gb&d: You’ve been in the industry a long time. What sparked your interest in green roof design and installation?
George Patterson: We worked on the Chicago City Hall Project from 2000 to 2001, and I was intrigued by the depth of insulation—up to three feet—and the land forms created to make the beautiful garden roof we see today.
gb&d: What do you think the biggest driver has been behind the increasing popularity of green roofs?
Patterson: On the new construction side of green roofs, a lot of what we do is specification or requirement driven, mostly by municipalities. What is not requirement-driven is mostly for aesthetic purposes. I think a lot of design professionals are beginning to realize what the possibilities are, and with some of the technologies available today, installing a green roof is less of a risk than it was 10 years ago. For example, in years past, if a green roof was installed, and then there was a leak, it was a huge problem. Today, we have tools like electronic leak detection that can assist in finding a leak. With leak detection in place, it becomes a lot less of a burden to find a leak and ends up costing the owner less to own the roof.
gb&d: What are the top trends in green roof design right now?
Patterson: Some of the top trends right now are the use of ipe lumber, live walls, and lights in the surface of the pavers. The use of ipe has really gained popularity in the past two years, and we continue to see ipe specified in green roof applications. Live walls and the use of lights that are flush mounted with the surface of the pavers are something that I have seen a little more of lately as well.
gb&d: Can you discuss some of your recent installations and the benefits they have provided?
Patterson: The benefits to the tenants of our recent projects are countless. What once was a typical roof at [Saint Francis Medical Center] in Peoria is now a healing garden with water features, pavers, plants, and trees. The aesthetic benefits and peace of mind to the patients … cannot be measured. At Ogden Elementary School, the vegetables on the roof will provide education to the students and a sense of accomplishment when the vegetables are harvested.
gb&d: What are your predications for the future of the green roof industry?
Patterson: The green roof industry will continue to evolve with many new products being introduced into the industry—ipe pavers, complex irrigation, water features, green walls, fire pits, to name a few. The green portion will get more sophisticated and become more of a living space for tenants, as opposed to just an area to look at through a window.