Green roofs are gaining popularity for several reasons. They are super efficient at insulating a home. They also minimize our ecological footprint by retaining and filtering water before it reaches our rivers and streams. In this course, we will explore intensive and extensive green roof systems. We will discuss various planning strategies including water retention and native habitat preservation.   We will cover the theoretical and technical considerations of green roofs while gaining the hands-on experience of actually building them. Through evening lectures and discussions, we will examine layer buildup, drainage solutions, characteristics of growing medium, and plant palette selection. We will also introduce case studies from around the world to demonstrate the many ways green roofs have been used, from small scale residential projects to large scale commercial buildings. During the days, we will perform a hands-on installation.

Course start time: Sunday, 5pm
Course end time: Friday, 5pm



  • Competency Level: All Levels
  • Sterling College credits: 2 Continuing Education Units ($260 additional)
  • Vermont Technical College credits: 3 College Credits ($355 additional)

Course Objectives

Students will explore the history of Green Roofs throughout time to the modern day. Understanding the economic, environmental and social forces that are driving the boom in green roofs and walls will be our goal, as well as learning roofing systems and plant types. Hands on construction of our project roof will give participants the opportunity to understand the ease with which a simple roof can be assembled.

Materials to Bring

  • Images of a site, if any
  • Information on pitch of existing roof
  • Location relative to watershed,
  • Major open spaces around them
  • Brief synopsis of why they are interested in green roofs

Suggested Readings

Snodgrass, Edmund and Lucy. Green Roof Plants Timber Press
Environmental SErvices CIty of Portland. Portland Ecoroof Guide
Weiler, Susan. Green Roof Systems
Dunnett, Nigel. Small Green Roofs

Class Schedule

This course will have three components. First, we will look at precedents through published case studies and visiting a few regional examples. In the second part of the course will review the technical components and the layering of the green roof and wall systems. The third part of the course will involve the construction of a green roof and then plant it with our selected vegetation.  These three components will occur in unison and be complimentary in their progression.

Course Outline


  • Welcome Dinner
  • Introductions
  • Green roof overview and major concepts

Monday AM

  • Green roof types and examples
  • Drainage layer, edging and drip design
  • Center for Whole Communities tour
  • Reading, mapping and drawing the site

Monday PM

  • Design and install underlayment
  • Drip edge, parapet

Monday evening

  • GR history, theory, and pitfalls

Tuesday AM

  • Drip edge, parapet installation 

Tuesday PM

  • GR Tour - the Folly & Nearby sites

Tuesday Evening

  • Introduce design/research topics

Wednesday AM

  • Structure, regulations, and other considerations
  • Build/install drip edge/parapet, con't

Wednesday PM

  • Install planting medium/soil
  • GR tour- Norwegian Lane

Thursday AM

  • Plant selection and planting design
  • Growing medium, soil, and plant installation

Thursday PM

  • Site cleanup and finishing work
  • GR Tour- Buzz Ferver

Thursday Evening

  • Review of individual design and research topics

Friday AM

  • Beyond green roofs - Green walls, urban agriculture, etc.

Friday PM

  • Presentation of conference papers & personal projects
  • Graduation





Start Date: July 13, 2014
Duration: 5 Days
Tuition: $875
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