Bel Air, Maryland Welcomes 1st Green Roof

May 10, 2011—–BEL AIR, MARYLAND – On Monday May 9th 2011, Bel Air welcomed its first green roof. Green roofs can present many benefits to the community in terms of offering open space, cleaner air, habitat, and most importantly storm water management. The green roof is done by local green roof design firm Green Roof Service. “Living in Bel Air we thought it a shame that with all the green roofs we have done worldwide that there were none in Bel Air,” Jorg Breuning owner of Green Roof Service LLC. Jorg Breuning started his career in green roofs at the start of the green roof revolution in German over 30 years ago and brought modern green roof technology to the US in 1999. As the first green roof expert in the US he advised the installation of the Chicago City Hall green roof in 1999 and since has educated architects, suppliers, and nurseries across the country and even in Harford county.

To remedy the lack of green roof situation, Green Roof Service installed and fully funded a green roof on the sloped front portion of their office building. Cost wasn’t a concern for this project because the firm believes so strongly in what they do that to lead through example it was well worth it despite its location being on a rental property. “The original plan was to build a carport to put the green roof on, but permitting issues arose, so for now this will be our gift to Bel Air as an important step towards reaching its future sustainability goals,” Breuning. Green Roof Service would like to encourage the growth of green roofs in Bel Air and is looking to donate a similar green roof to a volunteer building or organization. The green roof features a mix of succulent plants known as sedums and some herbs. The green roof is on the second floor of the office building at 210 North Hickory Avenue and is open to the public during normal business hours.

And Have You Seen a Green Wall Lately?

Green Wall in Lake Charles, Louisiana 11-17-10

Here at we not only love our rooftop gardens and green roofs, but we love those green walls. I know that many walls and entire buildings are turning green lately, so as I travel I am going to start snapping these beauties as well. Have you seen a green wall or building lately? If so, send me pictures and I am so very happy to share them here. Also, if you have a rooftop garden or green wall, remember to add it to the database project.

Add Your Project Online –
Click here to add your rooftop garden!

Add Your Project on Downloadable .pdf form –
Click here (right mouse) to download.

Moss Makes Sense for Rooftop Gardens

In April we posted a press release for our friends at Moss Acres announcing the installation of the first residential moss roof project. Click here for the press release.

Since moss has so many advantages, it is being considered as a great solution to a shaded roof. Moss is lightweight, drought tolerant and spreads quickly. We asked Moss Acres to give us photos of the first residential project and/or any updates on the April installation as we are eager to learn from this project and share the outcomes.

According to Nancy Church at Moss Acres, all is going well. The team at Moss Acres will keep us up to date as the moss gets acclimated. We received photos from the Moss Acres team depicting the actual install, along with progress photos of the growing moss. Since pictures are worth a 1,000 words, please review and enjoy the process and team work here! Click here to view the .pdf of the “Sample Moss Green Roof Specifications.” If you are contemplating a moss roof project, please contact Nancy Church at Moss Acres (, for more information.

To connect directly to the Moss Acres progress photos, visit the Moss Acres Picasa album, entitled: Moss Green Roof Installation – Click here.

Roof Gardens Come in All Sizes, Shapes and Styles

There are tiny roof gardens and large expansive roof gardens. There are residential roof gardens and public roof gardens. Yes, there are retail roof gardens and industrial roof gardens as well. A roof garden or green roof, (tomato, tomatoe, potato, potatoe), it is still a planted green roof, and they are everywhere.

The problem that exists is that those who plant, install and manage those green rooftops are not being counted or exposed. They are up high, in most cases and out of the public’s eye, unless you are a taller neighbor. To my surprise, even driving through small town America I chanced upon a wonderful sight. It was one of the smaller roof gardens, I have seen to date. It is a small shed-like building located at Schultz Nursery and Garden Center in Danville, Illinois.

Green Roof Project at Schultz Nursery and Garden Center, Danville, IL

World's Smallest Public Rooftop Garden- Schultz Nursery and Garden Center, Danville, IL

Danville is known for many things, like Dick and Jerry Van Dyke, Gene Hackman and even some famous sports figures. But is Danville home to the world’s smallest, public, rooftop garden? That is what we want to know. It may be at this stage of the game. Hopefully Schultz will find out about our database and add their example to the list. It counts to me and it is absolutely worthy of being on the list.

As far as the largest, I have to give credit to Andrea Martinello of, N.A.T.S. Nursery Ltd. “Specialized Growers and Wholesalers” who informed me that her firm grew the plugs for the (best of my knowledge) 6 acre green roof on the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Vancouver Convention Center 6 acre roof.

Vancouver Convention Center 6 acre roof.

So there is a tiny public roof in Danville, Illinois, which is one of the smallest, along with one of our favorite, private and smallest roof gardens, even smaller than my Chicago roof garden of 400 feet and as featured on the blog 66squarefeet a 66 square foot version and there is the largest, Vancouver Convention Center at 6 acres. There is no excuse why you cannot have one now!

Just remember, a rooftop garden can not only range in size, but also in type and access. Whether public or private, commercial or residential, we are adding one rooftop garden at a time here at Share this with a roof gardener you know and get them to put their roof on our database. (

There is no reason why they shouldn’t.

Press Release for Moss Acres

Invitation to MOSS Green Roof Installation, New Hope, PA – Sunday, April 11, 2010

First US residential installation of Moss Green Roof

(Philadelphia) – Moss Acres announces the first full-scale, residential installation of a green roof using only moss as the vegetation. On Sunday, April 11, Moss Acres, with direction and installation help from Charlie Miller of Roofscapes, Inc., in Philadelphia, will install a residential green roof at the home of moss visionary and local moss guru, Dave Benner, in New Hope, PA. Benner’s roof will now complement his garden, which is covered only in moss and other shade-loving plants.

Many consider moss the “original” green roof plant for its tendency to grow on shingles in shady areas. This installation, however, will utilize and demonstrate the professional approach to building a green roof, including the use of a waterproofing membrane, a moisture-retention layer, growing medium, and moss as the vegetation. Moss is an especially desirable plant component and has many advantages for green roofs:

-Is lightweight
-Retains 10 times its weight in water
-Thrives in shade produced by building shadows
-Is drought tolerant once established
-Grows rapidly — 3 to 6 months for full coverage

Moss Acres Springhouse Green Roof

Spring House Green Roof at Moss Acres location - Pre-ground Hypnum moss fragments knitting together and into engineered roofing aggregate just two months after “inoculation”.

And, since moss has no roots, constructing a green roof using moss also requires less growing medium.

Media is invited to the event. Please RSVP to Nancy Church at, or 484-580-9890, and include your name, address, title, and publication name.

Location: 6974 Upper York Road, New Hope, PA 18938
Date: Sunday, April 11, 2010
Time: 1:00 pm ET

Click here for Press Release – Moss Green Roof Installation

Green Wall Technology

Green Wall Technology

How Do You Find Rooftop Gardens or Green Roofs?

When the plan was conceived to create an online rooftop garden database there was a flaw in the plan. To me it would be a no-brainer. Ask folks to stand up and be counted. Wrong.

I listed my garden, which I am very proud of. You know: ‘lead by example’.

I have emailed people.

I have asked people.

I have visited people.

I have searched Google.

I started a LinkedIn group called Rooftop Gardening Group. Nothing.

Then one day, like a slot machine ringing a winner, they found us! Here are some of the early adopters who have contributed to our website!

- Thanks to Marguerite Wells of Mother Plants, a roof garden plant supplier, who has listed some spectacular roof projects to date. The photography of their projects is absolutely outstanding as well. Again, thanks Marguerite!! We love your work. -If I were an architect I would list the various projects I have designed. Someone did just that.

-Thanks to GS Lee and KNTA Architects who have listed the Singapore Management University City Campus roof garden. We were so very proud when Geok-ser Lee reached out to us. He has become a great internet friend as well! Thanks Geok.

-If I were an organization looking to promote sustainability, I would surely want to showcase my project! Guess what, ASHRAE did! That was a wonderful milestone to our effort to educate. ASHRAE is a beacon of light and information for so many of us. It is so very good to know that this organization stepped up to the plate and is showcasing their green roof! Thanks to Mike Vaughn at ASHRAE for taking his time to post this garden. I would bet Mike is a great person to network with about his project as well! Thanks so much to Mike, for helping the cause.

-A huge thanks to Mack Barnhardt of Air Filtration Systems, Corp who was an outstanding expert in the field of ventilation and odors. Mack contributed his time and brilliance to an article titled, Rooftop Gardens: Smell the Roses Not the Odors!, and of course for linking his website to Mack has really become a great resource for our entire industry! If you have any building odor issue of any kind, call Mack!!

-David Plechner, Sales Manager at C.M. Jones Incorporated (landscape design, build and maintenance firm),  has truly been one of my earliest green roof professional supporters in so many ways. David is a wealth of information on the infrastructure side of the business. There is probably no roof garden question he cannot answer or he will get you the answer. I call David “my go to roof guy”. If you want professional and practical insight, contact David! David was the kindest man to give me permission to post his excellent roof garden progress photos on our Projects page. The photos and the unfolding of the story in pictures, were spot on! I wish I could find more folks like David out there with great stories to tell in pictures.  As Property and Facility Managers, we love pictures and drawings as we are very visual people and C.M. Jones got the job done. Thanks to C.M. Jones.

I am still trying to unlock the secret of how to really find rooftop gardens and their founders. I have not yet found the formula or the technique. No matter what, I still believe it is worthwhile to continue and forge ahead. There are many building owners, property managers, facility managers and tenants with valuable roof space that is simply under utilized. We want to lead them to the resource and expose them to the possibility. That is the purpose of examples.

If we can get the small everyday roof gardens, along with the public roof gardens and green walls listed on the database, I think it would show those who are hesitant to pursue it, that it can be done. We may do it one roof at a time, but we will do it and appreciate every single one of them.

Do you know of any roof gardens, landscape architects, plant suppliers or municipalities encouraging roof gardens? If so, please tell me about them or send those gardeners here to add their project to our database. Remember, it just takes one roof at a time to get the job done.

Rooftop Gardens: Smell the Roses NOT the Odors!

Every single day I learn something new and different about the overall issues and concepts to consider when planning any form of garden roof. Whether it be a green roof or a rooftop garden for heavy pedestrian use. Today I was exposed to an aspect of the project that warrants consideration and planning. It is all about odors and what is a natural part of a traditional rooftop: vents and stacks. Fortunately for me, I was able to find a knowledgeable professional who was willing to be interviewed on this very subject.

Q. Mr. Barnhardt, the obvious reasons why people use vent filters is to remove sewer or grease odors. In our case we are talking about roof top gardens and people would like to smell a rose than smell sewer gas. Can you tell us why the sewer pipes are there on the roof for those who don’t know why?

A. First, please call me Mack. Every roof that at least has a restroom Linda has sewer pipe(s) on the roof and sometimes a grease vent pipe if a restaurant is in the building. Vent pipes are a direct link or pipe to the underground sewer system. They are used to allow DFU (Drain Fixture Units) like sinks, toilets & tubs to drain faster and to stop clogging in the pipes from backups. A 4” pipe can have up to 500 DFU’s on it which means it moves a lot of water and waste. In this case our small scrubber will not work very well and we need to go to a larger scrubber. At the same time a 4” vent could only have a few DFU’s and our smallest scrubber would be acceptable for this application. We see engineers capping vents all the time to stop the odors but this only causes problems in the building by building up positive pressure that puts sewer odors in the building or negative pressure which causes pipes to back up or not drain properly.

Q. Mack, so how do we know how many DFU a vent pipe has?

A. You can check your building plans Linda or you can just plan for the worse case application which is the best thing to do in my opinion. So if you do have a 4” vent pipe then just use the correct scrubber for this application. If all you need is a scrubber with a vacuum breaker then use it. We also have building codes that need to be considered as well. While most districts don’t allow our type of filtration in this application, using scrubbers on vents, many let us install them because businesses are losing customers. As long as we have a balance between the DFU & the correct scrubber the vent pipe system will perform as designed. You can always contact your plumber or a person like me to help you get the correct scrubber.

Vent Scrubber with cage to prevent damage.

Vent scrubber with protective cage.

Q. Why do you call your vent filters scrubbers Mack?

A. I call them scrubbers because they are not filters although some folks will call them filters. A scrubber is defined as scrubbing the air with activated media without adding unnecessary pressure during its service life; the scrubber focus is not removing particles. A filter focus is to capture particles and this will add pressure during its service life. I agree it is a fine line but it is one that we use to help define what we are trying to accomplish.

Q. Can you explain Mack why one building will have odor problems with vents on the roof while another building next door will not?

A. Some buildings have no issues with odors from vents while a building next door may have light to very bad odor problems is caused by pressure. All are connected to the same sewer (if on the city sewer system) and when the main sewer line goes into positive pressure even for a minute odor is released through the manhole covers and sewer vent pipes. Once the system goes negative the odors are not released. Another reason for odors is when the vent pies hold waste in a horizontal line and it sags or bends. This buildup will hold onto odors and release them on the roof vents. I have even seen a large building like a casino roof have odors on one side of the building and the other has zero odor problems. If there is no positive pressure there is simply no odor.

Q. You mentioned Mack about your unique media, can you explain this a bit more for us?

A. When we used “Activated Alumina Engineered Media” that is designed for sewer gases we increase the removal capacity per pound and lower disposal of media waste that is put into landfills. This capacity we have on Hydrogen Sulfide (H2s), as high as 49% per pound, outlast and out performs activated carbon which is as low as 4% per pound of Hydrogen Sulfide (H2s). We use exclusively Purafil ESD Engineered Dry Media because it has the highest removal of H2s and since H2s is neutralized when used media is thrown away there is no H2s being added to the landfills. This is why I call Purafil media a Green Media since it is safe for the environment. Purafil media is also UL-900 tested so it will not contribute to a building fire. Carbon is not UL tested and will burn at a very low temperature. If you are using carbon in an area like Las Vegas where roofs can get very hot using carbon media is like installing match sticks on your roof. Some say this is extreme reasoning but we do have a good reason for concern. It is a chance that some building owners will take and others do not.

Q. What about cost?

A. We offer the solution to control or stop odors using a refillable housing that allows airflow to keep normal sewer vent pipe operation. The replacement media comes in a pre-packaged bag and all you need to do is dump out the old and pour in the new. Our smallest scrubbers cost $24 and I have seen them last up to 2 years but 6 to 8 months is about the average service life.

Photo of PVC Vent Scrubber

PVC vent scrubber.

Q. What is the Bottom Line?

A. Bottom line Linda is controlling odor and allowing the sewer vent pipe system to operate as normal as possible. If you are having odors or having drain problems then something is wrong. You should be able to not smell odors when you are on your Roof Top Garden. Grant it we have came across a couple of systems where we had to custom make a scrubber but we have been 100% successful in removing the odors. One point of caution I like to tell everyone is, to use any type of scrubber or filter on vents require that your vent pipe system has to be 100% sealed! Any leak no matter how small will cause odors to leak into the building. These holes or micro cracks in the vent pipe are required to be fixed even if you choose not to use filtration on the roof. You can check out my web page for scrubbers URL:, we have some photos of installed odor control scrubbers from our very small ones we sell for $166 to very large ones going for $20,000 or more.

Thanks to Mack Barnhardt from Air Filtration Systems, Corp. in Las Vegas, Nevada for his time in answering all of my questions and hopefully your questions too. I try to think of questions that we all have about our buildings. Look for Mack’s link on our Resources page as well. It is comforting to know that there is such technology available to make our rooftop gardens enjoyable and pleasant.

Urban Reforestation – New Term? or is it just me?

New term?

New term?

I feel like I try so hard to keep up on reading and researching everything possible about urban gardening and rooftop gardens and green roofs, green walls, and vertical gardens, etc. Today, I was sent a tweet by THKTNK aka It was about a group called Urban Reforestation in Melbourne, Australia. That was a first for me. What about you? It is a group of folks trying to make a difference in Melbourne by bringing farming or what we call, greening, to their city.

This is their mission: Urban Reforestation is a creative global campaign aiming to inspire urban farming for sustainable lifestyles and food security. Starting in metropolitan Melbourne. From the photographs, it appears to be on a rooftop. So we have another great catch phrase to be aware of. I like it, but when I think of reforestation, I think of big trees, but it still works for me. I may be the clueless one, but I never heard of that term so I thought I would share it.

The group is too busy gardening to finish their website, but they do have one and I think it will be great. They also have a Facebook site as well. Here is how you can find them. We can thank my Twitter friend for the plug.

Facebook Group –

Website –

Thanks for reading,


Let’s Build an FAQ – Rooftop Garden, Green Roof, Green Wall

It amazes me the number of questions I hear about the misunderstood subject of rooftop gardens, or green roofs, or green walls. People are intrigued as to how they really work. Those in the building industry are even stumped on this subject. Quite frankly it is truly misunderstood and that is the entire purpose of this website and blog. [Read more...]

Think Green. Think Moss.

Although most of us do not think of moss when we think of traditional roof garden plants, maybe you should if you have the right conditions.  Every day someone sends me an email or reaches out to me about their project and I learn something new.
Today my eyes were opened by Heidi Masucci, Operations Manager at Moss Acres.  Moss Acres is experimenting with moss and rooftop applications.  It is proving to be a worthwhile experiment so far.  Of course, the use of moss is for mostly shady locations. The good news is for buildings that live in the shade of other buildings.  Also, what I was surprised about was the fact that once established it is drought tolerant. [Read more...]