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.

Watch the Premiere of Sky Gardens ~ Greenroofs of the World!

November 3, 2009 at 3:25 pm

After a long 16 months,  the first episode of our WebTV series Sky Gardens ~ Greenroofs of the World will be up and ready to see on Sunday, November 8, 2009.   You can watch Episode 1: Rock Mill Park on the Greenroofs.TV Channel on Greenroofs.com and YouTube.     Download our Press Release here.

Episode 1 Screenshot

The Sky Gardens ~ Greenroofs of the World video series grew naturally out of my previous column “Sky Gardens ~Travels in Landscape Architecture” which ran from June, 2003 through April, 2006 here on Greenroofs.com.   With that column I was combining my various fields of expertise, and the  description read:

“What do you get when you cross a landscape in the sky with an ecological designer, greenroof website publisher, and an international flight attendant?   Why, a column entitled “Sky Gardens ~ Travels in Landscape Architecture” of course!   Welcome to the ramblings of my unique bird’s eye perspective of the world, as I continue to visit new cities and noteworthy landscape architecture projects ~ both at ground and greenroof level.”

My hectic schedule proved too much for such an indepth column, and it evolved into  this Sky Gardens ~ where cool green meets lofty blue Blog.   But I still wanted to pursue the thought of examining greenroof projects in-depth: the who, where, what, why and how’s of the entire planning and design process.   Our oldest son, Joey, is a screenwriter with film experience and so with  the help of his film production company,  Red Hand Productions, last year I decided to channel this vision into a more visual medium – video.

We selected one of my own designs here in Alpharetta for the first episode, and it’s been a true labor of love.   I’ve been involved with the Rock Mill Park project since 1999 when I interned as a student of landscape architecture with the City of Alpharetta.   I was thrilled when my design for “Celebrating Ecological Design in a Native Landscape” became a reality with construction of The Greenroof Pavilion and Trial Gardens of Rock Mill Park in 2007.   So many talented and generous people contributed to this endeavor, and being able to film and share this project built on such an environmentally sensitive and culturally important former Cherokee-owned site was an honor for me.   See 2008’s Love the Earth: Plant a Roof! and What I Did on My Summer Vacation”¦ for a little more background info.

 Rock Mill Park in the 1830's

Rock Mill Park in the 2000's

I think you’ll enjoy our first episode, where we interviewed many people involved in the project and filmed on site at Rock Mill Park; Alpharetta City Hall at Mayor Arthur Lechtas’ office; the City of Alpharetta Engineering/Public Works Department; the historic Log Cabin  at the former site of Milton High School; Saul Nurseries “Swamp” location; and the former Cherokee capital, New Echota in Calhoun, GA, now a Historic Site.

Overhead view of Rock Mill Park; Photo by Harris Hatcher

We’ve had some trials and tribulations along the way, but that just makes it more special now that it’s done!   On November 8 you can see Episode 1: Rock Mill Park in four 10-minute installments on our home page and the Greenroofs.TV page on our website, where they will be added to the Greenroofs.com playlist on the greenroofstv channel on YouTube, found at http://www.youtube.com/greenroofstv.   All four videos will be lined up in order for easy viewing.

Look for our second Sky Gardens ~ Greenroofs of the World episode which highlights the gorgeous Cook+Fox Architects LLP  corporate headquarters in Manhattan, NY, and details some of the greening initiatives that New York City is spearheading, coming soon to GreenroofsTV!

~ Linda V.

Tour Exclusive Metro Atlanta Greenroofs!

May 28, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Atlanta Greenroof Tours 2009

As you should know  by now, I’ve been involved with the Atlanta Local Host Committee for the  7th Annual Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, Awards & Trade Show on June 3-5, 2009.   Janet Faust, LEED AP, Environmental Horticulturist and Greenroof Product Manager with JDR Enterprises, and I are the Co-chairs of the Tour Sub-Committee, and along with a bunch of others we’ve put together a mighty fine line up of a very diverse group of greenroof projects for the guided tours on June 2 and June 6 – many of these are private and not usually accessible and open to the general public, so take advantage!

It was really hard for us to determine which projects to include on the various tours – the Atlanta area has so many  types of intensive and extensive, retail/commercial, industrial, municipal/corporate, educational, single family and multi-family residential, multi – use, you name it!   We tried to keep each varied within a common theme with  examples of conventional built-in-place, modular, custom, and  by different system providers, too.   By no means do our tours represent all of Metro Atlanta, but it will give the visitor an all-around flavor.   To see more of Georgia’s many living roofs, search The Greenroof Projects Database by Location: State: Georgia.

The tours are filling up fast, and if you’re considering joining us, you need to sign up quickly!   They are $35 each, and you can register here.   See the tri-fold Tour Brochure  – the outer side here and the inner here, designed by Caroline Menetre – our Student Intern, environmental horticulturalist and graphic artist extraordinaire –  who did a great job, by the way!   These are the details with some photos to get you inspired:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009:

TOUR # 1: Cooling It in Hotlanta
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Tour Coordinators: Greg Harper, GreenGrid  and Ernie Higgins, ItSaulnatural
Tour Hosts: David Floyd and  Greg Harper

Midtown Atlanta is vibrant and exciting with a dynamic mix of cosmopolitan retail, restaurants and entertainment.   Join us at the epicenter of the Atlanta cultural scene as we stroll through midtown touring contemporary multi-use corporate/office buildings, commercial/institutional complexes and multi-use retail/condominiums.   Midtown boasts the area’s most concentrated number of intensive/extensive greenroofs and even a stunning green wall at the luxurious W Hotel.   Many living roofs are within a mile radius; you will not be disappointed with the projects and a great opportunity for spectacular views of the city.   Guests will use the MARTA rapid trail system and should expect a good amount of walking, too!

Viewpoint, Photo Courtesy Scott King of ERTH products  1. Viewpoint:  855 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta.   Twenty-six stories high, the Viewpoint offers luxury condo residences and over 50,000 sf of eclectic retail located in Atlanta’s trendy Midtown district.   From here you can see amazing views of the city and other greenroofs, including those on the equally stunning Spire Midtown (as well as their green walls)  and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Building  greenroof, too.

2. 1010 Midtown:   1010 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta.   Neighboring Piedmont Park, the High Museum, and the Fox Theatre, 1010 Midtown is the first phase of 12th & Midtown, a massive 4-block master-planned development located in the heart of Midtown Atlanta.   The property also features a lush “Park in the Sky” with a signature swimming pool, cabanas, and manicured gardens.

1010 Midtown

The W Hotel, Green Wall by G-Sky  3. The W Hotel: 188 14th Street, NE, Atlanta.   This Green Wall  in W Hotel’s new Midtown Atlanta property is the showpiece of the exterior design.   Showcasing stylish LED lights interspersed throughout the wall, the architects successfully married the trademark chic W style with a beautiful green feature wall that greets guests at the hotel’s main entrance.

4. 1180 Peachtree: 1180 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta.   1180 Peachtree, also known as the Symphony Tower, is a Gold LEED-CS 41-story skyscraper (24 floors of office in main tower,  three podium floors on top of the parking deck, 12 levels of parking incorporated into the structure and a 2-level, 40-foot high lobby).   The plaza level has an intensive over structure garden roof and where the garden tower steps back at the 18th level, a  non-publicly accessible greenroof was installed as well.

1180 Peachtree

High Museum and Woodruff Arts center; Photo Source: Picasa, by Mike

5a. Woodruff Arts Center:   1280 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta.    The Woodruff Arts Center is the heartbeat of Atlanta’s arts community.   Located in midtown, the large over-structure Center offers Atlantans a bold variety of performing and visual arts – both traditional and avant-garde.   For 30 years, Woodruff Center has set the arts standard for Atlanta and the Southeast.

Frances Bunzl Administration Center of the High Museum of Art; Photo Courtesy GreenGrid5b. Bunzl Administration Center of the High Museum of Art:   1280 Peachtree Street, N.E., Atlanta.   This greenroof  is the largest modular system installed to date in the metropolitan Atlanta area.   The 6,680 square foot greenroof sets an example of how vegetated green roofs would benefit the City of Atlanta by cleaning and reducing stormwater runoff, reducing the urban heat island effect, reducing energy consumption, extending roof life and improving air quality.

TOUR # 2: Goodbye City, Hello “˜Burbs
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Tour Coordinator:  Linda Velazquez, Greenroofs.com/Sky Gardens Design
Tour Hosts: Jeannie Hunt, Linda Velazquez, Terry Porter, Alan Wieczynski
and Bobby Saul

Southern hospitality is also found in the suburbs of Atlanta.   Travel north of the city as we visit some of metropolitan Atlanta’s oldest and newest vegetated roofs.   Referred to locally as “˜the building with trees growing on the sides of it’ Northpark 400/500 is a flagship commercial/office park with strong geometric design, combining fully landscaped garden roofs, outdoor dining terraces and walkways and two 56-foot dome skylights.  Also on the northern corridor is Rock Mill Park, an award-winning municipal park with Cherokee heritage.   Rock Mill Park is a showcase for stormwater quality treatment and includes constructed wetlands, sand and bio-filtration ponds, vegetated swales and the Greenroof Pavilion/Greenroof Trial Gardens, all set within the 100-year floodplain.   We end the tour at Saul Nursery; for 22 years, Saul Nurseries has introduced many new plant cultivars and has supplied thousands of plants for greenroofs in the southeast.   You will see a variety of extensive greenroof plants including Sedums, Delospermas and other succulents alongside a diversity of flowering herbaceous perennials, and Saul’s own test greenroof and green wall.

1a. Northpark 400: 1100 Abernathy Rd NE Atlanta, GA.   Part of the award-winning Northpark Town Center, Northpark 400 is an 18-story, 581,000-square foot office tower connected to unique garden office suites, and atop the suites is a 2-acre park, complete with a restaurant and cascading waterfall.   Northpark Town Center anticipates receiving LEED certification in the second quarter of 2009.   Northpark is one of our oldest greenroofs, planted in 1994, and the mature trees and vegetation are flourishing, including maples, hollies, crepe myrtles, grasses and more.

Northpark 400

Northpark 5001b. Northpark 500: 1100 Abernathy Rd NE Atlanta, GA.   Although Northpark 500 has been around since 1989, the garden roof was newly waterproofed and a new greenroof system was applied in 2007.   The $6 million rehabilitation project involved removing the building’s 56,000 square-foot green roof and replacing it  with a high-performance waterproofing membrane combined with lightweight, low profile, green roof technology.   A fully landscaped roof garden with outdoor dining terraces and a walkway connection to the office tower is one of the many unique features at the 18-story 500 Northpark office tower.

2. Rock Mill Park Greenroof Pavilion & Trial Gardens: 3100 Kimball Bridge Road, Alpharetta GA.    The award-winning City of Alpharetta’s Rock Mill Park is open and inviting and connects to the popular Big Creek Greenway path system.   The original owner of the site back in the early 1800’s was “Sitawake,” a full-blood Cherokee, and design features include the cultural significance of the Cherokee ownership.   The Greenroof Pavilion uses many native and non-native plants, including succulents, grasses, and flowering herbaceous perennials.   Funded in part by an EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 Grant and the recipient of greenroof material donations from many companies, the Pavilion and Trial Gardens offer respite and educational opportunties through hand-on models and interpretive signage.

The Greenroof Pavilion and Trial Gardens of Rock Mill Park; Photo c 2008 by Harris Hatcher Photography

3. Saul Nursery,  “˜The Swamp’: 1115 W. Nancy Creek Drive, Atlanta GA.   Saul Nurseries  in Atlanta and Alpharetta, Georgia, produces over 1200 varieties of  plants and has supplied thousands for area greenroofs, both extensive and intensive, including the Atlanta City Hall.   The owners wanted to install a small test greenroof to trial appropriate plants for the hot, humid climate, and it has been featured many times on television.   We’ll stroll through the Nursery greenhouses and outdoor aisles, see and feel the numerous succulents they’re growing, and learn which herbaceous plants will work on greenroofs in the South.   Come meet Bobby Saul at the Swamp!

Saul Nursery Test Greenroof at

TOUR # 3: Green, Greener, Greenest
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Tour Coordinator: James Johnson, Emory University
Tour Hosts:    James Johnson and Michael Vaughn

Visit two forward-looking “˜campuses’  with tour emphasis on green achievement.   Emory University was the first building on a university campus to earn gold-level “LEED-EB” and is now home to 11 buildings (including several with greenroofs) that have been, or are being designed “˜LEED.’   In addition to LEED buildings, the university boasts many environmental initiatives, including an extensive alternative transportation program, the creation and continued development of a core walking campus, and a nationally recognized recycling program.   The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) founded in 1894, is an international organization.   Their newly renovated corporate headquarter campus has applied for LEED Gold Certification and truly reflects how ASHRAE standards and guidelines, put into practice, result in high-performance buildings.   The Foundation Learning Center also boasts an 1,800 square foot greenroof.

1. Emory University:   201 Dowman Drive, Atlanta GA.   Completed in October, 2008, The Emory University Department of Environmental Studies installed 420 square feet of greenroof on the Math and Science building with the intent to conduct pilot studies on the modular greenroof.   Three other test greenroofs on another demonstration roof will also be visited.   A mix of Sedums and Delospermas are planted to assess a variety of greenroof plants in the Atlanta climate.

One of Emory's University Test Greenroofs

ASHRAE Atlanta Headquarters2. ASHRAE Headquarters: 1791 Tullie Circle, N.E., Atlanta GA.   The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers  advances technology to serve humanity and promote a sustainable world.   Their newly renovated headquarters provides a healthy and productive environment for the staff and showcase ASHRAE technology while demonstrating the organization’s commitment to sustainability.   The Daikin Sustainability Garden is a vegetative roof garden above the new ASHRAE Foundation Learning Center.

Tour # 4: Lessons Learned Along the Way
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
 Tour Coordinators & Hosts: Bourke Reeve, Southface Energy Institute
and Bill Brigham, City of Altanta

Learn the ins and outs, and lessons learned along the way, of two very community centered greenroof projects.   Since 2003, the 3,000 square foot patio outside Atlanta City Hall’s fifth floor cafeteria has been home to the first city-owned greenroof in the Southeast.   The project was completed with the assistance of more than 10 companies and has been a model to downtown businesses.   Another “˜it takes a village’ greenroof project is located at the new LEED Platinum certified Southface Eco Office.   Southface has spent the last 25 years promoting “real-world” solutions for environmental living, and their new Eco Office showcases state-of-the-art energy, water and waste-reducing strategies and a 2,000 square foot greenroof.   Expect MARTA-hopping as well as moderate walking, here, too.

1. Atlanta City Hall Greenroof:  55 Trinity Avenue, Atlanta, GA.   The City of Atlanta is setting an example of sustainable and ecological design for its citizens with the investment of a 3,000 square foot greenroof on Atlanta City Hall.   By implementing this  vegetated roof project, the City of Atlanta hopes to generate reliable technical data on greenroof performance in areas such as energy efficiency, stormwater retention, the extension of roof membrane life span, and plant survival.   In 2009 the City installed an additional  100 square feet of two types of test modules looking at  plant material growth in 4″ and 8″ depths.

City of Atlanta Test Greenroof: Photo by Bill Brigham

2. Southface Eco Office: 241 Pine St. N.E., Atlanta GA.   One of the targets established during the initial  inter-disciplinary design charrette was a 60 percent reduction in energy use below that of conventional design and construction practices, with a goal of achieving all 10 LEED Energy Optimization credits.   The greenroof area on top of the third floor expands the office space to a rooftop patio with a spectacular view of downtown Atlanta.

The Southface Eco-Office Greenroof in late May, 2009: Photo by LSV

Saturday, June 6, 2009:

Tour # 5: “˜Wow’ in the Woods
9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Tour Coordinator: Janet Faust, JDR Enterprises
Tour Hosts: Steve Cannon and Janet Faust

“˜Wow’ is the word you will hear exclaimed as you tour the largest sloped greenroof in the southeast.   The LEED Gold certified Gwinnett County Environmental & Heritage Center sits amid a 233-acre wooded natural park and has approximately 12 miles of paved greenway and mulched trails.   Part science and nature center, part energy institute, and part history center, it is a premier living and breathing model of educational opportunities.   The tour will highlight the uniqueness of the natural pine facility, the acre oxygen producing vegetative roof, and allow time to enjoy the hands-on science exhibits or trails.   The GEHC is a multi-sensory experience and “˜wow’ a great way to spend a leisurely Saturday morning.

1. Gwinnett County Environmental & Heritage Center:  2020 Clean Water Drive, Buford.   As a result of the award-winning Gold LEED Center’s sustainable design strategies, there is: no additional stormwater runoff; improved indoor air quality; 35% energy-use reduction; 50% water-use reduction; and demonstration of best management practices.   Some of the most important LEED features of the building include pervious paving, bio-swales, wetlands and the largest sloping greenroof in the Southeastern U.S.   The 40,000 square foot greenroof is planted with a variety of succulents.   A smaller roof on the premises is being tested exclusively with native plants, both succulent and herbaceous plant material.

 Gwinnett County Environmental & Heritage Center; Photo Courtesy Janet Faust

TOUR # 6:   Downtown Atlanta by Foot   – Anytime
Tour Coordinator: Southface

This is a free, unguided sightseeing tour,  but most of the venues require an entrance fee.   The  Georgia World Congress Center/Georgia International Plaza, Centennial Olympic Park, CNN, Philips Arena, World of Coca-Cola and the The Far Coast Pavilion, the Georgia Aquarium,  and the Fairlie Poplar Historic Dristrict are just some of the attractions you can visit with some good walking shoes.   Some either have greenroofs or are greenroofs, as many of these large venues are built over-structure!   See the Brochure for details.

All Green Roof Tours depart from the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Hotel Lobby at 265 Peachtree St., NE, Atlanta.   By the way, you do not have to be attending the Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference to  participate in  a tour.   Thanks to the many people on the Atlanta Local Host Committee for all their hard work, and especially to those on our Tours Sub-Committee!

Thanks to Caroline Menetre for the beautiful graphic art!

I do hope you choose one of these tours and take advantage of some of these secret, and not-so-secret greenroofs in Atlanta – see you around  town!

~ Linda V.