Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2017 - 29

INTERVIEWS

INTERVIEW WITH

CHARLIE MILLER

INTERVIEWED BY STEVEN W. PECK , GRP, HON. ASLA,
FOUNDER & PRESIDENT GREEN ROOF FOR HEALTHY CITIES

Charlie Miller has won numerous awards for his green roof
design work over the past 15 years. He has paid special
attention to the ability of green roofs to manage stormwater.
1. Charlie, we've known each other since about 1998, in the very early
days of the green roof industry in North America! You are a pioneer in the
field! What attracted you to this industry initially?  
I started out as a skeptic. I suppose the best converts do. I was introduced to green roofs by an old friend, Professor Joachim (Toby)
Tourbier, then teaching at the Technical University of Dresden.
In 1996, I was preparing the draft for the first Pennsylvania Best
Management Practices Manual for Stormwater Management and
Toby interested me in including green roofs. He invited me to
Germany and introduced me to the burgeoning German green
roof industry. I was looking for fresh ideas that had the potential to
give the American green engineering movement a kick in the pants.
I was amazed to discover a well-developed industry, incentivized by
smart public policy. I returned to the United States excited about
becoming part of a similar program here.
2. How would you characterize the changes in the green roof and wall
industry over the last ten to fifteen years?
Despite the size of the American marketplace, green roofs
have not lived up to their potential to become commonplace
features in the American construction industry. Of course, the
great recession affected all construction industries. However,
Roofmeadow did not notice a significant slowdown since many
of our clients are institutional and have long funding cycles that
can bridge economic downturns.
The market has remained too small for consumers to reap
the benefits of economy of scale; either in lower costs for basic
extensive roofs, or in greater choice in intensive design features.
The market is divided between: 1) "compliance roofs," that are a
response to regulatory requirements in half a dozen cities, and 2)
amenity gardens for commercial and institutional developments.
In many cities, green roofs compete with alternative approved
measures (e.g., cisterns and photo-cell arrays) that are cheaper or
more highly subsidized. However, in recent years, more publicly
accessible or visible amenity projects are increasing the public's
expectations for engaging elevated garden spaces. Green roof
LIVINGARCHITECTUREMONITOR.COM

gardens and walls are increasingly understood to enhance property
desirability and value.
3. You and your collaborators have won many awards for your design
and installation work. Is there one project that stands out for you as your
favorite and why? 
Of the projects that won Green Roof Awards of Excellence, I will
choose two; Life Expression Chiropractic and Le Frak Lakeside
Center at Prospect Park. The Life Expression represents simple but
elegant design. The roof slopes also offered an exciting engineering
challenge. The green roof is an inseparable element of the buildings
healing function. It is loving cared for by its owners. Its striking
geometry and high visibility makes it a wonderful ambassador for
the green roof industry. The Le Frak complex places hydrologic
engineering in service of restoring a beloved American Olmstead
landscape. The rolling wooded green roof disguises the underlying service buildings and blends imperceptivity with the adjacent
parkland. The complexity of the design, which features a unique
runoff management system, rainwater capture and recycling system,
is concealed in the landscape.
4. Stormwater management has become an important driver for green
roofs and other forms of green infrastructure. There are many variables
that impact stormwater performance. How do you typically maximize the
stormwater management performance of projects you work on where this is
a primary objective?
Over many years, we have focused on understanding how green
roofs influence hydrology and how their benefits can be maximized. To this end, we collaborate with a number of universities,
including Stevens University, University of Maryland, Villanova
and Portland State. Green roofs are unique among stormwater
best management practices in that they have massive surface areas
compared to their volume. This results in two important outcomes: 1) they fundamentally change the characteristic response
of a building to rainfall, however being so thin, 2) their response
to any single event will be highly variable and dependent on
antecedent conditions. The relationship of green roofs to other
LIVING ARCHITECTURE MONITOR / SUMMER 2017 / 29


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2017

Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2017 - Intro
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2017 - Cover1
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2017 - Cover2
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2017 - TOC
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2017 - A
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2017 - 1
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2017 - 2
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Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2017 - Cover3
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2017 - Cover4
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2017 - M1
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2017 - AD1
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