A four-year university project on the impact of green roofs has shown that they have an important role to play in rendering our urban areas more sustainable by mitigating urban related issues.

The University of Malta’s LifeMedGreenRoof Project looked at green roofs in terms of plant growth, energy efficiency, and flood mitigation properties. Green roofs are classified as 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.

The project 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 also 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.

Green roofs can be effective in reducing the use of energy for air conditioning - especially in the hotter months of the year

Apart from the fact that they are also more visually pleasing, 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.

To reap these benefits, the technology would need to 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 demonstration green roof at the Faculty of the Built Environment is open to the public all year round during office hours.