As urban densification increases in Australia’s cities and towns, green roofs stand to be an incredibly important aspect of urban planning, and a major opportunity for the nursery industry.
A levy-funded project is working to gain a better understanding of the cultural, community and horticultural barriers to greater green roof construction in Australia. On completion, growers will have more information around the market opportunities surrounding green roofs.
Kicking off in June 2018, the levy-funded project ‘Researching the benefits of demonstration green roofs across Australia’ (GC16002) aimed to identify approaches in overcoming these barriers and will develop a range of tools and guides to assist the green infrastructure industry.
After some delays a major part of the project, the construction of a green roof in Melbourne’s CBD to test plant performance in different environments, is due to be completed in late 2020, with planting anticipated to start in early 2021.
Roofs are typically hostile environments, and the research team will be assessing a suite of over 70 different species in different substrate depths and irrigation regimes.
Analysing these species, which include Australian and exotic succulents, shrubs, herbaceous perennials and grasses, will help identify the groups of species that work best under a range of conditions and assist in understanding which plants are the most effective for Australian green roofs.
The project will create a scale based on plant performance. Environments will be monitored, revealing where plants perform better, measuring growth and general health. Plant performance will be related back to plant traits such as growth form, leaf area and succulence.
Results will provide greater certainty to green roof designers and potentially reveal new market opportunities for growers to tap into, such as meeting demand for plants that may not be currently be readily available, moving them from niche species into mainstream markets.
A key challenge the project has already identified is the uncertainty and cost around the levels of maintenance a green roof will require.
The team are addressing this challenge and are currently developing maintenance guidelines and schedules that can be used by designers, developers and planners, enhancing the knowledge and expertise of the many stakeholders involved in creating a green roof.
The project will develop a number of reports and plans to run a series of extension activities, including workshops and webinars to enhance industry involvement.
Be sure to keep an eye out for further updates and where you could get involved as the project progresses.
The ‘Researching the benefits of demonstration green roofs across Australia’ (GC16002) project is funded by Hort Innovation using the nursery industry levy and funds from the Australian Government.