GPW: ESRI Canada’s Garden in the Sky

May 19, 2010 at 5:54 pm

As you know by now, ESRI Canada’s Garden in the Sky  in Toronto, Canada  is the winner in our  first contest here at Greenroofs.com, the 2010 Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!  Earth Day Photo Contest, and was featured as our Greenroof Project of the Week (GPW) from May 2, 2010 through May 9, 2010.   Submitted by Josephine Chan, Public Relations Specialist, Marketing, with ESRI Canada, this project received a whopping 735 votes!   Well, Josephine is a marketing specialist and  should be  commended on doing a great job of  getting the word out to vote for her project!

 

Although this really was a popularity contest, nonetheless, this “Garden in the Sky” is a stunning example of  collaboration, resulting in a thoughtful,  peaceful, and inviting  greenspace in an otherwise dreary, hot urban roofscape canyon typically found in our core downtown areas.   I asked Josephine why she felt the ESRI Canada living roof was special:

“The green roof is a great project because it provides access to nature in an urban environment.   It reflects the passion for the environment and collective creativity of ESRI Canada’s staff, who were consulted and encouraged to submit suggestions for the design of the green roof.   The result is a colorful, accessible and functional rooftop garden that significantly enhances our workplace and the environment.”  ~ Josephine Chan

ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute) Canada is a geographic information systems software company who wanted an ecological roofing alternative for their ninth-story  headquarters.   According to an article in unlimited Magazine, company president Alex Miller saw big potential:

“We’re an environmental company.   Our business is building geographic information systems for our customers.   We wanted to set an example of what a company could do, for a relatively small amount of money overall, at improving the sustainability of our surrounding environment.” ~ Alex Miller

The greenroof was designed by Scott Torrance Landscape Architect of Toronto, who also  conducted  a Green Roof Feasibility Study for the ESRI Canada Head Office in 2007.    The design encompasses several zones of outdoor rooms  for circulation purposes,  and also reflects the indoor plan.

The project  was  installed and is maintained by Gardens in the Sky, Flynn Canada.   Not including the planters, the 7,500 sf  installation is a pre-vegetated LiveRoof  Hybrid  greenroof system combining 4″ LiveRoof Standard and 6″ LiveRoof Deep modules.    Josephine told us about several challenges that  were encountered during the design and implementation of the roof garden.  The first step was convincing the landlord, Crown Property Management, that it was an idea worth pursuing.

“Fortunately, they are committed to making their buildings more energy efficient and sustainable.   They agreed that a green roof would be a valuable enhancement and covered the cost of re-roofing the structure on which the garden would be laid.  Capital costs for the green roof were in the range of $25 to $35 per square foot.   The investment the company allocated for the project was substantial.   However, it knew the benefits would far outweigh the costs and proceeded with the project despite the severe economic downturn.”  

 

ESRI Canada faced other challenges such as winds, loading capacity and logistics for a project located in a busy commercial area of east Toronto, and shares the following items that needed to be addressed:

“Wind velocity, particularly nine stories above ground, needed to be factored into plant selection and installation.   An 85-ton crane was used to lift a total weight of 260,000 pounds of plant modules, including 100 yards of soil, 56 planter boxes and 4,000 individual modules of live root plants.   Further complicating the process was logistics.   Crane availability and other logistical considerations in a busy office building meant that work could only be done on Saturdays and Sundays.   This was carried out with a crew of eight working 12-hour days for two weekends in early May 2009.”   Another reason for doing the crane work  over weekends was so that the fire routes were not blocked during working hours.

One other interesting  challenge was  the need to access window washing anchors set within the gravel, which was accomplished through Scott Torrance’s design (photo below from Treehugger).   The landscape architect positioned the  plantings “so that the lines for the window washers go between them.  The gravel also keeps people on roof away from the glass.”

 

Kees Govers, BSc (Agr), of LiveRoof Ontario Inc. adds perspective from the installation process:   “In May 2009, Gardens in the Sky devoted two consecutive  weekends to the installation.   On the first Saturday, all the planters and furniture were hoisted to the 8th floor balcony and positioned, and on the second Saturday the LiveRoof modules were craned up and installed along with the irrigation and the pathways.

“The pathways were all preloaded in LiveRoof modules and were simply installed as any other module.   As a result, the entire green roof is truly portable.  It would take approximately one day to completely remove the entire green roof without a trace, if and when the time came.   Because LiveRoof utilizes patented “˜hoppits’ as conveyance for the modules to the rooftop, even grasses and perennials can be completely full grown ready for installation in the nursery and installed without any damage.  As a result, the green roof is truly finished on the day it is installed rather than requiring another two to three years of growth.”

 

These two photos below were taken by Kees  approximately two weeks after installation was completed (late-May, 2009):

 

Kees explains that unlike other modular systems, LiveRoof doesn’t stack their modules.   “We also use only a minimal amount of stretch wrap to prevent overheating of the plants.   As a result we can ship fully grown grasses, perennials and sedums without any shipping damage to the plants and without having to utilize refrigerated trailers.   The elevators are removed during installation to create a monolithic green roof without visible modules.”

“We always utilize the living mulch principle when executing plant designs.  No deciduous plants are used without an evergreen groundcover underplanted.  Because everything is full grown and already maturing at the time of installation, there is never any exposed growing medium.   As a result, wind erosion of the growing medium is virtually non-existent even when the deciduous plants have gone dormant.” ~ Kees Govers

Patrick Biller, Green Roof Maintenance & Installation with Flynn Canada, Gardens in the Sky, believes the ESRI is a unique project.  “It has all the typical Sedums and grasses that other LiveRoof systems have, but it also has an area devoted to plants that are unique to green roofs.  A lot of rock garden Sempervivums were used, as well as thyme and Nepeta.   The sculpture in the center is unique and points in the direction of the city with the CN Tower in the background.”   From a maintenance point of view, Patrick says that the  LiveRoof system is quick to install, fills in quickly, and reduces the maintenance challenges, and that everything about the system is efficient.   Other than a few select perennials such as coreopsis and evening primrose dying out,  the greenroof  has filled in very nicely.   In early May Flynn Canada/Gardens in the Sky planted some more coreopsis and yarrow.

“I had the privilege of doing the spring clean-up on this site this spring, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly.  All the hustle and bustle of the city, with the Don Valley Parkway directly underneath and general road noise are masked up there, and it feels like an oasis.  Not very often do we do projects that can actually separate you from your surroundings, offering a tranquil space for people to enjoy.  I wish more projects were like this one!” ~ Patrick Biller

Despite the many site  challenges, ESRI Canada believes the company was able to “transform a previously dreary concrete terrace into a lush green roof that provides important environmental and business benefits, including improved air quality, lower energy consumption for air conditioning and reduced stormwater runoff.   Previously, you would be met by dust and highway noise when you stepped out onto the terrace.   Now, employees and visitors can walk out to green outdoor space for formal meetings, corporate events and informal lunch breaks.   They can enjoy the breathtaking view of perennials and tall grasses intermingled with sedums that can also be seen from inside and neighbouring buildings.   Birds and butterflies have also become frequent visitors to the green roof.   It has been transformed into a colourful, living garden enjoyed by many.”

Josephine gave us her personal reflections on the greenroof and its contribution to a healthier Earth:   “It’s been almost a year since ESRI Canada’s green roof was installed.  It was about the same time when I started with the company.  I have never worked in an office with a green roof before so I was, and still am, extremely impressed with ESRI Canada’s environmental effort and proud to be part of a company that is committed to being green.

“From inside the offices, you get seamless views of the garden, which is broken into zones that extend the interior space.   It’s a refreshing place to relax during breaks and provides a great venue for more formal corporate gatherings.  It’s designed with several walkways, so you can tour the roof and look closely at the more than 50 varieties of shrubs, flowering plants, grasses and trees.

“We’ve hosted numerous tours for customers, partners, journalists, and tenants in the building and surrounding buildings who are curious to see the green roof.  They are always amazed by how cool and quiet it is there, given that the busy Don Valley Parkway is just below.   Birds and butterflies are also frequent visitors.  It’s a living garden enjoyed by many.   In addition to providing weather and noise insulation, it retains stormwater and delivers significant energy cost savings.   It also serves as an excellent demonstration of and inspiration for preserving nature and caring for the environment.  “

Kudos to  all the stakeholders for a wonderful project and in particular  to Josephine Chan of ESRI Canada, who says she’ll be donating the $100 prize to a local charity that protects migratory birds.   Josephine adds, “I love seeing them on the green roof!”

Lloyd Alter from Treehugger.com created two videos about the project for his article “Prefab, Portable Green Roof Installed In Toronto” of October 5, 2009, where he interviewed ESRI General Manager John Kitchen and the landscape architect, Scott Torrance.     Also read more from  the  project  profile in the Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database, and watch a short video about ESRI Canada’s Garden in the Sky below:

Happy Greening for Mother Earth! ~ Linda V.

GPW: Vancouver 2010 Olympic Village, Southeast False Creek (Millennium Water)

February 17, 2010 at 5:18 pm

2010 Vancouver:The Civic Centre's Greenroof on 10.27.09; City of Vancouver

What’s GPW?   I’m starting a new blog feature here on Sky Gardens ~ where cool green meets lofty blue, to go along with Greenroofs.com’s “Greenroof/Greenwall Project of the Week” – or GPW.   I’ll note back stories for each selected project and include updates,  new photos, etc.,  and  share why I feel this is a noteworthy and interesting case study.

Olympic and Paralympic Village aerial of December 17, 2009; City of Vancouver

Also known as Millennium Water, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Village at  Southeast False Creek (SEFC) will eventually become home to 16,000  residents and commercial users after the Winter Games with  250 affordable housing units in its first phase, a 45,000 square foot community center, three child care centers, an elementary school, community garden, public plaza, and much more.   The 32 hectare (80 acres) SEFC community is a former industrial site on the shores of False Creek near downtown Vancouver, B.C.   More than half of the land is owned by the City, while the remainder is owned privately.  

2010 Vancouver on 10.27.09; City of Vancouver

Millennium Development Corporation  developed the $1-billion-plus waterfront property, and the master plan for the sustainable community provided a unique opportunity to develop an urban center for residential, commercial and public use.   The City of Vancouver is to be recognized as a governmental trailblazer and recommended for dictating 50% greenroof coverage for the entire area!

Mayor Gregor receiving the LEED Platinum plaque for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Village, via CTV

Dubbed “The most sustainable neighbourhood on Earth,”  on Tuesday the Olympic Village in Vancouver’s Southeast False Creek was awarded LEED ® Platinum ND certification by the U.S. Green Building Council for a variety of factors, including its proximity to the downtown core, mix of uses, affordable housing, green buildings and habitat restoration.   And the Canadian Green Building Council announced the Gold certification of all residential buildings on the Millennium Water site.

 “This should be a source of pride for residents and an example to the rest of the world.”   ~ Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson

 Millennium Water model; photo by Danny Singer, courtesy NATIONAL

Back in 2007 our Design Editor, Haven Kiers, and I included the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Village (Millennium Water) in our inaugural Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof Design, as a current example of trendsetting sustainability efforts on a  city scale.   We showed it as an example of the #1 category  on our 2007 list for  “Visionary Proposed Projects”  – see the PowerPoint here.   NATIONAL, Millennium Development’s public relations firm, provided these images of the various models for our presentation and the  profile in The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.

Millennium Water model, north view; photo by Jonathan Cruz, courtesy NATIONAL

Last October at the inaugural 2009 CitiesAlive! World Green Roof Infrastructure Congress  in Toronto, I attended Dr. Karen Liu of Xero Flor Canada‘s presentation, “Special Green Roof Projects in B.C.” where she shared the company’s design and engineering  experiences for their part in the Olympic Village’s  extensive greenroofs.   In the  Master Planting  Plan (see below) the landscape architect, Durante Kreuk,  had  created  vegetated silhouettes of Olympic sports figures atop the buildings, so to achieve this, a combination of various planted Sedum plugs, annuals and lightweight red lava rock  were used.   Shallow aluminum edging helps define the different color and plant zones:

The Master Planting Plan by Durante Kreuk

Detail of a skiier by Durante Kreuk landscape architects using Xero Flor products

Olympic & Paralympic Village 2010: City of Vancouver

To update the profile, I relied on the excellent case study by The Challenge Series entitled “Millennium Water: The Southeast False Creek Olympic Village –  Vancouver, Canada.”   The story of the development is told in  a seven-chapter book that documents the decisions and challenges involved  in creating such a showcase and world-class example of green  development strategies.   You can access the entire book online above, order printed copies, or subscribe to their newsletter.   Referring to the recent LEED awards, Roger Bayley of  The Challenge Series stated:

“This esteemed certification reflects the dedication to sustainable community development that is found throughout the Millennium Water: SEFC community, and is a truly commendable achievement for all those who were a part of the planning, design and construction process.” ~ Roger Bayley

Athlete's Recreation Centre using LiveRoof modules, Courtesy and by NATS Nursery

Of course Vanouver has many beautiful greenroofs and greenwalls, and just one of numerous  other great buildings with a spectacular greenroof not to be missed is the Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Project, which we’ve  previously highlighted as our “Greenroof Project of the Week.”

Completed just last November, 2009, it will be interesting to see how the Olympic Village rooftop vegetation fills in and greens up after a few seasons, and we certainly look forward to visiting this beautiful city with many eco-friendly projects  in November, 2010.

2010 Vancouver Olympic & Paralympic Village close-up; City of Vancouver

Kudos to the people of Vancouver, B.C. and all involved in the many years of making the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Village at  Southeast False Creek a wonderful, welcoming place for  the athletes, officials,  and visitors, and for designing Millennium Water as  a future sustainable home to Vancouverites!

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic & Paralympic Village at sunset

~ 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.