ODS E-News talks to Sidonie Carpenter about her career to date and the enormous success of Green Roofs Australasia.
Can you tell us a bit about your background – education, employment etc?
I studied at QUT Brisbane Grad Dip Landscape Architecture after completing a BA at QLD Uni with a double Architecture / Town Planning Major. I then did a Cert of Urban Horticulture. I have also been fortunate to have been awarded an ISSI / Pratt Foundation Travelling Fellowship that allowed me to complete all the Green Roof and Wall education courses with Green Roofs for Healthy Cities in the US. I have also run my own Landscape Design and Horticulture business for the last 18 years.
How did you get into the green roof/wall industry and how long were you President of Green Roofs Australasia?
We moved from Sydney to Brisbane in the middle of the drought - trying to establish a landscaping business when water restrictions were at their highest started me thinking of other ways the Landscape / Horticulture Industry could look at a sustainable future. I started to hear more about Green Roofs and the environmental benefits and applied for a fellowship to find out more. I was awarded the ISSI / Pratt Foundation Fellowship in 2006 and spent eight weeks travelling to Singapore, Canada and the US looking at the design and installation of Green Roofs and the skill base required in Australia to get the industry up and running. In 2007 I was one of the founding members of Green Roofs Australasia. I was vice president for 2007 - 2008 and President from 2008 – 2011. I stood down as President at the end of 2011 and am today the association’s Treasurer. The new President is Matt Dillon.
What has been your career highlight to date?
Being awarded the ISSI Fellowship and the travelling / study that allowed me to bring back that knowledge and experience and share it with other interested people. The opportunity to speak at many conferences / public forums about the topic of Green Roofs and Walls is another highlight. As is writing and teaching the Green Roof Design and Construction workshop. Overall, seeing the industry growth here in Australia over the last six years has been a highlight.
Can you tell us a bit about the association – it’s aims, activities, members etc?
Green Roofs Australasia is a not-for-profit membership organisation with an elected committee that draws together the various governmental, organisational and business groups and individuals interested in being kept informed about green roof science, technology, practice, regulations and specifications.
The Green Roofs Australasia (GRA) Vision Statement
“To promote the incorporation of green roof and wall infrastructure into the built form”
“Is to increase the awareness of the economic, social and environmental benefits of green roofs, walls and other forms of living architecture through education, advocacy, professional development and celebrations of excellence”.
To achieve this GRA:
• Educates the general public of the benefits of green roofs & walls
• The provision and exchange of international research, policies, and design
• Organises the annual Green Roofs Australia conference
Ongoing areas for development:
• Investigate and collate information on scientific research specific to environmental/health benefits
• Explore strategies to promote benefits of green roofs and walls
• Develop ongoing education programs
• To work with Government in developing policy and legislation
• Research for Australian Green Roofs & walls
Green Roofs Australasia sees itself partnering with the wider community on both a professional and social level. GRA includes the community at a social level by giving lectures through different conferences and speaking events. Providing the community with an understanding of what a green roof is and why we need to be considering them as a vital component to urban design and construction.
What, in your opinion, has contributed to the success of the association?
An interest in sustainable design and the integration of the landscape into the built form "living architecture'. It has also helped having a very strong international industry with amazing images from overseas projects. We have also received a huge amount of support from a number of the International Green Roof associations which has helped the association and supported the growth of our industry.
What does Green Roofs Australasia have planned/coming up?
We have just relaunched a new website that will provide an enormous amount of information and support. We have our annual conference in Melbourne at the end of the year and in 2014 we will be hosting the World Green Infrastructure congress in Sydney.