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Canada's Largest Green Roof
Julia Levitt, 8 Apr 09
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You know an innovation has hit its stride when it becomes scalable. When we first started writing about green roofs, they were typically boutique projects -- and convincing city governments and developers to invest in their large scale production seemed like a major challenge. But decision-makers have gotten the message, and green roof design has risen to the occasion. Case in point: the new Vancouver Convention Centre, a major civic project which officially opened this past weekend, boasts the largest non-industrial roof in North America.

The six-acre rooftop garden is crafted as a habitat for the 400,000 native plants and grasses growing there, as well as for birds and bugs (it houses hives for 60,000 bees).

The building, designed by Seattle-based LMN Architects, in collaboration with Vancouver firms MCM and DA, is expected to achieve LEED Gold designation and incorporates significant green building technologies. Among them: natural daylighting, seawater heating and cooling, natural ventilation, and on-site blackwater treatment and desalinization systems that will reduce potable water use by as much as 60-70 percent (compared to similar-sized convention centers).

Another admirable detail: the center was designed to link visually and literally to the existing waterfront, providing usable public space instead of just swallowing it up. It adds 130,000 square feet of new waterfront promenade, and 120,000 square feet of new public plazas that flow (via the Seaside Greenway) into Stanley Park, Vancouver's well-used waterfront gem.

The convention industry is notorious for waste and excess, and for intrusion into the surrounding urban community. With its thoughtful design, the Vancouver Convention Centre (which will be used as the broadcast media center for the 2010 Olympics) sets a precedent for re-imagining convention culture as one that uses land and resources responsibly, and gives back to the immediate community -- in this case, in the form of attractive public outdoor space, and the stormwater management and temperature control power of its massive rooftop garden.

(Thanks to Cary for the tip!)

Image credit: LMN Architects

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Way to go Vancouver.

Posted by: Jose on 9 Apr 09

It is so wonderful that this project is getting so much positive press! It is a work of art, and a gift to Mother Nature! I hope we see many many more green roofs in the years to come! I am betting on it!
Nana- Global Plastic Sheeting.

Posted by: Global Plastic Sheeting on 9 Apr 09

Calling it a non-industrial roof is probably a misnomer, considering the equal acreage of waterproof underlays made from fossil reserves mined far away. Still, a big green roof is a sumptuous lively place in a city of inhospitable surfaces. It's just too bad they put all the large heat-losing glass windows of this new building on the cold north side where the view is, so passive solar gain in winter is nearly impossible.

Posted by: Antediluvian on 12 Apr 09

Readers should know that this green roof is not accessible to the public. While that was the plan originally, due to security concerns, this idea was shelved.

Posted by: Susan on 14 Apr 09

I love this! conventions are so wasteful, so it is great to see a concept that adds to the community.

Posted by: carpet protection on 8 Nov 09

It's a shame that one can't access these beautiful roofs, but at least they make for a good view from the neighboring buildings? I am glad to see that a Convention Center is attempting to go green, but I question how the heating/cooling of all of that interior space (incredibly high ceilings in incredibly expansive rooms) can really be that efficient. I hate to think what it takes (energy/$) to keep the interior temperatures stable.

Posted by: Peter on 10 Apr 10

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