Green Roofs and Walls inspiration guide


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Green roofs and walls provide many environmental and community benefits. They are vital parts of a sustainable city helping plants grow and thrive on the top of buildings and vertical walls, differing from traditional gardens.

If you're interested in starting a green roof or wall in your home, this is a great guide for you.

Discover the ‘ins and outs’ of green roofs and walls, and window-shop all the options, to help you decide on what choice best suits your home.

Published in: Lifestyle, Business, Technology

Green Roofs and Walls inspiration guide

  1. 1. Contents Overview 02 Why Build Green? 03 Green Walls Basic Green Walls 05 Semi-intensive Green Walls 06 Intensive Green Walls 07 Green Wall Selector 08 FAQs 08 Sydney Green Map 09 Green Roofs Shallow (Extensive) 12 Deep (Intensive) 12 Mixed (Semi-Intensive) 13 Green Roof Selector 14 Next Steps 14 Question Checklist 14 How Heavy Will My Roof Be? 15 FAQs 15 Profiles Sky-High Sanctuary 16 Wonderwall 16 Plant Picker 17 FRONTCOVERIMAGE:ROSEOFAUSTRALIAHOTEL,ERSKINEVILLE
  2. 2. Green roofs and walls provide many environmental and community benefits. They are vital parts of a sustainable city helping plants grow and thrive on the top of buildings and vertical walls, differing from traditional gardens. The City of Sydney has adopted the first ever green roofs and walls policy in Australia, which sets out our commitment to increase the number of high quality green roofs and walls in the City. This guide is full of tips on how to find the best green roof or wall for you. We hope this guide inspires you to green your home, and in doing so, make Sydney a greener city. Clover Moore Lord Mayor City of Sydney CENTRAL PARK, CHIPPENDALE IMAGE COURTESY OF FRASERS PROPERTY AUSTRALIA & SEKISUI HOUSE AUSTRALIA
  3. 3. Why Build Green? There are plenty of pluses to creating a green roof or green wall, not just for you but for your community and the environment we share. THE MORE GREEN ROOFS OR WALLS THERE ARE IN THE COMMUNITY THE MORE WE CAN: Help clean the air we share Provide habitat for biodiversity Slow down and clean stormwater Reduce city temperatures Take more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere! BUILDING A GREEN ROOF OR WALL AT HOME HELPS TO: Beautify and add value to your home Provide space to grow fresh food Insulate and regulate temperatures and noise Lower your heating and cooling bills Encourage others to do the same! 3
  4. 4. As a city, we have fallen in love with green walls. These lush wonders sprouting around town are known as living walls, vertical gardens or even green facades – all one and the same, acting as support systems for plants to grow upside a wall or along the side of buildings – offering a living, breathing makeover. Choosing a green wall isn’t exactly a one-size-fits-all exercise. Deciding on a system that’s right for you is vital to its growth and to your enjoyment of it. So let’s window-shop a few of the options. Green Walls 1 BLIGH STREET, SYDNEY 4
  5. 5. This basic variety of green wall comprises a simple system that sees plants growing directly from the earth or in a grounded planter box. They use a trellis or wire to encourage the growth to spread up the wall for that ultimate ‘wow’ factor. Easy to install and maintain. Most of the weight is on the ground rather than on the wall. $ $ Plants will take time before growing enough to cover the wall, so expect to see a bare frame for a while. BasicGREEN WALLS WATERLOO YOUTH, FAMILY & COMMUNITY CENTRELEAMINGTON LANE, NEWTOWN PRIVATE RESIDENCE, EGAN STREET, NEWTOWN COST 5
  6. 6. As a mid-range option, semi-intensive green walls are made up of planter boxes or a container that attaches to the wall with plants growing inside them. They can come in ready-to-go kits consisting of a frame, containers and irrigation, or you can take a DIY approach and attach planters to a wall at a lesser expense. If you are renting and want to take your green wall on-the-go, free-standing structures are also an option. $ $ Allows you to use upcycled materials, keeping it even greener. You may need to have some handy skills to ensure planters are well attached to a sound wall. FOREST LODGE ECO HOUSE IMAGE COURTESY OF CHRIS KNIERIM DARLINGHURST ROAD, KINGS CROSS Semi- intensive GREEN WALLS COST 6
  7. 7. These more complex systems create a thick, lush and instant green wall where layers of felt are attached to the wall and plants added into felt pockets. They require little soil, but do need an irrigation system in place to provide plants with water and nutrients. These walls are more expensive to install and maintain and require regular watering. Perfect for those who want an instant, lush and impressive green wall right from the get-go. $ $COST CENTRAL PARK, CHIPPENDALE IMAGE COURTESY OF FRASERS PROPERTY AUSTRALIA & SEKISUI HOUSE AUSTRALIA GREEN PARK HOTEL, DARLINGHURST IMAGE COURTESY OF THE HOTEL ROSE BAY SUSTAINABLE HOME IMAGE COURTESY OF PIDCOCK ARCHITECTS PHOTOGRAPHY: SUE STUBS PRIVATE RESIDENCE, PETERSHAM IMAGE COURTESY OF GERARD PAGE, GREENBOX ARCHITECTURE GREEN WALLS Intensive 7
  8. 8. FAQs How do I grow food on my wall? Choose plants with shallow root systems such as herbs, Asian greens and lettuces (see page 30). How much upkeep will they need? Once established, basic systems require very little maintenance. However, the semi-intensive and intensive systems require more regular care. Installing an irrigation system will cut down your upkeep time. What about waterproofing? Moisture is vital for healthy plants, so make sure your wall is properly water proofed. You can also install a self-contained green wall (where water does not leave the system). Is my wall strong enough? If you are worried that your wall is not strong enough, install a free-standing system or get a structural engineer to assess your wall first. What should I look for when buying a DIY kit? The more soil you use, the easier it will be to look after your plants, but the heavier it will be. Choose a system that has plant containers with at least 150mm soil depth and good drainage. An integrated drip irrigation system is also great. Green Wall Selector Walllooksgreatfromdayone Requiresminimalgardeningknowledge Reasonabletogoodhandy-personskillsrequired Perfectforupcycleditemse.g.pallets&containers Betterformoreexperiencedgardeners Goodforshadyyards Cheapertoinstall Greatforgrowingfood Greatforsunnyyards BASICSEMI-INTENSIVEINTENSIVE Refer to the selector below to choose your ideal green wall. 8
  9. 9. As our city expands, it makes perfect sense to look to our roofs and walls to supply us with ideal environments for our newest gardens. We already have almost 100,000m2 of green roofs and walls dotted throughout Sydney and things are about to get even greener. Check out the map and discover just how green Sydney is! Sydney Green Map A selection of Sydney’s best publicly accessible green roofs and walls. GREEN WALLS 1. Bligh Street 1 Bligh St, Sydney 2. Central Park 28 Broadway, Chippendale 3. ECO House 43 Foss St, Forest Lodge 4. Green Park Hotel 360 Victoria St, Darlinghurst 5.Macdonaldtown Railbridge Leamington Lane, Newtown 6. NAB 255 George St, Sydney 7. Patagonia Store, 93 Bathurst St, Sydney 8. Pullman Hotel 26-36 College St, Sydney 9. Shelbourne Hotel 200 Sussex St, Sydney 10. Elizabeth Street 231 Elizabeth St, Sydney 11. William Street Overpass Darlinghurst Rd, Kings Cross 12. Rose of Australia Hotel 1 Swanson St, Erskineville GREEN ROOFS 13. Beare Park 13 Esplanade, Elizabeth Bay 14. Darling Park 231-239 & 241-249 Sussex St, Sydney 15. KENS Site 271 Kent St, Sydney 16. Lawrence Hargrave Park 9 Elizabeth Bay Rd, Elizabeth Bay 17. Paddington Reservoir Gardens 251-255 Oxford St, Paddington 18. Prince Alfred Park Pool Chalmers St, Surry Hills 19. The Conservatorium of Music 1 Conservatorium Rd, Sydney 20. Wharf Terraces 16 Lincoln Crescent, Woolloomooloo 21. Waterloo Youth, Family and Community Centre Cnr of Elizabeth and Allen St, Waterloo 9
  11. 11. By creatively using our roofs and balconies as innovative garden spaces, we’re ensuring our green city remains on the up – literally! From the flat rooftop areas of terraces and apartment blocks to the more generously sized areas belonging to office buildings throughout the CBD and beyond, taking our gardens to the sky makes perfect sense. Let’s look at the ‘ins and outs’ of green roofs to help you decide on what choice best suits you. Green Roofs M CENTRAL, PYRMONT IMAGE COURTESY OF 360ª PHOTOGRAPHY: SUE STUBBS 11
  12. 12. These green roofs generally require a soil depth of less than 150mm. Designed to support plants with shallow roots, this green roof option is perfect for succulents and grasses, offering endless possibilities to create unique colour palates, texture ranges and pattern designs high above the streets. Lighter in weight and easier to install on top of existing buildings. While offering good insulation and beautiful aesthetic value, they cannot generally be used as outdoor living areas. $ $ These more detailed roofs have soil depths from 150mm up to 1 metre or more. Deep green roofs can support a wide range of plants through to large trees and can even feature ponds, outdoor furniture and BBQ facilities – making them ideal private sanctuaries or shared community spaces. Can support plants, shrubs, ponds and trees – a lot like having your own private park on your roof. Extra soil means extra weight so professional advice and structural underpinning may be needed. $ $ PRINCE ALFRED PARK POOL, SURRY HILLS HOLT AND HART BUILDING, SURRY HILLS IMAGE COURTESY OF BILLARD LEECE PARTNERSHIP, SJB AND MAINBRACE PHOTOGRAPHY: DANIEL HOPPER (EXTENSIVE) GREEN ROOFS (INTENSIVE) GREEN ROOFS Shallow Deep 12
  13. 13. This option includes a mix of soil depths from 150mm to 300mm or more, creating an ideal environment for shallow root plants through to medium sized plants, such as grasses, flowering plants and shrubs. While they may require a little more care, semi-intensive roofs offer the potential to create a formal garden effect. Offers great building insulation and a broader diversity of plants. If you want to grow food you’ll need at least 300mm of soil media for healthy growth.$ $ BARONS BUILDING, KINGS CROSS IMAGE COURTESY OF DURBACH BLOCK JAGGERS ARCHITECTS PHOTOGRAPHY: ANTHONY BROWELL DARLING PARK, SYDNEY (SEMI-INTENSIVE) GREEN ROOFS Mixed 13
  14. 14. 21 3 54 Engage an architect or green roof specialist to design your green roof. Get your waterproofing assessed to ensure there are no leaks or penetrations before installation. Engage a structural engineer to assess the strength and capacity of your existing or proposed roof. Make sure the engineer and designer speak with each other to ensure the green roof design is appropriate for the strength of your building. Submit a Development Application to Council. Log on to the City of Sydney website to find out more about the DA process. Once you’ve decided on the green roof type that’s best for you, you might want to look into these following steps: Top 5 questions to ask your architect or green roof designer before engaging them. 1 2 3 4 How many green roof projects have you completed? What waterproofing system do you recommend and why? Do you have experience with similar sized projects? Can you please provide me with references for other green roof projects you have completed? Who is responsible if the waterproofing is penetrated or damaged? Green Roofs Selector Next Steps Question checklist DEEPMIXED Refer to the selector below to choose your ideal green roof. Createsagreathabitattosupportlocalbiodiversity Perfectuseofagreenroofasanoutdoorspaceforenjoyment Perfectfornativeplants Idealforgrowingfoodonmyroof SHALLOW Imainlywantmygreenroofforinsulation Iwanttoinstallagreenroofonmyexistingroof 14
  15. 15. This rough guide will give you an idea of the wet weights for green roofs and some of the materials you may use. The weights are approximates only, but will help you and your designer create the perfect roof. Shallow Soil 100mm 120 kg/m2 Mixed Soil 200mm 240 kg/m2 Deep Soil 500mm 600 kg/m2 All Gravel 100mm 150-180 kg/m2 All Pavers 40-50mm 70-150 kg/m2 ROOF TYPE MATERIAL DEPTH SATURATED WEIGHT (APPROX. ONLY) How heavy will my roof be? FAQs How do I know what type of green roof my home can support? A structural engineer can assess your home and help you determine what type of green roof is best. Do I need a DA? Yes – in most cases you will need to submit a Development Application. If you are unsure about the DA process you can arrange to talk to a council planner before submitting your DA. Do green roofs cause leaks? No - green roofs provide added protection for the roof. It’s important that waterproofing is installed properly in the first place. For extra peace of mind, test waterproofing before installing the green roof or add an extra leak detection layer. Can a green roof insulate my home? Yes it can. It insulates against noise and keeps home temperatures more consistent, reducing the need for artificial heating and cooling which will save you money! How easy are green roofs to maintain? More maintenance is needed in the first one to two years. After that, a shallow green roof will only need checking one to two times a year. Like any garden, the more elaborate your landscaping the more often you’ll need to look after it. WHARF APARTMENTS, WOOLLOOMOOLOO 15
  16. 16. While installing his backyard pool, Gerard Page included this spectacular green wall for added effect. This impressive system is more than 14m2 and uses a mixture of felt bags and buckets for plants to grow in. Gerard has found the bucket system easier to use and maintain. The green wall keeps the pool area cool in summer and reduces noise. It also beautifies the shed needed to house pool equipment. The cost of this green wall system was $2,500, with irrigation, soil and plants as extras. The wall uses a mix of dianellas, lomandra, sedums, dichondra silver falls and plectranthus argentatus. With ferns, variegated dianella and plectranthus for the cooler south side of the wall. Wonderwall GERARD PAGE (PETERSHAM) As a designer and builder, Chris created his own private oasis in a narrow inner city terrace that includes more than 120m2 of green roof and green walls. Sky-High Sanctuary CHRIS KNIERIM (FOREST LODGE) There are plenty of benefits to Chris’ green roof. Apart from looking sensational, it helps insulate his home and cuts down energy costs. This impressive system also helps manage stormwater runoff and creates habitat for local birds and animals. Chris’s green roof comprises a very shallow 70mm design and uses a special light-weight soil and a mix of drought-tolerant grasses, sedums and succulents – which keeps watering and maintenance to a minimum. The cost of the roof system was approximately $300/m2 , however Chris grew his own plants to help keep costs down. FOREST LODGE ECO HOUSE IMAGE COURTESY CHRIS KNIERIM PRIVATE RESIDENCE, PETERSHAM IMAGE COURTESY OF GERARD PAGE, GREENBOX ARCHITECTURE 16
  17. 17. The success of your green roof or wall largely depends on the variety of plants you choose. Some plants require more soil depths and different conditions than others. Use our selection chart reference to help guide your decision. Plant Picker (1) basil (2) succulent (3) rosemary (4) strawberry (5) fern 4 1 3 2 5 17 GREEN ROOFS Alyssum Lomandra (native rushes) Citrus (dwarf varieties) Dianellas (flax lily) Succulents (needle and thread, pig face, blue chalk sticks, flapjack) Sedums (gold moss, Christmas cheer) Westringia (native rosemary) GREEN WALLS Black coral pea Purple coral pea Herbs (basil, thyme, chives) Snake vine Kidney weed Pandorea Strawberries Tomatoes GREEN ROOFS WALLS Asian greens (bok choy, choy sum) Bromeliads Cast iron plant Ferns Succulents and cacti CLIM BER FOOD GROUND COVER NATIVE SHADE TOLERANT SUN TOLERANT
  18. 18. Check out the City of Sydney’s Green Roofs and Walls page to see technical guides, and a full map of existing roofs and walls. GROWING GREEN GUIDE A more detailed technical guide for green roofs and walls. GREEN ROOFS AUSTRALASIA GREEN ROOFS FOR HEALTHY CITIES GREEN VILLAGES Get tips on how to grow food in small spaces, upcycling and more. For endless inspiration search online for – ‘urban farming’, ‘rooftop agriculture’, ‘rooftop farms’, or ‘gardens in small spaces’. Need more info?