Archive for the ‘Site Visit’ Category

With over 8,500,000 square feet of coverage in 10 years, the rooflite experience covers about every type of engineered soil project. Large projects or small, we have compiled a comprehensive project list for download; East to West, North to South.

As experts in green roofs, our in-depth soil knowledge and project management skills have been proven through projects covering a wide breadth of unique conditions and challenges. This involvement gives us the unique ability to lend a support system to our customers across a broad scope of realized experience. Contact us today for more information on how we can help in your next green roof project!

2014 rooflite project list

2014 rooflite project list

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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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I received some great green roof photos from a few recent installations in Washington State from SolTerra Systems, Inc. The projects are all unique, with an obvious attention to detail that is SolTerra’s trademark.  With three Accredited Green Roof Professionals on staff, in addition to a LEED AP, you know their work will be superb.

Ever the modest craftsman, Brian Heather, LEED AP, GRP, points out – “They’ll look better in the spring when the plants are more filled in.”  It’s very clear Brian is being humble – these projects look great already.  But like a fine wine,  sure they’ll get better with age – quite the opposite of your shingle roof.  All rooflite® Certified Green Roof Media for these projects was blended and delivered by Swanson Bark and Wood Products.

The first green roof project is a beautiful residence nestled in a tranquil setting on the Olympic Penninsula.  The project grows on 60 cubic yards of rooflite extensive mc.  In a nod to the expanses of driftwood along the northern coast of the state, the roof features a liberal scattering of local driftwood across its 3,000 square feet:

The next project is a peaceful retreat which overlooks Salmon Bay in Seattle, Washington.  The lucky residents have a secluded, private observation deck and their choice of stunning views toward the Puget Sound or their own colorful oasis in their 500 square foot roof garden.  Their green roof grows on 11 cubic yards of rooflite extensive mc, as blended by Swanson Bark and Wood Products:

The final project in SolTerra’s fall project update is a sloped roof installation on a residence  near the Salmon Creek in Vancouver, Washington.  The project grows on 62 cubic yards of rooflite extensive mc and features a dramatic sloped roof.  This 4,000 square foot eco-roof is certainly the talk of this suburban neighborhood:

All Photos ©2009, SolTerra Systems, Inc. – All Rights Reserved.  Not to be reposted or rehosted.

SolTerra Systems is a full service provider of systems that provide natural resources for their clients, while improving the environment and functionality of the Northwest’s infrastructure. Through research and experience, they have found that along with conservation, the systems they provide give their clients the best opportunity to decrease your carbon footprint. Furthermore, they enable them to act as stewards of our natural resources so that their children may enjoy the world as we do today.

SolTerra focuses on delivering these systems to clients in the most cost effective way while maintaining the highest industry quality in workmanship and product.  Their benchmarks for success is that as a company they maintain 100% customer satisfaction, provide well-paying careers for the local economy, and maintain a company growth that meets or exceeds the industry.

We look forward to seeing more roof gardens as designed and installed by SolTerra.  If you’re lucky enough to reside in the Pacific Northwest, request an estimate for your own project.  And know that if they install your green roof, they Grow On Us™ – using rooflite® Certified Green Roof Media.

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NASA’s new Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California is a LEED Certified Gold building, a first for NASA.  The building was designed by LPA Inc. architectural firm of Irvine, CA – and they’ve posted a great video about the project.  Their video is posted below, but it may be worth viewing at YouTube in HD HERE.

As you can see in the video, the building features an impressive green roof above the energy efficient auditorium.  The 5700 square foot green roof was installed by American Landscape Inc out of Canoga Park, CA.  The project was spec’ed by Charlie Miller of Roofscapes, and he selected rooflite® extensive mc as the Southern California growth media of choice for the project.  The green roof was installed and planted in March 2009, and as you can see from the pictures below, it is growing in quickly in the Southern California sun.  Just six months later:

Even rocket scientists Grow On Us - rooflite® extensive mc

Even rocket scientists Grow On Us - rooflite® extensive mc

The details of the project are as follows:

  • 5700 square foot extensive green roof
  • 75 CY rooflite® extensive mc – installed at a 4″ depth
  • 35 CY rooflite® drain – installed at a 2″ depth
  • Multi-course system depth – 6″

Others involved in the design and construction of the project include Leo George Structural Engineers of Irvine, CA and Swinerton Builders (GC) of Los Angeles, CA.  You can read NASA’s press release titled “JPL Goes Green For Gold” HERE, and LPA’s follow-up press release titled “NASA Strikes Gold” HERE.

Long story short, this is a fantastic project and we can clearly see that interest in green roofs is increasing steadily in Southern California.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to choose to specify and install the nation’s #1 green roof growth media, rooflite®.  You can too – Contact Us today for a quote on your next project, in sunny SoCal or anywhere around the country – Grow on Us™.

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