Green Roofs in London

Welcome to the not so concrete jungle

Cities represent a concrete jungle, and London is no exception. As buildings continue to spread and dominate the cityscape, concerns about the environment increase.

In an attempt to address this issue, London has many green areas and parks, and in some places abandoned areas have been allowed to flourish as domains for wildlife. Yet in recent years more and more of these areas have been bee-lined for development, causing conservationists to think out of the box for ideas to increase urban habitats. Hence green roofs have begun to flourish.

What is a green roofs?

In a nutshell, your roof is there to protect everything that is beneath it, keeping you safe from the elements and the environment. Not only that, it prevents unwanted guests from entering your property, while playing an important role in the energy efficiency of your building.

Benefits of a Green Roof

The obvious advantage to green roofs is the environmental benefits, including:

  • Improved air quality
  • Increased biodiversity and opportunities for wildlife
  • Recycling of materials
  • Reduction in flooding risks due to storage and re-evaporation of water lessening the impact on storm water drainage
  • Decreased urban island heat effect, resulting in less air pollution
  • Energy conservation via improved thermal properties
  • Noise and sound reduction.

As plant material also has a profound effect on health, both physical and mental, green roofs can also help to increase well-being.

 Not only that, but living roofs add an extra dimension to the landscape, providing visitors with new views and sights. And from a home owners perspective, some green roofs can be utilised as gardens or social spaces, providing a small haven in the concrete jungle.

UK Legislation for Green Roofs

Green roofs became popular in Berlin in the 19th century, and were actively encouraged and improved across German city landscapes in the 20th century, which led to the introduction of legislation. The UK.has lagged behind Europe in this respect, but as the benefits have become more apparent, London and other major cities have begun to champion them further. This is reflected by the Living Roofs and Walls Technical Report: Supporting London Plan Policy 2007. Although there are no complete standards in place to govern completed structures, all materials used should now comply with BSI standards.

The Green Roof Organisation is also driving for change with its Code of Practice for Green roofs, aiming to not only improve the structure of green roofs, but to ensure they are built by reputable companies.

The London Impact

Across London now you will find over 17 hectares of green roofs, totalling more than 25 football pitches worth of space in the city skyline. With around 700 living roofs, the most well known include Cannon Street Station and 55 Broadway. Other impressive areas include Nomura Bank HQ on Angel Street, which supports green areas for staff to relax, as well as a vegetable garden; the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch street, which is the highest botanical garden in London; and the Queen Elizabeth Hall on London’s South Bank, which has green space to sit and enjoy the view of the London Eye.

Green areas and living roofs across London are being driven primarily by the Urban Island heat effect, as the government tackle air pollution. Another factor helping to support future development is how easy flat roofs are to convert to a living roof. As this accounts for 10% of London’s roofing system, future progress looks positive.

As ground space becomes more and more at a premium across London, both in terms of cost and availability, London's roofing system could soon have a major influence on environmental advances.

Posted on 29 September 2016 in Roofing, News and tagged roofers, london roofing.
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