2009 Awards of Excellence: Kerry Ross

Civic Award of Excellence: Individual

A tireless advocate for green roof awareness and education, Kerry Ross is co-founder of the Alberta Ecoroof Initiative – and a true local champion.

Winner: Kerry Ross, IBI Group Architects Engineers


In 2000, Kerry Ross began working on the Bison Courtyard in Banff, Alberta, one of the first buildings in that province to integrate contemporary green roof systems into its design. The project changed the course of her career. “It opened up a whole new world of opportunities for buildings that I hadn’t really thought of before,” she says of the experience. “Like a lot of people, I used to think that green roofs were the old sod roofs.” Nine years later, Ross is still at it; efforts that have earned her the Civic Award of Excellence in recognition of the outstanding contribution she has made to help develop the green roof industry in Alberta, Canada.

Ross – a LEED® accredited professional with 16 years experience as a design architect and project manager – is currently employed by the Calgary office of IBI Group Architects Engineers. She first became aware of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities in 2001 and was inspired to help the organization’s first local Green Roof Symposium in Alberta in 2003 generating awareness among municipalities and address common misconceptions regarding green roof technology.

Ross recognized the importance of public engagement and shared experiences to advance the green roof industry within the Alberta region. Therefore, with a mission to create a local green roof network, Ross co-founded the Alberta Ecoroof Initiative (AEI) in 2004, whose major projects have included fundraising to build and maintain a demonstration project in Calgary. This initiative, currently in its fifth year, has recently been expanded to include scientific research. Over 200 visitors have viewed the site and it has been host to many Green Roofs for Healthy Cities’ professional training courses, conferences and sustainability tours. Her work on the AEI started as an independent project, but she now incorporates what she has learned into her everyday work, helping clients realize their LEED and sustainable-building targets through the introduction of a rooftop ecological feature.

Ross has contributed significantly to the knowledge around local best practices, by studying green roof infrastructure from around the world, and tailoring methods to fit with the local Alberta climate. To research green roof development in Nordic countries in 2009, Ross received a grant from Canada Council for the Arts. With support from Alberta Ecotrust, Ross is documenting the maintenance-time required for the AEI demonstration site to determine the costs for maintenance of green roofs. It is Ross’s hope that the results of this work will allow planners and designers to remove some of the the uncertainties around the maintenance costs.

Ross is optimistic about the future of green roofs in Alberta, and would like to see a local industry that increases the networks between municipalities. What’s next? Ross hopes the design of more green roofs is in store for her future day-to-day work. Her view of a truly successful architecture project is one that, borrowing from Vitruvius, strikes the balance between a building’s suitability for use, durability in performance and visual delight – all within the matrix of nature.

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