UC landscape architect becomes one of first accredited green roof professionals in the world

2009 marks the first year that Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) offered accreditation in green roof design and implementation.  The comprehensive exam process drew 130 professionals from around the world.  109 passed the "rigorous" exam, including Mt. Healthy resident and associate professor of architecture at the University of Cincinnati, Virginia Russell.

The accreditation process is seen as an important step for a rapidly growing industry.  "If those working in the green roof industry don't know what they're doing, it's bad for the industry, bad for the profession and bad for environmental progress," says Russell who also notes that green roofs have been a passion of hers for years.

In addition to the initial exam process, Green Roof Professionals must participate in continuing education requirements so that they stay up-to-date on any changes happening in the field.  Following her successful completion, Russell has become one of the first Green Roof Professionals (GRP) in North America and part of the first class of GRP in the world.

Green roofs provide numerous benefits to urban environments including, but not limited to, energy conservation, reduced heat island effect and improved stormwater management.  Recently Russell lead a group of UC students in a project that installed a green roof on the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden's giraffe house.

One evolution occurring in the green building design is green walls which provide similar benefits as green roofs.  This approach is currently being implemented throughout Europe and in Canada, and Russell is working to bring it to the United States.

Green roof construction has maintained solid growth even during a relatively slow construction period.  This growth and UC's focus on green roof education is helping position UC students well for growing industry says Russell.

Russell has been teaching green roof classes for the past four years and will be continuing her leadership role in the green roof industry right here in Cincinnati where the impact of her work is already being seen.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Image provided by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (www.greenroofs.org) and American Hydrotech, Inc.
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