Art Series: Cool Globes (#4) – Green Roofs, Drop by Drop

ArtStyle will be presenting a weekly art series throughout the summer on the participating Cool Globe Exhibit artists. In this fourth series, we feature: Carol Luc’s Gracie Greenroof and Mirjana Ugrinov’s DROP BY DROP.

Carol Luc

Carol Luc and Mini-globe

Background: Degrees in painting from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, and Wayne State University, Detroit. Teaches design and illustration at American Academy of Art, Chicago, and chairs Department of Visual Communications.
Resident of Chicago who routinely exhibits her urban architecturally themed paintings and prints in the Midwest. She has been honored with several awards, artist’s residencies, and solo exhibitions.

Theme and Description: The theme assigned to this Cool Globe is how green roofs save water. Green roof systems are created by adding layers of growing medium and specially selected plants over the top of an enhanced traditional roofing system.

What are the environmental benefits of green roofs?

    Green roofs work to reduce urban heat islands, which the EPA defines as a metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surroundings. On hot summer days, urban air can be 2-10 degrees hotter than the surrounding countryside. Green roofs minimize heat-absorbing surfaces and provide improved air quality, as well help with storm water retention and filtration.

    A study of Chicago's City Hall green roof showed that there was a direct correlation between decreased ambient air temperature and cooling energy use. For every 1-degree drop in Fahrenheit temperature, there was a 1.2 percent drop in cooling energy use.

    Consider that on a 90-degree day, a green roof maintains a surface temperature of only 95 degrees, while a dark roof surface temperature is a blistering 160 degrees.

What are the benefits of plants / vegetation?

    Sedum plants are often specified for their hardy succulent character, are easy to grow, and come in a variety of colors and densities. The plants will go dormant in the winter, and others may change colors to dark reds and browns. In spring, growth will resume, and plants will bloom throughout the growing season.

    Green roof plants capture and hold rainwater. The water is stored in the soil media and is released through evaporation.

    Some jurisdictions have zero storm water runoff policies or require storm water ponds. By reducing impervious surface area through green roofs, sewage facilities are less burdened during heavy rainstorms, thus reducing the amount of rainwater entering the system.

What are the costs and benefits?

    The initial cost for installation of a green roof can be one-and-a-half to two times the cost of a traditional roof. With proper maintenance, the life expectancy of a roof can be doubled. If you add in the cost savings for heating and cooling a green building, and amortize it over the life of the roof, it's easy to see how green roofs come out on top.

    Green roofs can add beauty and useable space.

Method and Medium: The globe was primed and painted with acrylic paints, and I made a template of the city of Chicago skyline for the crown. I relied on the enthusiastic help of the Evanston Township High School welding class students and their instructor, James Koutsoures, to cut, polish and roll out her crown. I then painted the crown gold and applied glass “jewels.” Orlandi Statuary of Chicago created the interior platform to hold the plant and roofing materials, which weigh over 500 pounds!

Carol Luc Gracie Greenroof
Gracie Greenroof (mini-globe version). Located on the east stairway between the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium. Globe #40. Sponsor: Tecta America.

Gracie Greenroof works on several levels. She has a face designed to attract the young and young-at-heart, with educational talking points on the reverse side. The crown-skyline, epitomizing Chicago's desire to become the “greenest city” in the U.S., brings the living example of this technology down to eye level. The beauty of the plants is inspiring to look at, and help us appreciate the many benefits of a green roof.

The Cool Globes project has been a wonderful way for so many people to show concern and engender ongoing dialogue directed to global warming issues. It has allowed me to show my love of nature, a belief in the power of community to advance change, and a chance to connect to a wider audience through art.

Mirjana Ugrinov

Mirjana Ugrinov

Background: Chicago-based artist and designer. Her work has been featured nationally and internationally in over one hundred group shows and one-person installations. Her paintings, fiber art, 3-D installations and glass mosaics are in numerous private, public and corporate collections. She and her husband, Branislav, are principals of Ugrinov Associates, Inc., a Cleveland/Chicago commercial interior design firm, where she is the Design Director. Web site:

Theme and Description: The theme for my Cool Globe is conserve water.

The average American family uses 350 gallons of water every day! Power plants emit greenhouse gas pollution and work every time we turn on the tap by using electricity to extract, transport, purify, and distribute water. We can reduce water usage by fixing leaky faucets and hoses, and by replacing showerheads, toilets, faucets, and aerators with water saver models.

Heating water creates even more global warming pollution. We can set the water heater at 120 degrees F or lower to conserve energy. Older units should be insulated, and outgoing pipes should be wrapped. We can all take shorter showers and baths. Replacing the tankless models with solar heating systems will save energy, space, and money.

Mirjana Ugrinov Globe
DROP BY DROP. Located west of the Shedd Acquarium main entrance. Globe #34. Sponsor: WaterSaver Faucet Company.

Method and Medium: I painted the globe with acrylic paint to resemble the earth seen from outer space. I find that the globe painted in this way provides a strange familiarity and intimacy. Generously donated by my sponsor, nickel-plated, brass water-saving faucets and handles are attached to the globe. They serve at first glance as decorative elements, but their real purpose is to make the viewer think of his or her own simple solutions to conserve hot and purified water. The handles are clustered over regions that use the most hot and purified water — Western Europe, Canada and US.

Mirjana Ugrinov with Globe

I have been fascinated by the mystery of existence and human life for as long as I can remember. There is so much that we can’t explain or understand, but what we know is that the earth is a generous source of infinite beauty and sustenance for all that it holds. It may be seen as a dust particle in the universe, but to us humans, it is the only home we know — precious and worth loving, protecting, and appreciating. Often, we take our planet for granted, exploit it, wound it, and use its resources selfishly. We need to tend to it and respect its fragile beauty, which evokes nesting impulses in our collective consciousness.

Participating in the Cool Globes project was a privilege and an opportunity for artists to express their vision for a better world for us and generations to come. The artist’s voice is a poetic and visual reminder, capable of directly communicating concerns for our planet to the public.

(As a side story, I almost lost my life working on my globe. On April 10th, I accidentally fell through a trap-door opening in the studio, eight and a half feet down onto a concrete floor. I smashed my vertebrae, spent four days in the trauma unit, and had to wear a full body brace for almost a month. So, I was happy to be alive and on my feet at the opening gala of the globes in June. In heels! For me, it was a celebration beyond the Cool Globes.)

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