With more and more people living in cities, they are becoming home to increasing populations. We’re also experiencing a period of rapid climate change, and are feeling the consequences particularly in highly populated areas like London, New York etc.. Cities such as these must adapt and need to develop sustainable and greener ways to grow, by making use of the space that is already available to them, instead of infringing the Green Belt by constructing extra space.
The newest elements of urban design, overcoming the space challenges is to create “living buildings” – green roofs, roof terraces and green walls. These innovative concepts have several benefits, they can increase living and recreational space where there isn’t any. Also the decrease of energy usage, flood risk and carbon dioxide emissions, and of course a better-looking city – all of which make the concept a great solution.
Contemporary construction allows for several types of living roofs. This includes allotments, formal gardens etc. London, for example, has less rooftop garden than many other European and American cities. The reasoning for this is a result of difficult planning regulations prevent the creation of the living spaces – despite that there are more benefits than drawbacks. One of the largest pros is the temperature regulation feature it has for the hotel. The plants etc. ensure consistent temperatures reducing the energy used on heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. Daily temperatures can fluctuate from as much as 50C to 25C.
The soil and plants create a layer of still air reducing heat loss from convection. Many claim plants damage building over time but new plant cladding prevents this, plants actually help the cladded panels. Plants shield the panels from high temperatures and strong sunlight but also from excess amounts of rainwater. The fact that London authorities cannot see the pros of this initiative is crazy as the European roofing industry acknowledges the protection provided by the green roofs, which ultimately extends the life of the roof’s waterproofing.
In Europe, it’s acknowledged that greening a roof extends the lifespan of the building’s waterproof membrane and cladding panels. Bare aluminium roofs will last 25 years however, with soil and plants on it is lasts for an incredible 60 years.
A green roof really is a living space as it adapts to sudden environmental changes to keep the building more “comfortable”. Hot weather means water in the soil evaporates, preventing the heat retention. The sun allows for photosynthesis to take place within the plants, while still preventing heat reach the roof. In winter, the thermal mass stores heat and prevents heat loss.
If you consider the social and psychological benefits that green roofs have for the environment and the individuals using it as a communal space, it’s no surprise they are so popular. London should jump on board as it has several million hectares of roof area available and should follow the lead in the living building revolution.