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We’re Going Greener in the Ken Spencer Science Park

In the Ken Spencer Science Park, we’re always looking to inspire future, sustainable communities and we hope to demonstrate how the choices we make can positively influence the natural world. As we eased into this sunny summer, the park was ready with loads of new innovations and science wonders that are focused on conserving resources and thinking about space and design. 


New planters have been installed in the housing area of the park. Their design was graciously donated by Sharp & Diamond Landscape Architecture, a local leader in green design, with their practice rooted in sustainability (pun intended). Sharp & Diamond chose plants for the planters that are native to British Columbia. This is very important to us, because over time, these plants have evolved traits that make them well adapted to this particular environment. This means that they grow well without us having to fuss over them much and they support the natural ecosystem. Our science facilitators really appreciate their low maintenance, because our facilitators are already busy tending the vegetable gardens, caring for the chickens, facilitating the exhibits and running special programs! These plants were generously donated and installed by Houston Landscapes and Golden Spruce Nurseries.

Irrigation Systems

Even in this hot dry weather, you won’t see our Science Park staff watering these planters very often, thanks to the innovative, internal irrigation system hidden beneath the plants and soil that helps conserve water. The system and planters were kindly donated by Planters Perfect. The planters are locally made from solid, marine-grade aluminum and designed to last for a very long time—and they’re also recyclable! The internal irrigation system is made from recycled material, which was installed beneath the plants and acts as a reservoir. This reservoir system allows the water to be taken up slowly by the plants as needed, through capillary action.

Green Roof

We thought our new planters would be the perfect addition to the landscape around the L41 home—a 220 square foot, ultra-compact house that we feature in the Science Park. Not only does this home make excellent use of space, it also features a green roof with plants, provided by Architek. Green roofs are beneficial for multiple reasons. For one, they absorb rainwater. The water will either evaporate or transpire through leaves and return to the atmosphere, instead of flowing quickly over concrete and into our storm drains—often carrying waste and pollutants with it. Green roofs also help cool cities, since they absorb sunrays and water. Without greenery, light is converted into heat energy as it hits hot, man-made surfaces, like black rooftops.

With the right plants and the right design, we can all have beautiful plantings that also tell a cool story. Remember to ask our staff about touring the house while you’re here admiring the greenery! For more insights on conservation and how to be more sustainable, take a whirl around the Our World: BMO Sustainability Gallery