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Posts from the ‘Green Roofs’ Category

the skylights are in

July 15, 2009

zora naki


the two skylights in the living room are framed into a single box.

skylights from inside

they’ve replaced the rotted wood under the living room window (bad flashing around a window) and cut a new window into the front entry hall.

new window added

the roof is on.

the roof is done

this is looking down at the flat roof over the front door. it measures 5’x4′ and i’m planting it. called g-sky today to find out more about getting the supplies to set it up as my experimental green roof and the salesguy was taken aback by the very wee nature of the project. he said he’ll get back to me… realistically, i could just come up with my own kit – waterproofing membrane (on top of the torch-on roof), root barrier, some kind of cells/containers, lightweight potting soil and a schwack of sedums. or maybe grasses? i’ll wait until the water is turned back on – my garden is shrivelling before my eyes.

imagine this is a green roof

more wall gardens

December 15, 2008

zora naki

green wall

from design sponge – I like how the greenery contrasts against the building and also how (eventually) the two sets of plants will meet in the middle.


from osaka japan (courtesy of a poster on design sponge)

flip a strip

Flip-A-Strip design winner for “Urban Battery” – power station, vertical greenhouse and billboard rolled into one. The contest was held by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

green wall

Your misters are showing!  Harmonia 57 office building by Triptyque as covered by de zeen in an extensive article.


Dwell post on the garden walls of Oulu, a Brooklyn restaurant.

growing a green wall

June 30, 2008

zora naki

Green walls are glorious. Take the technology for green roofs and put it somewhere everyone can enjoy it. Regardless of any environmental benefits that may result, just think about how great it would be to coat your entire house with succulents!

The designer that everyone seems to watch is Patrick Blanc – read an interview with him here. He does these fabulous wall sculptures with plants. A steel frame is mounted onto the face of the building (leaving a gap between the frame and the wall), PVC sheets are attached and then felt is used as a rooting medium for the plants. His soiless system uses hydroponics (water with nutrients) to irrigate and sustain plant life.

Most green walls use some type of grid planter system using a frame, cells and irrigation channels. If soil is used as a potting medium, the cells are generally 2 – 4 inches deep and a lightweight moisture-retaining mixture is used. The home gardener can order cells that are slanted, to help keep the potting mixture in the wall.

There are lots of great examples of commercial applications – particularly in Asia and Europe, where green walls are used for company logos. With careful plant selection and planning, the walls can thrive most places – indoor and out.

It doesn’t have to be a full wall either – some designs use green panels like architectural punctuation. Here’s a recent article in Met Home about a garden wall installation.

Interior installations look like art. I wonder if it would give your living room that steamy conservatory smell?

People who sell supplies and install green walls:

G-Sky (Canada)
Alive Structures
Elt Living Walls (USA)
A Green Roof (USA)
Green Roof Plants (USA)
Green Wall Australia (Australia)
Green Fortune (Sweden)
Indoor Landscaping (Germany)

here is another post on more wall gardens.

And finally, yesterday’s (horizontally grown) harvest:

a primer on green roofs: part three

February 2, 2008

zora naki

The Basics:

1. Get your roof evaluated by a structural engineer or someone experienced in the installation of green roofs. You want to know at least three things: Can my roof bear the load of the planting containers? Is the pitch of my roof too steep? how will the existing heating/electrical/water systems be affected?

2. Decide on the kind of roof (intensive/extensive) you want to install – this will determine everything from your maintenance requirements to what kind of plants you can grow.

3. Decide on whether you want to try and install it yourself or find a local company experienced in doing it. Are you going to build it from components or are you going to use pre-planted modules? If I were handier – and owned a garage – I would use it or a shed as a trial run. A working roof is kind of important…

4. Share the information – blog about it, post to cityfarmer or similar venues – and encourage others to follow suit. One roof at a time can make a big difference. See some case studies here and here.

How to Get Funding:
(some links are out of date, but still a helpful starting point)


BCIT: The Centre for the Advancement of Green Roof Technology (Vancouver, BC – Canada)
Light House: Sustainable Building Centre (Vancouver, BC – Canada)
The Rooftop Garden Project (Montreal, Quebec – Canada)
Tips for Building on a Sloped Roof
Green Roofs: an industry resource portal
Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (infrastructure industry association)

Read part one: the benefits of green roofs.
Read part two: types of green roofs.If you have links or suggestions for content to add to this post, please comment below…

a primer on green roofs: part two

February 1, 2008

zora naki

Types of Green Roofs:

Green roofs have the same basic structure. They consist of the following layers:

  • structural support
  • roofing membrane
  • membrane protection and root barrier
  • insulation
  • drainage layer with another root barrier
  • growing medium
  • vegetation

The main difference lies in the amount of growing medium and what you can grow.


Cob House Green Roof, Stanley Park, Vancouver BC - (C) BCITExtensive green roofs have 3 – 6 inches of growing medium that will support mosses, sedums and other low-maintenance native plantings.

After being established, they will generally thrive with little to no maintenance and should not require watering, although spring weeding of tree seedlings may be necessary. These roofs are well-suited to buildings with inaccessible roofs.

A growing number of companies sell preplanted containers suitable for extensive green roofs. These usually contain a mix of hardy, native plants such as sedums, grasses and wildflowers that are appropriate for your climate. These modular systems can be installed directly onto the roofing membrane.


Intensive green roofs have a more substantial 8- 12 inches of planting material, and will support everything from flowers to trees, depending on your structural constraints.

Suitable for the flat roofs of office and condo buildings, intensive roofs may incorporate vegetable gardens, parks, play structures, etc. Because of the increased needs of the plants, an irrigation system may need to be incorporated into the design, as well as access points for weeding, fertilizing, and general gardening. Landscape design services could add considerable value for the end-users of the roof.


Extensive and intensive roofs are only the beginning. Depending on your roof, you may decide on a hybrid combination of the two to best suit your needs. If your roof is more complicated (i.e. has a greater slope than 2:12, has a number of peaks and valleys), get professional professional help -either in the planning or the installation phase.

Private Residence, submitted to: your roof just isn’t suitable for planting, consider the green wall approach. There are some fantastic installation possibilities and everyone gets to enjoy the results of your labour…

Ideas for green walls:

Patrick Blanc: Vertical Garden
Parabienta Green Wall by Shimuzu Corp.
G-SKY photo gallery of installations
Blog post: Ellis Hollow self-installation
Wall-to-Wall Gardening

Next up: how to decide on what’s right for you and additional resources
Before: benefits of green roofs

a primer on green roofs: part one

January 25, 2008

zora naki

Cob House Green Roof, Stanley Park, Vancouver BC - (C) BCITa few years ago, we had to replace our roof. at the time, i was seriously keen on the idea of replacing our 30-year-old asphalt shingles with a living, growing green roof. imagine the wildflowers waving in the wind! after doing some research, i did some calling, only to hit a bit of a dead end. the only green roofs that people knew about were on commercial installations, there were no guarantees for roof lifespan or feasibility, and the anticipated cost was more than double that of a standard roof.

we caved and went the traditional route. however, things are changing quite rapidly in this area of construction with more and higher-profile projects in the works all the time. In Europe, green roofs are popular and far more commonplace than in North America. However, municipal facilities and large corporate installations are helping to change this (city halls, convention centres, the Gap headquarters).

in the hopes that it helps someone else out, here is a basic introduction for those of you interested in growing a garden on your roof.

Benefits of Green Roofs:

  1. Reduce stormwater runoff into the sewer system (plants absorb water that hits your roof)
  2. Reduce energy consumption: the thicker layer of potting soil and plants acts as another layer of insulation for your house, keeping things cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter
  3. Reduce the heat island effect that occurs in urban areas
  4. Reduces air pollution and CO2 while producing oxygen
  5. Provides habitat for butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects; provides habitat for birds
  6. Has smaller ecological footprint, using biodegradable, self-renewing materials

For more information about the benefits of green roofs and how they mitigate environmental issues, please see the following:

A Greener Chicago (University of Michigan)

Next: types of green roofs.

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