Green roof solutions for the urban jungle

June 23rd, 2017 Posted in: Lakesmere

Like any roofing specialist worth its mettle, the expertise of the Lakesmere Group is not just restricted to delivering aluminium roofing contracts.  Following the completion of our largest nature roof contract to date at Chester Bus Station, we take a closer look at the practical, environmental and aesthetic value of green roof systems.

Chester Bus Station

Chester Bus Station


In urban areas where green space is often limited, the use of a nature roof is a great sustainable design solution.  Often referred to as a ‘living roof’,  the incorporation of a layer of sedum plants or vegetation above a standard roofing system not only enhances the green credentials of aluminium  but as a fully integrated system, can provide numerous benefits to the local environment, helping to combat pollution and significantly reduce the overall carbon footprint of a building.

Enhancing the local environment

Green roofs can create an oasis in urban towns and cities by providing a link with nature that would otherwise not be visible, helping to boost local biodiversity and having a positive effect on the health and well-being of those who live and work in highly populated areas.  The eco-friendly nature of green roofs are also helping to combat the issues associated with the effects of urban heat islands, where the high concentration of buildings and people can lead to an increase in temperature and local climate change when compared to rural areas.

West Ham Bus Depot

West Ham Bus Depot


By releasing oxygen and offsetting CO2 emissions, a key benefit of green roofing systems is the improved air quality that they can provide.  This makes them ideally suited for use in urban areas and in particular, the transport sector. Often green nature roof systems are specified to help reduce the environmental impact of the construction and ongoing operation of large scale transport infrastructure schemes that are located in already dense urban areas. This was the case at both West Ham bus depot and most recently Chester’s new bus station, where Lakesmere was appointed to design and install green roof solutions that have improved the local environment in more ways than one.

Sustainable solutions…with style

What is particularly striking about both projects is that the green roof systems have been incorporated into what are already bold architectural designs, with West Ham bus depot featuring four dramatic vaulted roofs and the Chester bus station constructed as an unusual U-shaped ‘horseshoe’ building.   The use of green roofing systems on large-scale urban projects such as these illustrate both the flexibility and design potential of this type of roofing material, proving that sustainable solutions can also be stylish and green roofs can be used extensively to great effect.

The BoHo commercial development in Middlesbrough, which is one of Lakesmere’s first ever nature roof contracts,  is another great example of how the green roofing systems can be incorporated into complex and varied building envelope designs.

Acoustic performance

Another key benefit of green roofs is the improved acoustic performance that they can offer.  The layers of sedum plants, vegetation and soil act as a natural sound barrier, providing the required mass to aid sound reduction and sound absorption. This makes them ideally suited for use in the education sector where stringent acoustic performance targets can be a major challenge. Not only can they play a vital role in reducing the amount of external noise entering a building and the levels of internal noise exiting the building, but green roofs can also reduce noise associated with rainfall.  At  Portobello High School in Edinburgh, the incorporation of a green roof system to the plant room areas has not only helped to soften the visual impact of the school’s large roof structure but has also provided rainwater absorption and enhanced acoustic performance; both key requirements of a busy urban school.

Preparing for a rainy day

As well as looking at ways to reduce the hammering noise caused by heavy rain fall, drainage is also a key design consideration for any roof.  In densely populated and built up urban areas, the heavy run off of rainwater from roofs can leads to numerous problems, from erosion of the roof structure itself to pressure being placed on local sewerage plants and storm drains that struggle to deal with the large accumulation of polluted water. With many more towns and cities at risk of flooding, adequate drainage is essential and the use of green roofs are an important component in creating sustainable urban drainage systems.  By retaining some of the rainfall, the flow of water from the roof can be controlled, mitigating storm-water run-off and helping to reduce the risk of localised flooding. The rainwater also helps the plants in the green roof to grow and thrive, which in turn improves the effectiveness of the natural drainage system.

The use of a green roof system at a large multi-story car park at Derriford Hospital is great example of how green roof systems can be unobtrusively incorporated into an otherwise standard roofing package to provide an innovative drainage solution that is ideally suited for urban areas.

Natural solutions for the built environment

Green roof systems, alongside the greater use of photovoltaic panels and other sustainable construction methods such as off-site techniques, are vital tools in helping to reduce the environmental impact of our ever-growing urban landscape. For our part, Lakesmere is committed to the training and investment of its highly skilled workforce to ensure that we understand when and where these solutions can bring the greatest benefit to clients and have the required expertise to deliver such innovations successfully.  Now more than ever, the need to address the balance between the natural world and the built environment is a target that we all must aim for and every member of the supply chain has a part to play.

For more information on Lakesmere’s environmental expertise please click here

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