The (Award-Winning) Green Wall Editor in the News

November 28, 2009 at 10:22 pm

In all the hustle and bustle of editing feature articles,  posting news stories, upcoming events, industry news and project profiles, amid other publisher duties, I sometimes forget to acknowledge the outside accomplishments (from Greenroofs.com) of our contributing editors…   This oversight will be addressed as one of my upcoming New Year’s resolutions, but for now let’s start with George Irwin, our Green Wall Editor:

George and the GLT A-Frame Assembly; Photo by James Rajottefor the New York Times

George Irwin, C.E.O. of Green Living Technologies, discusses the design of an A-frame planter his company makes.

George was recently interviewed for  the “Business of Green” article by Ken Belson titled “The Rooftop Garden Climbs Down a Wall” that appeared in the Energy & Environment section on nytimes.com of November 18 and the New York Times print version on November 19, 2009.   One of his Green Living Technologies‘ living wall products was featured when NYC  architect Brad Zizmor had an edible wall installed on the backyard deck  of his first-floor Manhattan apartment.  

The article really delves into the “Business of Green” – costs are included and Barthelmes Manufacturing Company, the sheet metal fabricator, was also  highlighted as well as Kari Elwell Katzander,  a landscape designer who designed the  3-panel green wall.    Although the author points out that these small greening solutions can be costly, he refers to another of George’s collaborations, the Urban Farming Food Chain green wall project in Los Angeles, and  says:

“Mr. Irwin has shown that edible walls can work on a larger scale. At four locations in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles, there are walls with more than 4,000 plants growing: tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, spinach, leeks, even baby watermelon. At one location, a homeless shelter, residents tend to a six-foot-high, 30-foot-long wall, eating some food they harvest and selling the rest.

The project, urban farming advocates say, is just the start of something larger.”

Make sure to also click on the slide show “Edible Walls of Green” – there are 12 awesome photos of the Zizmor wall, a living wall at the College of Applied Sciences and Technology at Rochester Institute of Technology, and cool manufacturing shots, with just a few below:

sheetmetal-jamesrajotte_nytimes

Owner Bradley Zizmor and designer Kari Elweell Katzander working on the installation of the

A close-up of the Zizmor Green Wall by James Rajotte of NYTimes.com

Oh yeah, while I’m am it, I should tell you that George Irwin won the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Award of Excellence in the Green Walls category this year.   Presented on June 5, 2009 at the 7th Annual Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, Awards, and Trade Show at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, he won for his involvement  and contribution to the Urban Farming Food Chain green walls, truly a dedicated community affair of residents, manufacturers, students, professors, activists, and designers.   We were very proud of him, of course, and I should have blogged about this very prestigious accomplishment after the conference, but somehow didn’t.

The Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Award of Excellence for Green Walls

You can read more about this  award from the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities website, and see each of the initial four  green wall sites of the Urban Farming Food Chain in The Greenroof Projects Database:   Skid Row Housing Trust’s ‘The Rainbow’; The Weingart Center Association; Miguel Contreras Learning Complex and the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank Green Wall.

Volunteers at the Urban Farming Food Chain Skid Row project in 2008; Photo Courtesy George Irwin

I should also probably mention that because of his work with this project, George has also been on Good Morning America and invited to the White House, too.   I am a forgetful editor, indeed!   George writes about this exciting, worthy,  and humbling experience in his upcoming Green Walls column, which should be up very soon.   Kudos, George!

 George Irwin accepting his GRHC award at the 2009 ceremony; Photo GLT.

~ Linda V.

Roland Appl’s CitiesAlive! Photo Tour

November 22, 2009 at 12:29 am

Last month’s Cities Alive!  Congress  offered many  opportunities to tour many examples of Toronto’s various  green infrastructure  practices, including greenroofs, green walls, and green streets.   Christine and I both shared our experiences on two different “sustainable tours,” and now we  invite you on a visual photo tour of six  locales visited  from a German colleague of ours.   Roland Appl, International Green Roof Association  (IGRA) President   & ZinCo‘s Technical Director,   joined the guided walking Tour A: “Spectacular Green Roofs in Downtown Toronto” and shares these photos with us from October 21, 2009:

University of Toronto – Trinity College – St. Hilda’s College Residence:

St. Hilda's College Residence Greenroof; Photo by Roland Appl

St. Hilda's Greenroof Garden; Photo of 10.21.09 by Roland Appl

The Metro Toronto YMCA:

The Metro Toronto YMCA Greenroof, newly planted on October 21, 2009; Photo by Roland Appl

A View of the runningtrack at the Metro Toronto YMCA

The Drs. Paul and John Rekai Centre; Photo by Roland Appl on 10.21.09

The Drs. Paul and John Rekai Centre:

The Drs. Paul and John Rekai Centre; Photo by Roland Appl on 10.21.09

The Drs. Paul and John Rekai Centre; Photo by Roland Appl on 10.21.09

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC):

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) on October 21, 2009 by Roland Appl

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) on October 21, 2009 by Roland Appl

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) on October 21, 2009 by Roland Appl

401 Richmond:

401 Richmond by Roland Appl

401 Richmond on a beautiful fall day in 2009

Photo by Roland Appl of Zinco and IGRA

The Robertson Building, 215 Spadina:

The Robertson Building, 215 Spadina Green Wall

The Robertson Building at 215 Spadina Greenroof; Photo by Roland Appl

Thanks, Roland!   I’ve created some initial profiles of each of these projects for The Greenroof Projects Database, and we’d appreciate if you have additional information and you’d like to share with us and the international greenroof community!   Please send additional text, designers/manufacturers of record, greenroof area, and photos to: projects@greenroofs.com.

~ Linda V.

The Inaugural CitiesAlive! – Seeds of Success

October 26, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Toronto City Hall

Aramis and I had a great time in Toronto last week for the inaugural 2009 CitiesAlive! World Green Roof Infrastructure Congress ~ what a  wonderful city!  It’s clean, green, and at the moment has the most progressive greenroof policy in North America.  From the airport we rode along the waterfront and were impressed on how green the city really is – we  enjoyed the many beautifully landscaped  parks with an abundance of trees in full autumn color, swaying grasses, and flowering perennials.  Tons of people were out enjoying the cool, crisp fall day with strollers, jogging, or just relaxing and taking in the views of Lake Ontario.  The  prominent Toronto Hydro/WindShare wind turbine, “North America’s first urban wind turbine,” was truly an impressive sight to see at Toronto’s Exhibition Place, a showcase for sustainability.  And the many architectural styles and hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto were a pleasure.

Friends

At the Congress we encountered many of the “usual greenroof suspects” we know from Canada, Germany, the U.K., and the U.S.  We also met some very interesting new people, too, from South Korea and Spain (to name a couple) in the various speaker sessions, on the Toronto Sustainable Bus Tour sponsored by Tremco and Bioroof, and at the CitiesAlive! Closing Gala at the Toronto Botanical Garden where we all enjoyed a lively and tasty Mexican Fiesta celebration.

Spanish and Chilean Friends

The theme of the Congress  was “Green Roof Infrastructure: A Global Solution to Climate Change” and began on Monday, October 19 with a selection of tours and training sessions and the Canadian launch of the GRP exam, followed by the CitiesAlive! Opening Reception at Toronto City Hall, which we unfortunately missed due to a late flight.  Sponsored by The City of Toronto, attendees gathered on the City Hall Rotunda and were  treated to a ‘sneak peek preview tour’ of the new Toronto City Hall Green Roof, and heard from Mayor of Toronto David Miller, Manfred Köhler, President of the co-host World Green Roof Infrastructure Network (WGRIN), and Steven Peck, Executive Director of the co-host, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC).  The new greenroof is more expansive than the previous incarnation of  the 3,200 sf Toronto City Hall Green Roof Demonstration Project, which was dismantled and replaced with this larger living roof.   I’ll update the profile on The Greenroof Projects Database as soon as I get more info.

Tuesday morning, October 20 started bright and early with the CitiesAlive! Opening Plenary, where Steven welcomed everyone and stressed  the importance of the bigger picture and how green infrastructure options can secure a more sustainable and prosperous future for us all.  He talked about two main themes: Cities can and are leading on major environmental issues such as global warming and how the best solutions are those that are good for the environment and good for the economy.  The City of Toronto is leading by example in many areas; for example, it now has  a 40% reduction of greenhouse emissions based on 1990 levels and the #1 hybrid electric bus fleet  in Canada, which is #2 in North America behind New York City, saving significant operations costs.  And through partnering with local businesses and residents, Live Green Toronto has issued grants in excess of $10 million to Torontonians.

Mayor Miller presented the Opening Address “Towards a Green Toronto” spoke about Living Green here with projects such as their “Transit City” program, whose transit expansion  into underserved, poorer areas really equals social justice as light rail encourages better development and will better the lives of many.  New programs like Live Green Toronto and city-wide initiatives like Mayor’s Tower Renewal will revitalize communities.  For example, plans to add thermal over cladding and insulation (plus greenroofs and other eco- friendly building features) to the numerous city  concrete slab highrises will not only reduce energy but will cut citywide gas emissions by 3-5%.  These efforts  will help create local employment and result in an environmental success story for Toronto. The City’s overall goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.

Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone spoke about the evolution of the Toronto’s Eco-Roof Incentive Program (formerly the Green Roof Pilot Program).  For example, in 2006, 16 projects were funded, 30 in 2007, and 34 projects have been approved in 2009.  Approved by City Council in November 2008, the Eco-Roof Incentive Program is based on the successful Green Roof Pilot Program of 2006 and 2007 and includes both cool and eco-roofs.   In May, 2009 Toronto became the first City in North America to adopt a bylaw to require and govern the construction of greenroofs on new development.  The bylaw will apply to all new building permit applications made after January 31, 2010 (residential, commercial and institutional) and January 31, 2011 for all new industrial development, with a few exceptions. The new bylaw will be required on all new development above 2,000 m² (about 21,530 sf) of Gross Floor Area and have a graduated coverage requirement ranging from 20-60%.  (See more details at the City of Toronto website.)

Christine in TorontoThen the first round of speakers  started from each of the four concurrent tracks, which I felt was rather ambitious all in just one day –  I think we missed out on a lot of really pertinent info, and there was no conference CD like usual for later reference.  I remained for Track 2: Innovative Projects and Design from Around the World, and Aramis headed over to Track 3: Policies and Programmes Supporting Green Infrastructure Development with our Student Editor, Christine Thüring (who should be adding some commentary of her own soon).

Track 2: Don Delaney from Flynn Canada  started with details of the “Vancouver Convention Centre: 7 Acres of Green Roof in Downtown Vancouver” and went into detail about the trials and tribulations of Canada’s largest  greenroof to date, including solutions to stabilize the growing media on slopes up to 40° and planting the 400,000 indigenous plants and grasses.  Innovative features  include decorative runnels with perforations on the high side to retain water and runoff collection used for irrigation and in a blackwater system.  International Leak Detention was brought on board to test the integrity of the waterproofing membrane before and after the installation of the overburden with their Electric Field Vector Mapping (EFVM ®) system.  We were all very happy to have Andrea from N.A.T.S. Nursery in the audience to answer a lot of growing media and plant questions!  This project will be a highlight to our trip to Vancouver, B.C. next year for the 8th installment of the Greening  Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference.  The Vancouver Convention Centre will be home of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games media and broadcast centre.

Vancouver Convention Centre Living Roof

Prof. Dr. Eun-Heui Lee from Women’s University in Seoul, South Korea  impressed us with “Green Roof Policy and Projects to Expand Green Space in Seoul” with some key figures: From 2002 through 2008, 218 greenroofs equaling 104,403 m ² were constructed and in 2009 so far, 104 greenroofs totaling 41,000 m ² have been built or on the boards!  And perhaps more importantly, the Seoul Metro Government plans 600 new roofs to be greened by 2012.
The Biotope Area Factor for Seoul

Francois LaSalle of ADIVET in France addressed “Development of Green Roofs and Green Facades in France, and presented a history of greenroofs and walls in France.  Starting in the 1970’s, about 1 m² of roofs have been greened here, mostly intensive roof gardens, through the 1980’s.  By the end of the 1990’s, about 10 greenroof companies had emerged from the extensive market, and in 1994 Patrick Blanc unveiled his first green wall (Mur Vegetal) at the Garden Festival in Chaumont Sur Loire (although probably most famous for his Musée du quai Branly  vegetated wall in Paris, 2006).  Francois concluded with various French policies, subsidies, and bills to promote, and believe it not, prohibit opposition to planted roofs.  Currently, vegetated facades are in their infancy, but greenroofs have a firm hold in the marketplace.

Example of a French Greenroof

Ignacio Espoz Babul from LatinGreen in Santiago, Chile, presented “Living Walls for Better Indoor Climate in Subways,” an experimental green wall research program currently being implemented at two underground Metro stations in Santiago.  Ignacio believes that indoor air pollutant abatement with an improvement in air quality due to reductions of metals and volatile chemicals is possible along with noise reduction due to plant foliage and the associated natural processes – as long as there is sufficient light, air, and water.

Acoustic Benefits of Green Walls

The sessions ran a bit late, and the Networking Break on the Trade Show was only supposed to last 30 minutes, but we stayed  through lunch because we kept running into people we just had to talk to!  So we skipped the next round of speakers in between (sorry I missed Paul Kephart, Andrew Bowerbank, Dr. Nigel Dunnett, Jeff Bruce, and James Sable!).  The Networking Break on the Trade Show was very lively, and packed with people – I hope not too many missed those speakers, either.  Lunch was held on the Trade Show Floor, which is always a good thing for the exhibitors, who help foot the bill and provide us with so many varieties of products and services.  Here are a few:

The Tremco Booth

Bill Corrigan from Tremco Canada told us about some of their company’s 1 million sf of greenroofs in Canada.

The folks at International Leak Detention

International Leak Detection performs non-destructive integrity tests of waterproofing membranes utilizing their patented Electric Field Vector Mapping technology. Membrane defects are located with pin point accuracy.

The Green Living Technologies booth

Diane DiGregorio of GLT shows off the Green Living Technologies living wall.

The LiveRoof booth

Lots of people visited the LiveRoof booth to learn about the modular manufacturer’s Soil Elevator™ and Moisture Portal™ technology.

Soprema reps

Marie-Anne Boivin and fellow Soprema colleague told us about their many years of greenroof experience in the harsh Canadian climates.

The Trade Show was a good size and was heavily trafficked by all, especially since the refreshment break and newtworking lunch and cocktail were set here.   Other Greenroofs.com exhibitor friends included Xero Flor America and Xero Flor Canada, Motherplants, Hydrotech, Sika Sarnafil, and Nilex, where Janet Faust of JDR Enterprises was present.

After lunch, the next round of speakers in Track 2 included Peter Lowitt from Devens Enterprise Commission who spoke about “Green Infrastructure & Eco-Industrial Parks: Lessons Learned From Devens, Massachusetts,” a former military barracks now a 40-acre eco-  industrial park with an International Audubon Certified Sustainable Golf Course.  He spoke how green infrastructure must take a holistic approach and asked how can we make these projects sustainable?  By promoting social and environmental equity.

Peter and Friends

João Manuel Linck Feijó of the Associação de Telhados Verdes do Brazil presented “Innovative Projects & Green Roof Progress in Brazil” – introducing us to the relatively new greenroof market in Brazil and explaining a potential tax break for large citie  and various state proposals for living roofs.  He showed some beautiful greenroof projects throughout Brazil using a modular greenroof system from Ecotelhado.

Joao and Ecoltelhado

Dr. Karen Liu of Xero Flor Canada addressed “Special Green Roof Projects in B.C.”  Dr. Liu highlighted a couple of projects which presented opportunities for greenroof design and engineering creativity.  The Butchart Gardens Carousel Pavilion in Victoria, B.C. has slopes ranging from 14-44% and utilized a 2-ply modified bitumen, standing seam copper roof and the architects needed to capture 36 liters of rainwater.  Dr. Liu explained the steel grid system to retain the growing media and cautionary items to consider as  well.  The second project focused on Canada’s first  LEED Gold Community, the 2010 Olympic Village where all of the roofs will be either extensive or intensive greenroofs!  The extensive greenroofs will feature Xero Flor roofs with vegetated sports figures.  These athletic figures will be planted with red flowering annuals and set in red lava rock.

Michael Krause of Kandiyohi Development talked about “Urban Forests and Energy in Minnesota,” a different and very interesting topic.  Biomass energy is included in current U.S. energy legislation, and a biomass fuel energy strategy can be used as a small, community-based local climate change solution.  Fallen trees are viewed as a carbon sink and vast supplies of excess biomass are available – Michael believes that biomass can be used as an interim strategy for the next 30 years or so, and sees this as a way to democratize energy and bring energy to the community level, since there would be no importing fossil fuels from afar.

Biomass Slide

Toby Lennox from the Greater Toronto Airports Authority finished with “Industrial Ecology: Partners in Project Green,” Canada’s largest eco-business zone at 4,000 acres.  Toronto Pearson Airport manages one half of Canada’s commercial air traffic and 65,000 trips are made to the airport each day.  Project Green is bringing together common strategies in a new eco-model of development in a growing community of businesses working together to green facilities and the bottom line.

Afterwards we all convened for  the Cocktail Reception, once again on the Trade Show Floor, with spirits and snacks and an opportunity to unwind a bit, followed by the “Transforming the Face of Buildings” Student Design Challenge Awards, Poster Presentations and Networking Event at the Steam Whistle Brewing Roundhouse, a very funky locale and local brewery.  The quality of the student entries was superb and I’m sure that the judges had a hard time selecting the winners.  Congratulations to everyone who participated, and especially the First Place winner, “Cliffside Village” from students Dov Feinmesser, Yekaterina Mityuryayeva, Tommy Tso, and Aaron Hendershott form Ryerson University, Architectural Science!

Reception

We ended the evening with a spirited dinner compliments of George Irwin, our Green Wall Editor, and Diane DiGregorio of Green Living Technologies.  Christine took us to an artsy part of town that’s being refurbished where we had  awesome appetizers and organic pizza, incredible wine, and great conversation.

A close up of some of the flowers at Covenant House Toronto

I believe that the 2009 CitiesAlive! has indeed sown future seeds of success as WGRIN continues to bring together the international greenroof community of non-profit organizations to highlight  current and planned green infrastructure research, policy and projects.  Their first congress had some growing pains but I believe that overall it was important, fruitful, and promising with quite an international  flair – set in  a perfect international city with a very promising future of its own.

Next up I’ll wrap up our time in Toronto with some photos of our day on the Toronto Sustainable Bus Tour and evening at the lovely Toronto Botanical Garden.

Terry and friends at the Botanical Garden

~ Linda V.

Greenroofs.com Announces the 2009 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof Design!

June 8, 2009 at 3:29 pm

2009 marks the third year of our “Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof Design” – download the Press Release here.   Compiled by our Design Editor, Haven Kiers, and I, we presented the Top 10 List on Friday, June 5, 2009 at the 7th Annual Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, Awards and Trade Show in Atlanta, GA.

Our time slot was changed by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities from 9:30 am to 8:00 am, so if you went by an older Agenda, you missed us!

In 2007, we explored “chic sustainability” and looked at examples of trailblazing and trendsetting greenroof design.   Last year, we turned to greenroof industry professionals for inspiration and guidance and asked them to share their top 10 trends of 2008 with us.   Together we chose “The Influence of LEED on Design Professionals = Pushing the Green Envelope,” “Sky High Cool Green Schools,” and “Eco-Communities & Eco-Cities” for the top three spots.

This year, the projects we have chosen all share a similar concept – the desire to improve their surrounding environment.   The focus of the Top 10 Trends of 2009 is on greenroof design as a means to combat problems in our world of the built environment versus nature, and restore sustainability to the eco-system.

Sandton City Shopping Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa

I feel the common element running through all the categories this year is the increasing shift in viewing the building not as a single physical element to be manipulated, but holistically – integrating the site, building envelope, and roof with cultural awareness – creating vegetated surfaces in 3-D and truly linking nature to human design.

Without further ado, the

2009 HOT TRENDS in GREENROOF DESIGN:
Top 10 List

10) Client Specific “˜Boutique’ Greenroofs

9)     Design Competitions: Promoting Future Inspiration

8)     Earth-Sheltering for Sustainable Site Design

7)     Master Plans – Greenroofs in Every Corner

6)     Sustainable Stimulus: Green Buildings Creating Green Collar Jobs

5)     LID Strategies: Celebrating Water with Greenroofs, Rain Gardens, Stormwater Catchment & Beyond

4)     Championing the Green Machine: Policy Driven Ecological Development

3)     Healthy, Efficient & Affordable Green Housing

2)     Sky-High Green Living on the Rise: Condos, Townhomes and Lofts
 
1)     “Towers of Power” – Mega Vertical Structures Linking Earth and Sky

The Lilypad, a floating ecopolis with greenroofs and greenwalls for future climate change refugees

As usual, we included built projects, those on the boards, and several which are stunningly conceptual, like “The Lilypad” by Vincent Callebaut, above and below, designed to make us really push  our notion of the possibilities of function and design, and to reprioritize  and rethink our global view of our diminishing natural resources.   Actually, The Lilypad is a “Tower of Power” – Mega Vertical Structures Linking Earth, Sky, and Water!

The Lilypad by Vincent Callebaut. A completely self-sufficient floating city, each is designed to hold around 50,000 people

Missed our presentation?   No problem –  click on  the 2009 PowerPoint here:

Click here to view the Top 10 PowerPoint for 2009

You can also view the 2008 and 2007 PowerPoint presentations of the Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof Design, and the papers, too.   We’ll be posting the 2009 paper – with hyperlinks to each project in The Greenroof Projects Database –  by the end of the month.

Happy Greening!

~ Linda V.