Tag Sustainable Design

Great Green Roof: Year Two

Our SW+A Green Roof modules will be two years old this summer.  They are not looking too great at the moment because of three possibilities: the sedums have declined over time, the soil has lost its nutrients or they have experienced too much rainfall this winter.  We are positive our modules will bounce back this summer and we plan to give our test samples some extra attention in the next few months.

Green Roofs are almost nonexistent in our area and it will be interesting to see the first large commercial installation. Find more information about Great Green Roof here.

Stuart Whiteside Interviews with SC Business Review


Stuart Whiteside

Stuart Whiteside

Stuart Whiteside, Vice President of Seamon Whiteside + Associates was chosen to interview with Mike Switzer, host of South Carolina Business Review; a radio program on SC ETV Radio.The interview was broadcast on Thursday, September 4, 2008.

Stuart spoke with Mike about SW+A’s role in the sustainable design movement and how green design practices are carried out in civil engineering and landscape architecture. Seamon Whiteside + Associates is proud to say that we have LEED accredited professionals in both our civil engineering and landscape architecture departments. As the green design movement has found its place in South Carolina development, SW+A has undertaken a program of continuing education and participation in organizations that support sustainable design practices.

In the area of civil engineering, a visible and successful way to incorporate green design into land development is to integrate low impact stormwater management design. Low impact stormwater management such as using vegetated swales to capture and naturally filter stormwater runoff is a responsible and effective way to handle stormwater and reduce possible groundwater pollutants. Creative engineering solutions work to blend the desired environmental safeguards with the goals of the development and do so in a cost conscious manner.

The same is true for the sustainable approach to landscape architectural design. Using native and drought resistant plants, adding trees and shrubs specifically into areas such as parking lots, and street medians to reduce heat islands and therefore the need for extensive irrigation, and incorporating stormwater runoff as natural irrigation are ways that landscape architecture works to reduce environmental impacts and incorporate sustainability into the design.

Stuart also discussed the movement to look at urban planning from a regional standpoint instead of through a hodgepodge of neighborhood, city/town and municipal regulations that often are in opposition to one another. Together with the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Urban Land Institute (ULI), Stuart and other members of the land design community are working with the Charleston area regulatory commissions to align planning guidelines into a regional view. The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments has a program, Our Region, Our Plan that focuses on this method of urban planning. More information about the movement to plan regionally is available these organizations websites.

SW+A Green Roof!

Zach Bearden, RLA, LEED® AP

Green roof

Actually, it’s only four square feet of LiveRoof®. Sample modules of this product have been placed on the roof of our office building to test in our specific coastal climate. There were over 15 different green roof venders this year at The GreenBuild Chicago Expo, but LiveRoof® stood out as the leader among a crowded field of competition.

Our Mount Pleasant office was very fortunate to have Mike Semones of Riverbend Nursery meet with several of our Landscape Architects to demonstrate the benefits of LiveRoof®. Riverbend Nursery out of Virginia is one of several growers around the country that distribute this product. LiveRoof® plants are selected for extreme drought tolerance, disease and insect resistance, long life, low maintenance, and beautification, which are all characteristics of succulent, water-holding plants like Sedums, Alliums, Sempervivums, Delospermas as well as others. The best plants for green roofs will both store water and have a special type of metabolism called ‘Crassulacean Acid Metabolism’, CAM for short. CAM plants are unique in that under drought conditions their stomates (leaf pores) are open at night rather than open during the day like most plants. CAM plants exchange gases (oxygen and carbon dioxide) in the dark when it is cooler and less windy, and they are up to ten times more efficient with water conservation than non-CAM plants.

Mike Semones was kind enough to leave us with two modules that will be monitored over the next year to determine whether this system will be successful in the Charleston area. There are currently no LiveRoof® installations in South Carolina. Modular systems, such as LiveRoof®, allow for quick installation and instant impact. The modular design makes this a great product for existing building retrofits. The future “greening” of existing buildings will become increasingly popular over the next 5-10 years as more information on energy savings and operations cost reductions become available.

To learn more about LiveRoof® visit:

Green roofs, in general, have many aesthetic, environmental, and financial benefits. Green roofs can contribute directly or indirectly to over 20 LEED® certification credits, depending on the size of the green roof and the degree to which the various features described above are incorporated into the overall building design. Often one of the first line items to be value engineered, green roofs have great potential to contribute to significant long term savings. For more information on Green roofs, visit the following links:

ASLA Green Roof Project

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities

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