Category Archives: Sustainability

Echos of Sustainability: A Heart-Centered Project

Earth Day has come and gone again. 


On that day, your ILT Vignocchi team sat in the corporate office discussing upcoming projects and what lies ahead.


This led us to reminisce on a past project where a commercial client expressed a strong commitment to sustainability for their property, and we were delighted to assist in bringing their vision to fruition. This particular property was known as Tetra Pak at the time, and is located in Vernon Hills. 


Among the various aspects of the project, we developed a comprehensive tree preservation plan, adhering to tree preservation measures and silt fencing to protect the existing trees on site. Additionally, we oversaw the tree clearing operation, ensuring it was conducted with precision and care. 



Utilizing resources efficiently, we also repurposed bark mulch created from the grubbing operation, storing it for future use in naturalizing transition areas between native habitats. Moreover, we carefully dug up and preserved native trees for relocation within the property, ensuring not to disturb the ecological balance. 


Complementing these initiatives, we meticulously implemented the landscape blueprint, integrating features like boulder retaining walls strategically positioned to preserve as many trees as possible. Additionally, we crafted a paver walk complete with granite curbing and metal hand railing, guiding employees from the parking lot to the main building entrance.


Another unique aspect of this project was that the construction of the building was initiated from the interior, minimizing the presence of heavy machinery around the exterior, thus preventing damage to tree roots. Upon project completion, there was only a three-foot gap between the building’s edge and the surrounding forest. 


Overall, it was a win for sustainability and a testament to the power of nature-inspired design.


Yet one of the most significant achievements of the project was the seamless collaboration across various operations, as experts came together to strategize and implement a landscape plan centered around preserving the existing plant material.



It’s safe to say that it was a heart-centered project, fueled by genuine care and a collective commitment to excellence. 


You see, sustainability isn’t just about large corporations eliminating harmful practices; it’s about turning our individual care and concern about this beautiful planet into actionable steps to preserve its integrity. 


And here are a few simple tips to get started, no matter how big or small your property is: 


  • Mulch and compost: Utilize recycled landscape waste to protect root systems and enrich the soil, conserving water and promoting plant health.


  • Plant a tree: Each tree serves as a vital ally in the fight against climate change, absorbing pollution, sequestering carbon, and providing habitat for wildlife.


  • Start a vegetable or herb garden: Whether you have acres or a balcony, growing your own food reduces reliance on pesticides and transportation while fostering a deeper connection to nature.


  • Introduce houseplants: Indoor greenery not only enhances air quality but also brings a touch of nature into our homes, fostering a sense of calm and well-being.


We hope this information has inspired you and helped you see what’s possible.

Give us a call at 847.487.5200 (ext: 2220) or send a message to get started.


As always, if you’re ready to link arms with a knowledgeable team that can turn your vision into a lasting landscape, you know where to find us!


New You Tube Post: Video Presentation

Our design staff is constantly experimenting with new technology to better communicate our creative vision.  This new video is presenting a virtual experience for a large scale community in Burr Ridge that is implementing a multi year redesign and installation that will be focused on making the landscape more beautiful and sustainable.

When creating sustainable landscape options for our customers, we achieve not only the satisfaction of doing the right thing for our environment while creating an atmosphere of plants native to Illinois, but help reduce long term maintenance costs for our customer.

Memories of rain and trains

This morning one of my two favorite moments happened simultaneously…laying in bed while it is still dark out listening to the rain and hearing the distant sound of a train’s horn.  It might seem like a simple thing, but simple things can transport us back to simpler times.

The sound of a train blowing it’s horn in the early moments before daybreak bring me back to time spent at my mother’s family farm in Indiana.  It conjures a picture in my mind of crisp red and white, an apple orchard, and my grandfather sitting alone in the kitchen before dawn with a cup of coffee, his profile illuminated by the small light on the kitchenstove.

My family is very proud of our small farm and their father, mother, brothers and sisters, who worked so hard to provide the necessities.  You see, they were tied to the land.  Growing to feed their families.  They were prey to the same things we are prey to in our business…the weather, pests, disease, and ah yes…little critters.

I remember my grandfather had a book that outlined how and what he would plant each year, and how he intended to rotate those crops annually to get a better yield.  Thinking back I wished I had had more interest, asked more questions.  Maybe he had some secrets I could have used, not scientific research like we have abound today, but something he knew in his gut.

I was fortunate to have both sets of grandparents come from a place and time that held enormous respect for the land’s ability to provide beauty and sustenance.  They only bought what they could not grow and they worked painstakingly hard for what they had to buy.

When my husband and I started a family, one of the first things we did was create a vegetable garden.  I would constantly seek my mother and my grandmother’s advice.  I would create a book, like my grandfather and make certain to rotate my crops.  I made certain it was pretty as well.  We also battled bunnies, pests, weather and disease.  Although that garden fills me with immense satisfaction, joy and pride, it pales in comparison to the gardens of both of my grandparents and my mother’s.

But I do it, not just because it makes me think of my family, but because it reminds me and teaches my daughter…or as my mother says, “the land will always provide.”

Donna Vignocchi Zych

vegetable gardening

Donna’s Garden

Old Concepts, New Technology, Sustainable Results

Growing plants on rooftops is not a new concept. Centuries ago northern Scandinavians harvested sod from their surrounding landscape and placed it upon structures to create effective insulating and water resistant roof systems.  The Vikings who explored the upper Atlantic built grass-covered homes where they settled and in Iceland sod roofs and walls have been used for hundreds of years.

Although the living roof or green roof has been in use for a long time, modern green roof technology has helped to elevate this building method from a crudely effective construction element to an aesthetically pleasing, ecologically responsible building solution for age-old building problems and current environmental concerns.

green roof or living roof is a roof of a building or other structure that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. It may also include additional layers such as a root barrier and drainage and irrigation systems.

Green roofs can be very basic, known as extensive green roofs that incorporate drought-tolerant, self-seeding native ground covers such as sedums, grasses, mosses and prairie flowers that require little or no irrigation, fertilization or maintenance. These green roofs are lightweight, inexpensive, and can be retrofitted onto existing buildings, often without significant alterations or additional structural support.

Intensive green roofs are more elaborate roof gardens designed for human interaction. They generally have a relatively flat roof surface or mild slope and allow for a larger selection of plants, including shrubs and trees and require specific engineering to be able to conform to the weight load requirements.

Today, the green roof is gaining in popularity as an environmentally conscious architectural expression that is a viable element of any sustainable landscape management plan; and here is why:

  • Storm-water runoff will be greatly decreased with the utilization of a living roof. The growing medium and the vegetation of a green roof retain large amounts of storm water and release it back into the environment. A typical green roof can absorb 30% of the rainwater that falls on it, reducing the amount of water that goes through our waste water systems.
  • It is a common misassumption that a green roof system will have a deleterious effect on the integrity of the roof system. Quite the opposite.  A well designed, correctly installed green roof will protect the waterproof membrane that lies beneath it and, in turn, will extend the overall life of a roof.  Recent studies indicate an increase in life span of almost double.
  • Green roofs absorb carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming; and the slow transpiration of water back into the air creates a cooling effect that helps reduce the heat retention and emanation in and around your building.
  • In addition to the energy saving features described above, the actual mass and density of a living roof will provide excellent sound insulation for a building as well.
  • And let’s not forget the aesthetic benefits of the rooftop garden. The roof garden intermingles the pre-construction environment with the built environment creating a sustainable cooperation between development and nature.  People love to interact in the relative secluded natural setting created by the intensive garden on a rooftop space.  Additionally, they benefit emotionally and psychologically from the ability to even look upon the greenery of an intensive or an extensive roof top garden.

Green roof technology was re-invented in Germany in the mid-20th century and quickly spread throughout Europe mainly due to its restorative environmental impact.

Today, Chicago has been a leader in green roof installations with up to 7 million square feet on approximately 500 rooftops; the most of any city in the United States.  The benefits of the green roof have not been ignored by suburban businesses and multi-family residential buildings either.

Green roofs add beauty, sustainability and longevity to buildings

Corporations, commercial building owners, and homeowners associations are looking for solutions to increase employee well-being, decrease their carbon footprints, increase their LEEDS scores, and differentiate their properties from their competition.  The rooftop garden has proven to be just such a solution.

Reach out to ILT Vignocchi today to inquire about the potential for your headquarters, office building, clubhouse, or other structure to benefit from a green roof installation.