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top 10 list of hot trends
in greenroof & greenwall design

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Amidst growing media interest and demand from public and private sectors, multidisciplinary professionals - from architects to environmental engineers, city planners to landscape architects and beyond - are redefining sustainability in the context of building design.  We’re examining our environmental impacts on the Earth from a more integrated, holistic approach and using technologies which encourage energy efficient and environmentally friendly building envelopes, including the ubiquitous “fifth façade” – the rooftop.

Seattle City Hall in August, 2004; Photo by LSV

And how ecologically better, in terms of the highest and greatest ecological use of space, than to cover these generally unused fifth façades than with living, breathing, vegetative roofs?  Living roofs are true workhorses of the roofing world in that they offer such a wide spectrum of environmental benefits and opportunities for Earth’s flora, fauna, and human communities – all while pleasing our economic, aesthetic, and psychological sensibilities, too.

As such, greenroofs and more lately greenwalls are fast becoming green staples of chic sustainability in mainstream architecture and high performance building with a hip environmental sheen that is attractive to young and old.  And we all know that greenroofs are vibrant and exciting alternatives to the average unused, hot, and often downright ugly black tar or concrete roofs that we see covering the world, and that building integrated greenery now can envelope walls, too, but what and where are the new and exciting projects on the boards?

Enter the Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design to showcase the important, newsworthy and exciting greenroof and greenwall projects from around the world!  Our Design Editor Haven Kiers and Publisher/Editor Linda Velazquez inaugurated the series in 2007 at the Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, Awards and Trade Show (now CitiesAlive) in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

How do we decide the Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall  Design?

Our Top 10 List is designed to be an eye catching and fast-paced presentation of case study vignettes representing the selected top ten categories highlighting the very best of what's hot now - according to our editorial sensibilities peppered with media and designer reports from around the globe.  Whether based on traditional applications with a twist or avant-guard projects combining living roofs and walls, energy, and other green technologies, we select time-honored examples from which we designers can draw inspiration to current conceptual, high-profile media grabbing greenroofs and greenwalls which stimulate and entice the senses!

See all of the annual Top 10 Lists here:


Haven Kiers and Linda Velazquez presented the Top 10 List last year at CitiesAlive in New York City and Linda flew solo with the presentation in Singapore at the International Skyrise Greenery Conference.

In addition to unique examples of client specific boutique greenroofs and walls that always defy categorization, the buzz in 2015 encompassed trends from across the globe that have been building momentum for the past few years in our design profession.

As usual, we start out with a couple of projects that for some reason or another just couldn’t quite make it in our Top 10 List…and then go on to the real thing!

We always have a great time sharing our annual list of trending categories and far-flung projects from across the world, and we hope you enjoy it:

The Top 10 List:

10) "Client Specific ‘Boutique’ Greenroofs & Greenwalls"

9) "Beekeeping on the Roof: Biodiversity with Pollinators"

8) Living Architecture in Mediterranean Climates"

7) "Green Transportation Corridors"

6) "Greening Our Capital: Washington DC’s Stately Greenroofs"

5) "Fields of Green: Big League Sports Venues"

4) "Trees, Trees, Trees: Urban Rooftop Forests"

3) "Rooftop Parks: Green Playgrounds of the Rich & Public"

2) "The Influence of Architects & Designers - Taking a Leadership Role in Design:
William McDonough+Partners and
BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) Architects"

1) "Visionary Wonders of the Green World"

Read our October 4, 2015 Press Release " Announces the "2015 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design.

Watch our 2015 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design video below:



In our 8th year of creating the Top 10 Hot Trends list, the potential and demand for greening of the ubiquitous 5th façade of a building continues to skyrocket across the design profession - in addition to covering walls with dripping vegetation.  As usual in our quest for optical arousal, we begin our fast and furious foray into the greenroof and greenwall world with spectacular Client Specific ‘Boutique Greenroofs & Walls’ – those projects which are just too unique to fit into a standardized grouping.  This year we spotlighted New York City as a leader in industry construction and promotion, highlighting projects such as the 1133 Avenue of the Americas, the Empire State Building, Via Verde, USPS Morgan Processing and Distribution Center, 5-Boro Administrative Building, and the fabulous High Line. Continuing our popular new category from 2013: “The Influence of Architects - Taking a Leadership Role in Design,” we showcased the work of three outstanding international avant-garde leaders in our field.

Designs in vogue on’s radar for 2014 included “Sculptural Architecture,” where the structure itself is a piece of art – such as the guitar-inspired Nashville Music City Center whose roof mimic’s the rolling hills of Tennessee, and “Greenroofs on the Edge,” where the laws of physics are pushed to their limits – such as the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ hyperbolic paraboloid-shaped greenroofed Hypar Pavilion. We celebrated the academics, including high tech offerings such as Pollution Reducing Skyscrapers to Generate Biofuel from a UK Master student and Bio Photovoltaic Panel greenwalls from a university in Spain which produce energy from bacteria in the growing media.  Among others, a few categories included: “Meditation Stations” - creating sustainable rooftop spaces for relaxing and socializing, “The Facebook Effect” - the influence of online and social media for marketing new projects which have jump-started such successful start-up ventures as Brooklyn Grange, and “Vertical Garden Cities,” featuring spectacular concepts and projects in progress from around the world.

Read our September 30, 2014 Press Release " Announces the "2014 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design."  The 2014 Top 10 List was presented in Nashville at the 2014 CitiesAlive Green Roof & Wall Conference and  in Sydney at the 2014 World Green Infrastructure Congress.

Watch our 2014 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design + Plus a Look in 2015 video as presented at the 2015 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit below:


Bosco Verticale in Milan currently being planted - finished in late 2013.

Drawing inspiration from the ever-growing body of work from trend-setting architects, landscape architects, and other ecological design professional forerunners, 2013’s creators of living architecture continue to push the limits and inform our industry with their projects that run the gamut from congratulatory to spectacular to incredulous.  In many cases, multiple passive and active systems co-exist and support each other to create self-sustainable living machines.

Blueseed's Floating City off San Francisco

As our environments become more degraded, we continue to see an overall trend in mitigating these effects with a combination of sustainable strategies -greenroofs and walls as vehicles of phytoremediation schemes are certainly up and coming.

Current: Dubai Sustainable City

For the first time in a few years, the "Tyrannosaurus rexes" of our green infrastructure world - individual towering skyscrapers flowing with edibles and greenery - were bumped out of the #1 position by what arguably some would say are building typographies with a more ecological footprint:  Complexes of sustainable mixed-use with abundant building integrated greenery meant to provide an enduring legacy for thousands - both high in the sky and closer to the ground.

Chongqing Chaotianmen, China: 2011-Current

Read our September 25, 2013 Press Release " Announces the “2013 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design."

The 2013 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design PowerPoint:



Bionic Arch, Taiwain, China; Graphic: Vincent Callebaut Architectures

- Starting with trends that we had seen in previous years that either refused to go away or  sprung back with new vigor within the last year, in 2012 we continued to see amazing integration of urban agriculture into new and existing structures, the use of vegetation to create soothing and healing gardens within hospital settings, and the design of schools that incorporated living architecture into their basic curriculum.  As always, we doffed our caps to the fantastic skyscrapers that spiral up through the clouds and the client specific boutique greenroofs that defy categorization.

Brooklyn Grange, NYC; Photo:

We were also excited to highlight new trends in green infrastructure.  Museums embraced their inner green goddesses and began highlighting living art both in and outside of their walls (and roofs).  Another rising trend featured elevated walks.  Capturing everything from bridges, railways and promenades, this category featured stunning expanses of elevated greenery.  And new this year, we incorporated two of the greenest cities in the world as categories in and of themselves, starting with tropical Singapore, an “herban” oasis that started a green revolution on the island nation.

Navy Pier, Chicago; Graphic: James Corner Operations

We culminated 2012 with a look at Chicago, an early trendsetter in city greening and now the definitive leader in living and green infrastructure, gracing our #1 spot for 2012.  Read our October 16, 2012 Press Release " Announces the “2012 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design.”

Watch our 2012 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design + Plus a Look in 2013 video as presented at the 2013 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit below:


2011 Top 10: Coral Reef

2011 marked the fifth anniversary of the “Top 10 List” and an amazing amount of development had occurred over the past five years in the vegetative roofing industry.  Projects that were once scoffed at and considered impossible to get built are popping up all over the globe, and greenroofs are no longer considered fringe architecture, destined to be the first sacrifice to value engineering.

2011 Top 10: GE's living portrait of Van Gogh's "A Wheatfield with Cypresses"

To honor the new ubiquity of architectural greening, in 2011 our Top 10 focused on greenroofs at all different scales, from micro to macro, from small scale DIY greenroof projects to towering skyscrapers stacked with fruit and vegetable crops, parks, and energy facilities atop sky gardens, walls and bridges.

2011 Top 10: The Pinnacle@Duxton

As “vegitecture” increasingly becomes a mainstay of both sustainable and cutting edge design, the list of greenroof and greenwall trends continues to expand.

Read our September 26, 2011 Press Release Premiers the “2011 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design” at the Inaugural Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011.

The 2011 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in
Greenroof & Greenwall Design Video

as presented at the 2011 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit:


Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, by Grant and Associates

-  New for 2010 was the addition of "& Greenwall" in the title!  Greenwalls have graduated from simply being restrained to their own category within the Top 10 Lists.  When fully integrated, sometimes it's hard to separate where the wall starts and where the roof ends, plus greenwalls are increasingly being incorporated into "Building Integrated Greenery" as their own architectural element.

The World Village Womens Sports Arena (WVWSA) in Malmo, by BIG Architects

Publisher Linda said, “The focus of the Top 10 Trends of 2010 illustrates global shifts in thinking about how we can manipulate the built environment through design to lessen its burden on the Earth's climate, energy, and natural resources, and increase the overall productivity of our built structures.”

The WVWSA in Malmo, by BIG Architects

Design Editor Haven Kiers added, “We have showcased some simply stunning and important built projects, those that are still on the boards, and several amazing, beyond forward-thinking conceptual designs that hopefully will materialize in the future!”

The 2010 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design PowerPoint:

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See the Press Release and for more information, read Linda's Sky Gardens Blog posts of January 28, 2011 "See Our 2010 Hot Trends Top 10 List PowerPoint!" and October 28, 2010 "2010 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design."


-  In 2009, the projects we chose all shared a similar concept - the desire to improve their surrounding environment.  The focus of the Top 10 Trends of 2009 was 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

Although environmental drivers have always played a role in greenroof development, until recently they have taken a backseat to the flashier concepts of style and high design.  The greenroofs previously garnering the most attention were the ones that skillfully blended vegetation with sleek proportions and transformed buildings into works of art.  2009's selection of greenroof projects still has that "wow" effect, with the exception that now aesthetics have become increasingly subservient to environmental and social functionality.  These projects tackle global warming, stormwater run-off, decreased biodiversity, societal responsibility and other ecological issues with a combination of grit and style previously lacking in building design.

The 2009 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof Design PowerPoint:


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See Linda's Blog post Announces the 2009 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof Design! of June 8, 2009.


-  Aside from our own editorial and experiential input, in 2008 we turned to greenroof industry professionals for inspiration and guidance and asked them to share their top 10 trends with us. Together we chose "The Influence of LEED on Design Professionals = Pushing the Green Envelope" for the top  spot.

Jiang Cultural Center


The 2008 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof Design PowerPoint:


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Download the complete PDF:

by Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA Associate, LEED AP, Publisher/Editor & Design Consultant and Haven Kiers, MLA, Design Editor & Design Consultant


Inaugural Year 2007:

-  For our inaugural year in 2007, we explored "chic sustainability" and looked at examples of trailblazing and trendsetting greenroof design based on earlier examples of green architecture.  "Visionary Proposed Projects" held the # 1 spot as a result.  What makes a project visionary?  Innovative solutions to environmental, social, and economic design challenges necessitate a combination of the above trends at various scales with a higher purpose for a higher good.  These projects may still have been on the books, but they’re the ones that will define greenroofs for years to come for their ingenuity, productivity and compassion for both the human and built environments.

The 2007 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof Design:
                     Chic Sustainability, Unique Driving Factors & "Boutique" Greenroofs PowerPoint:



Uploaded on authorSTREAM by


Download the complete PDF:

by Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA Associate, LEED AP, Publisher/Editor & Design Consultant and Haven Kiers, MLA, Design Editor & Design Consultant