The Green Roof

Hi, I have recently visited the Faroe Islands, you know, which are famous for the festival of hunting whales and dolphins. When I was there, I toured the only island that I had not seen yet: the island Koltur. This island is only accessible with helicopter and the landscape is completely sublime, I have spoken with the only family residing there for if I decide to build on its shores, I like that the access is only by air!!

My cousin was started me in the helicopter flight, he is aeronautical engineer; I know that you will say that you have not seen him in magazines but… he does not like the press! (he does not seem of the family) Anyway, as I said, he explained the real story of how Juan de la Cierva y Peñafiel invented the autogyro, a forerunner of the helicopter, I, Rodolfo, I looked absorbed the «small» city of Vancouver when I discovered a unique cover and… How I describe it? Green! Very green!


Ninth Stop: Convention Center of Vancouver

In fact, from the air it didn’t look exactly a cover, it looked a garden, a green and beautiful garden (a little crazy, true). Already, when i arrived to the city, I did was to inform me about all the details of the building. It turned out that the creators were the architecture firm LMN and that the final cost of the construction were 804 million dollars (645 million euros… not bad eh?). But… what could incite an expenditure of this caliber? A great event, of course, and this was the choice of the city of Vancouver in 2003 as a venue for the Olympic and Paralympic Games for the year 2010.

When I spoke with some architects, they released me a litany about the seamless integration of this Convention Center of Vancouver with the environment and the city creating a seamless transition between the urban fabric, the port, the recreational activities and the nature (is that possible?). I do not doubt that they say the true, but I’ll take the feeling of serenity and dynamism that generates this building inside and outside of his walls.

The building has 1.1 million square meters (almost nothing), and next to him exists parks of trails, roads for cyclists, open spaces and squares, parkings, a viaduct of six lanes for vehicles and two pedestrian walkways that connect it with the Convention Center original and a new hotel. But apart from «our garden roof» the building has several improvements that have made that it achieved the LEED Platinum of Canada and other ten Awards and national and International recognitions.


To begin with, the building is «hanging» over the water from 40 to 99% of the surface, depending on the tides, so if they formed an underwater habitat using concrete in the form of bleachers, in other words they have created an artificial reef under of the construction! With only $ 8.2 million… Incredible. To continue, a system of treatment of sewage and desalination supplies the toilets, the fountains outdoor and, of course, «our green roof», in short: everything that does not require drinking water. Finally, they utilizes a heat pump of sea water to cool or heat the building, this will cover most of the needs of heating and cooling that are capable of demanding users.

The Green roof

“Our green roof” has 6 acres (24,281 square meters) and it is not accessible for the pedestrians, although I would be lying if I tell you that I could not visit the roof… The roof reduces the gain of heat in summer up to 95% and the loss of heat in winter by 26%, and also retains rainwater through a system of channels of edges at an angle that zigzags; this creates greater opportunities for the absorption of rainwater. It has 400,000 native plants, this allows that they nest many species of birds and is home to a colony of 60,000 bees (do not touch). I was amazed to see what ready they were to use the natural cycle of herbs to combine its colors, giving a triangular composition surprising and interesting.


When we use the garden roof we improve the thermal insulation, we expel less CO2 into the atmosphere, we reduce the negative effect that can cause the strong rainfall on our roof, we insulate acoustically much better than with any other type of cover, we reduce the consumption of air conditioning and heating, and also we are an active part of the environment generating ourselves positive moods.

As unique disadvantages we can be found two: the overweight of the building, especially in the days of rain in which the substrate absorbs water and increases its weight significantly, and the demand these surfaces of constant and effective maintenance, the plants, as we said, have a cycle of concrete life.

However, although the Convention Centre of Vancouver is a spectacular building, the garden roof reach its better and greater performance in the single family dwellings (of one or two plants) because its positive effects have an impact on a higher percentage in the construction and the comfort that generate.

So you do not have any excuse not to include a garden roof in your next construction, I, for my part, I see essential. Bye bye.

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