Making Our Economy Greener With Green Roof and Wall Infrastructure (3 Key Benefits)

published Jun 24, 2021
2 min read

Green Roof

The green roof and wall market is expected to grow by $10,31 billion from 2018-2022. This market growth is a reaction to technological advancements and the benefits green walls and roofs give, driving the economic sustainability we need.

In this article, you’ll find out what green walls and roofs are, with the 3 key benefits they bring. You’ll learn how, as a green tech solution, green roofs and walls can create a greener economy.

What are Urban Green Walls and Roofs?

A green wall is a vertically built structure intentionally covered by vegetation. A green roof is an upper covering of a building partially or completely populated with vegetation and a growing medium.

Initially green walls and roofs were considered expensive and unreliable ornamentations.The technology has since advanced into something that brings substantial societal, economic, and environmental benefits.

Green roof and wall developments are happening on a global level, from Basel in Switzerland (with a total green roof area of 1,000,000 m2) to Washington DC in the U.S. (with a total green roof area of 245,470 m2). In 2020, Paris finalized the world’s largest flat-roof urban farm, where 150,000 ft2 (14,000 m2) was transformed from concrete to green space.

This wide-scale adoption has given new evidence making the case for these urban greening methods more compelling.

How green roofs and walls can be used to make our economy greener

Cities account for 75% of resource use, 60-80% of Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and 50% of global waste. This concentration of human activity brings the opportunity to test new, more sustainable ideas. Green walls and roofs come under this bracket.

A recent report by the European Federation of Green Roof and Green Walls, titled Living Roofs and Walls from policy to practice, outlines the benefits of greening our economy using green roofs and walls.

Benefit #1: Urban cooling

The number of cities exposed to extreme temperatures will triple over the next decade. It’s expected that by 2050, more than 970 cities will experience average summertime temperatures of 35˚C (95˚F). Compare these figures to today, where only 354 cities are that hot.

Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause ~250,000 additional deaths annually, with deaths by heat stress contributing to this total.

In 2003, the European heatwave (which took the lives of 35,000 people) led to the hottest summer on record and hit Paris especially hard.

In retaliation, Paris strategized to avoid a repeat of the deadly 2003 heatwave. Part of this strategy was urban greening via green walls and roofs used to cool the city.

Urban walls and roofs provide shade and evaporation which cools buildings and reduces in-city temperatures.

For instance, 50% coverage of green roofs across Constantine, Algeria, decreased the ambient city air temperature by 1.3˚C.

Benefit #2: Biodiversity improvement

Humans have annihilated 83% of all wild animals.

Despite their small area, green roofs and walls create habitats for plants and animals. The most important creatures associated with green roofs and walls tend to be invertebrates, birds, and bats.

For instance, Vancouver, rated the third-greenest city in the world, houses a 6-acre green roof courtesy of the Vancouver Convention Centre. This roof is home to 400,000 indigenous plants from 25 different species.

Also, in London, the rare black redstart has benefited from the provision of biodiverse extensive green roofs, which the bird uses as a stepping stone habitat to move across the city.

Benefit #3: Carbon sequestration

Reports indicate that C02 emissions were 4% higher in 2019 relative to 2015. This means we are not on track to meet our climate targets, entering unknown territory with disrupted natural climatic cycles.

To help mitigate the impacts of climate change and meet IPCC targets of 2˚C (35.6˚F), a combination of carbon use reduction and carbon sequestration is needed.

It is well documented that soils and vegetation act as net carbon stores, sequestering carbon as organic matter. The soil and vegetation from green roofs and walls can sequester 375g of carbon per square meter. As such, they come as tools to lower the carbon footprint of our economic system.

Applying green roofs and wall technology for a greener economy

We need to redesign our economy to one that is more sustainable.

For individual organizations, this means conducting sustainability audits, assessing the sustainability of vendors, being environmentally compliant, and following sustainability standards. Green walls and roofs offer a new tool to add to an organization’s sustainability toolbox. The technology will transform our economy’s infrastructure creating green buildings and a more sustainable future.

Urban greening using green roofs and walls is the next evolutionary step in human development. A step that intertwines nature with society, mitigating our environmental crisis and the risks associated.

Author Bio

I am a Content Writer at Process Street. I graduated in Biology, specializing in Environmental Science at Imperial College London. During my degree, I developed an enthusiasm for writing to communicate environmental issues. I continued my studies at Imperial College’s Business School, and with this, my writing progressed looking at sustainability in a business sense. When I am not writing I enjoy being in the mountains, running, and rock climbing. Follow me at @JaneCourtnell.