HorizonTV Featuring BD+C: Watch Episodes On Demand At HorizonTV

8 grand green roofs (and walls)

A massive, 4.4-acre vegetated roof at the Kauffman Performing Arts Center in Kansas City is among the projects honored in the 2013 Green Roof and Wall Awards of Excellence. 

September 24, 2013 |
The 1,460-sf green wall at the Papadakis Integrated Science Building, Drexel Uni

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities last week announced the winners of its 2013 Green Roof and Wall Awards of Excellence. Among the eight winning projects are a massive, 4.4-acre vegetated roof at the Kauffman Performing Arts Center in Kansas City, Mo., and a dramatic interior green wall at Drexel University.

The awards program recognizes outstanding projects in seven design categories, as well as accomplishments in research, policy development, and corporate support. This year's awards ceremony takes place on October 25, 2013, at CitiesAlive, the 11th Annual Green Roof and Wall Conference in San Francisco. 

Here's a recap of the winning projects (project descriptions and images courtesy GRHC):



Papadakis Integrated Science Building, Drexel University


1,460-sf green wall 

Award Winner: Diamond Schmitt Architects (Architect) & NEDLAW Living Walls (Green Wall Specialist)

Associate Architect: H2L2

Structural Engineer: Halcrow Yolles

Structural Engineer: Keast and Hood Co.

Mechanical & Electrical Engineers / Lighting Consultant: Crossey Engineering Ltd.

Local Mechanical Consultant: SSM Group, Inc.

Civil Engineering / Landscape: Stantec Consulting Services Inc.

Environmental Consultant: Enermodal Engineering, a member of MMM Group Limited

Wall Maintenance: Parker Interior Plantscape, Inc.


Located at the corner of Chestnut and 33rd Street in Philadelphia the new Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building is home to Drexel University’s Biosciences Department and provides a landmark building for the university. Responding to the urban potential of the site, the Chestnut Street façade features a floating elliptical glass rotunda that engages the street. The Integrated Science Building is Drexel’s first building to achieve LEED (GOLD) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. Sustainable features include alternate transportation, rainwater management and heat island mitigation. This commitment to a striking, sustainable design has resulted in numerous profiles in prominent publications, which serves to further the information sharing and education process.

Open and accessible, space is organized around the sky-lit, five-storey atrium containing a 1,460 square foot living wall biofilter (The largest on a US campus) and a 4-storey elliptical stairway that invites a fuller engagement with the university experience. The 1500 plant wall is integrated into the building’s air handling system achieving improved air quality and a reduction in energy consumption. The living wall has the potential to provide 75% to 80% of the building’s fresh air intake requirement, thereby enhancing air quality. This significantly impacts energy performance in the heating and cooling seasons for fresh air over and above ASHRAE 62.1 requirements since the air is pre-tempered.

The wall is a closed-loop hydroponic system. The base of the living wall acts as a water catchment that drains to a reservoir located on the floor below. The inline pumps acting in a lead-lag configuration lift the water from the reservoir to the top of the wall where a diffuser spreads the water evenly across the top. Water then trickles down through the growth media to the catchment. A separate electronic system maintains reservoir volume. Being a closed system, it also means that the nutrients in the water that were not taken up on their pass through the root zone will be available to the plants on their next circuit rather than being ejected into the environment via the drain.




Drew School, Sam Cuddeback Assembly Wing

San Francisco

1,750-sf vertical garden

Project Architect and Landscape Architect: ROMA Design Group (Award Winner)

Designer of Vertical Garden: Patrick Blanc

Structural / Waterproofing: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

Irrigation Consultant: DD Pagano, Inc.

Irrigation Components: Rain Bird, Toro, Fertiboost, Badger

LEED Certification: Simon & Associates

General Contractor: Herrero Contractors, Inc.

Landscape Contractor / Nursery: Rana Creek Design


The green wall project at the Drew School was built with the objective to achieve an extraordinary level of biodiversity within the context of a highly urbanized environment where space is at a premium and where the majority of that space is compacted and paved. It was also created to provide a model for other schools that demonstrates the comprehensive benefits of landscape and building technology.

The creation of the school’s new theatrical arts and assembly building meant that there would be a blank wall along the street, which offered a perfect canvas for vertical planting and an opportunity to create a highly visible and accessible garden of native wildflowers, shrubs and small trees.

The building’s green roof and wall were planned together to create a unified expression of biodiversity and ecological richness. More than 100 different species of native coastal bluff ecoregion plants are planted on the wall, which attracts hummingbirds and butterflies to this dense urban location. Plantings range from small trees and tall shrubs at the top of the wall to smaller plants immediately visible adjacent to the sidewalk. There is very little maintenance needed—about three or four times a year a lift is used for weeding, pruning and minor replanting.




Vancouver Island University, Cowichan Campus

Duncan, B.C.

50,000-sf green roof

Landscape Architect: Sharp & Diamond Landscape Architecture Inc. (Award Winner)

Waterproofing Membrane: Soprema

Civil Engineer: Herold Engineering

Green Roof Contractor: Paradise Cityscape

Architect: Garyali Architects

Construction Manager: Yellowridge Construction

Landscape and Green Roof Maintenance: Island Irrigation

Mechanical Engineer: AME Consulting Group

LEED / Sustainability: Advicas


Vancouver Island University’s new Cowichan Campus is a place for celebration and learning. Located approximately 38 miles northwest of Victoria, the university is one of the largest employers in the Cowichan Valley; and 17 percent of students belong to the Cowichan Tribes. Through consultation with the Cowichan Tribes, First Nations’ values and culture are expressed in the open building format with cultural artifacts, the significant use of wood and ethnobotanical gardens on the rooftop. The connection to the greater landscape of Cowichan Valley is reflected in extensive wet grasslands, large bigleaf maple trees and multiple green roofs that recreate meadow, forest and coastal bluff ecosystems. The site is an extension of the Somenos Marsh, which is comprised of large meadow areas. Plants were chosen from the local nursery to reflect the surrounding landscape; and the roof was planted with over 44,000 native coastal meadow sedums, grasses and wildflowers.

The building features 6 types of roof systems on 3 levels. Level 3 is fully accessible by students, staff and visitors; and provides quiet spaces to gather and areas for hands-on learning. Level 1 is on grade and accessible; and Level 2 locations are inaccessible. Green roofs cover 88 percent of the campus buildings, with sections of intensive green roof (with trees, shrubs, climbers and groundcovers), extensive green roof (with native coastal meadow sedums, grasses and wildflowers), extensive sloping roofs with additional slope / water retention to reflect the hillsides of the Cowichan Valley, pre-vegetated sedum mats and a blue roof (which provides additional stormwater retention). The project has been awarded LEED® Gold Certification.

On average, 90 percent of the annual rainwater is retained on the roof in 8 cisterns, which are partially buried in the ground next to the building. Runoff is also retained onsite through permeable surfaces under the parking lot and the entrance plaza, rain gardens and wet meadows.




Visionaire Green Roof

New York

2,075-sf green roof

Award Winner: Mark K. Morrison Landscape Architecture PC (Prime Consultant / Designer / Construction Administrator)

Drainage System: American Hydrotech

Irrigation: Netafim

Growing Medium: Long Island Compost & McEnroe Farms

Pergola Design: Fradkin McAlpin Associates Ltd.

Structural Engineers: Robert Silman

Survey, Flashing, Roofing: Eagle One Roofing Contractors Inc.

Construction: Windsway Construction

Irrigation and Lighting: National Lawn Sprinklers

Construction of Pergola: Jim Tribe

Fountain Design and Fabrication: Eve Sheridan

Metal Fabrication: MPI Productions

Upholstery: Lakeville Interiors

Eagle Street Farm: Installed Vegetables

Metalwork for Potting Table: Haas Welding Services


The roof terrace at the 35th floor of the Visionaire building maximizes the productive capabilities of this certified LEED Platinum building. This project features more than 160 species of ornamental plants, as well as a potager vegetable garden with vertical screens for climbing vegetables and a fruit orchard with dwarf trees. The project demonstrates that city dwellers with small terraces can grow quantity and quality produce; the vegetables are grown in 4’ x 4’ boxes, based on the Peace Corps module for flexible and continuous food production within small plots. Agricultural features also include a cold frame for continuous harvest, an herbal knot garden and a berry patch for blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Numerous edible plant materials are interspersed throughout the landscape at large, including strawberry plants as ground cover. The client / owner has successfully used the vegetable gardens as the sole food source for numerous dinner parties.

Roof irrigation uses recycled and treated black water from the building. The built project has weathered blizzards and other weather events with no damage to the vegetation or building. During Hurricane Irene in 2011, a storm event with 13” of rainfall within a 24 hour period, there was no flooding on the roof terrace.

This intensive system points to expanded opportunities for an exceptional variety of plant species to survive in extreme conditions and heights (approximately 117m above ground level), while also providing oases for flying species. The client hosted a research project through Scenic Hudson and Columbia University and, contrary to current beliefs, insects and pollinators flew up to the 35th floor (rather than laterally through the city.) The researcher identified over 30 species of bees on the roof terrace. Ecological habitat at various heights could offer productive opportunities for elevated flat surfaces city-wide, while aiding significantly in carbon sequestriation and evapotranspiration.




Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility

Petaluma, Calif.

12,790-sf green roof

Green Roof Designer, Installer and Maintenance Provider: SYMBIOS Ecotecture (Award Winner)

Architect: Burks Loma

Engineer: Ingraham De Jesse

Plant Supplier: Emory Knoll Farms

Drainage System and Waterproofing: Tremco

Growing Media Base Layer: Rooflite

Irrigation: Hunter Industries


The Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility in Petaluma, California utilizes its operation and maintenance buildings to demonstrate the sustainable aspects of building integrated vegetation. The planting scheme of the living roofscape took advantage of the roof being visible from the surrounding roadways and landscape. The plants include 13 species of groundcover succulents, such as Summer Glory, Purpurteppich and John Creech. In addition, the facility is set along the banks of the Petaluma River and is adjacent to natural wetlands and constructed wetlands that are used to increase the quality of the treated wastewater before releasing it into the river. As a result of its location, the area is deemed as an avian habitat zone and the vegetative roof was designed in part to support the local and migratory bird populations of the area. The roof has been successful in this regard, as numerous bird species such as killdeer have used the roof for nesting.

The roofs are irrigated directly by utilizing the tertiary treated wastewater from the facility’s operations, which is held in a holding pond situated adjacent to the buildings. The treated wastewater allows the vegetation to be irrigated without the use of any potable water. Vines have been planted to green up the façade of the buildings. Stormwater overflow from the living roofs drain into ground level rain garden swales adjacent to the buildings for a net-zero stormwater runoff system.

The green roof is being used to support a native bee study research program (by Scott MacIvor, York University in Toronto) which is investigating the ecological importance of living roofs in relation to native bee populations. Weather data is also collected every month at the Department of Water Resources’ weather station. Water samples are collected, tested and recorded during the irrigation season.




Kauffman Performing Arts Center & District Garage

Kansas City, Mo.  

193,000-sf green roof

Landscape Architect: Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company LLC (Award Winner)

Design Landscape Architect: Reed-Hilderbrand Assoc.

Parking Garage Consultant: Carl Walker, Inc.

Garage General Contractor: Walton Construction Performing Arts Center (PAC)

Design Architect: Safdie Architects

Garage Architect: Moody Nolan, Inc.

Garage Civil Engineer: George Butler & Assoc.

PAC Architect of Record: BNIM Architects

PAC General Contractor: J.E. Dunn Construction Co.


The Kauffman Performing Arts Center in downtown Kansas City, MO, is one of the most technically and architecturally advanced performing arts centers in the nation, is built in a landscape setting of equal acclaim. The 285,000 square foot Arts Center includes two separate halls, both housed within a dramatic overarching shell featuring a glass roof and glass walls fronting a green roof and city skyline. The Arts District Garage is a 1,000 car underground parking structure attached to the new Kauffman Performing Arts Center. The green roof atop both structures is designed as a 4.4 acre high performance open space park with the distinction of being the first permitted green roof stormwater detention facility in the State of Missouri—and the largest.

The drainage system design was comprised of a variety of unique solutions. Three independent drainage systems optimize stormwater management by removing excess water with both active and passive harvesting for landscape use. The growing media was designed to accept and store surface water for use by the landscape, thereby reducing water needs. When the growing media reaches material field capacity, the system releases excess water into the thin composite drainage boards, and using the slope of the deck, gravity fed water finds its way into the roof drains which are routed to an underground cistern for capture. There, it is recycled as irrigation water for the vegetated roof and site landscaping, saving the city $56,000 in water costs per year and supplying over 84 percent of the annual 1.2 million gallon irrigation demand.

The green roof is at grade on the north side and two stories above grade on the south. The six and eight-inch deep growing media supports groundcovers like Switchgrass (the seed of which provides food for songbirds) and Monkeygrass. The green roof also includes trees such as red oaks and Colorado spruce. Over 95 percent of the landscape materials and furnishings were sourced within 20 miles of the site.

The green roof, which is open 24 hours per day to the public, is part of the public tours program which informs thousands each year about the design and history of the facility.




36 Olive Street

Winchester, Mass.

1,300-sf green roof

Award Winner: Recover Green Roofs, LLC (Design, Build, Maintain)

Drainage System: Conservation Technology

Waterproofing Membrane: Carlisle SynTec


A new homeowner of a small ranch house in Winchester, MA faced a common dilemma: they had to replace the existing roofdeck, in this case because of cracking caused by a heavy snow load. While many suburban homeowners would have taken the opportunity to replace the existing roof with another conventional roof, this one took the opportunity to gut the house, vault the ceiling, and reinforce the roof in order to support an extensive green roof. The new roof deck was built and waterproofed with a fully adhered Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) membrane.

The homeowner took these steps for a variety of reasons. Living next to a commuter rail line, the client wanted a green roof for soundproofing—the green roof lowers the sound from the rail by 25 decibels. As well, the green roof lowers summer temperatures by 5 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the moisture level in the system.

The 4 inches deep growing media of expanded shale, sand and compost supports sedum mats on a 4:12 slope. The plants were selected for their ability to survive without irrigation, though supplemental irrigation is used during periods of drought. A maintenance visit is made by Recover Green Roofs in the spring and fall, where weeding and organic fertilization is undertaken.




Skyhigh Residence

Fairfax, Calif.

565-sf green roof

Green Roof Designer, Installer and Maintenance Provider: SYMBIOS Ecotecture (Award Winner)

Structural Engineer: D & D Engineers

Plant Supplier: Emerisa Gardens

Water Retention & Drainage: Colbond

Irrigation: Hunter Industries

Waterproofing Membrane: Neptune Coatings


The Skyhigh Residence is built on a steep hillside that affords the inhabitants beautiful views of the surrounding wild lands and distant mountains. The main living spaces of the house are located on the upper floor of the residence. The second floor balcony and interior dining room are directly adjacent to the green roof. The green roof provides a direct connection to biological life; and the landscape of the roof has a design aesthetic that reflects a naturalistic and artistic expression.

The owners can access the outdoors via a wrap-around balcony that adjoins and overlooks the green roof of the lower levels of the house. In order to maximize the effect of a ‘garden in the sky,’ the green roof was developed to look much like a ground-based landscape.

To accentuate this point, the roof was designed with a dry creek drainage channel with lightweight large stones and boulders. The drainage channel was conceived to be an aesthetic element, but it also doubles as a maintenance path and eliminates the need for perimeter ballast strips. Also, the green roof covers a wing of the residence that contains several bedrooms, so it provides substantial building thermal performance benefits.

The green roof is irrigated using rainwater harvested from the upper metal roofs of the residence. An old pool on the property was converted into a 20,000 gallon cistern that stores water during the winter months and supports the roof garden during the dry summer months.


For more on the award winners, visit: http://www.greenroofs.org/index.php/events/awards-of-excellence/2013-award-winners.

Overlay Init

Your card will be charged: 0