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In urban areas, roofs represent roughly around 25% of the surface area. This is a huge opportunity for those with both commercial and environmental objectives. These underutilised spaces are vitally important as they can be reclaimed as new habitats that previously had been lost to construction developments.
The level of green roofing varies considerably around the globe. The green roofing industry has seen continual growth year on year in Europe, while in the USA growth has been slightly slower. Living roofs are predominantly a feature of more temperate climates such as northern Europe, while in more arid or tropical regions the challenges appear to be greater. In Germany, nearly 12% of flat roofs are roofed with plants and expected to see a growth of around 10% per year.
Meanwhile, back in the UK, the take up has been slower, but more and more people are becoming more appreciative of the advantages of having a botanically inspired roof. Part of the problem has been overcoming a number of barriers. The main issues being lack of awareness and education and though we cannot ignore the higher installation costs, government policy could be more encouraging considering the overall benefits. Local government can play a role influencing green roofing. In Sheffield, the city council now requires that any new build in excess of 1000m2 must have as a minimum 80% green cover. As a result of this policy, many new buildings such as schools, hospitals and commercial builds feature green roofing systems in the area. The University of Sheffield has also played an important role by conducting research with a UK context and has even developed a Green Roof Centre of Excellence.
Once installed, there are a number of advantages to be gained including energy saving costs. A green roof will provide an element of insulation during the winter months helping to reduce heat loss and in the summer will keep a building cooler there by saving on the costs of air- conditioning. A number of UK firms have already taken the lead with large scale schemes including Rolls Royce, Sainsbury’s, Eversheds and Kanes Foods. The Rolls Royce factory at Goodwood has one of the biggest green roofs in Europe covering 32,000m2. Canary Wharf in London boasts a number of green roof developments including the Barclays building which had 400m2 retrofitted to the roof. It is now the highest green roof in Europe. Meanwhile, Kanes Foods' green roof has pushed their green credentials to a new level. It soaks up the rainwater water which is then pumped into underground tanks and then used to flush staff toilets. All of these developments have created new habitats for indigenous plants, insects and some species of birds.
While commercial developments have the budget to green their roofs, there are still challenges to be faced in terms of getting the general public fully on board. Fortunately, there are a number of high quality, low cost solutions available on the market (such as the Riefa Green Roofing System) that could be used in new residential developments or retrofitted to existing roofs. There are a number of legitimate concerns regarding durability and maintenance issues, but these are really only a concern with cheap off-the shelf products or if installation has been done poorly. Once installed in a domestic setting, there is a lot of joy and pleasure to be gained by adding a new habitat for both flora and fauna to thrive.
If you want to find out more about the Riefa Green Roofing System then please request the Riefa Green Roof Brochure.
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Wednesday 29th of July 2015
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Riefa® Board is a unique ultra light weight roof greening product. The first and only green roofing system suitable for both new build and legacy roof projects. Ideal for sedum roof or bespoke planting.