Skyhigh Residence


Small-Scale Residential

Project: Skyhigh Residence, Fairfax, CA, 565 square foot green roof
Green Roof Designer, Installer and Maintenance Provider: SYMBIOS Ecotecture (Award Winner)
Structural Engineer: D & D Engineers
Plant Supplier: Emerisa Gardens
Water Retention & Drainage: Colbond
Irrigation: Hunter Industries
Waterproofing Membrane: Neptune Coatings

“The living roof serves as a biological bridge between the built environment and restoring lost habitat to birds, bees, pollinators, frogs and so much more.”

– Kerrie Lee Cole, GRP, SYMBIOS

A California Dream Overlooking the Mountains

The Skyhigh Residence is built on a steep hillside that affords the inhabitants beautiful views of the surrounding wild lands and distant mountains. The main living spaces of the house are located on the upper floor of the residence. The second floor balcony and interior dining room are directly adjacent to the green roof. The green roof provides a direct connection to biological life; and the landscape of the roof has a design aesthetic that reflects a naturalistic and artistic expression.

The owners can access the outdoors via a wrap-around balcony that adjoins and overlooks the green roof of the lower levels of the house. In order to maximize the effect of a ‘garden in the sky,’ the green roof was developed to look much like a ground-based landscape.

To accentuate this point, the roof was designed with a dry creek drainage channel with lightweight large stones and boulders. The drainage channel was conceived to be an aesthetic element, but it also doubles as a maintenance path and eliminates the need for perimeter ballast strips. Also, the green roof covers a wing of the residence that contains several bedrooms, so it provides substantial building thermal performance benefits.

The green roof is irrigated using rainwater harvested from the upper metal roofs of the residence. An old pool on the property was converted into a 20,000 gallon cistern that stores water during the winter months and supports the roof garden during the dry summer months.


A bio-diverse plant palette with a mix of perennials, succulents and natives was chosen for their benefit to local pollinators. Over twenty plant species were integrated and their bloom times were staggered so pollinators can forage throughout the year. A multi-year maintenance contact is in effect to keep the roof in tip-top shape, and looking beautiful for years to come.

Green Infrastructure Design Charrette

About Green Roofs

by Steven Peck
GRHC founder/president

Want to Receive GRHC News?

emailIcon50Get updates including a free digital subscription to the Living Architecture Monitor.
Click Here

Become a Green Roofs Member

grhc logo80Join our growing community...

Click Here

Green Infrastructure Store

GIS Logo80Your source for manuals, proceedings, books, and more.
Click Here

The Rise of Living Architecture Book

coverimage110Order your copy of The Rise of Living Architecture Commemorative Edition
and learn from over 50 experts in the green roof and wall industry.

Green Roof Policy Brochure

World Green Infrastructure Congress


Living Architecture Monitor Magazine

LAM Spring 2017 cover