Green roofs and walls are popping up all over Sydney – but why?
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If you’ve been around Chippendale recently, you’ll have noticed the giant Living Mall and its surrounding developments that have popped up at the end of 2013. The green walls of the building are not the first of its kind in Sydney, but it’s definitely one of the more visible and impressive ones we’ve seen so far — we’re also a fan of the newly reopened pool at Prince Alfred Park, which dons an unassuming green roof facing Elizabeth Street.
Sydney currently has 83 green roofs and walls installed, with another 70 in the works. The city council has even developed a Green Roof and Wall Policy, which is the first of its kind in Australia.
There are two types of green roofs: an intensive green roof includes soil deeper than 20 centimetres and can support large trees, solar panels and foot traffic. Extensive green roofs have soil with a depth of less than 15 centimetres and are unsuitable for foot traffic – these roofs are generally suited to smaller plants.
But why the move towards green roofs in Sydney’s city?
– Improved air quality: plants help to remove carbon dioxide and other harmful pollutants from the atmosphere, integrating them within a building’s structure is a great way of improving the air quality in a densely populated city like Sydney.
– Increased biodiversity: a green rooftop is the perfect place for a variety of insects, reptiles and birds to find water, food and shelter.
– Reduced urban heat island effect: Green walls and roofs help to lower the urban heat island effect – this is where hard surfaces absorb and radiate heat back out into the environment.
– Natural insulation: Green walls and roofs can assist in reducing energy use from air conditioners whilst also act as a natural buffer from outside noise.
– Water management: Slows and cleans stormwater running off buildings that end up in Sydney’s waterways.
In a research project funded by the City of Sydney, it was found that residents “understand and appreciate the many benefits green roofs and walls offer”. And why wouldn’t we? Sydneysiders have a strong environmental conscience and a desire to preserve the beauty of our city. Anything that makes Sydney a greener (and more attractive) city to live in is fine with us, personally.
If you liked this post, you may also enjoy reading “Sydney Council’s Best Environmental Initiatives.”