Green roof on a Hill Country residence. Photo used with permission from Casey Boyter
My preconceptions of green roofs are changing with the times. I used to picture, I don’t know, rustic Swedish cottages when I thought of green roofs—if I thought of them at all. Then it seemed that city governments were leading the way, with gardens on top of city halls and over railyards in Chicago and now Austin. These days I’m hearing about homeowners (see photo above) and downtown condo owners getting in on the act. Will this be a fad or a trend? Time will tell, but as an enthusiastic gardener and someone concerned about global warming, I sure hope for the latter.
Austin’s green roof movement is in its infancy but growing fast, thanks in part to GRoWERS, an association formed a year and a half ago by three women who saw a need for a clearinghouse of information about building green roofs in central Texas’s harsh climate. Their new website explains the genesis of their collaboration:
…Casey Boyter, Dylan Siegler, and Lauren Woodward Stanley (a landscape professional, a sustainable design consultant, and an architect, respectively) met when their independent investigations of green roofs led them each to local roofing consultant and green roof aficionado Brian Gardiner. For years, Brian was Austin’s only vocal green roof advocate and de facto information clearinghouse; all green roof seekers eventually found him. The three soon found they shared a desire to help get a meaningful local conversation about the technology, and some real projects, underway. Lauren had spearheaded a green roof effort in her former home of Seattle, and Casey had been hunting down green roof experts and picking their brains nationwide for months. Dylan’s 2006 master’s thesis for the UT Sustainable Design program laid out some working recommendations for advancing green roofs in the Austin area. With those ideas and experiences as a rough guide, GRoWERS was born.
Membership in GRoWERS is open to anyone “[f]rom home gardeners to large-scale developers, landscape contractors to commercial roofing consultants, students to city officials.” It’s all about sharing knowledge in order to advance the goal of building more green roofs in Austin.
Last May I toured this green roof on top of the Starbucks building in Austin’s Circle C neighborhood. Trays of small, heat-loving ornamental grasses and other perennials cover the roof under a sunny, open sky. Planted entirely with native plants and viewable from a second-story sitting area inside the Starbucks, it not only provides a pretty view and habitat for winged visitors, but it helps to keep the inside of the building cooler and mitigate the heat-island effect of acres of asphalt parking lots and roofs.
In other words, green roofs are hot because they help cool.
If you’re interested in building a green roof in the Austin area or even just curious about them, you might want to join GRoWERS. They make it easy and fun. There’s a Yahoo! group for sharing info, and Boyter, Siegler, and Stanley are hosting a happy hour on Friday, February 8, to celebrate the launch of their website. Here are the details:
Happy hour starts at 6pm, and we’ll sit down to talk green roofs at 6:30pm sharp. Socializing to continue post-discussion. Location: Stanley Architects and Artisans at 1901 E M Franklin Ave.
See? It’s not just garden bloggers who like to socialize in Austin. GRoWERS, if I don’t make it to your happy hour, I’ll toast right now to a greener skyline in Austin. Keep up the good work!
All material Â© 2006-2008 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.