Green Roofs in Nanaimo: A growing alternative



Canada Foundation for Innovation funds Vancouver Island University to research performance of demonstration projects

“Raymond de Beeld architect designed his house with a green roof for aesthetics but also as a demonstration project for his clients. Raymond was part of the original consultant team that designed the Inland Kenworth Gary noble (120p) - city of nanaimodevelopment,” reports Gary Noble, a planner with the City of Nanaimo.

“This collaborative team which included Victoria Drakeford landscape architecture, Newcastle Engineering and Will Melville designer has gone on to design Island Westcoast development’s LEED Gold head office at 2214 McCullough Road in the City of Nanaimo.”


Green Roof Research Project

Greg constable - green roof on his office building (200p)The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) awarded just over $46,000 to Vancouver Island University to work with Island Westcoast Development to support research into the benefits of green roofs in BC.

The funds are being used to purchase and install an integrated environmental monitoring station associated with the installation of an experimental green roof system on the property of Island West Coast Development (IWCD) as part of the construction of their new office building.


Research objectives are precedent-setting

David gaumont-guay, ph.d. (120p) - vancouver island university“The roof will consist of a growing medium (soil mix) planted with endemic plant species of central Vancouver Island,” explained Dr. David Gaumont-Guay, Biology instructor at Vancouver Island University and lead researcher. “The infrastructure will be installed permanently over the conventional roof structure. During the next three years, we’ll investigate the performance of the green roof with respect to its ability to store carbon (sequestration), to modify roof microclimate and thermal insulation, and to provide better management of storm and rain water.”

Green roofs have an immense potential for offsetting carbon emissions originating from building operations, said Gaumont-Guay, but this information is currently unavailable. The need for research has been highlighted recently through a series of meetings between IWCD, building and landscape architects, academic members of the Vancouver Island University community and the City of Nanaimo.

“This type of research has not been attempted before,” he said. “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 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. The project will also serve as an education platform for industries and municipalities, as well as students, technicians, researchers, and private and public sector employees.


A unique partnership

Gaumont-Guay said the project represents a unique opportunity “for industry, IWCD, the City of Nanaimo, provincial and federal governments and Vancouver Island University to work together to understand the greenhouse gas budget of Canada.”

“Solutions to climate change often originate from small scale community initiatives. This project is an excellent example of local scale action that can provide valuable information. Any reduction in greenhouse gas emission or increase in carbon sequestration (storage) is good for the environment.”

Utilizing plants on specially designed green roofs to enhance carbon sequestration in the heart of a community, where many emissions are produced, is a logical step in moving towards carbon neutral communities, he added.

“I’m very pleased about this latest support from the CFI for Vancouver Island University,” said President Dr. Ralph Nilson. “This industry-academic-government partnership represents a unique opportunity to develop initiatives aimed at reducing the ecological footprint of urban development.”


The New Business As Usual

A local landscape installer Easy Living has adjusted its business practice to meet the cEasy living - green roof installation (240p)hallenge of future green roofs and has purchased equipment to easily get soil mixtures to the roof. The company is looking at developing appropriate soil mixtures as part of this project.

This is a demonstration project for Greg Constable and his clients as well students at VIU. Students will actively participate in monitoring.


Meeting a LEED Gold Standard

“The education opportunities offered by this site are being considered as part of the innovation points included in the LEED point system to obtain Gold classification,” states Gary Noble.  Greg constable (120p)

“The building is not a Part 9 building so this type of  building is usually not considered by LEED; but Greg Constable, owner of Island West Coast Development, is following all the steps and documenting the construction process so the building can be classified as LEED Gold.”

“Greg has had the project photo documented and this documentation is posted on the City web site under sustainability. This includes a time lapse video as it was built.”  To view the video and access other information, including a magazine article, click here.

Rob lawrance (120p) - city of nanaimo environmental planner“This collaborative approach involving consultants, developer, Vancouver Island University and City has morphed into a dynamic discovery group that one could never have predicted from the start point, namely: innovative rainwater management at Inland Kenworth,” concludes Rob Lawrance, the City’s Environmental Planner.


Posted October 2009