The Green Roof Revolution Spreads to Australia

Sourced from Architecture and Design

Green roofs are an accepted part of modern building in Europe, where their use has become mandated by some city and national governments. They are commonplace in the Austrian city of Linz, where green roofs are required on all new residential and commercial buildings with rooftops larger than 100sqm.

In the United States, Denver has joined San Francisco in making green roofs compulsory on certain buildings. In November, an initiative was passed which mandated that 20 percent of rooftop space on newly constructed buildings over 25,000 square feet must be covered by gardens or solar panels.

The revolution has spread to Australia, where the eco-friendly design is being increasingly utilised to take advantage of their benefits.

Green roofs provide longer roof life span and minimise heating and cooling costs due to increased thermal insulation. They reduce stormwater runoff, improve air quality, provide an urban habitat for wildlife, mitigate the urban heat island effect and increase property value and amenity.

In a commercial environment, green roofs provide all these benefits, and more. Research has found workers in an office with greenery were 15 percent more productive than those without. It was also found to boost employee engagement, concentration levels, workplace satisfaction and perceptions of air quality.

The benefits of green roofs were recognised by Infrastructure Australia recently, in a report recommending the Australian government maintain and enhance green infrastructure through a combination of taxation, planning incentives and policy and regulatory reforms.

Meanwhile, the NSW Government has released its Greener Places draft policy which reinforces that green roofs are not only an asset to the build environment but essential to the design and development of healthy urban environments.

Despite the myriad of benefits of green roofs, their growing popularity is fuelled by commercial interests.  "The key trends for green roofs are commercially driven by increasing realty value and improving tenancy loyalty in a competitive market,” Matthew Dillon, vice president, World Green Infrastructure Network; president; Green Roofs Australasia and director, Verdant Solutions Australia says. Incorporating a green roof is a means of giving a project an edge over its competitors, particularly in an era where demand for urban living is rising and space is at a premium.

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