As the world faces a critical time in regards to the introduction of environmentally friendly technologies, let us throw our focus on the current green trends in civil and structural engineering.
The main objective of these trends is to conserve natural resources and adapt to sustainable development models. Green roofs meet the needs and provide valuable opportunities in environmental, economic and social terms.
The urban sprawl across many UK cities has absorbed the habitats of plants, insects and birds, providing a detriment to the local ecology. Greener roofs are sustainable installations designed to attract and sustain lost habitats while also providing a practical use of space.
In city centres across the globe, green roofs are constantly being developed as a way to reduce the effect of our carbon footprint as well as improving ecological, environmental and technical factors.
As part of a wider green strategy to tackle climate change, the utilisation and build of green roofs are on the rise. With significant sustainable benefits and aesthetically pleasing nature, it is no surprise that major cities across the UK have adopted these within their new builds.
Green roofs aim to create a mutually beneficial relationship between city dwellers and their environments while also providing a multitude of other benefits. Green roofs can provide a good layer of insulation while also being a valuable water control source for heavy rain.
RSPB and WWF reported that green walls and roofs should be more widely adopted due to the vital role they play in flood reduction, heating and cooling buildings, improving biodiversity and filtering air pollution.
Planning policies and environmental agendas have broadened to allow for a focus on green elements to be included in most new build projects into the future alongside climate experts who have stated this is key to combating climate change and making more cities liveable.
The UK Green Building Council has called for all new buildings and infrastructure to have ‘nature-based-solutions’ by 2030 ensuring that buildings remain hospitable as cities heat up over the coming decade. In London, these solutions fit into the Urban Greening Factor, a tool designed by Local Authorities to measure the quantity and quality of greening on a development proposal during the planning process.
Ecologically, green roofs create a local ecology in which vegetation will establish and provide homes for wildlife, improving biodiversity and encouraging a wider spread of species in the area, supporting plants, birds and small animals.
From an environmental perspective, soft landscaping reduces the risk of flooding by retaining large proportions of rainfall and reducing rainwater run-off, a factor that is particularly important within Sustainable Urban Drainage schemes.
Green roofs also encourage improved air quality by helping to remove dust particles from the immediate environment. The natural evaporation of water from plants and soil also helps to cool and humidify the air, lowering the temperature.
When considering the financial and technical benefits, green roofs reduce both the carbon footprint as well as construction costs as the thermal insulation on the building is improved, reducing the expense of heating during the winter months. Technically, green roofs have excellent acoustic qualities for external sound and internal noise, presenting a huge plus point when used on structures close to airports or industrial developments.
While green roofs are increasingly becoming a new standard of commercial building across the UK, the practicalities of green roofs for each project must be considered. After growing significantly in residential buildings too, green roofs can help your build function better and reduce its impact on the environment.
Sutcliffe’s part to play in the green agenda is far wider than the use and installation of green roofs across commercial and residential developments. While green roofs are a great addition it is vital that the protection of the building’s fabric and waterproofing is considered in the green roof design and a structural engineer should be consulted in the phase ahead of the green roof installation.
Sutcliffe can advise on the stages before installation and therefore would require the height of the green roof system build up, the maximum saturated load of the green roof and the force the green roof will exert on a pitched roof.
Overall the structural design of a building should meet the demands placed on it that a green roof brings and our technical team of structural engineers can provide accurate information to ensure your green roof is structurally sound.