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Green Roofs

PA310813Five years ago, Robyn and I authored a paper for the Australian Federal House of Representatives Standing Committee for the Environment entitled Green Roofs for Sustainable Cities. This was our first collaborative effort and something we are still interested in with Climate Change and Peak oil more likely to impact our daily lives, environment and living spaces technologies like green roofs have the ability to offset many of the effects of increased weather variability and energy costs.

You can download the pdf of the paper below.

Almost five years ago in reference to Barriers to the adoption of technologies, I wrote…

Sustainable Technologies, including Green Roofs, are treated as a bit of a novelty in our country. Most people think they are doing their bit by putting out the recycling bin and perhaps reducing their driveway watering habits during times of drought. We, as a country, are slow to accept non-conservative solutions, from houses that aren’t rectangular, to rainwater tanks, to the imaginative green ideas that just might work.

Consider a local example: We live in a unique community right next door to some well maintained, local council supported wetland areas. Some of the neighbours continue to label them as swamps failing to recognize the redeeming qualities of the wetlands and ignoring the community education programs on offer. This type of person has no internal motivation towards sustainable development

However, if now the local council made it a requirement that all communities treated their stormwater prior to discharging it to a receiving body, perhaps this person would take an interest in the workings of a constructed wetland system. He would learn that a natural wetland system is cheaper to maintain than a traditional water treatment plant and would eventually come to realise the environmental benefits.

This simple example identifies the problem with the majority of publicity campaigns toward sustainable practice. The average Australian is content and has no burning desire to upset the status quo. To bring about change in the way the average Australian thinks would require a clear net benefit associated with changing to sustainable design when compared with existing methods or conventional technology upgrades.

PA310817 Things have changed in Australia in the five years since these statements, but mostly from an awakening to the reality of ongoing drought conditions faced across the country. In North America there are pockets of environmental goodness, but the vast majority of people wake up every day expecting water from the faucets and power from the outlets at bargain basement prices. As Cities like Las Vegas dry up, these problems will make the mainstream media and Oprah will be solving the world’s problems for us.

The plants displayed in this post are examples of sedums, a hardy plant that is used extensively in Green Roof applications.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

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