Cities Alive Highlights Success in Green Roofs and Walls

From Oct 17-20, the leaders in green roof and wall design, construction and research met for the Cities Alive conference in Chicago.  I was lucky enough to attend and share the design of the Green Learning Station’s green roofs with the attendees. The conference sessions were filled with jaw dropping living architecture images, from green walls spanning a city block in Tarragona, Spain, to windmills turning atop a green farmer’s market roof in Halifax. We heard about restaurants, youth centers and grocery stores growing food on roofs and luxury apartment owners adding rooftop gardens to attract higher rents. It was inspiring to see how green roofs and walls are catching on across North America, and how the European pioneers in the industry are taking them to a whole new level of performance.

One of the most persuasive arguments I heard for installing green roofs came not from the architects and researchers, but from the number crunchers. Green roofs actually cost less over 40 years than traditional roofing because you can avoid the cost of re-roofing the building one or two times. Once you add in the energy savings, added value to tenants and environmental benefits, you start realizing that green roofs can pay for themselves in less than 10 years!

My presentation detailed the design of the Green Learning Station’s green roofs and how we are using different systems to illustrate to visitors some of the options available in the world of green roofing. I shared initial findings from our collaboration with researchers at UC, who are examining the quality of water running off green roofs compared to asphalt shingle roofs. The audience seemed especially interested in the accessible nature of our roof and how QR codes on our educational signage link to videos that provide a rich, interactive experience for visitors.

If you are interested in learning more about green roofs and whether they might suit a project you are considering, come learn from the experts at our upcoming class: “Green Roofs and Pervious Pavements: are they right for your site?” November 28, 2012, 6-8 pm at the Civic Garden Center. You can find out more and register on our website.

– Ryan Mooney-Bullock, Green Learning Station Program Manager

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