conference call

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While most people reminisce about last week’s turkey dinner I’m still trying to catch my breath from November’s whirlwind of conferences.  Back-to-back events in Boston and Philly left me (and many other designers) invigorated yet exhausted!  Boston welcomed the country’s largest gathering of landscape architects for the annual ASLA Meeting and Expo.  Four days of tours, educational sessions, panel discussions, and schmoozing attracted the industry’s leading talent and hoards of up-and-comers.

Whole Foods, Lynnfield, MA || photo by Lauren Mandel

One of the most popular topics at this year’s conference was green roofs.  Case studies and how to talks sprinkled the agenda, yet only one session dove into the ins and outs of rooftop food production.  My colleague Brendan Shea, co-founder of REcover Green Roofs, and I were delighted to present “Rooftop Agriculture: the New Green Roof Frontier” from a joint design/build/maintain perspective.  Our attendees convened from Germany, Guatemala, and across the US to hear about the nuts and bolts of this burgeoning field from a green roof designer (yours truly) and installer (Brendan).  My company, Roofmeadow, designed a handful of agriculturally-oriented green roofs over the years and is currently working with two clients to design large rooftop farms in Philly and Brooklyn.  REcover Green Roofs boasts an impressive portfolio of built rooftop farms in the Boston Metro area, and the company happens to be a Roofmeadow-Certified Contractor.  What a team!

Greenbuild 2013 ||  photo by Molly Devinney

After flying back home to Philly I groggily walked from my house to the city’s convention center for Greenbuild 2013.  This international conference and expo, hosted by the US Green Building Council, is reportedly the world’s largest gathering dedicated to sustainable building.  While I did not attend any educational sessions nor Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s keynote address, Roofmeadow hosted a booth on the expo floor that attracted an international crowd of designers, reporters, sustainability consultants, and vendors.

Our most welcomed guest was a group of engineering students from South Philadelphia High School.  These juniors and seniors will play a key role in the future of their school as they work with Roofmeadow engineers next week to evaluate the stormwater performance of their 5.5 acre urban campus.  This evaluation feeds into a larger project in which Roofmeadow, together with the school and local neighborhood association, are developing a campus-wide ‘Greening’ Master Plan that includes a 0.5 acre rooftop farm.

Now as I slip back into my normal routine and prepare for 2014, I’m reminded of all the incredible people I met this year both during my travels and right here at home.  Keep the passion burning, friends, and together we’ll kick-start this rooftop agriculture revolution!

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