A Successful First UK Green Roof Research Conference: Marie Curie Industry-Academic Partnerships and Pathways

June 28, 2013 at 10:15 am

I’m a bit late on reporting on this, but Jeff Sorrill of the Department of Landscape at the University of Sheffield says the first UK Green Roof Research Conference went very well and was well received by those attending!

Held on March 18 and 19, 2013  at the University of Sheffield, Green Roof Centre, The Green Roof Research Conference – Bringing together the world’s leading green roof scientists – was the first entirely science focused vegetated roof conference.  The principle aim of the Marie Curie Industry-Academic Partnerships and Pathways (IAPP) Green Roof Systems Project is to create a long term strategic partnership between the Green Roofs Research Group at The University of Sheffield and ZinCo GmbH:

The conference fed back on the 4 year EU funded project between the University of Sheffield and ZinCo GmbH, Germany, and set out to challenge the custom and practice of green roofs.

The research findings established through this Industry – Academia partnership interrogated the fundamental green roof understanding of the current age. The very performance metrics by which green roof elements are measured were questioned, the outcomes demonstrated that new research agendas should be adopted.

In addition, leading scientists from the most innovative green roof research centre’s around the world presented their leading edge investigative activity. Speakers included Ed Snodgrass, Emory Knoll Farms, Maryland, USA; Claire Farrell, University of Melbourne, Australia; Professor Nigel Dunnett, IAPP Project Coordinator, University of Sheffield; Dr. Robyn Simcock, Landcare Research, New Zealand; Dr. Abigail Graceson, Harper Adams University College, UK; Mr. Ralf Walker, Division Manager Research and Development, ZinCo GmbH.; Daniel Roehr, Associate Professor, University of British Columbia, Canada; Dr. Anna Palla, University of Genoa, Italy and Dr. Virginia Stovin, University of Sheffield.

Research topic areas include plant selection + screening; Optimised hydrological performance (both, vegetation establishment and stormwater) and Integrative whole system hydrological modelling.

The conference was intentional programmed as a single stream of presentation to emphasise the importance and impact of each consideration of green roofs.

The conference was well attended by a wide range of delegates, from those with a general interest in green roofs, to those with particular research agenda in plants, substrates design and function, manufactured layers and their interaction with water and stormwater management. ~ Green Roof Research Centre 2013 Press Release

By the way, Christine Thuring – PhD researcher (included in the above group  photo and also one of our contributing editors along with Ed Snodgrass)- was also one of the Marie Curie IAPP Green Roof Systems Project Researchers.

You can review much more information as well as the abstracts available at www.green-roof-systems.co.uk.  For additional information, please contact:

Jeff Sorrill,Department of Landscape
University of Sheffield
Arts Tower
S10 2TN
Tel: 0114 222 0622

Happy greening (and continued research!),

~ Linda V.


London Olympic Park: Star of the Show

August 7, 2012 at 5:34 pm

By  Dr. Nigel Dunnett
Professor of Planting Design and Vegetation Technology
Director, The Green Roof Centre
Department of Landscape
University of Sheffield

The London Olympic Park is the largest new urban park to be created in Europe for 150 years.  For the first time in Olympic history, the park is as important as the buildings, and for many people it is the star of the show.

Although none of the main sporting venues have green roofs, they have been used widely on the athlete’s village.  However, because of the huge security operation carried out during the building of the games, and during the operation of the games, access and publicity has been virtually non-existent.

Yet, there is a very prominent living wall next to the Olympic Velodrome.  Composed of a vertical sedum mat system, it has been fertilised and irrigated to the point that it presents a verdant bright green, highly textural surface.

In my opinion, although this is not the best approach to take for widespread use, it has definitely raised the profile of living walls:  the crowds of people of have felt it, examined it and photographed are a testament to that.  

I have been involved with the planting in the Olympic Park from the outset in 2007, responsible with my colleague James Hitchmough, for developing the overall planting strategy for the park, and then producing the specifications for vegetation mixes, and, over the last two years, working on site with the landscape contractors to install and manage the plantings.

Unlike most urban parks – where mown lawns are the norm with groups of standard trees, and if there are any wild areas, they tend to be hidden away from the high profile locations – the Olympic Park turns this concept on its head, with meadows, woodlands and wetlands being the main planting types within which sit areas of spectator lawns, where huge outdoor TV screens relay the action.

From the outset we wanted to make this a very forward-looking park, and highly ecological and sustainable.  It has been a major challenge: everything had to be flowering and performing at its best on the day of the opening ceremony on July 27, 2012 and then to continue looking good for a further 7 weeks right through to the end of the Paralympics.

We made the meadows flower-rich, partly to create a visual spectacle for the 5 million visitors who will be at the site over the summer, but also to attract as many pollinating insects as possible.

In fact, biodiversity considerations have been paramount: the park only received planning permission because it had a biodiversity action plan to create 125 acres of new native habitat (this makes up nearly all of the greenspace of the park).  Even the McDonald’s is set in a flowering meadow!

For the first time in the UK, water-senstive design principles lie at the heart of the design of a major public park. The Landform in the park is dramatic, with a series of artificial hills and valleys.  All the runoff from the hills drains to bioswales, which also line all of the main paths through the park, and the main pedestrian concourse.

These swales are planted with species-rich wet meadow vegetation at their base. The water drains to collecting ponds and rain gardens.

The Olympic Park has been created on an area of derelict and contaminated land in east London.  When they visit, people are genuinely amazed by the sight and experience of millions of wildflowers all around them, covering such large areas, and surrounding the main Olympic Stadium and the other venues.

We hope this is a turning point in the way that we view urban landscapes in the UK: no stronger evidence is needed that people love flower-rich, natural surroundings than the response there has been to the park.

Dr. Nigel Dunnett
Professor of Planting Design and Vegetation Technology
Director, The Green Roof Centre
Department of Landscape
University of Sheffield
Weston Bank,  Sheffield  S10 2TN
Tel: 0114 2220611

Greenroofs.com’s “This Week in Review” on GreenroofsTV: April 27, 2012

April 28, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Each week you can expect to learn What’s New here on Greenroofs.com through our “This Week in Review” video.  Here is the transcript from April 27, 2012 from our daughter, Anjuli – click on the photo below to see the video, or here.  Enjoy!

– Hello, I’m Anjuli Velázquez and welcome to “This Week in Review” for April 27, 2012 on GreenroofsTV.

Project of the Week

–  Our project of the week is  the Nathan Phillips Square Toronto City Hall Podium Green Roof built in 2009 in Toronto, Canada.  The public square surrounding Toronto City Hall was designed with the original architectural structure in mind.  The landscaped gardens, courtyards, terraces, furniture and walkways provide unique views of downtown from this urban oasis in the heart of the city.  This 3,400 square meter green roof is the largest in Toronto and the recipient of a 2011 Canadian Society of Landscaped Architects Regional Honour Award, a 2011 Design Exchange Award Silver Award for Landscape Architecture – Public, and the 2011 Green Roofs for Healthy Cities 2011 Award of Excellence in the Extensive Institutional Category.

The green roof consists of three formal conditions: a sedum mosaic, a paved courtyard that frames the curved chamber and a deck café that occupies the prow.  The perimeter garden is treated as a field in purple, pink, yellow/orange and green sedums.  This ground cover is planted in a pre-vegetated tray system with shade tolerant species concentrated in the shadows of the City Hall’s towers.  The Nathan Phillips Square green roof was constructed with the LiveRoof hybrid modular green roof system.  It contains a combination of 6 inch deep and 4 inch deep LiveRoof Standard Modules; and the project was grown at the LiveRoof Ontario nursery during the summer of 2009, and installation started on September 1st, 2009.

–  To learn more about the Nathan Phillips Square Toronto City Hall Podium Green Roof,  click on our project of the week photo on our homepage (or on the above photos).

What’s New

–   Speaking of the Nathan Phillips Square Toronto City Hall Podium Green Roof, congratulations to our 2012 “Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!” Earth Day Photo Contest winner, Patrick Biller!  Patrick submitted the Toronto City Hall entry and we featured that project as our Project of the Week this week, in honor of Earth Day and his submission.  He’ll also be receiving $100 for his entry.  Congrats!

–  The Greenroofs.com eNewsletter

– Look for our April 2012 eNewsletter in your inbox or our homepage.  If you’re not  subscribed, you can click on the mail icon by our social media links on our homepage, enter your e-mail address and you’ll get our monthly eNewsletter to let you know what’s been going on that month here at Greenroofs.com!

–  Contributing Editor

–   Read Ed Snodgrass’ “A Green Roof Day in New York“ (with The Martha Stewart Show) Blog post.

Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011 Video

– Watch our Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011 Episode 20: “The Current Situation and Future of Green Roofs in China” by Wang Xianmin.

And find the rest of the videos in this series on our GreenroofsTV page and/or our greenroofsTV YouTube channel.

Advertiser Press Releases:

LiveRoof ® Hybrid Green Roof System Selected for Chattanooga City Council Project.


–  Compost Supply is now hiring a Green Sales Hero in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

– Evergreen Environments is looking for a Green Roof Specialist in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

Industry News

–  Illinois EPA Interim Director John Kim announced the award of nearly $5 million in Green Infrastructure Grants designed to reduce the amount of pollution running into Illinois waterways from stormwater sources.  Applicants applied for grant awards in three categories: Combined Sewer Overflow Rehabilitation; Stormwater Retention and Infiltration; and Green Infrastructure Small Projects.  The $5 million in grants will result jobs for installation of green structures by construction workers and the trades, as well as to create work for professional engineers and public works staff designing Best Management Practices and developing and submitting permits, and construction oversight.

–  In their recent report, Banking on Green, American Rivers explained the many benefits of using green roofs and other techniques like rain gardens and green streets to save money, reduce energy use and flooding, and keep people healthy and water clean.  Now, working with Goodby Silverstein & Partners they’ve just released Get More Green – an interactive tool that lets you virtually “green” a roof in your own community to find out how much money you’ll save in heating and cooling costs as well as how much dirty water you’ll keep out of your local river!

– The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) has selected the top ten examples of sustainable architecture and green design solutions that protect and enhance the environment.

The projects will be honored at the AIA 2012 National Convention and Design Exposition in Washington, D.C. 2012 Top Ten Award Winners with Green Roofs include the Mercy Corps Global Headquarters in Portland, Oregon, the Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the University of Minnesota Duluth – Bagley Classroom Building in Duluth, Minnesota.

–  Sky Gardens Blog

–  Over at Sky Gardens, check out Linda’s latest posts: “Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011 Episode 20: The Current Situation and Future of Green Roofs in China,” “Happy Earth Day! The Winner of the 2012 “˜Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!’ Earth Day Photo Contest is…,” and “Greenroofs.com’s “˜This Week in Review’ on GreenroofsTV: April 20, 2012.”

– “Upcoming Events“

–  April 27th-28th: is Green Living Roofs, a Green Living Technologies International Professional Installer training module at the State University of New York (SUNY) Ulster, in New York, NY.

–  April 30th: is the 3rd Annual Massachusetts Sustainable Economy Conference, in Boston, MA.

–  April 30th-May 25th: is the WBK International Green Roof Course, ZHAW in Waedenswil (Campus Gruental) with excursions to various regions of Switzerland.

–  May 2nd: is the “Making Engineered Green Roof Systems Work For Any Application” Seminar by Architek, The VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre, in Vancouver, Canada.

–  May 2nd-3rd: is BuildingsNY/GreenBuildingsNY, in New York, NY.

–  And May 2nd-4th: is Living Future – Women Reshaping the World, in Portland, Oregon.

– “In the News“

– Kaid Benfield of the NRDC Switchboard Blog, talks about “Toronto’s leadership for green roofs.”  Since January 2010, Toronto has been paving the way for North American cities with their requirements of having green roofs on new commercial, institutional, and multifamily residential developments across the city; and next week, the requirements will include new industrial development as well.

Toronto’s municipal bylaw indicates that smaller residential and commercial buildings are exempt but the larger the building, the larger the green roof must be.  The largest buildings are required to have 60% of their available roof space to be vegetated.  For industrial buildings, the bylaw will require that 10% of available roof space be covered, unless the building uses cool roofing materials on 100% of the roof space and has stormwater retention to catch at least 50% of the annual rainfall.  Last fall, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities announced that Toronto’s green roof requirements had already resulted in more than 1.2 million square feet of new green space in the city.

– Lorena Galliot of the State of the Planet Blog, says “There’s no one-size-fits-all green roof, studies show.” Researchers are looking at how the types of vegetation used in greenroofs affects their functioning.  Sedum is a popular choice for green roofs because of their hardiness, shallow root systems and low maintenance requirements.  Two new studies are showing that grasses or taller shrubs may actually be more effective than sedums at reducing stormwater runoff.  It all depends on where in the world you are, there is no one-size-fits-all greenroof.

An author of the UK study, Nigel Dunnett, said that previous research on the efficiency of greenroofs had focused on their design and structural components, not on the types of plants used.  He also said, “There is a tendency in the green roof world to imply that all greenroofs are the same, and deliver benefits in the same way,” but that “vegetation choices can, to some extent, also influence green roof performance.”  Co-author of the Italian study, Sergio Andri, agreed and stressed that rooftop vegetation should reflect local growing conditions, and imitate natural ecosystems.  Local grasses can be an effective and a low-maintenance way of covering a greenroof.

– To learn more about these stories and new ones posted daily, go to our In the News or Newslinks section of our website.

– Send us your green articles, videos and images to editor@greenroofs.com and share your greenroof or greenwall info with the world!

– Make sure to keep up with everything Greenroofs.com by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook, being a member of our network on LinkedIn, and subscribing to our greenroofsTV channel on YouTube!

– This has been This Week in Review for April 27, 2012 on GreenroofsTV.  I’m Anjuli Velázquez and I’ll see you next week!

*This week’s episode is sponsored by The Greenroof Directory, brought to you by Greenroofs.com.*

Did we miss something?  We’d love to hear from you!

~ Linda V.

See Ed Snodgrass on The Martha Stewart Show on Friday, April 20, 2012!

April 18, 2012 at 11:51 am

Well, we knew that greenroofs would eventually make it into mainstream America – and finally they have!

Ed Snodgrass, co-owner of Emory Knoll Farms / Green Roof Plants (and Contributing Editor here on Greenroofs.com), will be on the Hallmark Channel’s “The Martha Stewart Show” on this Friday, April 20, 2012!

Since I’ll be working, I’ve already set my DVR is record Friday’s show – how exciting!  Check the Hallmark Channel/The Martha Stewart Show website for your area time listings.

“The Earth Day Show,” as it’s touted, is described as follows:

“Go green with environmentally friendly ideas for your home and outdoor space.  Build your own lush rooftop garden with a handy guide from Ed Snodgrass, president and founder of Emory Knoll Farms.  Plus, a look at Disneynature’s remarkable new film, “Chimpanzee.”

~ “The Martha Stewart Show

I don’t know about “Chimpanzee” yet, but I can bet that it will be fun to watch Ed!  He filmed at the studio on Monday, April 16 and here Ed is below on the set:

Chip, The Martha Stewart Show set designer, is on Ed’s left, and Andrea Mason, who produces the garden segments, is on Ed’s right.

Ed says they constructed the shed mock up, above, to highlight differences between green and non-greened roofs and show the basics of small scale projects, including various growing media and planting options.

Ed is also promoting his book Small Green Roofs: Low-Tech Options for Greener Living, 2011, which he co-wrote with Nigel Dunnett, Dusty Gedge, and John Little.  I’m sure that viewers will appreciate the unlimited DIY possibilities here.

How appropriate that Martha is showcasing greenroofs on Earth Day – congratulations, Ed and kudos to Martha Stewart and staff for raising the public’s awareness of greenroofs!

By the way, make sure to see Ed’s collaboration on the “Green Roofs Without the Hype” panel presentation video, now playing on our GreenroofsTV Channel on YouTube.

As I always say, “Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!”

~ Linda V.