London to showcase green roofs

A sea of green roofs could be London's best way to visibly demonstrate its commitment to the environment when the world turns its gaze upon the city in the run up to the 2012 Olympics.

This was the opinion of Richard Blakeway, advisor to Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, when he spoke at the World Green Roofs Congress in the capital on Wednesday.

Mr Blakeway spoke of London’s projected growth and its need to provide homes for a million more inhabitants by 2018.

“What we’ve got to ensure is that as many as possible of these new buildings have green roofs,” he said.

“The mayor has very much put green roofs at the centre of his [climate change] adaptation policy and his city greening policy.”

He added that London would learn from other cities where drivers had been put in place to encourage green roofs, whether these be carrot, stick or a combination of both.

Outlining the many advantages of green roofs the mayor’s advisor said they would reduce the urban heat island effect, encourage biodiversity, control flooding and urban drainage, provide a valuable public green spaces in an ever-more-densely populated city and even save money.

As energy prices continue to skyrocket, he said, the added insulation from green roofs can help keep bills down.

A green roof scheme in Canary Wharf saves the building’s owners over £5,000 a year, he said, while Toronto reports annual savings of up to $22m from its green roofs and the figure in Chicago, a city which has embraced the idea, are around £100m.

He said City Hall was currently working on planning guidance that would make green roofs more attractive to developers, and argued that they could be affordable on everything from social housing to riverside penthouses.

The concept of pushing green roofs is in keeping with the emerging flavour of Mr Johnson’s environmental policy, which favours promoting improvements to the capitals open spaces and tree planting over technical carbon-based fixes that the public can sometimes struggle to understand.

Sam Bond

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