Being Australian used to mean a couple of things; you greeted people with ‘g’day’ and you lived in a freestanding house on a big block of land, where you could enjoy a barbie in your garden during the summer.
Nowadays, neither of those things are the norm anymore. I can’t remember the last time I heard someone, other than Alf Stewart, utter ‘g’day’ as a greeting, and more people live in apartments now than they do freestanding houses.
A garden on a roof? A living roof?
The thing about apartment living has always been that you don’t have vast open space around you, where you can grow some greenery, have a barbecue with friends. But whoever said you garden had to be at ground level? In cities like New York, Copenhagen and Toronto, living in an apartment has stopped no one from enjoying a garden; they just happen to be on their rooftops.
A green roof isn’t a particularly new phenomenon – they’ve been around since 1960s Germany, where they first rose to prominence – but as people have become more environmentally conscious, they’ve started to experience a bit of a resurgence, particularly in cities where high density housing is common.
Traditionally, a green roof was covered in vegetation, but in most recent incarnations, they’ve become more sophisticated. Some living roofs feature manicured gardens, with water features and areas where residents can grow their own produce.
Green roofs: good for the environment and your bank balance
But green roofs do more than provide apartment dwellers with outdoor greenery to enjoy in the warmer months; they also have financial and environmental benefits. From financial perspective, a living roof can reduce heating and cooling costs dramatically, by acting as an extra layer of insulation. They also help to extend the life of a roof by more than 50 percent.
On the environmental front, a living roof helps to filter heavy metals out of rainwater, filter pollution and carbon dioxide out of the air, and reduce storm water run off.
Although more common in the US and Europe, green roofs have started to take off in Australia too, with the University of Melbourne becoming a world leader in green roof research, where the faculty of science also offers a specialist course in green roof and wall planning, construction and implementation; the Burnley Campus is also home to the Green Roofs Centre, which opened in 2013.
You can greenify your roof too
Last year, the Victorian Government released a free guide on how to grow and build a green roof, while the City of Sydney in New South Wales has also released an ‘inspiration guide’ and resource manual for residents interested in growing their own green roofs.
So if you’re an apartment dweller – or even just a regular, freestanding home dweller – why not make a living roof your new next project?
They’re nice to look at, good for the environment, and will also help to reduce your heating and cooling costs – making your already low energy bills, thanks to Bulk Energy, even lower!