Green Roofs Nastaran Razavi The first article “Grass roots green roof”? explains how a nature lover and her volunteer community install and maintain a low-cost green roof system on the roof of a 36-year-old residential building to implement storm water management.
In the beginning, community disagreements, safety concerns, and structural issues prevent the progress of the green roof project, but based on the correct engineering assessments about the load capacity of, and other details about, the building, the green roof is perceived to be a better idea than the existing flat roof, and the project moves ahead. In the end, the builders of this low-cost green roof are happy about the progress, and hope that every community installs these low-cost green roofs on their residential buildings.
This effort is a good example of a successful low-cost green development by a community group, which over time can make an important impact on the local environment. Also, it shows how public awareness of green roofs and their benefits on ecology can lead to a minimum-cost solution for sustainable design development. However, for me, this article raises the following question: If green roofs become common on the residential buildings of many communities, will landscape architects have a role in designing them?
The second article “High Maintenance Super Star”? describes a famous green roof in San Francisco designed by the landscape architect Renzo Piano. Inspired by the hills surrounding the city, his design is an undulating roof with lush foliage. The technology he applies in this complicated roof system for drainage and testing new products for rain water filtration, and his selection of native plants creates a super green roof, which has an important role in the ecology of the building and the neighborhood.
Even though the large scale of this green roof makes it initially expensive to create and consumes a lot of materials, its energy savings, water efficiency, urban noise reduction, and urban heat island effect reduction are well worth the cost. For me, this article raises the following questions: Do landscape architects always create designs that are worth the time, cost, and effort? If yes, how do they make these designs happen?
Overall, these two articles both suggest that landscape architects can help to “make green roofs work as an ecosystem service” to improve storm water runoff and the heat island effect. Although green roof mass production seems to be a possibility, as is suggested by the success of the community approach described in the first article, will landscape architects still have a role in designing them?
In my opinion, the second article suggests that this is a possibility, that landscape architects will continue their relevant role in future design if they constantly reeducate themselves about new products, tools, and work site characteristics so to make their presence and effort in the construction of sustainable green design strong. 1 Linda Mclntyre, “Green roots green roofs,” Landscape Architecture Magazine 82 (December 2007): 60-65. 2 Linda Mclntyre, “High Maintenance Super Star,” Landscape Architecture Magazine 88 (August 2009): 64-77.