Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Robert Doyle officially launched the University of Melbourne’s new green roof research and outreach project.

The largest of its kind in Australia, the research facility in central Melbourne will  investigate which plant species and soils are best used to reduce building energy and beautify the city’s buildings.

The project includes a large demonstration roof consisting of 14 different green roof types made up of distinct planting zones, irrigation and growing treatments; a research roof, dedicated to quantifying the environmental benefits of green roofs and plant performance; and a biodiversity roof, comprising a range of habitat features to encourage and sustain local wildlife.
The project was led by Dr Nick Williams and Mr John Rayner from the University of Melbourne, and the roofs designed by multidisciplinary design practice HASSELL to enable small group teaching activities and demonstrate the variety of green roofs available to the building industry.

Dr Williams, from the Melbourne School of Land and Environment said green roofs had  a range of environmental benefits that could help adapt Australian cities to climate change, as well as social and economic benefits that could make denser cities more liveable and attractive.
“Cities suffer from the urban heat island effect which makes them up to four degrees warmer than surrounding areas. Green roofs can help overcome this by reflecting the sun’s radiation and providing shade or evaporative cooling as well as dramatically reducing a building’s energy costs, trapping dust and pollutants and dampening noise,” Dr Williams said.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said “We know that roof tops make up 17 per cent of the total land area in the city. Green roofs are a tremendous opportunity to achieve savings for building owners and create attractive, usable spaces for tenants and residents. It is clear to me that successful cities in the future will be the ones that adapt quickly to what people want. And today people want to live in the city because it offers opportunities but they also want openspaces, parks and a clean environment.”