Sunday, June 6, 2021 marked the second annual World Green Roof Day – a celebration of green roofs all over the world and the benefit they bring to society and nature.
BCIT has been researching green roof technology since 2002 and has made great strides in realizing its positive impact in relation to sustainability in the built environment. This all takes place at the Centre for Architectural Ecology, where vegetation-growing roofs are tested, demonstrated, taught about, and improved upon. The Elevated Lab is their research base on the Burnaby campus and is used to educate and train the next generation of students and local professionals in leading-edge green roof, living wall, and green façade technologies. Dr. Maureen Connelly shares an overview of her research on architectural acoustics at one of the study sites on the Elevated Lab in the video below.
Our researchers have come across many carbon footprint reducing benefits of green roof technology which go hand in hand with the four pillars of the International Ecocity Standards (IES) of sustainable urban living in the following areas:
- Urban design – Green roofs can be integrated into existing infrastructure and easily placed on to new buildings to meet green building standards where space would have otherwise been underutilized.
- Bio-geophysical conditions – Green roofs can reduce pollutants in our atmosphere and increase air quality to give us cleaner air, they provide energy efficiency by keeping the heat out during the summer and the heat in during the winter, and give us access to place where healthy local food can be grown.
- Socio-cultural features – Green roofs combine a natural and built environment to create a space for social belonging, increased physical and mental health, and a general increase in health and well-being, which we know is especially important in the midst of a pandemic.
- Ecological imperatives – There is a heavy demand on the Earth’s ecosystems and green roofs can help extend the Earth’s carrying capacity while also creating space for natural habitats and sustaining healthy biodiversity.
The Vancouver Convention Centre (VCC) green roof remains rich in biodiversity after 11 years, with many wildflowers, birds and insects on top, and an intertidal reef beneath. In May 2021, Christine Thuring explored the 6 acre living roof of the VCC:
Given these benefits, green roofs are a great way to help municipalities reduce their ecological foot print and step toward creating socially just and ecologically sustainable cities. The Centre has been using the ecoCity Footprint Tool to help 11 municipalities to measure their carbon footprint and determine how they can set out to build more sustainably for the future and live within the Earth’s carrying capacity.
Green roofs are a great way to make an effective change while designing with the environment in mind. What could this mean for the future? Our landscape could look a lot more bio-diverse!
Written by Avneet Gill.