Students on Green Roofs

Virtual Conferencing: WOW, it’s NOW!


By Christine Thüring
Research Editor
October, 2011 Newsletter




My newsletters lately have tended to ruminate on the life, values and challenges of being a green professional.  I suppose this is because the future seems very tangible and near.

Perturbation about attending international conferences has been especially troublesome to my eco-morale.  In particular, I’ve been unsure how to reconcile the pros of attending international conferences (in the interest of improving the world) versus the cons of travel and associated footprints.  I explored this conflict in “A Drop in the Bucket” (January 2010), but this was largely spiritual in nature.

Last month, as if by request, I and other green professionals had the unprecedented opportunity to participate in an international conference featuring all the expertise and diversity you’d expect at a 2-day conference, but WITHOUT any travel, no hotels, and no stress about conflicting sessions.

The Greenroofs & Walls of the World Virtual Summit 2011 tropical campus

The Greenroofs & Walls of the World Virtual Summit 2011 created a forum in which speakers presented their latest projects and ideas whilst experts of all sorts united in interactive panel discussions.  In addition to the two Auditoriums, the summit also featured an Expo Pavilion, a Networking Lounge and the indispensible Help Desk.

I had no clue how it would work or what to expect, but it didn’t take long for my skepticism to melt away.  After each session, I came away with the genuine “buzz” that I get at good conferences.  The stoke from getting in on the latest research & developments; of seeing amazing projects; of hearing from inspiring personalities; of catching up with colleagues and making new ones.  And all from the comfort of my own space and time!

Linda interviewed Patrick Blanc, who also gives a presentation about his approach to vertical gardens.

All talks were recorded in advance of the Summit.  Speakers/ panelists re-convened at their Live Question & Answer Periods during the “live dates” (Sept 27 & 28).  In the screen shot below, for example, Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino speaks about the Chicago Department of Aviation’s industry-leading sustainability initiatives, with a focus on the existing and future green roof projects.  You can see the Q&A discussion to the right of the presentation screen.

Chicago Department of Aviation Rosemarie Andolino

Participation at the Virtual Summit can be nicely described by the (7) panel discussions.  I moderated the Biodiversity and Greenroofs panel, which featured talks from Nathalie Baumann, Gary Grant and Dusty Gedge (as well as my work), to discuss original research and experiences in legislation on urban nature conversation.  It was fun to receive people’s questions (via text & video chat) across so many time zones!

Nathalie Baumann, Gary Grant and Dusty Gedge

A bonus of the Virtual Summit is that registration permits access to the talks and discussions beyond the September live dates.  In effect, the Summit is still live since attendees can also interact with whoever else is online (in private or group chats via text, audio or video).  Or, since I’m busy with the new semester, I’ve been catching talks whenever I can. I watched Jörg Breuning’s presentation about green roof cruise ships over breakfast (what a treat)!

If you’d like to get the latest in living architecture from around the world, while participating in a virtual conference, you can still do so.  Find the details, including Speakers Page, at

Regular registration is $49 or $25 for academics and government professionals, but if you enter "Christine" when prompted for name of org or university, you will only pay $44 or $20. Presentations remain archived until October 28th.  All delegates receive a “Notebook” (in PDF) with all the event’s materials.

Been there, done that?  Share your experiences and thoughts about the first Virtual Summit in the comments box on the Sky Gardens Blog post, or email me:

Yours in a hopeful and innovative future,

~ Christine

Christine Thüring
Principal, Chlorophyllocity

PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield

Christine Thuring has a MSc from the Penn State "Centre for Green Roof Research" (2005) and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield.  As our Research Editor since 2004, Christine responds to queries and enjoys connecting people and interests.  Sign up here to receive her occasional Ramblings and Newsletter.  Christine is best defined by Chlorophyllocity, through which her many interests and activities are represented.

Christine can be contacted at: or

Past Christine's Ramblings

Past Student Editor Newsletters

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