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.

Rooftop Hopping in Metro Atlanta

October 17, 2009 at 1:19 am

Rachel, Landon, Logan and Curt at Atlanta City Hall

Last Friday October 9, I spent the entire day greenroof hopping in Atlanta with Landon Donoho, a student film director from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and his crew (Rachel, Logan, and Curt).  A friend of our youngest son, Ari, as a senior Landon has to make a documentary for school and decided to do it on greenroofs in the Atlanta area – enter me for a little help!  I gladly obliged since I know so many people here and he is such a nice young man. Bill getting ready for his interview with Landon!We started bright and early (way earlier than I would normally get up) at Atlanta City Hall at 8:00 a.m., where Landon interviewed Bill Brigham who has been intricately involved from day one with the Atlanta City Hall Pilot Green Roof, the first municipal greenroof in the southeast U.S.  If you don’t know Bill yet, you should – he’s a transplant from Jersey and is really funny – in a good way!  He kept us laughing with his continual banter and commentary, with blatant teal blue socks in view.  When asked what his position with the City of Atlanta was, he explained that after 17 years his title was really much more of an epithet: Bill Brigham, ASLA, Principal Landscape Architect/Project Manager, Bureau of Watershed Protection, Department of Watershed Management, City of Atlanta.

Bill and I walking on the Atlanta City Hall Green Roof Pilot GreenroofGreg Harper, the local GreenGrid rep, was there and afterwards showed us a mirror image testing area also off the fifth floor where they’re monitoring plant survival on various GreenGrid modules.  We had quite an entourage as our oldest son, Joey (the screenwriter and director), and our daughter Anjuli (passionate about film herself and an aspiring producer) joined us for a while, too, along with Saul Nurseries’  Kathy Saul and Robin Andrews.

Interviewing Bourke at SouthfaceFrom City Hall we travelled a couple of minutes north to the Southface Energy Institute Eco Office and their Turner Foundation Green Roof, where Landon interviewed Bourke Reeve, a seemingly mild mannered MHP, LEED AP, Technical Associate Commercial Green Building Services kind of guy, but he turned out to be a real natural in front of the camera!  The views of downtown were spectacular.

A close-up at Southface and some maintenance work on the greenroofA view to the west from SouthfaceAfter a very quick lunch next we headed a few blocks north again, and with Greg as our tour leader and were able to see all three of the greenroofs located on the property of the Woodruff Arts Center, home of the High Museum, the Alliance Theatre, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, among other facilities.From the roof of the Atlanta Dormitories of SCAD, you can see the Bunzl Administration Building across the way, the Woodruff Arts Center below, as well as part of the SCAD greenroof itself on the upper left.Via the higher, normally non-publicly accessible roof of the #1 Woodruff Arts Center SCAD Dormitory, we could see across to #2 the Frances Bunzl Administration Center of the High Museum of Art, and down to the actual overstructure roof (over the huge parking garage) of the #3 Woodruff Arts Center itself with one of its sculptures in the garden below in view.

Atop the Atlanta Dormitories of SCAD

The view of midtown Atlanta was great, and from this vantage point we could even see the intensive greenroofs on 1010 Midtown, 1180 Peachtree, and Colony Square.  Greg spoke about the Woodruff Arts’ commitment to sustainability and their efforts to green a multitude of buildings on the campus, and how the SCAD Dormitory was the second GreenGrid roof here after the Bunzl roof.

Reflections at Northpark 500We then rode north up 400 and visited Northpark 400 and Northpark 500, the award-winning office towers and corporate campus.  We spent most of our time filming on 500, which has great vantage views of the some of the Atlanta skyline and the northern suburbs.  While they got great shots of the surroundings and some cool time lapse photography of the gorgeous, fast moving clouds, Landon tried to interview me amidst some very high winds, which didn’t prove too successful – so we returned on Sunday afternoon and re-shot some of that sequence under more peaceful skies.

Northpark 500 and Sky GardensOther greenroof sites were visited by Landon and crew over the weekend including the new Chattahoochee Nature Center and 901 Moreland Avenue, a single family residence, where they interviewed architect David Butler.  We got really lucky with a pretty spectacular, drizzle-only weekend as we were sandwiched by continuous thunderstorms on either end.  These storms accompanied by flash flooding have been wreaking havoc recently on a multitude of Georgia communities, and many are still feeling the effects of the “Flood of 2009.”  It really drives home some of the potentially dangerous effects of stormwater gone wild.

Logan, left, and director Landon, right

Landon hopes to have a finished documentary in about five weeks, and I know he’ll make a great director, he’s really kind and patient and passionate about his craft – all qualities that should guarantee success in life.

Can’t wait to see it! ~ Linda V.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation…

August 25, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Gorgeous bridges, buildings, and people in Copenhagen!First of all, I have to say that  the title is  just quite not right  because 1):   Although most students are back in school, summer is not over yet; and 2):   I haven’t had a real vacation in a long time, let alone this particularly hectic summer!   Of course, recently I have been traveling  in my “other career” to some wonderful cities – Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Madrid,  and Copenhagen –  but with only 24 -36 hour layovers, these visits  can hardly be considered holidays.

But I liked the classic tone of  “What I did on My Summer Vacation” because it sounds like I actually did something productive,  and I felt like I needed an excuse to explain why I haven’t posted anything in three months…  Well, I’m back and now Sky Gardens ~ where cool green meets lofty blue will be populated not only by me but all of our contributing editors on a more regular basis.   So what have  we been doing on Greenroofs.com?

For one thing, we’ve been keeping our Student Intern, Caroline Menetre, very busy with hands on visits to The Greenroof Pavilion & Trial Gardens of Rock Mill Park documenting our plant trials and with The Greenroof Projects Database, where she has been entering case studies like crazy.   Her internship will be over soon, and we’ll need some extra hands for research and data entry, so if you’re interested, please let me know: linda@greenroofs.com.

Caroline with camera and field notebook in hand, August 2008

After the whirlwind filming of our little “Love the Earth: Plant A Roof!” video in May, we embarked on a much larger project, our brand new “Sky Gardens” WebTV series, at the beginning of June.   We begin our internet journey to explore the organic architecture of greenroofs and visit all kinds of different, exciting projects around the world, and I’ll be your host on Greenroofs.TV.   We’re initiating our series highlighting greenroofs in the U.S., starting with one of my own designs – you guessed it – the beautiful and award-winning Rock Mill Park.   The City of Alpharetta  received the 2008 Water Resources Project of Excellence award and Breedlove Land Planning, who  designed the park,  just won a Merit Award from the Georgia Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects – congratulations!

Each time I’ll take  you on a tour of one unique, stunning vegetative roof.   From planning through the design process, installation through completion,  we’ll share intimate stories from the stakeholders – government officials, designers, owners, product manufacturers and service providers.   Why was it built – what was the client’s intent or market driver?   Was it stormwater management, mitigation of the urban heat island, biodiversity, sexy aesthetics, or a combination?   What was the design philosophy and who was involved?   What were the site challenges, techniques used, and what were the lessons learned?   Bottom to top, we’ll show the materials used, culminating in the beautiful, living, breathing plant layer.   Each program will highlight the greenroof’s site specific benefits to the building’s ecology, the local environment, and the watershed at large.

Joey filming Bobby Saul at the Swamp, June, 2008

The Alpharetta project is unique for many reasons, especially because the entire property was originally owned by a full blood Cherokee and the site is located within the 100-year flood plain of Big Creek Watershed.   The Greenroof Pavilion is just one of the many low impact development techniques used to tread lighter on the environment and provide educational opportunties for visitors.   When is the air date?   We’ll keep you posted, but we’re planning on the end of September.

Visiting New Echota, GA, the former Cherokee Nation capital.

Speaking of September, are you going to the World Green Roof Congress in London?   The two day conference will discuss the challenges and opportunities faced when implementing green roofs, and will focus on the contributions that they can make to sustainable urban regeneration, climate change adaptation, sustainable storm water management as well as improvements to local biodiversity and quality of life within cities.   The conference will highlight latest innovations and research to support the effective promotion and delivery of green roof solutions as well as demonstrating examples of good practice from the UK and overseas.   We’re planning on going, but there may be a scheduling conflict with our second “Sky Gardens” WebTV episode – we’ll be filming in Manhattan atop a corporate headquarters, and the date hasn’t been confirmed yet!

Hopefully we can go and see Dusty Gedge of Livingroofs.org and all of our other friends from across the pond.   And it would be grand to go on one of the 6-day study tours from Green Roof Safari in Germany and Switzerland – we’ll see.   Green Roof Safari is a collaboration between Christine Thuring, our Student Editor, and Jörg Breuning of Green Roof Service, so I’m sure a lot of great vegetated roofs and fun will be involved.

I also  spent some  intense design time for a major greenroofing company on a potential  local commercial project – I delivered four conceptual illustrative designs and it would be just awesome if they decide to implement any of them!   Can’t tell you who it is, but it’s very exciting – let’s see what develops.

You know how last year we published our first Greenroofs of the World Calendar™?   Well, we’re currently gathering more stunning living roof projects for the 2009 Greenroofs of the World Calendar™, and this year  it will be available for purchase much earlier – in time for the holiday season!

So designing, writing, editing, and filming in 97 degree weather here in Georgia has taken up most of my summer, but don’t feel too badly for me.   Confession:   24 hours may not be enough to qualify as a vacation, but I have to admit that I always manage to have some fun on my (very) mini work-related holidays.   Sightseeing in a new city is always a must, as seen in these photos from Copenhagen earlier this month,  but I’m always looking for examples of green architecture, too.  

And to be honest,  it wasn’t really my first time in Denmark – my husband Aramis and I spent one day there in 2002 awaiting our return to the U.S., after I gave a greenroof presentation across the way in  Malmö, Sweden where we spent four wonderful days with our very gracious hosts, Peter and Violetta Lindhqvist, former directors of the Augustenborg Botanical Roof Garden and the International Green Roof Institute, now the Scandinavian Green Roof Association.

But on this trip I was able to go on a  canal tour and it was beautiful!   The overcast skies opened up to a gorgeous day on the water.   And I even found a sustainable design  exhibition going on offered by the Danish Architects Center.

So there you have it!   My next blogging endeavors will include interviewing all of our contributing editors, starting with Ed Snodgrass, our Plant Editor.   And look for a new editor coming on board soon, too.

Happy Greening & Safe Travels!

~ Linda