Archive for the ‘Jobsite Photos’ Category

Philadelphia’s first elevated park, Cira Green on top of Cira Centre South in University City, is now open! The 1.25 acre park, which sits 95 feet above street level, overlooks Center City, University City and the Schuylkill River, and has a unique water storage system beneath the pavers on the roof, which can route storm water to the green roof areas. It’s sure to be a popular and dynamic green space in the city!

We are thrilled to have a part in creating this exciting urban space in Philadelphia. Cira Green consists of different green roof areas, including large lawn areas and planters with trees and colorful perennials – our rooflite® growing media, engineered specifically for the different types of green roofs included in this project, was used to build this unique urban park.

Because of the location of this project, logistics were a particular challenge. We had to solve a number of issues in order to deliver our media to the project:

  • Requirement of 2000 cubic yards of green roof media
  • No staging area to store the material near the construction site
  • Delivery had to occur on a road underneath the construction project with limited space
  • Because of those space limitations, media delivery had to be just in time for installation
  • Delivery had to happen in January in cold temperatures with a blower truck installation

So how did we get over these logistical challenges? As a start, we changed the type of truck we delivered our material in to accommodate the space limitations, and we developed a schedule to deliver the media right when it was needed instead of ahead of time, which is our normal process.

The larger issue was the January timeframe for delivery. Because of cold temperatures and the moisture contained within green roof media, winter can be a tricky time to install media. Fortunately, we are set up with the infrastructure to provide media at any time of the year, even if in cold weather. Our local blender has four acres of concrete, dry storage buildings where dry material can be stockpiled. This means that we can provide our green roof media, capable of being blown onto a rooftop, even in the coldest of months, for projects like CIRA Green.

It’s gratifying to see our hard work pay off with the opening of Cira Green. And you know what? The weather in Philadelphia is so mild this December that it’s a perfect time to check out this exciting new green spot in Philadelphia!

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Just a few short weeks to the Vernal Equinox – and spring will be here!  February is coming to a close, and even Punxsatawny Phil agrees it will be an early spring.  We’ve got a lot of exciting green roof projects on deck for this spring, and eagerly anticipate gearing up for a busy season.

But before we move on, lets look back at a few press highlights from over the winter:

Music City Center Green Roof - rooflite

Music City Center Green Roof – rooflite

The cover story in the January issue of Roofing Contractor magazine features the amazing Nashville Music City Center. Article features some of the design challenges of the roofing system, without diving too deep into the vegetated assembly details. Nice press!

Another Nashville Star Is Born

One of the most innovative — and largest — sustainable roofing projects currently under construction is the Music City Center, a massive, 1.2 million-square-foot conference and convention center taking shape in the heart of…


Caurtel de Ballaja Green Roof - rooflite

Caurtel de Ballaja Green Roof – rooflite profiles the stunning Cuartel de Ballajá green roof retrofit as their “Project of the Week” for the 4th week in January 2013. With projects from California to Connecticut and Seattle to San Juan; its clear that rooflite is North America’s leading green roof growth media!

Project of the Week: Cuartel de Ballajá (Ballajá Infantry Barracks)

El Cuartel de Ballaja (The Ballaja Infantry Barracks Building) was constructed by the Spanish army between 1854 and 1864. The structure is one of the most impressive constructed by Spain in the New World and it stands as the last example of monumental military architecture by the Spanish Monarchy in the Americas.


Texas A&M - Southwestern Green Roof Research

Texas A&M – Southwestern Green Roof Research

We supply award winning projects, as well as supporting academic research throughout the country. Check out this piece about the great work from Dr. Dvorak and his team at Texas A&M’s Langford Architecture Center.

Rooftop recharge

Students increasingly hear more and more about “going green” and research endeavors to make humans more environmentally friendly. Texas A&M is an incubator for one such research endeavor that involves what are known as “green roofs”…


We can’t wait to embark upon another season working with amazing clients and continuing to reach new heights.  The success of any green roof starts with rooflite.  If your green roof project is ready to Grow On Us – than contact us today.

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Our friends at Big River Industries assembled a tremendous project profile about the challenges and construction of the largest piece of eye-candy in the City of Nashville’s skyline: the Music City Center.  At 4 acres of vegetated roof, the project is as large as it is bold.  And it all grows on 1600 cubic yards of rooflite extensive mcl.  We think Big River said it best, so the piece (available in pdf format HERE) in its entirety follows below.


There’s a meadow five stories above the busy city streets of Nashville complete with green grass and rolling hills. This green space in the sky is actually the roof of a new convention center nearing completion in the Music City.
rooflite greenroof media installation at the Nashville Music City Center

rooflite greenroof media installation at the Nashville Music City Center

Ordinarily, rains pouring over the massive 1.2 million square foot building would drain into the city’s storm water system. But rather than tax the already strained system, some of which dates back to the 1880’s, most of the storm water landing on the new Music City Center will be retained by its specially designed roof.

This downtown development is part of the city’s green infrastructure program created to manage Nashville’s urban storm water challenges.

The building boasts a 175,000 square foot green roof containing rooflite®, a certified green roof media manufactured by Skyland USA. “Storm water management is a huge problem and that’s why there’s a push for more green roofs,” says Skyland USA’s Managing Director Joe DiNorscia. “They allow 60 to 80% of rainwater to stay on a roof to be absorbed by the plants or evaporated. What’s left comes down slower and that gives the sewer system a chance to better handle the runoff,” he says.

In the case of the Nashville project, designers specified a green roof media that had to be extra light and work in a shallow installation. Skyland’s rooflite® Extensive MCL product was a good fit for the project. “Our technical director, Peter Philippi, worked closely with Garick, one of our licensed rooflite blenders, to slightly tweak our blend to meet this project’s strict design specifications,” DiNorscia says.

LSS Installs Sempergreen Sedum Mats installed over rooflite Green Roof Soil

Sedum Mats installed over rooflite Green Roof Soil

The Music City Center is working to achieve LEED® silver designation and the green roof is a prominent part of the effort. Developers were able to obtain points for sustainable site, water efficiency, and the use of regional materials. In the case of the engineered soil used in the roof, raw materials were sourced from central Alabama and middle Tennessee; well within LEED’s 500-mile radius requirement.

Garick manufactured all of the green roof media used for the massive convention center. “We’ve been working with Garick since our very beginning,” says DiNorscia. “We knew they were the exclusive distributor of HydRocks™ manufactured by Big River Industries and we wanted that calcined clay to be a key component of our product. We use a proprietary blend of the material made exclusively for us by Big River.”

Skyland works closely with a number of blenders like Garick nationwide to ensure their product has a consistent quality. “We seek out raw components from a particular region that are cost competitive in the marketplace. Most of the green roof projects in the East rely on HydRocks,” he says.

DiNorscia says successful green roof media has a number of specific requirements that on the surface, sound conflicted. “The product is really a contradiction in functionality,” he says. “On the one hand, it has to absorb as much water as it can. On the other, once it reaches that maximum absorption, the excess water must be able to drain off quickly.”

Green roof media not only has to both retain and drain water, it also has to keep these properties for a very long time. “Structural stability is a key factor for the long-term success of any green roof. The media has to keep its structure and work properly for the life of the roof.”

To support plant growth, the product must also have the proper nutrients, pH, and salinity levels. That’s a fact DiNorscia learned early on. For the last 15 years, he’s also served as general manager of Laurel Valley Soils, a maker of customized soil blends in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

“One of our very first requests for green roof media came to us about 10 or 12 years ago. A local nursery client, Ed Snodgrass of Green Roof Plants, wanted us to create a soil blend they could use for growing plants specifically for green roofs. We didn’t know what to put in it,” he says. “There was not a lot of information out there. After a lot of testing we finally came up with a blend that worked.”

For the next four years, DiNorscia watched as the green roof industry grew in the U.S. He also saw the pitfalls of the young industry.

“In the early days, most specifications for green roofs were custom written for a particular installation,” he says. “Coming up with those specs were costly and painstaking. That differed from what was being done in Europe, specifically in Germany, which had been doing green roofs since the 70’s. Over time, and by trial and error, the Germans developed blends for green roof media that were more or less standardized. That’s a concept we mimic today.”

In a partnership with a German group, Skyland USA was formed and the rooflite® brand was created. “Laurel Valley Soils had the expertise in manufacturing, while our German counterparts had the expertise to develop those standardized blends,” he notes.

With the country’s different climates and raw materials, DiNorscia says members of the green roof industry were skeptical standardized blends would work. “At first, we faced a lot of push back from the designers and green roof installers. They were used to working with at-ground landscaping so they wanted to duplicate their soil designs on green roofs. It just didn’t work.”

But that resistance has faded. Since their small nursery project in 2002, Skyland USA has supplied engineered soil media for over 700 green roofs that span the entire continental United States. That extensive project list provides proof of their product’s performance and unmatched experience in everything from specification to logistics. Getting the product to the job site and up on the roof is a critical aspect of every green roof project. In the case of Music City Center, that meant material delivery in a busy urban environment and placement five stories high.

LSS installs rooflite green roof soil with a pneumatic blower truck at the Nashville Music City Center

LSS installs rooflite green roof soil with a pneumatic blower

“Logistics is a real key component,” says DiNorscia. “One client calls it a material handling puzzle. We like to say that working as a team, we can solve that puzzle for our customer.”

He turns to Scott McGaughy and Landscape Support Services as an example. “Our rooflite material was placed using their pneumatic blower trucks. We work closely with their installation team and they find our material easy to work with,” he says.

Since the green roof media specified for this project is very shallow, less than three inches deep, that meant pre-vegetated mats would be used for the rooftop plants. The rooflite extensive mcl product is specifically designed for such installations. There has to be full time irrigation but that won’t be a problem for this project. Another sustainable feature of Music City Center is a water reclamation tank so that excess rain water can be used for site irrigation and flushing the center’s toilets.

“This project is great example of what a total team concept can accomplish,” says DiNorscia. “From our expertise in standardized blends, to Garick’s manufacturing experience, Big River’s extremely lightweight HydRocks material, and the logistical and placement know-how of Landscape Support Services I’m certain this project will be a success for the developers and the city of Nashville.”


Big River Industries manufactures HydRocks® Calcined Clay

Garick is the exclusive distributor of HydRocks, a licensed manufacturer of rooflite products, and a member of the rooflite Regional Production Network.

Skyland USA is the creator of rooflite certified green roof media products, North America’s leading green roof soil. rooflite® certified green roof media products have been installed on over 700 projects and 6 Million square feet of thriving green roofs across the North American continent, including convention centers from north to south, with a track record unmatched.

Grow On Us™:

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Completed in 2010, the Sharp Memorial Hospital Green Roof in San Diego, California gives patients housed in the new wing at Sharp a much better view. What was once a bleak, industrialized smattering of pumps, tubes and mechanical equipment covering the emergency-room rooftop is now a unique, modern and organic green-roof design. Nature and greenery can help people heal, and Sharp Healthcare was forward-thinking enough to put the findings into practice and transform their roof into a healing environment for patients.

The green roof was created in order to bring joy and assist in the healing process of patients recovering from illness. Under contract with Sharp Health Care, Schmidt Design Group, Inc. provided design and final construction drawings for a green roof at the newly constructed Sharp Memorial Hospital. In response to the linear context of the space, plus the fact that the roof is not accessible to patients and mostly viewed from above, the landscape architects decided to use the design to depict a staff of music representing the first few bars of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony “Ode to Joy” when viewed from above. The 5,000 square foot green roof includes both living and inert materials and uses raised planters, trees, and ground-covers. Music lovers can easily pick up on the pattern and the discovery makes for a fun surprise during a patient’s sometimes challenging recovery period

Beyond the aesthetic and health benefits of a green roof, the design team noted several environmental perks as well. Green roofs can prevent water pollution by reducing the amount of storm water entering sewer systems by slowing it down and filtering it; lower energy use and energy costs; lowering air temperatures to mitigate the urban heat-island effect; clean and oxygenate the air; add biodiversity; mitigate noise; suppress fire; and extend the lifespan of the roof.  The design team, the installer, and rooflite technical team worked closely to ensure that the maximum saturated bulk densities of the green roof soil would be appropriate for the client’s healthcare building, with careful consideration of dynamic loads and seismic safety elements.

GreenScaped Buildings installed a built-up vegetated roofing assembly and planted with a combination of sedum tiles and plugs typical of extensive green roofs. The “note” planters are filled with agaves and yuccas providing a particular southern Californian landscape accent, and surrounding trellis planters contain trailing rose with geranium underplantings. The backdrop includes square planters with mesquite trees with rosemary underneath. With a space nestled between the hospital’s main entrance, ER entrance and roundabout for ambulance, loading zone and entry in the parking structure; staging space for the installation was extremely tight and operating a front end loader and two days of a crane took precise coordination and extra safety measures.  The rooflite team assisted with logistical coordination and consulted on material handling techniques for the largest volume component of the project – 2 flatbed tractor trailers carrying super sacks of rooflite green roof media. rooflite extensive mc and rooflite drain were manufactured locally by West Coast Forest & Cinder Products, the area’s rooflite Regional Network production partner. Green roof installations are material handling puzzles, but when a music teacher felt well enough after her surgery to walk to the window, saw the surprising vegetation below instead of a barren roof, and actually recognize the song laid out below her; the entire project team knew they had helped create a wonderful healing garden for patients.



San Diego Architectural Foundation; Orchids and Onions

Schmidt Design Group video: Healing Properties of Nature

Schmidt Design Group Project Profile

GreenScaped Buildings Installation Profile


rooflite® certified green roof media products have been installed in over 700 projects and 6 Million square feet of thriving green roofs across the North American continent, including hospitals and healing gardens from coast to coast, with a track record unmatched.

Grow On Us™:

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There is a great post over on the Natural Resources Defense Council’s The Swithboard titled “So, what’s a green roof got to do with it?”  Carol James, a Senior Program Assistant with the NRDC’s Water Program hits the nail on the head with the answer:

NRDC Green Roof / Photo Credit Carol James

“Gazing at its beauty, it is easy to forget one of the roof’s most practical benefits: the prevention of stormwater runoff—an issue about which my colleagues in the Water Program are hard at work spreading the word.  Just the other day, in this crazy hot DC summer we’re having, I watched a deluge during a thunderstorm and clearly saw the roof absorbing much of the water.  I was reminded of the fact that this absorption helps reduce runoff into storm drains, which otherwise would flow untreated into the Potomac River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.”

We are also fond of the post because the beautiful green roof described above grows on rooflite.  In August 2011 Gordon Contractors of Capitol Heights, Maryland installed 22 cubic yards of rooflite extensive mc and 13 cubic yards of rooflite intensive to extend the third floor terrace and create the value added space so critical to NRDC core mission.  As Carol described the installation:

“Last fall, dirt was laid down, and bushes and seedlings were planted.  It was hard to imagine at the time that anything would grow amid the surrounding concrete and steel.  Today, though, in the height of summer, the roof is lushly green.”

We never had any doubt that those super sacks of rooflite could transform a little piece of DC structure into an urban oasis.  Installed on 2 million square feet of green roofs every year, rooflite is North America’s number one green roof soil.  Join the NRDC, and grow on us!


The success of any greenroof starts with rooflite soil.  To learn how to add quality, consistency, and experience to your next greenroof project – visit today and Grow On Us™!

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Wonderful Summer and Fall pictures of a great Green Roof and Rooftop Garden come to us today from Future Green Studio of New York City, design/build contractor on the project.

David Seiter, Principal at Future Green, provided the beautiful pictures of the blooming roof, and the description below.

360 Smith

This green roof sits atop a new residential building in the heart of Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, blocks away from Gowanus Canal. Built-in cedar screens and planters delineate seating, dining, lounging, and play areas. The unique 360 degree view of the Manhattan skyline and of downtown Brooklyn offers a dramatic backdrop for this extensive green roof which functions not only as a place of repose and relaxation but also serves the vital role of stormwater retention – an key component for any urban roof site.

The green is roof is 6700 sf.  The rooflite depth is 3.5 inches for most areas.  We used the optigreen drainage profile from Conservation Technology and installed Sempergreen green roof sedum mats.

 The plants in the planters are a mixture of drought tolerant grasses and perennials and include the following:

Lavender ‘Munstead’

Nepeta ‘Walkers Low’

Pennisetum ‘Little bunny’

Stipa tenuissima

Fescue ‘Suberba’

The planting strips are low mounds with a soil depth of 5-6inches and are planted with Sedum hispanicum var. minus & Fescue ‘Elijah’s Blue’

What a stunning project – visual interest in all seasons.  Well planned, and well executed by Future Green.  Created a beneficial space for all residents of the building.  When we visited the project in November (more photos HERE), the superintendent remarked on how easy his maintenance has been, and a party crew was there to set up tiki torches and equipment for a resident’s event.  Add that to the list of green roof benefits – happy management & happy residents.


To contact David Seiter visit  |  For more information on the rooflite products that this wonderful project grows on, please visit


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Brooklyn Grange needs your help.  The plea, from the head farmer Ben Flanner:

“Two years ago, I started the Brooklyn Grange, a rooftop farm with a great group.  We intensively grow vegetables on a 1-acre soil-covered rooftop, and sell them to local restaurants and farmer’s markets around New York.  We also have bees, chickens, kids, and we launched an educational non-profit this year.  It’s a busy place.

Recently, the farm was chosen as one of twelve finalists in the BBC World Challenge, a competition that rewards folks who are turning niche sustainability concepts into business models.  It’s an impressive group of 12 finalists who were selected for the challenge, and we are the only rep from the US, so we are very proud to be in the runnings.  After the votes are tallied, the top 3 all receive cash prizes, which would be really helpful as we’re preparing to start a 2nd location next spring.”

Click on THIS LINK to vote!

BBC’s Despcription of the Project:

Sometime in the last decade humanity became a predominantly urban species, with over half the global population living in cities. As cities grow and the climate changes, a new generation of farmers is looking at the potential of built-up areas to supplement the local food supply and create more sustainable communities. Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm is at the forefront of urban agriculture in the United States. Operated by four young entrepreneurs on an acre of rooftop in Queens, New York, the farm grows organic produce that is sold to local restaurants, co-ops and farmers markets across New York City. Business is growing quickly, with a second location opening in the Spring of 2012 and booming demand for rooftop vegetables, herbs and honey. To educate urban dwellers about the food systems upon which they rely, the farm hosts regular educational tours, workshops and field trips for schools and community groups.


To find out more about the lightweight engineered soil used to grow all the goods of the farm, visit

Good luck Ben!

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