Fall 2017

Newsletter Archive


Living Architecture Tour, Calgary

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On June 28th, approximately 30 people had the opportunity to visit a number of green roofs and one living wall during the Living Architecture tour in downtown Calgary. Participants were able to see the projects up close, learn about their benefits and challenges, understand the maintenance requirements and care, talk to project and product representatives, and experience why green roof proponents are so enthusiastic about this green building technology.

Participants accessed living architecture projects at the following buildings, many of which are otherwise inaccessible:

  1. Calgary City Centre, Extensive Sedum Roofs
  2. Jamieson Place, Interior Winter Garden and Living Walls
  3. Fire Hall No. 1/Delta Bow Valley, Plaza Garden
  4. Municipal Hall, Vegetated Roof Replacement (above photo) and Civic Park Rooftop Garden

What is Living Architecture?

The Living Architecture Calgary group is a grassroots voluntary organization that works to advance local research and build knowledge about green roofs, living walls and other associated living architecture technologies.There are many movements and organizations globally that use the term living architecture to describe what they do. Living architecture enhances traditional building forms and transforms it into a living, breathing structure through carefully selected vegetation.

Benefits of Living Architecture

Demonstration projects throughout North America have monitored and analyzed the impacts of green roofs and living walls. Numerous benefits of installing green roofs and living walls relate to social, environmental and economic outcomes such as:

  • Air quality improvements
  • Improved storm water management (decreased runoff rates and increased water quality)
  • Reduction in urban heat island effect
  • Increased biodiversity and species specific wildlife habitat
  • Creation of pollinator pathways
  • Opportunities for urban agriculture
  • Building energy savings
  • Additional green space
  • Increased property values
  • Increased roof lifespan (in some cases up to double the roof lifespan!)
  • Economic opportunities for landscape, architectural, roofing firms
  • Economic offsets of the costs of grey infrastructure versus green infrastructure approaches

Several major urban centres in North America have developed policy programs to promote and incentivize the implementation of living architecture as a means to address quality of life issues for their residents, improve environmental performance and create economic impact.

Why a Tour of Green Roofs and Living Walls?

A number of green roofs and living walls have been built in the downtown district, however, few Calgarians have seen them or know they exist as many are private or inaccessible. It is for this reason, Living Architecture Calgary came together to organize tours and education throughout the summer.

The purpose of the tour was to create greater awareness and increase the profile of some of Calgary's examples of Living Architecture (green roofs and living walls) through education and outreach. Attendees of the tour were able to:

  • Gain a greater understanding of green roof systems and how they function
  • Become familiar with the benefits of green roofs, both to occupants and to the environment
  • Discover how green roof systems contribute to a sustainable city and play into the LEED certification process.
  • Learn about ongoing local research on green roofs and living walls

Miistakis was one of the organizers of this tour because of the potential for increasing biodiversity, habitat and pollinator pathway potential, stormwater management opportunities, reduction in building energy use, and improvements to air quality in urban centres. If you are interested in future events, please email Kelly Learned (kelly@rockies.ca).

The tour was made possible by the generous sponsorship of the following organizations:

Tour organizers and hosts:

Nathan Gill, Eagle Lake Professional Landscape Supply
Kelly Learned, Miistakis Institute
Michael Magnan, O2 Planning + Design
Kerry Ross, Green T Design