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Project finds multiple benefits of green roofs

The demonstration green roof of the University of Malta’s Faculty for the Built Environment. It is open to visitors all year round during office hours.

The demonstration green roof of the University of Malta’s Faculty for the Built Environment. It is open to visitors all year round during office hours.

Green roofs can be effective in reducing the use of energy for air conditioning, especially in the hotter months, a four-year re­search project at the University of Malta has concluded. The results of the project were presented at a seminar held at the University during which representatives of the project partners and two guest speakers presented its findings.

It was found that green roofs can also reduce building maintenance because they moderate the fluctuation of temperature within the structure. They provide habitat for beneficial wild­life such as bees and enhance in the visual character of roofs, which has been shown to benefit people. Depending on their design, they can also provide space for other activities such as for socialising and education.

These findings were found to be similar to studies on green roofs carried out abroad.

The main aim of the project, which began in November 2013, was to study the performance of green roofs in Malta in terms of plant growth, energy efficiency, and flood mitigation properties and to encourage the uptake of green roofs on a national scale. It was led by the University of Malta’s Faculty for the Built Environment and the partners included the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority, Minoprio Analsis e Certificazioni srl and Fondazione Minoprio.

The project research included the selection and propagation of green roof plants, the thermal performance of green roofs in Italy and Malta, storm water management of green roofs in both countries, as well as substrate performance.

Discussions were undertaken with the government to explore ways and means of encouraging green roofs in the construction industry

During the seminar, the partici­pants visited the demonstration green roof built at the University’s Faculty for the Built Environment at the Msida campus as part of the project. This green roof is an important tool to illustrate to stakeholders what green roofs are and how they function. The demonstration green roof will remain open to the public all year round during office hours.

However, the wider benefits of green roofs can only be experienced if the technology is replicated on a local or national scale. For this reason, during the pro­ject a Maltese standard for green roof construction and a policy proposal and a socio-economic document were drafted to look further into how green roofs can be integrated within urban areas through building regulations and the planning system.

The two documents were presented to local authorities earlier this year and discussions were undertaken with government and members of the Opposition to ex­plore ways and means of encouraging green roofs in the construction industry. The documents are available on the project website below.

Green roofs are classified as green infrastructure, and as such provide numerous benefits to owners of buildings, society and the environment. Green infrastructure, which includes green roofs, gardens, street trees and permeable surfaces, provides multiple benefits, unlike grey infrastructure, which refers to engineered structures and facilities such as roads and culverts which provide very limited benefits.

For this reason, many countries and municipalities worldwide encourage the dissemination of green infrastructure through in­centives, policies and regulations.

The project partners said that green roofs have an important role to play in rendering urban areas more sustainable by mitigating urban related issues.

The programme is partially funded by Lifeplus, the EU’s financial instrument that supports environmental and nature conservation projects in the EU.

For more information call 2340 3621 or visit the website below.

www.lifemedgreenroof.org

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