While the density of urban development intensifies to accommodate the influx of people living and working in our cities, the demand for urban green space also grows.
Increasingly, we’re giving up our bucolic lifestyles and sprawling private gardens to live and prosper in urban centres, yet the desire to unwind in soothing green surrounds remains. Regrettably, in the process of creating these concrete powerhouses – squeezing the multitude of needs into a finite amount of space – we underestimated the ability of plants and green infrastructure to sustain so many of the environmental, social and economic functions that enable places to thrive.
Given the complexity of the environmental challenges we now face – locally, nationally and globally – our approach to urban development must continue to evolve to better support, and leverage, the essential natural processes that are so vital to a sustainable future. We need to continue to develop fresh perspectives and take a more holistic approach to the urban landscape – to revive and reconnect our green space and systems.
As a design response, well-integrated green infrastructure is key to restoring this city balance, and green roofs are one area of focus with the ability to defy the existing spatial limitations and deliver abundant benefits.
Urban roof top sanctuaries with expansive views are just the beginning of the big-picture payoff. It is also widely accepted that green roofs can cool the urban environment and reduce energy consumption, improve air and water quality, and mitigate flooding, while increasing and connecting urban habitat to support biodiversity; all of which contribute to healthier urban ecosystems. Collectively, this makes a solid case for expanding their place in the urban environment.
Though green roofs are far from a new concept, they’ve been slow to take hold in many developed cities. Any flight over an urban area will reveal an expanse of tin roofs, cooling stacks and plant overruns amongst concrete and tiles. One would be forgiven for thinking that the idea of green roofs is reserved for elite apartments and select infrastructure, but this need not be the case.