Green roofs turn                                  cities upside down                                                      ...
been on the scene for the last 10 to         The Subaru building in Singapore has aStormwater management is a             ...
Adelaide bushtops recreate biodiversity Landscape architect Graeme Hopkins and                                            ...
‘They are very low maintenance, suchthat I’ve weeded the walls once in 12months and the watering requirement isno more tha...
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Green Roofs turn Cities Upside Down


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Green Roofs turn Cities Upside Down

  1. 1. Green roofs turn cities upside down Imagine flying into an Australian city Designed by Lyons architects, the 6-starAs urban density increases, where instead of the traditional sprawl of rated Marine and Freshwater Resources Institute building at Queenscliff, Victoria,green roof and wall rooftops, buildings are covered by a blanket has landscaping which forms the roof and of green. Such a scenario may be sometechnology is evolving fast. way off but green roofs are appearing on acts as a thermal mass. Lyons architects commercial and residential buildings asIt provides a way to replace people start recognising their potential to technologies have developed in othervegetation lost on the ground moderate the effects of global warming. parts of the world over the last 30 years, Green roofs range from those that Australia is rapidly catching well as a host of energy, have a simple covering of grass – such ‘It is exciting to see green roofs being as Australia’s parliament house – to the embraced as a way of dealing with climatewater management and ‘bushtop’ systems being developed in change, but daunting because we don’t Adelaide which include biodiversity as well have a deep sense of the specific skillsaesthetic benefits. as significant insulation and stormwater required,’ she says. management benefits. Germany is viewed as the world Sidonie Carpenter, President of leader in green roof technology, with Green Roofs Australia and owner of the some 60 years’ experience in design Brisbane-based green roof and green wall and construction and whole suburban consultancy Green Canopy, has recently developments covered by green roofs. returned from the first meeting of the Other European countries, such as Iceland, World Green Roof Infrastructure Network Norway and France, also have very strong (WGRIN)1 in the United States. green roof industries. She says that while green roof In North America, green roofs have1 The World Green Roof Infrastructure Network was launched in December 2006, bringing together more than 15 green roof professional associations on four continents, and headed by Professor Manfred Kohler, a pioneer of green roof technology in Germany. Green Roofs Australia is Australia’s member of WGRIN.18 ECOS 143 | JUN–JUL | 2008
  2. 2. been on the scene for the last 10 to The Subaru building in Singapore has aStormwater management is a vehicle testing circuit and garden on its roof. 15 years. Toronto has more than 100major driver for green roofs in green roofs and an incentive scheme to Graeme Hopkins, Fifth Creek StudioNorth America and Europe and encourage their construction. Chicago, with more than 300 green roofs, also has a children, produces 60 kilograms of rice persomething which is becoming policy to encourage their inclusion in new year. It also has an organic vegetable plot,increasingly important in developments. a breeding colony of frogs in the water In Asia, Japan is the leader in green feature and a barbecue area for corporateAustralian cities. roof technology with some innovative functions. examples, such as the Roppongi Hills In Australia, as more architects, urban building in Tokyo where a rice paddy on planners and developers and their clients the sixth floor, planted by local school start demanding buildings that are more energy efficient, the idea of incorporating rooftop gardens and greenery on walls is becoming more common. Benefits of green roofs include thermal insulation, which reduces energy use in heating and cooling. For a multi-storey building, this energy saving is about 10 per cent and for a single storey building it is 20 per cent, says Adelaide architect, landscape architect and ‘bushtop’ pioneer, Graeme Hopkins. Stormwater management is a major driver for green roofs in North America and Europe and something which is becoming increasingly important in Australian cities. Research is being carried out by Monash University and Melbourne Water on the benefits of green roofs for stormwater management. Green roofs also reduce the ‘heatThe ACROS Fukuoka building, Japan, uses cascading greenery to cool its interior and add island’ effect in cities by lowering thehigh aesthetic value. Graeme Hopkins, Fifth Creek Studio temperature of the building surface and143 | JUN–JUL | 2008 ECOS 19
  3. 3. Adelaide bushtops recreate biodiversity Landscape architect Graeme Hopkins and a bat nesting box to attract some of the nine his partner Christine Goodwin are taking the species of micro-bats in the CBD. idea of green roofs a step further with their In his role as principal urban designer with urban ‘bushtop’ concept, which involves Planning SA, Graeme Hopkins is trying to creating a whole ecosystem above city offset some of the impacts of urban density buildings. on the city’s parks and open spaces by The couple, co-directors of Adelaide increasing vegetation – albeit on walls and design firm Fifth Creek Studio, initiated a roofs, rather than on the ground. series of bushtop living roofs throughout Hopkins is working closely with the School the CBD. The first bushtop to be of Urban Ecology at the University of South constructed is on the fourth floor of a Australia to plot the old migratory patterns community housing development at of birds and insects through the city in order Hocking Place, which recently won the to target developments on the migratory Australian Institute of Landscape Architects path as future bushtop refuges. SA Award for Residential Design and a In collaboration with the University of Special Citation for Future Directions for South Australia and Adelaide City Council, Cities. he is also working on a pilot project, which The bushtop is an accessible green roof takes the stepping-stone system further, that combines animal and insect habitat using ground level, walls and rooftops to with passive recreational access by the create a vegetated corridor that will provide residents of the building’s 15 apartments. It pedestrian and cycle access across the city. includes native plant species such as sedges ‘It includes about 12 layers of separate and grasses to attract butterflies and birds. designs, from harvesting stormwater, Hopkins says the most important cleaning it, storing it under the road requirement for supporting biodiversity pavement, recirculating it back into the on green roofs is water. Other factors are Native grasses and shrubs on the roof of building using biofilters and the roofs Hocking Place in Adelaide are attracting the limited space to establish permanent and walls for biodiversity corridors and local insect and birdlife. Fifth Creek Studio populations, access to the roofs and pedestrian usage, all totally integrated,’ says availability of nutrients. Hopkins. ‘Green roofs can serve as essential effective as a continuous strip in allowing The first stage is expected to commence “stepping-stone habitats” in an urban many species to live in an area,’ he says. later this year and will provide a landscape. In fact, a close mosaic of As well as plants to attract birds and demonstration site for other developments stepping-stone habitat patches may be as insects, the Hocking Place rooftop includes in the city.thus the ambient temperature. The Cityof Toronto estimates that eight per centof green-roofed buildings will reduce thetemperature by about 2°C. Another benefit is cleaner air fromplants trapping harmful particulates anddust. Also, solar panels have been found towork more efficiently on green roofs thanon a normal roof surface because of thelower surface temperature. Benefits can be extended from therooftop to the sides of the building bygreen or living walls, where plants aregrown onto a vertical system, based onprinciples of hydroponics for moistureand nutrients. Graeme Hopkins is trialling thesuitability of various native plants, suchas grasses, sedges and saltbush, in livingwalls at his Adelaide Hills home and office.He says the living walls capture people’simagination and are ideally suited formedium density developments where theycan introduce a whole new aspect. ‘If you get the right plants they look soluscious and tactile, you just want to pat The Roppongi Hills roof garden in Tokyo includes a rice paddy that produces 60 kg of rice athem,’ he says. year. Graeme Hopkins, Fifth Creek Studio20 ECOS 140 | DEC–JAN | 2008 143 JUN–JUL
  4. 4. ‘They are very low maintenance, suchthat I’ve weeded the walls once in 12months and the watering requirement isno more than five minutes a day on a dripsystem.’ Living walls can also be used to linkrooftops to the ground to create a greencorridor that provides habitats for birds,insects and small lizards to colonise. Melbourne’s Council House 2, a six-star rated green building, uses some ofthe building’s recycled water in a rooftopgarden and ‘vertical gardens’ that run upthe northern facade and provide shading tothe building. Challenges for the industry are theneed for standards and policies, which willmake inclusion of green roofs and wallsin buildings much easier, says SidonieCarpenter. ‘Plant selection, growing mediumsand the requirement in Australia for year-round maintenance are other challengesfor the industry,’ she says. ‘The places where green roofs weredeveloped experience a short summer Completed in 2001, the primary purpose of Chicago’s City Hall Green Roof Pilot Project was toand long winter so the growing season is facilitate research and educational outreach within the context of a mid-western US climate.much tighter. In Australia, maintenance is Graeme Hopkins, Fifth Creek Studiorequired for 12 months of the year.’ A number of landscape firms are Australia won’t publish a plant list on The second annual Green Roofs Australiaresearching plant selection and species its website, despite receiving many conference will be held in Brisbane,for green roofs and walls. Other enquiries, and she recommends including 18–20 June 2008.research is investigating new methods a horticulturist in any green-roof designof waterproofing and soil profiles for team. More information:Australian conditions. Another area where she sees great Green Roofs Australia, But, Ms Carpenter says, every site potential is the retrofitting of residential http://greenroofs.wordpress.comis specific as different buildings have buildings. ‘This is a huge opportunity World Green Roof Infrastructure Network, http://www.worldgreenroof.orgdifferent solar access, wind conditions and and market to get whole communities toinfrastructure on the roof. embrace green roof technology.’ Green Roofs for Healthy Cities North America, She says for this reason Green Roofs • Robin Taylor Food from the rooftop management in shopping malls, isolated communities and mine sites. Growing vegetables in rooftop gardens is an idea also attracting interest in the United States, where students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison recently won a university award for their business idea, known as Sky Vegetables, to grow vegetables on supermarket roofs. Vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers would be cultivated year round Sky Vegetables are working towards US supermarkets growing saleable produce from their in rooftop greenhouses and sold in the own roof spaces. Sky Vegetables supermarkets below. ‘Produce will be picked A project led by Central Queensland plant nutrients from urban organic wastes as it ripens, and taken to the sales shelf in University is investigating growing food with vermiculture (where worms break down less than half and hour,’ says Keith Agoada, plants on rooftops. The aim is to recycle organic matter) to produce vegetables, some one of the three students who developed the organic wastes into fresh food within half a of which will be grown on rooftops. scheme. kilometre of where the wastes are generated. Leader of the project, Dr David Midmore, He says a few supermarkets have It is one aspect of an urban organic waste hopes to develop a business model, as expressed interest in the plan and, while management pilot project being developed in well as training and operational manuals, it is still early days, the fledgling company the Brisbane–Ipswich urban corridor. Research for an urban rooftop micro-farm concept is optimistic about implementing the first and demonstrations are aimed at extracting that can be repeated for innovative waste system in 2009.143 | JUN–JUL | 2008 ECOS 21