ARTICLE; A Growing Alternative: Green Roofs in Nanaimo


Note to Reader:

Since 2006, Construction Business magazine has published bi-annual articles that highlight the efforts of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC to encourage changes in land development and water management practices. In 2013, a request by magazine editor Cheryl Mah for an article on a green roof case study created the opportunity to feature the collaboration of a group of green roof champions in the Nanaimo region of Vancouver Island.

Green roof at “The Gathering Place”, Vancouver Island University (Nanaimo campus)

A Unique Partnership

“On Vancouver Island, a unique four-way partnership is advancing green roof research at four locations. The partners are Vancouver Island University (VIU), Island West Coast Development (IWCD), Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) and City of Nanaimo,” wrote Rob Lawrance, Environmental Planner at the City of Nanaimo, co-author of an article published in Construction Business magazine.

“Early success resulted in the scope of the research initiative expanding from a single green roof to four demonstration projects: IWCD head office, VIU Nanaimo campus, VIU Cowichan campus and the RDN Transit building.”

Precedent-Setting Research Objectives

“Each roof consists of a growing medium (soil mix) planted with endemic plant species of central Vancouver Island,” explains Dr. David Gaumont-Guay, VIU lead researcher. “The infrastructure is installed permanently over the conventional roof structure. Since June 2011, we have been monitoring the performance of the green roofs with respect to ability to store carbon (sequestration), to modify roof microclimate and thermal insulation, and to provide better management of rainwater.”

“Green roofs have an immense potential for offsetting carbon emissions originating from building operations. This type of research had not been attempted before. In fact, we are still at the forefront,” says Gaumont-Guay. “Although industries are currently able to calculate their carbon emission rates related to building operations, ways to calculate their carbon offset potentials are limited.”

“The partners envision that the research could help in development of policies for land-use planning at municipal, provincial and national levels. It also has the potential to lead to changes in the LEED certification program,” adds Rob Lawrance.

The New Business As Usual

“Since this project began, we have seen greater traction from the development community in incorporating green design within a variety of development projects,” states Gary Noble, Development Approval Planner with the City of Nanaimo.

“This collaborative approach involving consultants, developer, Vancouver Island University and the City has morphed into a dynamic working group that one could never have predicted from the start point.”

To Learn More:

To read the complete article co-authored by Rob Lawrance and Kim Stephens (Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC), and published in the May-June 2013 issue of Construction Business magazine, click on A Growing Alternative: Green Roofs in Nanaimo to download a PDF copy.

Acknowledgment: Reprinted with permission from Construction Business magazine.

Green roof at the Cowichan campus of Vancouver Island University