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London is rising to the green roof challenge
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Green roofs are one way to help mitigate the effects of climate change arising from the built environment, and are increasingly being seen as an important part of making cities less damaging. London is rising to the challenge, not just by hosting the recent World Green Roof Congress 2010, but also via Mayor Boris Johnson’s draft Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.
London is rising to the green roof challenge

Green roofs are one way to help mitigate the effects of climate change arising from the built environment, and are increasingly being seen as an important part of making cities less damaging. London is rising to the challenge, not just by hosting the recent World Green Roof Congress 2010, but also via Mayor Boris Johnson’s draft Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.

This proposes that all major new developments within London’s Central Activities Zone policy area - comprising the City of London, most of Westminster and the inner parts of Camden, Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Lambeth and Kensington and Chelsea - are required to have a green roof (and where not technically feasible, a cool roof). Boris is currently working with partners to enable the delivery of 100,000m² of new green roofs by 2012.

The London Borough of Camden is playing an important role in attaining this target – they have their own Biodiversity Action Plan with the objective of increasing their number of green roofs by 20 by this date. These roofs are being used to combat climate change by reducing heat loss at roof level, which in turn will improve residents’ fuel bills. They will also increase biodiversity and sound insulation.

Other green roofs already in Camden include three installed at Goldsmiths Place in 2006 and two at the Webheath estate in Hampstead installed in 2009. Another is currently under construction at Rowley Way NW6 and many others are in the planning stages.

Through its enabling role with local authorities, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) is fully supportive of the green roofs agenda. Nick Taylor, HCA London Head of Area, says: “Through our continued investment in Camden and across the capital, HCA London is looking to increase the environmental credentials of all schemes. Achieving this on existing housing stock is a great example of how to address carbon reduction and benefit existing residents whilst complementing our own high environmental and design standards”

Benefits of green roofs include:

• Due to their insulating properties, green roofs are also cool roofs in the summertime (which also helps fuel bills if air conditioning is in use). A comparison of waterproof membrane temperatures, using data provided by Nottingham University showed that without vegetation, the temperature under a roof membrane on a modestly warm summer day (18 degrees) could reach 32 degrees, but with vegetation, it measured slightly less than air temperature - only 17 degrees.

• Green roofs also offer excellent sustainable water management. This reduces the risk of flooding by reducing peak flow (storm events) runoff from the roof. Green roof water properties have been fundamental to policies in Stuttgart, Portland, etc – cities which have strict planning policies supporting green roofs (i.e. all new roofs must be greened).

• Green roofs remove air pollution and filter pollutants from rain water and mitigate the urban heat island effect

• They can require less maintenance (design dependant) than standard roofs and can increase roof lifespan by protecting the roof membrane from UV radiation and temperature variations

A good source of inspiration on the use of green space in an urban environment is the designs submitted to the first ever Integrated Habitats Design Competition (IHDC), run by the charity RESET in association with CIRIA and livingroofs.org. The competition focuses on valuing biodiversity in the built environment and received a wide range of entries from participants around the country which included submissions not only from architects, but from engineers, landscape designers and students.



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