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.
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 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, but what and where are the new and exciting projects on the boards?
Enter the Greenroofs.com Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Designto showcase the important, newsworthy and exciting greenroof projects from around the world! Our Design Editor Haven Kiersand Publisher/Editor Linda Velazquez inaugurated the series in 2007 at the Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, Awards and Trade Show in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 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. Whether based on traditional applications with a twist or avant-guard projects combining living roofs, 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 which stimulate the senses!
How do we decide the Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design?
- 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.
- 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.
- In2009, 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.
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.
- 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.
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.”
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!”
- 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.
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.
As “vegitecture” increasingly becomes a mainstay of both sustainable and cutting edge design, the list of greenroof and greenwall trends continues to expand.
- 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
2013Hot Trendsin GREENROOF & GREENWALL DESIGN The Greenroofs.com Top 10 List:
10) Client Specific ‘Boutique’ Greenroofs
9) Wineries Enveloped in Greenery
8) Small Projects, Big Results
7) Need Vacation Inspiration? The Hottest Green Destination Escapes