Green roof workshop

Just returned from a great green roof workshop organised by Ben Kimpton at The Ecology Consultancy. The workshop was by Gary Grant and Dusty Gedge of The Green Roof Consultancy and covered green roofs and living walls. Some interesting elements included popular myths and why they aren’t true:

  • Fire – The risk of fire is greater on normal roofs as they don’t have damp soil and plants on them.
  • Waterproofing – If a roof leaks it is usually bad installation by the roofer. A green roof stops ponding which can damage roofs and it also stops expansion and contraction in the heat which can also damage roofs.
  • Maintenance – This depends on design but can usually be minimal, a twice yearly inspection of drainage as you would with any other roof should be fine.
  • Structure – They are heavier but you can get a decent one for under 150kg m2
Roofs such as this one on Chicago City Hall reduce the need for cooling in buildings. The people working here don’t need to turn on the air conditioning until four in the afternoon.

Gary talked about Living walls including the Westfield one which he designed. These have many benefits similar to green roofs but require water to keep them going so aren’t quite such a neat solution but can provide biodiversity and other benefits where there is no alternative.

Finally Ben gave us an overview of green roofs and their relevance to ecology as well as a handy list of reasons to use them:

  • They reduce discharge
  • You get credits in BREEAM and the Code for Sustainable Homes
  • The Environment Agency requires them in certain circumstances
  • They help with cooling and heating
  • They improve a property and increase it’s value
  • They look cool
  • Building users are happier
  • They provide habitat for plants and animals