Former Swiss banker bringing a green roof to U of Guam
Visiting scholar and green roof advocate, Lieve Dierckx stands in front of an upcycled
shipping container where she plans to build a rooftop garden at the University of Guam
Center for Island Sustainability. Photo: UOG
How did a graphic designer turned multinational global banking cash manager turned environmental engineering student from Europe end up on Guam? She decided to follow her passion and offer something to increase and encourage sustainable living in the world.
Originally from Belgium and living many years in Switzerland, spending 15 challenging years in the banking industry was an experience that allowed Lieve Dierckx to develop valuable skills that she draws upon today. She is currently a student of environmental engineering at Zurich University of Applied Sciences with an intense interest in designing natural green roofs. As a student, she is eligible for an International Cooperation and Development internship, which brought her to Micronesia. How she chose Guam is quite a story.
“Summer 2017 was an extremely busy time for me as I was going to San Francisco for another new green roof project and following up on living roof projects at the California Academy of Sciences and at Drew School. I needed to submit my application for my international internship. I knew what I wanted to do for my project, but I still had no idea where I would go,” said Dierckx.
So she pulled out her large volume of Islands of the Pacific Oceans and started looking. Googling “Micronesia” and “green roofs,” she came upon the 2015 impact report from the University of Guam, Western Pacific Tropical Research Center, which had an article by turf scientist Dr. Greg Wiecko about his research on growing vegetation on rooftops in the tropics.
“I found his publication, ‘Green roofs in the tropics conserve energy’ in The Open Atmospheric Science Journal and decided to contact him. To my great pleasure, he replied instantly and I am here today,” said Dierckx.
Dierckx is serious about her work. She believes we all have a responsibility to take care of our planet. For Dierckx, making green roofs is giving something back, restoring what was taken from nature in building cities while having nature come alive on rooftops. She is working with Dr. Wiecko and Else Demeulenaere at the UOG Center for Island Sustainability implementing her plan to plant native plants on rooftop gardens using sustainable materials.
“I have taught two UOG classes about green roofs and the benefits and challenges for Guam for Greg and Else and was very impressed and inspired by the enthusiasm and focus of the students,” said Dierckx, “The visual beauty of Guam continues to amaze me everyday.”
In the short time Dierckx has been on Guam, she has already identified a shipping container for use as her first rooftop garden. Using recycled and easily available natural materials she wants to design rooftop gardens that are affordable for everyone. She believes green roofs offer many benefits including regulating the temperature in houses, which reduces power bills, as well as providing plants to be enjoyed by people and bees.
Anyone interested in Dierckx’s green roof project, can stop by the Center for Island Sustainability in Dean’s Circle, on the UOG campus to speak with her as she builds the first container green roof on Guam.