June 15, 2012
By Arthur Skolnik

This is the busiest time of year for landscape contractors. Many of us don’t work from December to March, so that means we have to work 30 per cent more days for eight months, compared to everyone else who works 12 months. Hummm, that’s one-and-one-third days per everyone else’s normal day.

How do we do it? It’s tough, but somehow the season unfolds with its daily challenges and triumphs and in the end, we rest. And during the busiest time of year, when we can find moments of respite, we grab them.

That brings me to the current Contractors’ Newsletter. Janet Ennamorato sits on the Landscape Contractors Sector Group, and is a member of the Landscape Designers Group and the Environmental Stewardship Committee. She wrote an article recently about her experiences at a green roof conference which is featured below.

Thank you Janet. I can rest. Briefly.

If any contractor, or LO member has an article they’ve written, or an idea for an article they’d like to have me cover, send me an email to arthur@shiui.ca.
By Janet Ennamorato

At the beginning of 2011, I came across an organization called Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC). Intrigued, I attended one of the information and networking sessions. I became quite interested in the group’s message to the point that I registered for the professional training classes with the objective of becoming a Green Roof Professional (GRP).

Through the spring and summer of 2011, I attended additional seminars, workshops and webinars in order to further my knowledge and understanding of the green roof and wall industry.  

The most valuable experience has been my participation in the Cities Alive Conference. This 9th Annual Green Roof and Wall Conference took place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pa. Architects, landscape designers, landscape contractors, research scientists, academics, interiorscapers, building owners and managers gathered for workshops, classes, networking, tours and the trade show.

Prior to the start of the conference, attendees had the opportunity to take part in tours around the city. I visited the City Centre, which included the sculpture garden at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the PECO Main Office Green Roof, the Sister Cities Visitors’ Center and the Race St. Pier. It was inspiring and educational.

The conference began on the Thursday and keynote speakers were greeted by over 680 attendees.

Thursday was the first day of full information sessions. This was broken down into four concurrent sessions, featuring expert speakers on policy, design and research topics. At the same time, panel discussions took place with experts in the field on emerging issues and opportunities.

It was difficult to select which lecture to attend, and only with close study of the descriptive introductions was I able to make my choice. Fortunately, an audio recording of all the sessions was made available through the Living Architecture Academy.

Trade show

The trade show opened at noon with all the key players in the green roof and wall industry there with product and service information. Among those in attendance were Tremco, American Hydrotech, Sika Sarnafil, Greenscreen, Nedlaw, Skyscapes, Ecowalls, Roofmeadow, Moerings Sempergreen and Curv-Rite.

The CitiesAlive 2011 conference was an exceptionally well-planned and organized event that greatly encouraged and motivated the delegates. The mission of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities came through loud and clear in this conference. The mission is to increase the awareness of the economic, social and environmental benefits of green roofs and green walls through education, advocacy, professional development and celebrations of excellence.  

Toronto green roof benefits

GRHC has been closely involved with the recent decision made by the City of Toronto to implement its green roof bylaw, which has already resulted in 1.2 million square feet of new green space planned on new commercial, institutional, and multi-unit residential developments across the city. The resulting public and private green roof benefits will include the following:
  • More than 125 full-time jobs related to manufacture, design, installation and maintenance.
  • Reduction of more than 435,000 cubic feet (nearly 50 Olympic-size swimming pools) of storm water each year that pollutes our rivers, lakes and beaches.
  • Tangible reduction of the urban heat island effect, the artificial overheating of the city.
  • Annual energy savings of over 1.5 million KWH for building owners.
  • Improved air quality.
  • Extension of the waterproofing life expectancy which saves building owners money and reduces landfill waste.
  • Aesthetic improvements and new recreational opportunities on accessible green roofs.
  • Preservation of biodiversity, particularly birds, bees and other beneficial insects and plants.
  • New opportunities for urban agriculture.
Green Roofs for Healthy Cities is a membership-based industry association. Its mission is to develop the green roof and wall industry in North America. Green Roofs for Healthy Cities recently launched the Living Architecture Academy, an online learning centre which contains conference proceedings, technical papers, presentations synched to audio and professional training courses.

My overwhelming impression of CitiesAlive 2011 was the great sense of sharing of massive amounts of in-depth information. It was a very welcome and refreshing sight to see extremely knowledgeable people, in a wide range of disciplines, all involved in open discussion. It is through conferences like this that everyone has an opportunity to learn and grow and become better as individuals and as an industry.

CitiesAlive 2012 is being held in Chicago in October.  Hope to see you there. To find out more about the organization, go to www.greenroofs.org.