#WGRD2022: Happy World Green Roof Day!
Today’s the third annual World Green Roof Day (WGRD), and as promised, we’ve been compiling commentary from a variety of just some of our favorite living architecture people from across the world.
We’ve been sharing parts of their #WGRD2022 responses to “Why Do You Think #Greenroofs Are Important?” on Twitter, and following are everyone’s complete answers, in order of their replies.
Some folks have also shared one or two (or more!) of their favorite greenroof projects, too.
Why Do You Think Greenroofs Are Important?
Linda Velazquez in Longboat Key, FL USA
“Greenroofs, as just one piece of regenerative and climate-positive design, are such an elegant architectural solution providing so many different environmental, economic, psychological, and aesthetic benefits and ameliorating so many adverse construction consequences for the building owner, its occupants, and the surrounding flora, fauna, and human ecosystems.” ~ Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA, LEED AP, GRP Greenroofs.com Founder & Publisher
Gary Grant in London, England UK
“Green roofs are important because they can provide space for nature even in the most densely developed neighborhoods and in the most unexpected places. This can be pretty wild – prairies or wild flower meadows with wild bees, butterflies and nesting birds.” ~ Gary Grant of Green Infrastructure Consultancy
Chris Bridgman in London, England UK
“Green roofs offer multiple benefits for people and nature, such as flood reduction, insulation and habitat creation. What’s even better is we don’t have to wait for new buildings to appear – we can retrofit existing rooftops. This means there is a green solution to help address climate change NOW!” ~ Chris Bridgman of Bridgman & Bridgman
Steven Peck in Toronto, ON Canada
“Why Green Roofs? Green roofs are a proven technology that supports human life and biodiversity in our cities. They also help us both mitigate and adapt to climate change while improving our health and well being!” ~ Steven Peck of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities
Steven shares four of his favorite projects:
Ron Schwenger in Vancouver, BC Canada
“Green roofs are one of the most impactful elements that can be added to a building to improve sustainable performance. Green roofs not only mitigate stormwater runoff, they cool and improve the surrounding air in urban cities which has been now recognized by NASA.” ~ Ron Schwenger, Principal & Founder, GRP of Architek
Virginia Russell in Cincinnati, OH USA
“My “spark” green roof was the 10,000 square foot intensive roof on the Sanitation District 1 Building in Ft. Wright, Kentucky, the first publicly accessible green roof in Cincinnati’s metropolitan area. It was new in 2003, at a time when there was a lot of enthusiasm in the design community for new performance metrics like LEED and stormwater BMPs. This sweet little roof is still hitting all the right notes, 19 years later! The landscape architects at Human Nature, Inc designed the roof to be a demonstration project, with a small lab beneath for studying water and air quality on the building’s various roofs. The lab has clear plastic pipes draining from the green roof and its neighboring black roof to give a living display of what happens on roofs when it’s raining. The black and green roofs drain to separate, labeled brass scuppers and a rain garden at the building’s entrance so hundreds of people every week see the connection of roofs to stormwater. 5th grade biology classes in Northern Kentucky schools have class on the site, where permeable pavements, rain gardens, and other BMPs are displayed. Could you define “watershed” when you were in 5th grade? Municipal projects like this one are so important, no matter how small they are, because they show government taking leadership in addressing climate change and they provide education for children and visitors who will always remember the story of a drop of rain.
I’ve been on green roofs in Europe, Asia, and all over North America, and they were all lovely and significant, but my favorite green roof is right here in Cincinnati at Mercy West Hospital. This landscape over surgeries and critical care spaces displays undulating berms of native plants and waves of sedum mixes that are comforting patients, staff, and families in intensive care and labor and delivery rooms. On one floor, the landscape is level with the beds. A friend of mine who was in hospice there would send me pictures and text messages about what a blessing it was to have that garden outside her room, until the day the texts stopped. That splendid, verdant, living roof was her last glimpse of this good Earth. Physical and visual access to landscape has never been more important. It’s time for Living Architecture.” ~ Virginia L. Russell, FASLA, RLA, LEED AP, SITES AP, GRP, Professor of Landscape Architecture, Director, Landscape Architecture Program School of Planning / DAAP, University of Cincinnati
Ed Snodgrass in Street, MD USA
“Acknowledging that the sun is the power source for our planet and that photosynthesis is the most elegant and efficient use of that power by far why wouldn’t green roofs be a great idea? They are critical as is green infrastructure in general. We need many and all kinds.” ~ Ed Snodgrass, President & Founder Emory Knoll Farms & Green Roof Plants
Referring to his favorite greenroofs Ed says, “While Emory Knoll Farms has supplied plants for thousands of green roofs covering hundreds of acres of buildings, I think the ten we have at the farm that we live with and learn from are our favorites.”
He adds, “Happy World Green Roof Day to all who work with and and encourage green roofs from myself and the team here at the farm.”
Ken Yeang in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
“Green roofs are vital for the local urban and natural environment ameliorating them by the following ways providing habitats for species, enabling increase in local biotic constituents to the otherwise mostly inorganic built form, providing opportunities to enhance local biodiversity, contributing to reducing urban heat island effect, providing opportunity to harvest rainwater, provide biophilic garden spaces for human users and dwellers, and other things benefits.” ~ Ken Yeang, Architect & Ecologist, Executive Director of T. R. Hamzah & Yeang
Kai-Uwe Bergmann in New York, NY USA
“From our spiraling highrise with a green landscaped terrace on every floor to providing access to a green roof to every patient of our hospital in Denmark to the active ski slope on top of the Copenhill Power Plant we feel that green roofs have the power to heal, to revitalize, and to inspire a closer connection to nature that provides a better balance between our cities and their landscapes.” ~ Kai-Uwe Bergmann, FAIA, RIBA, Partner BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group
Julián Briz & Isabel de Felipe in Madrid, Spain
“Las infraestructuras verdes como barrera al tsunami urbano: La importancia de las azoteas verdes es la multifuncionalidad: Ahorro energético, filtro anticontaminador, gestión agua lluvia, recreo y paisaje.
Green infrastructure as a barrier to the urban tsunami: The importance of green roofs is their multifunctionality: energy savings, anti-pollution filter, rainwater management, recreation and landscape values.
Joe DiNorscia in Landenberg, PA USA
“We all know the environmental benefits that green roofs bring to the table, stormwater control, heat island mitigation, increased biodiversity, but more and more we see the psychological benefit of green roofs being a critical and important benefit as well. Green spaces created on-structure are becoming more common place due to their calming and healing effects. Greening spaces that were never considered as an option is a win, win for the building owner, the environment, and the people that have the opportunity to enjoy them.” ~ Joe DiNorscia of Skyland and rooflite
Stephan Brenneisen in Basel, Switzerland
“Green roofs are important to cool our cities and provide a living space for nature. Beside this they make us able to give back nature a part of its space while constructing a building (like the Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser said…)” ~ Stephan Brenneisen, Dr. phil Geographer, Lecturer, Head of Research Group Urban Ecology, Institute for Environment and Natural Resources, Zurich University of Applied Sciences ZHAW Grüental Campus
Jörg Breuning in Baltimore, MD USA
“This is a philosophical question because humankind evolved through nature. Bringing back nature where she was in the first place is NOT a generous act from humans, it is the least what we should do to continue our existence beyond a blink of an eye in nature’s history. If humans don’t care about nature, nature doesn’t care about humans – it is that simple and this doesn’t need scientific studies.” ~ Jörg Breuning of Green Roof Technology
Jörg adds, “One of my favorite Green Roof projects was the Allianz Headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. Built in 1982 it belongs to the early life and work buildings in the world and is also unique as it won an award 30 years after it was built. Today we would probably call it vertical urban forest with life-work balance. Onsite childcare within a rooftop farm. It’s my favorite because it is still cutting edge, never repaired and an early milestone in my career.”
He continues, “My second favorite project is the City Hall of Chicago. In 1999 Charlie Miller (Roofmeadow / Roofscapes) hired me as the key consultant and Green Roof Expert, ensuring the forward thinking idea of former Mayor Richard M. Daley (Democrat) can be realized by skipping the trial-and-error method. The North American Green Roof industry should be forever grateful for Richard M. Daley’s increase in environmental efforts at a time where the majority of Americans were still in their sleeping beauty slumber. With this project I was able to knowledge-transfer proven state-of-the-art Green Roof technology to all known North American green roof pioneers or to those who saw green roofs as an opportunity for green infrastructure. Technology that will last as long as the building.”
Tom Liptan in Portland, OR USA
“A Building’s passionate entreaty to its architect, “A greenroof will complete me.” … and behind all of the social and environmental benefits, is the very simple fact that a greenroof will last two or more times longer than a traditional roof.” ~ Tom Liptan, Landscape Architect, Stormwater Specialist & Author of Sustainable Stormwater Management: A Landscape-Driven Approach to Planning and Design
Tom adds, “Here’s one of my favorites, The Ramona Apartments”:
Elizabeth Hart Morris in Portland, OR USA
“There is no other single technology that addresses all the environmental, health and social benefits as on-structure vegetation, and in such a beautiful way. It’s the natural evolution of our built environment, facilitating the healing of our water, air, and urban societies.” ~ Elizabeth Hart Morris, GRP, of Green Up & GRiT
Liz says, “My favorite green roofs are those that make use of the compounding benefits of adding features like solar panels, food production, and social green spaces – including all of the Multnomah County Building and Oregon Health and Sciences University green roofs across the greater Portland area.”
Nathalie Baumann in Basil, Switzerland
“Green roofs are one of the important measures within green infrastructures to improve urban biodiversity and mitigate climate change.” ~ Nathalie Baumann (MSc / Urban Ecologist), Lecturer and Consultant, Research group Green Space Development, Institute of Natural Resource Sciences: ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences
Nathalie continues, “I like many green roofs you know, as long as they can serve ecological compensation and improve / protect biodiversity. One of my favorites is a School called Looren in Zürich, it is a bee paradise and completely designed for biodiversity (an extensive green roof).”
Christine Thuring in Surrey, BC Canada
“I think green roofs are important because they can resolve numerous issues at the same time when designed well. Here in the Pacific Northwest, our summers are getting hotter and drier. No other technology can simultaneously keep buildings cool, reduce the urban heat island, retain stormwater, and extend the lifespan of roofing materials while also creating multi-functional green spaces for people and wildlife!” ~ Christine Thuring, Instructor in Horticulture and Sustainable Landscape Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Amy Chomowicz in Portland, OR USA
“Green roofs are important because they help us survive by moderating temperatures, sequestering carbon, conserving energy, managing runoff, providing habitat (for humans and other critters), and possibly most importantly, they have the ability to delight, which no conventional roof will ever do.” ~ Amy Chomowicz, City of Portland, Environmental Services & GRiT
Amy says, “The Solterra building in Portland is a favorite green roof with the most iconic green wall.”
Vanessa Keitges in Portland, OR USA
“The Green Revolution is Now. We at CGT believe that we have entered mankind’s fourth revolution, the green roof revolution. What began as a solution to manage water has turned into a complete rethinking of City Planning and how we live.
Aging water management infrastructure, increased flooding & storm sizes, urban growth, food shortages and the demand for rooftop parks are driving new opportunities for the green roof industry and turning into a 14B + industry. We are PROUD to be a part of the next generation of green infrastructure & architecture that will change how we live and create a new model for building resilient cities & healthy places for people to live, work and play.
Resilient future cities built with green roofs, green infrastructure & nature -based designs. The Green Roof Revolution is Now!” ~ Vanessa Keitges, President/CEO Columbia Green Technologies
Kongjian Yu in Beijing, China
“In addition to its being an nature-based solution to remediate climate change and urban flood, it could be the last refuge for those who have suffered the lockdown in the city and walled communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.” ~ Kongjian Yu, Landscape Architect, Author, Principal of Turenscape
Below, Kongjian shares “The edible balcony garden and living wall of The Brown Stone Apartment.”
Nigel Dunnett in Sheffield, England UK
“Because they allow incredible things to be done with planting, vegetation, habitat and biodiversity that just wouldn’t be possible on the ground in the same location – that’s always been the thing that has most excited me. I was really switched on to the possibilities when I first visited the green roof on Chicago City Hall in 2003. My eyes were opened to just what could be achieved – landform, plant communities, beauty, trees – it completely changed my outlook, and spurred me on to my own adventures in green roof planting.” ~ Nigel Dunnett, FLI, Professor of Planting Design, Urban Horticulture, and Vegetation Technology, Department of Landscape, University of Sheffield, Author
And since Nigel didn’t really specify a favorite greenroof, I took the liberty of selecting one of his own which I really like:
Wendy Amengual Wark in New York, NY USA
“Green roofs are important because they transform unused, unhealthy spaces into beautiful wildlife habitats, urban farms providing food in former food deserts, and energy saving, healthy, inspiring places where people can gather in community and thrive!” ~ Wendy Amengual Wark, Partner of Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC
Wendy says, “My favorite green roof: Chicago City Hall is the quintessential example of a public commitment to green space and partnering with the private sector to create green, energy efficient buildings in an urban area. It is also evidence of how sustainable green roofs are with 22 years and counting of growing and thriving!
Michael Furbish in Baltimore, MD USA
“As one small spoke on the sustainability wheel, greenroofs offer FORM (aesthetic, inviting placemaking) and FUNCTION (a variety of ecosystem services). And true sustainability is whole systems thinking which requires form and function on equal footing.” ~ Michael Furbish, President of Furbish
Cheryl Ong in Singapore
“I think Greenroofs are important because it limits the impact of climate change and maximises the use of urban spaces converting concrete jungles to green fields. My favourite greenroof projects are Marina Barrage and Skool4Kidz @ Sengkang Riverside Park.” ~ Cheryl Ong, Elmich Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications
Chris Wark in New York, NY USA
“Greenroofs are important because they resurrect, or at least mimic, a bit of the biome that was lost when the roof’s building was constructed. That biome had the ability to regulate rain and temperature in the ground, as well as provide invaluable ecological value, and greenroofs can emulate that otherwise lost function and beauty of nature.” ~ Chris Wark,Principal of Wark Energy Consulting and Ponix MicroAg
Chris adds, “My favorite project has always been the Ford Rouge River Plant. I was impressed with how and why Ford committed to this immense and sometimes challenging project. It was an elegant rainwater control solution and once this pioneering greenroof was established, everyone got to see just how important of an ecological contribution it was making beyond the original engineering intent.”
Eyal Mirelman in Tel Aviv, Israel
“Green roofs are important as they integrate so much value into one solution: Energy, Water Management, Biodiversity, Air Quality, etc.” ~ Eyal Mirelman, Principal of BLDVEG (Building Vegetation)
Clayton Rugh in Durham, NC USA
“Green Roofs are an amazingly unique phenomenon that provides an extremely wide and diverse array of benefits, including: environmental, aesthetic, educational, ecological (which IS different than environmental!), municipal, economic, social, preservational, and many many more!” ~ Clayton Rugh, PhD Principal of XFA Green Roofs
Clayton continues, “My favorite green roof is the one that gave me my very first exposure to the concept, which also became my first hands-on green roof development and installation – the Ford Motor Company Rouge Truck Plant, Dearborn Michigan. Not only was it an amazing education for me starting with comparison of a variety of green roof systems and approaches for selection of the “instant green roof” Xero Flor system, but was a comprehensive experience observing and assisting with field cultivation and eventual harvest of the vegetation to assembly of the accessories and base-layer components to completed installation of the living green roof. Moreover, this 10.4 acre (!) green roof was recognized in the 2004 Guinness Book of World Records as the planet’s largest living roof, which has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people from Ford’s Rouge Visitor Center observation deck since its opening in 2003.”
Ben Flanner in New York, NY USA
“Green roofs are important for so many reasons which we know – but recently I’ve really been valuing the interactions on green roofs. We need to continue to merge green roofs into amenities and spaces that both people and our next of kin non-people can spend time in – all of it: observing nature, learning, educating, having meetings, relaxing, farming, eating, pollinating, laying eggs, giving birth, and hunting!” ~ Brooklyn Grange Co Founder / CEO
Kerry Ross in Calgary, AB Canada
“Green roofs are important to the built environment; they deliver multiple advantages simultaneously benefiting people, climate change, the environment and the bottom line.”
While there are so many green roofs that I really love, I’d have to say that two of my favourites are the Scandinavian Green Roof Institute in Malmo, Sweden and the Brooklyn Grange.” ~ Kerry Ross, Principal Green T Design
Dave McKenzie in Spring Lake, MI USA
“I think green roofs are important for several reasons, all of which tie in with stewardship for our planet and all life forms. Fundamentally green roofs help to compensate for the loss of vegetation that existed before there was a building (in that location). This helps to provide habitat for birds, invertebrates and sometimes vertebrate species.
Green roofs also protect water courses and aquatic inhabitants, conserve energy and materials (making roofs last longer), and they beautify what might otherwise be ugly. The latter is linked to a host of human wellness as well as societal benefits.” ~ Dave MacKenzie, of LiveRoof & LiveWall
Dave says, “Meijer Gardens is a favorite because it does everything a green roof can do—it pools benefits, and therefore creates unparalleled value. It does all of these:
- Covers the entire roof area for maximum energy savings and extension of roof life.
- Is irrigated for optimal plant care, and for enhancing the evaporative cooling effect of the LiveRoof.
- Is accessible to staff and public.
- Serves as a setting for respite and exercise.
- Is beautiful and visible from surrounding offices and meeting rooms.
- Is used for education.
- Serves as a venue for weddings and events, and therefore generates an income.
- Is biodiverse and supports a host of wildlife.
- Was developed collaboratively with contributions from several people working together to share and agree upon ideas.”
So Why Do You Think #Greenroofs Are Important?
So many reasons exist to wonder at the multitude of benefits that greenroofs provide, right?
Excellent sentiments and excellent examples of greenroofs & living architecture! I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with all of these, but they are so beautiful and important, and all different.
Thanks to all who participated, and to all who shared their experiences on social media for #WGRD2022.
Happy World Green Roof Day 2022 & Beyond
Thank you to Dusty Gedge and Chris Bridgman and all at GRO who founded World Green Roof Day – great idea! Let’s continue to forge ahead with more greenroofs and all types of green infrastructure!
On June 6 and every day, Love the Earth, Plant a Roof (or Wall)!