We sat down with Green Roofs for Healthy Cities founder to talk about how the industry has changed in the past decade and why everyone should go to CitiesAlive.

gb&d: What is the importance of conferences, expos, and other annual events in the green roofs industry?

Each year Green Roofs for Healthy Cities brings together leading scientists, policy makers, designers, and manufacturers to network, develop new business, and learn the latest in innovative design, science, and policy. The multidisciplinary nature makes it a special opportunity to learn from professionals you might not otherwise meet. CitiesAlive is entering its tenth year right back where we started, in Chicago, the leading green roof city in North America.

gb&d: What are the benefits of attending this year’s CitiesAlive conference in Chicago?

The programming for this year will focus on performance: project performance, research performance, and policy performance. We are highlighting a number of older green roof projects, such as the Chicago City Hall, and re-examining design intent and how these systems have evolved and performed over the last decade. On the policy front, we have invited representatives from the leading policy jurisdictions to share details of the lessons learned.

gb&d: What is most exciting every year at the conference?

The future orientation is what is most exciting this year. In 2012, we surpassed more than 500 accredited Green Roof Professionals, and the industry had 115-percent growth in 2011. We will be reviewing and discussing the Living Architecture Performance Tool, an initiative we are developing to fully understand and communicate the multiple benefits of green roofs and walls in a standardized, measurable way.

gb&d: What’s going on in the industry right now?

There is emerging scientific research about the performance of green roofs and walls that is very exciting in the fields of integrated water management, biodiversity, food production, and thermal benefits. We will be launching a professional-development course, which explores the design and technical opportunities to move towards the aggressive design goal of net-zero water.

gb&d: What can you tell us about your involvement with the Urban Agriculture Summit in Toronto in August?

We have been seeing more projects—green roofs and walls—that incorporate food production as a design objective, and in some cases, the primary objective. We developed a Rooftop Food Production course that we launched in Vancouver at CitiesAlive in 2010 and have updated. Cities are passing laws to support urban agriculture projects, and the conference in Toronto this summer, the Urban Ag Summit, brought all of this together to advance food production in our cities.


Read our feature on Green Roofs for Healthy Cities here.