Green Roof Professional accreditation poised to transform the market

By Jeffrey L. Bruce, chair, and Steven W. Peck, president, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities

With public policy support growing in markets such as Chicago, New York, Seattle, Portland, Toronto and other cities, as well as up to $1.2 billion in green infrastructure funding in President Obama’s stimulus package, the timing couldn’t be more perfect to embrace this new green-building professional designation. After more than six years of professional development work, the green roof industry is poised to open a new chapter with the launch of its Green Roof Professional accreditation exam on June 5, 2009 at its 7th Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference in Atlanta.

In 2003, at its first conference in Chicago, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities’ industry members expressed a clear need for multidisciplinary green roof training courses and a practical means to acknowledge design and installation expertise in the marketplace. The new Green Roof Professional (GRP) promises to deliver, and in doing so, will transform the rapidly growing green roof industry. Since our first Chicago conference, more than a hundred industry experts, including architects, landscape architects, roofing consultants, engineers, contractors and others have participated in peer-reviewed processes that have resulted in the Green Roof Professional (GRP) accreditation.The process of developing the certification has reflected the maturation of the industry over the years and as our knowledge about green roofs has steadily improved.

The new professional designation is supported by four, peer reviewed courses that cover topics ranging from green roof cost factors, to getting the most LEED credits, to core design principles, contracting, installation and maintenance best practices. The courses provide an unmatched depth and breadth of industry knowledge and experience. Successful green roofers require a combination of knowledge and expertise in the so-called ‘black-’ and green-arts.’ Critical, non-living elements of a green roof assembly such as waterproofing, structural engineering and project management are the focus of the black arts, while the green arts deal with living architectural components such as water management, growing media, plants and maintenance. Very few industry professionals currently have the necessary knowledge and expertise encompassing these many disciplines. Green Roof Professionals (GRPs) will be well-versed in both black and green arts in order to gain this new professional distinction of green-building expertise. GRPs may come from many professions and sectors including architects, landscape architects, landscape designers, engineers, contractors, horticulturalists, manufacturers and roofing consultants, to name just a few.

In the near future GRPs will:

Identify and pull the project team together.
Function as a team leader for the green roof portion of a project.
Understand the different options for green roof design and implementation.
Maximize the benefits of green roofs during the design process (e.g., by identifying multiple design and implementation opportunities).
Understand the major challenges of green roofs and best practices associated with their design and installation.

Green Roof Professional (GRP) accreditation will not solve all of the issues that confront this new industry, but it will help to raise the level of professional knowledge, and provide the means to allow individuals to distinguish themselves in the marketplace. Amazingly, some developers have already started to use the GRP designation as a pre-qualification to bid on projects, and it isn’t even ready yet. The new designation will also serve to protect the industry from the inevitable failures that result from poor design, installation and maintenance practices. Green Roof Professional (GRP) accreditation may, in time, provide a basis for lower insurance premiums and even give policymakers a degree of assurance that at least one member of a project team understands the best practices we have worked so hard to establish over the past six years.

The four professional training courses that support the GRP are available in a number of cities across North America. See listing below. Course manuals may also be purchased directly from the Green Infrastructure Store at

Be among the first GRPs in the world by taking the inaugural exam in Atlanta on June 5th, 2009. You can sign up for the exam during the conference registration process, online. Given the general economic downturn, now is an excellent time to improve one’s skills for the new, green industries that will increasingly be part of our future!

List of Upcoming Green Roof Courses

Green Roof Design 101 – Introductory
Indianapolis – April 8th
Vancouver – April 8th
Denver – April 8th
Montreal (French) – April 14th
Austin – April 15th
New York – April 22nd
Los Angeles – April 23rd
Minneapolis – April 27th

Green Roof Design & Installation 201
San Francisco – April 21st
Austin – May 6th
Vancouver – May 27th

Green Roof Waterproofing & Drainage 301
Vancouver – April 29th
San Francisco – May 6th
Chicago – May 13th
Washington, D.C. – May 13th


Plants & Growing Media 401
Washington, D.C. – April 30th
Boston – May 20th
Lost Angeles 401 – May 21st

To register for any of the courses listed above, visit

Article provided by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.

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