Ecoroof Portland, Day 1

March 23, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Since the 1990s, Portland, Oregon,  has worked hard to  earn its reputation as a sustainable building pioneer.   Very socially conscious, it’s also a very young city  in terms of energy and spirit.   As the host of Ecoroof Portland 2010, the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services  (BES) does  a great  service to its citizens with this free yearly event with information and technical assistance about ecoroofs – other sponsors included ReDirect Guide, EcoMetro, KXL radio, KINK radio, Portland Business Journal, Left Bank Annex, and ecoShuttle.

A large number of BES staff was on hand to assist, but Matt ran the show.   Matt Burlin  is the  Outreach Coordinator, Sustainable Stormwater Management, City of Portland Environmental Services, and  did an excellent job of organizing and coordinating everything!   Held at the Left Bank Annex  close to the Rose Quarter,  Ecoroof Portland  was easily accessible by public transportation, and in fact, the city encouraged folks to do just that.   The industrial urban space venue was chock full of environmentally friendly features including great daylighting, recycling bins everywhere, and water conservation features in the restrooms.

The program provided options for all levels of sophistication – beginner, professional, researcher, and those who were ready to put  an ecoroof  on their own house or commercial structure.   Friday started out at a very civil 10:30, with  “An Introduction to Ecoroofs in Portland” given by Matt and Amy Chomowicz (also offered on Saturday morning).   Attendees heard about general ecoroof information – how they work, why they’re important, and what resources are available in Portland  to help you get started on your own project  to  gain skills and experience in the industry.

 
The Vendor Fair was open at 10:00, and I was surprised to see how full both the intro session and exhibitor area was for a Friday morning.   We skipped the intro and perused the trade show on the main floor, mingling with  old friends and meeting new ones.

These regional expos are so important for a variety of reasons, and it also gives us an opportunity to meet with local reps of some of our advertisers, too, and learn about business in their neck of the woods – we connected with “new” folks from Tremco, Tournesol Siteworks, American Hydrotech, Xero Flor America, GreenGrid, ILD, and Etera Green Roof Plants (Northwest Horticulture), below.

I was pleased that there was  such a high number of professional firms  exhibiting  among the manufacturers and suppliers, for example landscape architects Lando & Associates Landscape Architecture(who have worked on many ecoroofs here including The Metro Headquarters Greenroof) and  Walker Macy (who worked on the Platinum LEED OHSU CHH building, among others).   Architects, consultants, contractors, structural engineers, and researchers also had booths.

In addition to product and service vendors, non-profit organizations and community organizations were also here including the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities booth, which was manned by Patrick Carey, a trainer for all of the courses needed to get your GRP designation – the 101, 201, 301 and 401.

And it was great to see Ecoroofs Everywhere  and meet Greg Haines,  above left, after all these years (who used to work at BES, seen with Matt, right).   Greg has been installing ecoroofs in Portland since 2002 when he co-founded Ecoroofs Everywhere as a non-profit organization (since 2007 it has been a for-profit partnership).   Of course, the City of Portland had  booths to answer questions about their Ecoroof Grant Program (they gave out beautiful posters) and WorkingGreenPortland.com, a  website  and tool to educate and motivate people about site specific stormwater management options, and city grants and incentives for each.

   

At noon,  Environmental Services Director Dean Marriott welcomed everyone, gave us a quick  update on the Ecoroof Grant program and introduced the keynote speaker, Ed Snodgrass.   Ed, in his usual laid back and affable way,  presented “Ecosystem Services: How Ecoroofs Contribute to Sustainable Cities” sharing his thoughts on how greenroofs  add benefits to our highly sealed urban areas by mimicking natural processes within the bigger picture.   He showed multiple examples of how the natural technologies of plants and soil protect the environment, economy, and equity in cities through connecting living roofs, rain gardens,  porous paving/vegetated parking lots and other systems, while  providing  stormwater management, energy reduction, cooling properties, treatment of graywater and sewage, wildlife habitat and more – for example  the corporate campus of Mercedes-Benz, below, a model of sustainability.

Next  came current research and monitoring efforts specific to the area.  Portland State University (PSU) graduate student Debbie Beck gave a presentation on “Greenroof Soil and Water Quality – Changes in Runoff Water Quality When Biochar is Mixed into a Greenroof Soil.”   Growing media needs to be designed to ensure low concentrations of nutrients in stormwater runoff;  biochar is a soil amendment made from the pyrolysis of waste products, ranging from biomass to tires in a carbon-net-negative process.   It was evaluated for its ability to retain nutrients in greenroof soils, and Debbie also  presented findings on its cleansing properties.

Tim Kurtz, PE, from the City of Portland BES  talked about  “Stormwater Monitoring of Three Ecoroofs in Portland, Oregon”  explaining that although ecoroofs have become a primary option for reducing roof runoff into sewers and streams, at present they’re all treated the same, regardless of growing media depth or composition.   Data was presented from the Hamilton Apartments, the Multnomah County Multnomah Building, and the Portland Building, above,  to determine which greenroof design and maintenance variables are most important to maximize stormwater retention.

 And featured speaker  Dr. David Sailor from PSU presented “Energy Performance of Ecoroofs – the Role of the Roof in Affecting Building Energy and the Urban Atmospheric Environment” – enlightening us how energy analysis of ecoroof performance requires sophisticated techniques and that complex energy balances on vegetative roofs vary from time of day and season to season.   Dr. Sailor concluded with his initial results of studies involving both greenroofs and photovoltaics, with a focus on potential system interactions and synergies.   His findings clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of the two technologies working together – the plants fare better with some shading from the harsh sun and the panels perform better from a cooler rooftop.

“Portland’s Shift to a Sustainable Future: The Role of Ecoroofs” took over the late Friday afternoon session with an interactive panel featuring Dan Vizzini of City of Portland Environmental Services, Tom Puttman of  David Evans and Associates, and Tom Liptan, ASLA, Ecoroof Technical Program Manager with BES.   Fourteen years after ecoroof guru Liptan installed his own atop his garage, the City continues to boost implementation of green infrastructure practices, including a target of 43 acres of ecoroofs by 2013. The panelists discussed their evolution from “grey to green” and how these changes will influence the fabric of  their city.

At 6:00 pm the Vendor Fair was closed to the public, and the City provided a lovely reception for the exhibitors and speakers.   This casual gathering and networking opportunity was a great time just to relax a bit.   Matt and Linda Dobson  (she manages  BES’s Stormwater Team) welcomed Portland Mayor  Sam Adams and it was easy to understand the city’s success with their ecoroof initiatives – you could feel the Mayor’s pride, commitment and  passion for their projects and staff.   He extended an open invitation to all to embrace sustainable business practices and sustainable design, and let us know that the City was looking into funding low interest loans.   He also informed us that he was talking up the challenge to green his own garage roof,  Ã  la Tom Liptan!

Tom Liptan then introduced me in such a nice way, reminiscing about my student days at UGA and how I called him back in 1998 wanting to know all about his garage greenroof and what could we do to promote these earth-friendly roof covers.   I presented a short demo of The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database – how it began with my 1999 research study when I initially had about 30 case studies, to how it’s grown to 1,023 at the moment; why I felt the industry needed an open, free resource for compiling and maintaining a clearing house of sorts.

Ed was up next and Tom also shared his funny recollections of meeting him several years ago.   Ed showed some very unique and interesting” Greenroofs from Around the World” with a fast-paced show of his highlight reel.

Afterwards we were off to the  richly decorated  Alu Wine Bar for a glass of a spectacular local pinot noir (2007 Arterberry Maresh from Dundee Hills, OR) with a bevy of BES people.   From there  Aramis, Ed and I  met Patrick and Brian Heather, GRP,  from SolTerra  for dinner at the very funky and famous Cajun Montage – quite a noisy and fun local favorite!   Patrick and Brian have been collaborating on various projects in Portland and Seattle, and we topped the evening off with a visit to the mixed-use SolTerra offices to see some of their innovative handiwork.   SolTerra provides a variety of services and products for the solar, ecoroof, and living wall markets, and what we saw looked very impressive!

Tomorrow I’ll wrap up our visit  and experiences at Ecoroof Portland 2010 ~ Linda V.

Ecoroof Portland – Inspiring, Fun, & Free

March 5, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Multnomah County Building, Tremco Green Roof: Photo Courtesy Tremco

Known as “The Rose City” for its famous yearly Rose Festival and The Grand Floral Parade in early June, Portland Oregon could also be easily known as “The Eco City” or perhaps even “The Green City” because of their ongoing commitment to preserving their magnificent waterways and forests while promoting sustainable design and development through progressive urban policies and public outreach.   The last time we were there was for the 2nd Annual Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, Awards & Trade Show in 2004.   And we spent some time here in late 2003 when I was compiling info for my Sky Gardens ~ Travels in Landscape Architecture column on the area.    Such a beautiful city!

 The Portland Building Ecoroof, 2007: Photo Courtesy BES

On March 12-13, the lovely City of Portland will be sponsor and host to their annual free Ecoroof Portland.   What an amazing  city for supporting greenroofs – or ecoroofs, as they refer to them here.   Currently with about 200 projects within the city, ecoroofs cover about 10 acres, leading the U.S. in total area greened after Chicago.   And they were one of the first, if not the first, municipality in the nation to offer incentives.   As part of the Grey to Green Initiative, the City of Portland is offering an incentive of up to $5 per square foot for ecoroofs towards a target of 43 additional acres by 2013.   In the past year, the  Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) awarded the incentive to 50 projects for a total of over 4 acres.   Read more in Industry Support and the City’s Incentive Project Page for more information.  You can visit ecoroofs and other sustainable stormwater projects in Portland with these self-guided tours, and the City maintains an Ecoroof Blog, which is very informative, too!

Tom Liptan's Ecoroof Garage; Photo Courtesy Tom Liptan

The premier champion there of stormwater mitigation, and ecoroofs in particular, is Tom Liptan, ASLA.   I’ve known Tom for over 12 years, when I first contacted him about greenroofs back when I was a landscape architecture student at UGA a had “discovered” them myself.   Gracious, kind, and accommodating, he nurtured and fueled my passion for this earth-friendly sustainable technology.   And Tom has always put his money where his mouth is – he installed one of the first ecoroofs in Portland atop his garage in 1996.   The now famous Liptan Garage Greenroof served as early a demonstration project and testing grounds for a variety of factors – read more in the profile.

The Louisa; Photo Courtesy BES

Designed to inform a varied audience of professionals and homeowners, the lineup of speakers will educate and inspire you to consider a greenroof on your next project.   A Vendor Fair with over 60 professionals and organizations will be on-hand both days  to share their ecoroof experience, products, and services.   Featured speakers include Dr. David J. Sailor, Ed Snodgrass, and me!   Dr. Sailor is a full professor at the Mechanical and Materials Engineering faculty at Portland State University, Member Faculty of the Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center (Oregon BEST), and directs Portland State University’s Green Building Research Laboratory.   Ed Snodgrass is co-owner of Emory Knoll Farms/Green Roof Plants, a fifth generation farmer and nurseryman specializing in plants and horticultural consulting for greenroofs.   An accomplished speaker and writer (“Green Roof Plants: A Resource and Planting Guide“),  he’s also  our Plant Editor who writes his occasional column “Ask Ed”   – read my “From Llamas to Greenroofs: An Interview with Ed Snodgrass.”   See full profiles here and a complete list of all the speakers and Agenda here.

A flowering Ecoroof in Portland, OR; Photo BES

See Ed on Friday at 12:00 pm at the  Welcome and Keynote Address where Environmental Services Director Dean Marriott will welcome attendees and introduce  Ed as the Keynote Speaker.   His presentation will focus on the role of ecoroofs in sustainable cities.   On Saturday at noon, Commissioner Dan Saltzman will welcome attendees and introduce me – I will be presenting “Hot Trends in Greenroof Design,” a compilation of my favorite international projects from our Top 10 Lists from the past  with a look at some of the new, innovative, leading vanguard and projects for 2010.   On Saturday at 4:00 pm Ed will be part of  a panel where you can get some help getting started on your own ecoroof project – “The Ecoroof Doctors are IN,” along with Tom Liptan, David Elkin, and Alice Meyers from BES, and Patrick Carey of hadj design, a Green Roofs for Healthy Cities trainer, and our Architecture Editor.   Patrick writes an occasional architectural column entitled “A View from the Sky Trenches,” where he selects and discusses pertinent greenroof industry topics.

OHSU, a Xero Flor Green Roof, in May 2008; Photo Courtesy BES

Don’t miss Ecoroof Portland!   It  will run on Friday and Saturday, March 12 & 13, 2010  at  the Leftbank Annex, located at 101 N. Weidler St in downtown Portland.   It’s very close to the Rose Quarter – you can find directions by clicking  the following link.   Learn all about Ecoroof Portland 2010 at the City’s BES website.

Ecoroof Portland 2010

If you can attend, please stop by and say hello!   Happy greening,

~ Linda V.

CitiesAlive! World Green Roof Infrastructure Congress – A World of Reasons to Come to Toronto

October 6, 2009 at 1:27 am

CitiesAlive! Banner, Photo Gardens in the Sky, Toronto

The first ever CitiesAlive! World Green Roof Infrastructure Congress will be held in Toronto in a couple of weeks and Greenroofs.com will be there.   In partnership with the City of Toronto, the World Green Roof Infrastructure Network (WGRIN), and Green Roofs for Healthy Cities  (GRHC),  CitiesAlive! is expecting a great turnout with over 1,000 participants.   Addressing the theme “Green roof infrastructure as a global solution to climate change,” the congress will host over 60 internationally renowned speaker presentations and expert roundtable discussions in greenroof design, policy, research and emerging trends in green infrastructure, and an industry trade show.

We’ve had multiple questions from readers about this conference, in terms of comparing it to the annual Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, which also  offers all  of the above.   GRHC is a founding member of WGRIN, who has been planning this congress for some time now, and since Toronto is at the forefront of greenroof policy in North America – plus it’s their home –  it’s only natural the inaugural  congress should be held in this beautiful international city.   But some people are asking me why it would be beneficial to attend in Toronto, especially if they had just come to Atlanta in June.   They’ve asked me about the focus of CitiesAlive! since we’ve always had global views and speakers at the seven Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conferences so far.

I recently asked Steven Peck, President, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, these questions on the differences between the two events, and he shared his views with me:

“There are a number of important differences. The main ones are that the focus of CitiesAlive! is on how vegetative technologies, including urban forests, can help us mitigate climate change and adapt cities to the negative consequences like heat waves and severe storms. We have invited various experts from around the world to give presentations. It is much more focused than our annual conference which includes a wider range of topics. Another major difference is that WGRIN is the co-host of this event, which is scheduled to be held in Mexico City next year. This event will have a greater international flavour and we are having a Mexican fiesta and international showcase of projects on Wednesday, October 21 at the Toronto Botanical Garden.

Toronto Botanical Garden, from their website, by Jenny

“We are also not having North American industry programs like the Awards of Excellence but a Student Design Contest instead – where 22 groups of students from around the world are redesigning a city block with multiple forms of green infrastructure for maximum sustainability benefits.

“We are also celebrating and acknowledging the policy and program leadership of the City of Toronto, which passed the first green roof construction standard and mandatory by-law for new buildings in North America.”

And Steven concluded, “So, CitiesAlive! is a different program with a broader scope of green technologies but more of a focus on positive climate change impacts. Cities Alive! is going to be a really unique, one-time event.”

OK, so we can expect greater green infrastructure beyond greenroofs and green walls,  encompassing broader living architecture technologies, with greater international focus and flavor – got it!   I love the inclusion of the  international student design competition, “Transforming the Face of Buildings“ – it sounds very promising, where students were asked to rethink the connection between built and biotic landscapes.   It will be very interesting to see the entries.   Also of note, the Congress is offering courses, many sustainable project tours, CitiesAlive! delegates can learn more about the new Toronto Green Roof Bylaw, and the Canadian Green Roof Professional (GRP) Accreditation launch will be held on October 19, 2009.  

Speaker highlights include Paul Kephart (Executive Director, Rana Creek, USA); Dusty Gedge (President, European Federation of Green Roof Associations and livingroofs.org, England); Sadhu Johnson (Chief Environmental Officer, City of Chicago, USA); David Yocca (President, Conservation Design Forum, USA); Don Delaney (Environmental Solutions Manager, Flynn Canada); Sable (Director Marketing & Education, Green Screen, USA); and Jeffrey L. Bruce (Principal, Jeffrey Bruce & Co., USA).     Download the Agenda here.

CitiesAlive! logo and banner

The CitiesAlive! 2009 International Green Infrastructure Congress will be held from October 19 – 21 2009 at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Downtown, 123 Queen St. West, Toronto, ON, Canada.   Visit www.citiesalive.org for more information and to register.

It’s great to see the international greenroof community coming together again, and we’re very happy to be attending the CitiesAlive! World Green Roof Infrastructure Congress, too.  We  hope to see many of you there, including our Student Editor, Christine Thuring, the Green Wall Editor, George Irwin, and the Architecture Editor, Patrick Carey.   Aramis and I look forward to  taking  the Toronto Sustainable Roof Bus Tour,  sponsored by Tremco and Bioroof, and enjoying the sights and sounds of awesome downtown Toronto with friends and colleagues.

~ Linda V.

Congrats to all the new GRP’s!

August 4, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Green Roof Professional Designation

After almost seven weeks of intense scrutiny and review, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) has relased the names of their first “graduating class” of GRP’s, or Green Roof Professionals (download the Press Release “First Green Roof Professionals (GRPs) Announced” of July 21, 2009 here.    These hardy  100+ represent the inaugural group of professionals across multi-disciplinary fields to sit for and pass the GRP exam, held in Atlanta on June 5, 2009 at the 7th Annual Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, Awards & Trade Show.

The purpose of the GRP exam is to establish greenroof professional viability in our growing industrial sector.   Jeffrey L. Bruce, Chair of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, whom I interviewed in May said, “We are very pleased with the caliber of the new GRPs and the fact that they come from both the green arts side, i.e., the living components of a green roof, and the black arts side, i.e., the nonliving components. Industry experts from both the black and the green arts have worked hard over the past six years to develop training materials and a professional exam that covers best practices across the spectrum of professionals, in order to improve multi-disciplinary knowledge and practice in the field.”

Congratulations to the new designees and so many people involved  in the whole process!   Many of our friends, colleagues, and several of our Contributing Editors received their GRP designtion, including Kelly Luckett, The Green Roof Guy; Patrick Carey, The Architecure Editor; and Haven Kiers, The Design Editor.   In fact, Kelly was on the GRHC Training and Accreditation Committee which developed the Green Roof Professional Accreditation program, and he can attest to the countless hours put in by all to ensure quality, integrity  and equity.   But don’t feel too badly for them as, of course, everyone on the GRP Training and Accreditation Committee was grandfathered in and didn’t have to take the actual test!

So what about me?   Remember when I said I was going to take it, too, and to join me?   Yeah, well that never happened.   Long story, but kind of typical for me, I waited too long to actually sign up for the exam and when I tried, it was closed.   It was probably a blessing in disguise, because I hadn’t studied at all and was going to cram for the test at the last minute…   Now I can plan accordingly, study like a normal person and take the GRP exam in any of these North American cities this fall: Chicago (Sept. 18), New York (Oct. 16),  Toronto (Oct. 19), and Seattle (Oct. 30).   And since I am also a greenroof designer, I do think it will be a good thing for me to have, along with my BLA and LEED AP.

So, did you take the test?   What do you think about it?   Share your comments here with us.

See the complete list of Green Roof Professionals in the latest issue of the Living Architecture Monitor online or download a PDF from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities here.   Once again, a job well done to all!

~ Linda V.