Posts Tagged ‘green roofs’

Are All Green Roofs Created Equal?

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

The following was published as part of my regular “Growing Greener” column in Public Garden magazine, Vol. 24 No. 3 (2009). Public Garden is the flagship publication of the American Public Gardens Association. In “Growing Greener” I answer sustainability-related questions from public garden staff.

Q: There are so many different green roof systems. Are they all effective?

A: It’s easy for us plant enthusiasts to be seduced by the idea of verdant rooftops. Aesthetically, living roofs are a major improvement over typical asphalt or tar roofs, which are about as hospitable to humans and most other life forms as Death Valley on a mid-summer day. But before falling head over heels for green roofs it’s worth asking whether they really, as touted, help insulate buildings and thus save energy that would otherwise be consumed for heating or cooling, counteract the urban heat island effect, remove particulates from polluted air, detain and cleanse storm water, and more. (more…)

Growing Greener: The Sustainable Sites Initiative

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

The following was published as part of my regular “Growing Greener” column in Public Garden magazine, Vol. 23 No. 3/4 (2008). Public Garden is the flagship publication of the American Public Gardens Association. In “Growing Greener” I answer sustainability-related questions from public garden staff.

Q: What is the Sustainable Sites Initiative, and how can public gardens use it?

A: In the past several years, the LEEDR program of the U.S. Green Building Council has become synonymous with sustainable design. The USGBC awards four levels of LEED certification for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. This rating system has provided targets for public gardens and other institutions striving to go green.

One limitation of LEED, especially for public gardens, is that it currently is concerned primarily with buildings. It’s not surprising, then, that two public gardens, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the United States Botanic Garden, have teamed up with the American Society of Landscape Architects to produce the Sustainable Sites Initiative, the first program to develop guidelines and standards for sustainable landscapes. (more…)

Olympic Village Earns Gold

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Last week the Olympic Village in Beijing officially earned the LEED Gold award from the U.S. Green Building Council under its pilot LEED for Neighborhood Development program. Among the sustainable design features of the complex, as reported in Inhabitat: rainwater, graywater, and storm water collection systems, lots of green roofs and open space, drought-resistant and native plantings, and a network of bicycle and pedestrian paths.

Green Roofs and Green Woofs

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, a trade group, has announced that seven projects have received its 2008 Award of Excellence. They include the California Academy of Sciences green roof in San Francisco, which is designed to provide habitat for the endangered Bay Checkerspot butterfly (one of the designs featured in my article on green roofs as wildlife habitat).

My award for cutest green roofs goes to Sustainable Pet, which creates doghouses, cat houses, and birdhouses topped by green roofs planted with vegetation native to your region.