I’ve been on the road (or up in the air) for the past three months, meeting the “green people” – people deeply involved in green urban infrastructure. From old foxes to young enthusiasts who want to make difference in the green industry. Great people, and great creative minds! And we all share a common goal – to make our cities greener, healthier and more comfortable places to live – for everyone.
Urbanscape Green Roofs
Topics: green infrastructure
The word “green” is used increasingly frequently in the urban context, especially to describe various forms and structures. While we’re all familiar with greenery in the form of parks, playgrounds, squares and urban gardens, we’re now seeing more and more green roofs, walls and vertical farms, too – especially in built-up spaces.
The main reason we are losing our green surfaces is the ever-growing need for housing, stores, businesses and manufacturing facilities. The second reason is transportation infrastructure. While our green surfaces slowly disappear and are replaced by buildings, green solutions are already playing a big role in bringing biodiversity to the cities. Now the idea of green transportation infrastructure is starting to spread through the urban dictionary as well.
Standard houseboats – the sun raises indoor temperatures during summer
The houseboats have an lightweight wooden roof construction with a minimum insulation. In the summer the transfer of solar energy dramatically rises the indoor temperature.
In the majority of developed cities, Green Roofs make up about 40–50% of regulated urban surfaces. The quantity of rainwater from these roofs makes a significant contribution to the total volume of water that is channelled into the sewage network. This is the very reason rainwater is one of the main causes of floods in urban environments.
Plants have been growing on building façades since the first stone was laid – but living walls represent the next generation. The father of the patent for the idea of a green wall was Stanley Hart White back in 1938. However, it was Patrick Blanc who created the most famous green wall at the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris. Since then he has been recognized as the godfather of the ‘vegetal wall’.
Although we can use many names to describe this living wall, all of these names actually describe the distinguishing feature of the green wall itself. Some people use it to cover a concrete wall and improve its appearance; and some people do not have gardens, so they use vertical gardens to harvest various crops.
Green roofs and roof gardens date back to thousands of years. But despite the recorded existence of roof gardens, such as one of the seven wonders of the world, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, perhaps the first example of draping our buildings in flora to make them more appealing, little physical evidence has survived.
In ancient times green roofs consisted of cave like structures or sod roofs covered with earth and plants commonly used for agriculture, dwelling, and ceremonial purposes. These early shelters provided protection from the elements, good insulation during the winter months, and a cool location in the summer. The original inspiration for contemporary green roofs came from Iceland, where sod roofs and walls have been used for hundreds of years. The sod roofs soon became popular throughout Scandinavia. In those cold climates green roofs increased internal heat retention (Norwegians used soil on roofs as insulation, utilizing grasses and other species to hold the soil in place), and in hot climates they offered a kind of relief from the heat and created a “mountain” type of surroundings.
Topics: green infrastructure
In the summer of 2015, biodiversity was evaluated on sedum roofs in the Netherlands. In the process, the following species were observed: 3 types of diurnal butterflies, 29 types of nocturnal butterflies (moths), at least 4 types of wild bees, at least 7 types of hoverflies, 4 other insect types and 4 sorts of birds. The substrate layer was also investigated, and showed that this layer is also suitable for the pupal stage of many butterfly species. But will every roof scheme prove as successful? Can every green roof become biodiverse? Are there any differences between intensive and extensive green roofs? Let’s find out.
Topics: green infrastructure
Green roofs have recently gained great attention of urban planners and architects - mainly because of numerous social, economic and design-based benefits they bring to public, private, economic and social sectors, and even more important, to local and global environments.
You've all heard about how green roofs go beyond the meaning of contemporary architecture and give a new value to the role of buildings within urban planning. You also know they are designed not only to bring back the natural element in the urban environment, but also to provide solutions for important issues such as urban heat island effect and stormwater management.
What about other benefits? Do you really know it all?
Let's check all 3 categories of green roof benefits - environmental, economic and last but not least, social benefits of vegetative roofs...
Let's take a closer look at Europe1 (with similar trends worldwide):
- 75% of Europeans – and well more in the future – live in or around cities.
- City dwellers are exposed to pollutant levels exceeding EU air quality standards, in particular particulate matter (PM) and ozone (O3), with road transport being a significant source.
- Half of the EU's urban population is exposed to traffic noise levels above 55 dB.
- Cities emit 69% of Europe's CO2.
As these phenomena is not limited to the EU only, it is evident that a large part of the world’s population is now looking to move to a city, or lead their life in an urban metropolitan area; and at the very least will have to become totally dependent on food and other products drawn from renewable resources. (Swedin, 20132).