It is predicted that our summers will become increasingly hotter each year, a direct result of climate change. The air temperature in our cities is significantly higher than other areas due to the amount of grey infrastructure and human activity, also known as the Urban Heat Island effect. 

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Green spaces and planted areas in cities are increasingly sought as a way to improve the air quality and reduce temperature. Because of the lack of open space available in cities, green roofs are a fantastic solution to provide   planted areas, whilst providing benefits to the building as well.

 Green roofs can be installed as part of new building development or retrofitted onto existing grey infrastructure. Once established, green roofs have multiple benefits. They provide habitats for valuable wildlife such as bees and other pollinators-providing them with ‘green corridors’ to move around the city. Green roofs also reduce surface water run off caused by intense rainfall. Run-off often leads to flooding because normal grey infrastructure drainage systems cannot cope with the volume of water.

 There is a correlation between cities where green roofs are most popular and those where legislation has been implemented. New planning laws are enforcing planting on new developments as well as any refurbishments to existing buildings. Copenhagen was the first city in Scandinavia to have this policy implemented, with Germany and most recently France following in its footsteps. Although the amount of research demonstrating the benefits of green roofs is available and widely published, it seems development with green roofs are slow to be implemented unless there is a policy enforcement.


Hundertwasser Haus Vienna.


Yet green roofs are not a new concept. Dating back as far as Viking and middle ages in Scandinavia, and almost all over the world until the 18th century, ‘sod roofs’ were a type of green roof, covered in bark and turf that helped to insulate dwellings and make them draft and water proof. 

More recently, in the 1980’s artist and architect ‘Hundertwasser’ began designing green roofs to complement his eccentric, colourful buildings. His vision was to create forests on roofs, and was passionate about conserving nature. He called them ‘tree tenants, believing nature had as much right to live in his building as the people did. 

Advanced green roof technology has since been developed, along with the introduction of bio-solar roofs- a mix of solar panels and vegetation that provides dual benefits and is a fantastic habitat for biodiversity. 

 Imagine a birds eye view of our city- a landscape of green spaces with all of the roofs covered in plants and trees. Our city would be cooler, more environmentally friendly, energy bills reduced and a hot spot for biodiversity to thrive. We hope that the green roof trend continues and predict it wont be long until legislation is passed in the UK so that this vision might become a reality. 


For more info on green roofs, visit our website