Scott Hutcheon, the western manager for Bright Green, a company with a green roof and a living wall system, discusses the direction green roofs are going here in the United States and the possibilities the still-developing industry can offer growers.
GG: Is the mass market accepting green roofs as much as Bright Green and other providers would like it to be at this point? Where are green roofs the most prevalent?
SH: They are accepting it but no one had any money before. I think now people and developers are starting to go forward with projects, and we are seeing a lot of things on the horizon. The Pacific Northwest and Chicago have always been the areas with the most action in the past, but we are seeing other areas such as Southern California starting to get more movement.
We just finished a 34,000-square-foot green roof retrofit on the Ford plant in Irvine (Calif.) recently, as well as the green roof on the Pasadena power and water plant. Jobs that are coming for us in the near future are the Los Angeles Zoo, Chapman College and the new media arts building in Los Angeles.
GG: How do growers get involved? How production intensive are green roofs?
SH: There are two different ways to install a green roof: plant in place and pre-grown. Growers can participate in both. Pre-grown is where we provide our panel system. Growers plant within and ship out to job sites planted out. With plant-in-place jobs, growers send out specified plant material to the job and we send out our empty panel system so that a landscaper or roofer can plant it within a specified growth media on the roof.
GG: Do you see an opportunity to grow the industry as a whole this way and showcase our products?
SH: Green roofing has a big future. There is a federal bill that might be approved that will rebate about 33 percent of a green roofing project nationally. There are local and state rebates similar to this already, but if it is approved federally it will open the floodgates in a big way for green roofs in the states. When this happened in Germany about 10 years ago, the green roof industry grew five times in a mater of a year or two.