At the first Greening Rooftops for sustainable communities conference in Chicago in 2003, more than 350 industry leaders gathered to learn, network and plan for the future development of the industry. The overwhelming view was that those in the industry needed to come together and develop some standard training courses. These courses would help improve the design and installation of green roofs in the market, diminish some of the wild claims for and against green roofs, and spread best practices to a wide number of professionals through some form of accreditation.

Five years later, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities North America Inc., the Toronto-based not-for-profit industry association whose mission is to increase awareness of the economic, social and environmental benefits of green roofs, has established green-roof training courses and is on track to deliver the Green Roof Professional designation in 2009. The organization has convened expert committees to work toward the key information green-roof designers, installers and owners need to successfully complete greenroof projects.


The green-roof industry continues to evolve with better information about performance, new products and emerging practices. Hundreds of dedicated professionals have volunteered their time and expertise to develop three full-day courses now offered in more than 35 cities across North America by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. The courses—Green Roof Design 101: Introductory Course (Second Edition), Green Roof Infrastructure 201: Design and Installation, and Green Roof Waterproofing and Drainage 301—provide a broad base of multidisciplinary knowledge that will be required to successfully attain professional standing as an accredited Green Roof Professional.

Green Roof Plants and Growing Medium 401, the final, full-day core course, currently is under development by a committee of multistakeholder experts, co-chaired by Ed Snodgrass, president of Green Roof Plants, Street, Md., and Jeffrey L. Bruce, president of North Kansas City, Mo.-based Jeffrey L. Bruce & Co., a landscape architecture firm. The course will be launched later this month at the sixth annual Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference in Baltimore.

Each course builds on the curriculum of the previous course, focusing on providing multidisciplinary knowledge and skills, ranging from cost and benefit analysis of designs to project management to maintenance best practices. The courses also emphasize methods of overcoming the major challenges associated with green roofing, including problems with bidding processes, coordinating trades, waterproofing quality control, and appropriate growing media and plants.


Early in 2007, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities assembled the best and brightest in the industry to establish occupational standards for a professional accreditation exam for a Green Roof Professional designation. (Learn who was involved from the box on page 50.) The expert committee was virtually locked in a room for three days hammering out the specific skills and knowledge that a Green Roof Professional would require. Participants included architects, landscape architects, engineers, roofing and landscape contractors, manufacturers and horticulturalists.

Green Roof Professionals will come from any number of professional backgrounds, including architects, landscape architects, landscape designers, engineers, contractors, horticulturalists, manufacturers and roofing consultants. The first exam for the Green Roof Professional designation is planned for the Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference to be held June 3-6, 2009, in Atlanta.

With the knowledge from their coursework and accreditation, Green Roof Professionals may accomplish any of the following tasks on a project:

• Identify and pull the project team together.

• Function as a team leader for the green-roof portion of a project.

• Understand the different options for green-roof design and implementation.

• Maximize the benefits of green roofs during the design process, such as by identifying multiple design and implementation opportunities.

• Understand the major challenges of green roofs and best practices associated with their design and installation.



The Green Roof Professional designation is not a panacea for all the challenges facing this rapidly emerging industry. It does not, and cannot, provide any guarantee of professional competency, which is the responsibility of associations that provide licensure for professionals, such as engineers and architects. However, the new accreditation and professional courses will provide a number of important benefits that are key to the long-term health and growth of the green-roof industry. These include enabling professionals to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, establishing a high-level of professionalism and improved multidisciplinary collaboration, increasing customer confidence in green-roof technology, resulting in better green-roof design and installation practices.

Successful green roofing requires significant expertise and multidisciplinary cooperation and collaboration. When thoughtfully designed, installed and properly maintained, green roofs will continue to contribute unmatched social, economic and environmental benefits for clients and the broader community. The Green Roof Professional designation is one way to ensure professionals on a green-roof project are able to achieve those benefits.

Steven Peck is founder and president of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities North America Inc., Toronto. He can be reached at or (416) 971-4494.



TIM BARRETT, president, Barrett Co., Millington, N.J.,
ROBERT BERGHAGE, Ph.D., associate professor of horticulture, Penn State University,
University Park,
JEFFREY L. BRUCE, FASLA, LEED, ASIC, president, Jeffrey L. Bruce & Co.,
North Kansas City, Mo.,
DAVE HONZA, roofing consultant, Honza Group Inc., Columbia, Md.,
DOUG FISHBURN, president, Fishburn Building Sciences Group, Hornby, Ontario, Canada,
CHUCK FRIEDRICH, ASLA, Carolina Stalite Co., Salisbury, N.C.,
MICHAEL GIBBONS, FCI, president, Architectural Systems Inc., Dallas,
KURT HORVATH, president, Intrinsic Landscaping, Glenview, Ill.,
PAUL KEPHART, executive director, Rana Creek, Carmel Valley, Calif.,
MONICA KUHN, OAA, Monica E. Kuhn Architect Inc., Toronto,
KELLY LUCKETT, president, Green Roof Blocks, Florissant, Mo.,
CHARLIE MILLER, P.E., principal, Roofscapes Inc., Philadelphia,
STEVEN PECK, president, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities North America Inc.,
VIRGINIA RUSSELL, FASLA, LEED AP, University of Cincinnati,
ROGER SCHICKEDANTZ, AIA, associate partner, William McDonough + Partners,
Charlottesville, Va.,
STEVE SKINNER, garden roof project manager, American Hydrotech Inc.,
STEPHEN TEAL, senior manager, Flynn, Mississauga, Ontario,