The Malta Independent 18 August 2017, Friday

Four years of research for the University of Malta LifeMedGreenRoof Project

Monday, 7 August 2017, 13:06 Last update: about 9 days ago

After almost four years of research, the University of Malta's LifeMedGreenRoof Project was concluded this week. For this reason, the project has organised an End-of-Project activity to bring to light the results. 

The main aim of the project 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. The results achieved are positive. It can comfortably be said that green roofs have an important role to play in rendering our urban areas more sustainable by mitigating urban-related issues. 

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Green roofs are classified as green infrastructure and as such provide numerous benefits to the advantage of the owner, 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 their dissemination through incentives, policies and regulations. The project has confirmed that green roofs can be effective in reducing localised flooding and in reducing the use of energy for air conditioning especially in the hotter months of the year. It has been found that they are able to reduce building maintenance especially because they moderate fluctuation in temperature within the structure and provide habitat for beneficial wildlife such as bees. 

Furthermore, the enhancement in the visual character of roofs has been shown to benefit people. Depending on the design, the green roof 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.

However, green roof benefits can only be experienced if the technology is replicated on a local or national scale. For this reason, the project has drafted a policy proposal document as well as a socio-economic document to look further into how green roofs can be integrated within urban areas through building regulations and the planning system. Earlier this year discussions were underway with government and members of the opposition to explore ways and means of encouraging green roofs in the construction industry.

The green roof seminar was held at the University of Malta. Various presentations were made by representatives of the project partners as well as by two guest speakers. Each partner presented its findings which included such subjects as 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. 

Apart from the technical aspect the seminar also presented two documents including the Maltese standard for green roof construction and the policy proposal document which was presented to local authorities. All these documents will be available on the project website www.lifemedgreenroof.org. 

A visit to the demonstration green roof was also conducted during the seminar. This green roof is an important tool in illustrating to stakeholders what green roofs are and how they function. The demonstration green roof is open to the public all year round during office hours.

The project commenced in November 2013. It was led by the Faculty for the Built Environment of the University of Malta. Partners included the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority, Minoprio Analisi e Certificazioni s.r.l and Fondazione Minoprio.

The programme is partially funded by Life+, the EU's financial instrument supporting environmental and nature conservation projects in the EU.

For more information phone on 2340 3621 or visit their website.

 


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