Maryland nursery specializes in plants for green roofs

Green roofs are quickly becoming a standard for improving building energy efficiency and managing storm water run-off. Chicago became a green roofing hub during the Daley administration, and Toronto now mandates them for new buildings. But, unless a building owner has plans for a rooftop garden (and the care required for it), a green roof requires plants that can thrive under hot, dry, and sunny conditions. Farmer and management consultant Ed Snodgrass saw an opportunity here, and, in 2004, expanded his wholesale nursery into the green roof plants niche.

Snodgrass and partner John Shepley’s Emory Knoll Farms operate greenhouses year-round that grow plants that survive in the hot, dry conditions found on rooftops: “sedums, groundcovers, herbaceous perennials, and grasses” that originated in the Mediterranean, Africa, and Asia. The nursery has supplied plants for over 700 green roof projects (or about 102 acres of planted roofs), mostly in the Eastern, Central and Southern US, but also in other parts of the world.

Partners Snodgrass and Shepley seem to have hit upon a solid niche: they generated $815,000 in revenue last year, and are on track for $850,000 to $1 million this year. Bloomberg Businessweek likes what these entrepreneurs are doing: they included them in this year’s list of America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs.

Check out the company’s website, including its sustainability information, and let us know what you think. Strikes me as really innovative… though I also wonder about invasiveness of any plant species they grow (and perhaps some of you can answer that).


Image credit: Dylan Passmore at Flickr under a Creative Commons license