in its infancy,  the inaugural Boston GreenFest 2008  was very well attended and created a lot of excitement among locals, visitors,  and politicians alike with a fun combination of exhibits, presentations, food, dance, film and environmental awareness.

The organizer is a friend and colleague, Dr. Karen L. Weber, LEED AP, Coordinator of  Boston GreenFest and Executive Director of Foundation for a Green Future, Inc.   She is an extremely energetic person with a lot of flair, enthusiasm and commitment to greening our built environment, and has devoted countless hours to this wonderful festival celebrating many aspects of green thinking and green living.   Karen is also a greenroof designer and her Foundation for a Green Future provides “opportunities to build an environmentally-friendly world from the rooftop down and the ground-up”  focusing on  greenroof technology and greening our urban spaces through education programs, community outreach, green jobs training, research and development, promotion of green businesses, and greenroof subsidies.

Boston GreenFest 2009 will bring together community groups, corporations, small businesses, nonprofits, government agencies and citizens to share new technologies and ideas that can immediately change our daily lives and help bring about a more sustainable future.

Boston GreenFest 2009, the Foundation for a Green Future, Inc., and local volunteers will seek to connect with a broad audience from across all Boston neighborhoods to bring an inspiring message of action and change.   Together  they will work toward sustainability through art, music, fashion, discussions and interactive exhibits.   By engaging participants, young and old,  they will search for new ideas to reduce our impact on our planet.

Festival-goers will learn what it means to eat and grow local organic food, improve nutrition and health care, make better decisions about what we wear and the products we use for our personal care, green our city, build healthy communities, take action politically and personally, create green jobs and engage in a sustainable, green economy.

GreenFest 2008 Crew
“Boston GreenFest 2009 is a celebration of our environmental progress and a call to action for communities, citizens and corporations committed to an even brighter future,” says Karen Weber, Coordinator of Boston GreenFest 2009.   “We can no longer wait for someone to tell us what to do to improve our world.   We need to find the solutions ourselves.   The answers are within reach and we applaud the many groups in and around Boston already making positive change worthy of celebration and recognition.”

Jim Hunt, Chief Advisor to the Mayor on Environment and Energy, writes:   “Mayor Menino and the City of Boston are excited to welcome GreenFest back to City Hall Plaza.   This year’s program looks to encourage and support local community development, promote health and wellness strategies, educate the public on energy conservation and alternative transportation, and update the public on sustainability initiatives that are being pursued city, state, and nationwide.   The festival looks to combine educational programming with art projects and interactive components for area residents.    It offers something for everyone interested in sustainability issues.  

“The city is proud to serve as host for this event and we hope residents will take advantage of the myriad workshops, exhibits and demonstrations to learn what steps they can take to “go green.”   Please join the Mayor and me at Boston GreenFest 2009.    It will be a great festival and we look forward to your participation.”

For more info, please contact:

Dr. Karen L. Weber, LEED AP
Coordinator, Boston GreenFest 2009
www.bostongreenfest.org
Executive Director, Foundation for a Green Future, Inc.   (Green our roofs, green our planet!)
4 Archdale Road, Boston, MA   02131
Tel 617-477-4840/Fax 617-522-5447
www.foundationforagreenfuture.org

A lot of fun to be had at the Boston GreenFest 2009 with all the bands and more.If you live in the Boston area, don’t miss out on a lot of (wicked) fun and entertainment,  especially some wonderful music with three stages  including over 40 live acts, and the GreenFilmFest: A series of films about going green, including The Greening of Southie, Fresh, Out Of Balance: ExxonMobil’s Impact on Climate Change and “Flow: the Film.”  

The Kick-off Concert is on Thursday, August 20, 2009 from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm and the Festival runs from August 21- 22 from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.   I hope you attend, and make sure to go and say hello to Karen and crew!

~ Linda V.

Before You Party, Vote for Green Roofs!

December 31, 2008 at 4:35 pm

 Looking to do one more important thing in 2008 to make it memorable?   I know it’s a little 11th Hour, but… Our colleague Karen Weber, Executive Director, Foundation for a Green Future, Inc. and Coordinator, Boston GreenFest 2009 (August 21-21, 2009), is urging us to vote for greenroofs to be on the Obama Administration’s agenda, but it has to be done by midnight, tonight, December 31, 2008!

There’s a movement of citizens inspired by the presidential campaign who have submitted ideas for how they think the Obama Administration should change America, called “Ideas for Change in America.”   And  Karen’s is called:

Green Roofs (Vegetated Roofs) ASAP

To vote for this idea, click above now and please ask your friends and family to do the same!   The top 10 ideas are going to be presented to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day and will be supported by a national lobbying campaign run by Change.org, MySpace, and more than a dozen leading nonprofits after the Inauguration.   So each idea has a real chance at becoming policy.

We know that the President-Elect has his sights set on many programs to bring our country into balance, in political, economic and environmental terms.   And if you’re reading this, you don’t have to be convinced of the many advantages of living roofs, and I’m sure you realize that green architecture crosses political and geographical boundaries, benefiting the entire community that is our Earth.

So if you are an American citizen, whether or not you voted for Obama, he’s our next leader and you have to admit it’s an exciting time in the U.S.   Help us continue to promote greenroofs here in the United States of America as one part of a healthy, prosperous and ecologically sound New Year and beyond.
 
Karen writes, “Let’s make it a truly green new year!”   Speaking of which, after you do Vote for Greenroofs, we also want you to have a safe and enjoyable New Year’s Eve, and many good wishes for a 2009 full of health, happiness and love, in a world full of green.
 

~ Happy Greening, everyone!

Linda S. Velazquez