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A Review of Roof Greening in Greater Manchester

Date: 2007 - 2009

Evidence type: Research

Organisations: Natural Economy North West, Greater Manchester Biodiversity Project

Author(s): Richardson, D. & Jones, G.

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Description

This is one in a series of reports produced between 2007 and 2009 within the Natural Economy Northwest (NENW) Programme. The main focus is to
deliver priority action 113 in the Regional Economic Strategy, to optimise the natural environment's contribution to the regional economy and quality of life.

 

This report considers the potential for green roof development in Greater Manchester and assesses the benefits that green roof development may deliver, particularly in terms of contributing to biodiversity enhancement, the local  economy and quality of life.

Key Messages

The report highlights the benfits of green roofs.

The principle benefits are considered to be:  

- Enhancing biodiversity by providing new habitats in current areas of biodiversity deficiency  

- Improving sustainable water management by decreasing storm water runoff, enhancing water holding capacity and enhancing evapotranspiration  

- Enhancing energy efficiency by stabalising temperatures at roof surfaces and contributing to insulation  

- Enhancing image, particularly in urban cores and urban regeneration areas  

- Enhancing amenity value and social cohesion by providing new public spaces in areas otherwise deficient in such areas  

- Enhancing roof life  

- Directly and indirectly contributing to the local economy

Green infrastructure type
Green roofs
Climate change role/function
Non-specific mitigation role/function; Managing high temperatures; Managing surface water; Helping other species to adapt

Any assessment of the performance of green roofs must consider their contribution to a wide range of ecosystem services and stress their multi-functionality.

Green infrastructure type
Green roofs
Climate change role/function
Non-specific adaptation role/function

There are a number of recommendations to overcome constraints to green roof development (including high capital and maintenance costs, uncertainties concerning performance and appearance, and a lack of appropriate skills and expertise for green roof construction).

- To overcome the capital and revenue cost constraints the whole life costs of the green roof should be stressed; green roofs can deliver costs savings in terms of energy efficiency, sustainable water management and extended roof life. In addition the business value of a green roof in PR terms could be very significant. The fact that green roofs can increase the roof life of conventional roofing materials is also important to stress.  

- To overcome constraints concerning appearance and performance the importance of good design should be stressed. Realistic expectations must be set an early stage of development.  

- It is also recommended that proper standards governing green roof construction are developed in the UK, and definitions of green roof typologies be adopted as formal standards.

Green infrastructure type
Green roofs

It is recommended that new policy drivers and financial incentives will be necessary if a significant number of green roofs are to be brought forward in Greater Manchester in the short-to-medium term, particularly in urban regeneration areas, if the positive benefits of green roofs are to be realised.

Green infrastructure type
Green roofs

It is recommended that green roofs be promoted as an important mechanism for implementing a wide range of policies relating to sustainable development and green infrastructure.

However it is not recommended that a specific policy requiring green roof provision is implemented at this time. This is because it is considered that a specific policy requiring green roof provision on new and existing buildings would be difficult to properly implement in the absence of an accepted definition of what actually comprises a green roof, and in the absence of adopted building standards for green roofs.

Green infrastructure type
Green roofs

Most of the postulated benefits of green roofs (apart perhaps from energy efficiency) could also apply to green spaces at ground level.

- Green roofs can compensate for green space lost at ground level, and therefore can be seen as contributing to green infrastructure.  

- If green spaces are to be provided in the city centre it makes economic sense to provide them on the roofs of buildings.

Green infrastructure type
Non-specific green infrastructure; Green roofs
Climate change role/function
Non-specific adaptation role/function

It is the ability of green roofs to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services that contributes most to their value.

It is difficult to think of another element of building design that could fulfill all of the potential benefits that green roofs can offer. Where is the aesthetic or amenity value of a conventional layer of insulation? What contribution does a large water storage tank make to biodiversity or to the 'liveability' of a city? Green roofs can make a contribution to the solution of many of the problems posed when trying to develop a sustainable building, or even a sustainable city, and have significant commercial benefit; the case for green roof construction is strong.

Green infrastructure type
Green roofs
Climate change role/function
Managing water supply; Helping other species to adapt

Three case studies in Greater Manchester are discussed: The Unicorn Grocery, Chorlton; Bridge-5 Mill, the Manchester Ennvironment Resource Centre; New offices for BDP Architects, Piccadilly.

Green infrastructure type
Green roofs
Document Analysis

Complete

Level of document
Sub/City-Regional
Geographical area to which document refers
Greater Manchester
Funding mechanism for document/project

Natural England, NWDA, Sita Trust

Is 'green infrastructure' mentioned?
Yes
Relevant to climate change...
Mitigation; Adaptation
Is it relevant to other (non-climate change) benefits of green infrastructure?
Yes
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