Posted by Scott Hackett on Tue, Mar 20, 2018 @ 5:54 AM
One thing is certain as we look to the year ahead – it’s going to be HOT. In the first week of 2018, Sydney scorched with 40 degree temperatures and nearby Penrith was the hottest place on earth, hitting a searing 47.3 degrees.
As Sydney’s building boom rages on, never before has the need for green infrastructure with an emphasis on sustainable cooling been so important. With more apartment buildings and concrete streetscapes likely to increase the urban heat island effect, these same apartment buildings hold the key to a much-needed cooling innovation.
Architecture and sustainability experts say there is an unprecedented opportunity to harness the ever-expanding rooftop coverage by making green roofs and walls a standard feature on new residential and commercial buildings. Scientific research has repeatedly recognised the insulation benefits of living infrastructure in reducing energy consumption in summer and winter.
However, the lack of proactive policies mean this opportunity is quickly slipping through the fingers of government, councils, and residents alike. In the City of Sydney, the only NSW council that has a specific policy on green roofs and walls, there are just 53 green roofs, which equates to less than 1% of the total available roof space. A waste indeed.
At a policy-level, Sydney lags well behind other, denser cities such as Singapore, London, Stockholm, and Toronto when it comes to promoting the installation of green roofs and walls. Sara Wilkinson, from the UTS school of Built Environment, said about 32% of horizontal surfaces in Sydney are rooftops, but the potential has remained largely untapped. “Greening them really does make a change to heat stress and your urban environment. We are missing an opportunity to create a beautiful garden city.”
Let’s hope we can emulate places like Singapore where the uptake of green roofs has boomed by more than 800% in the past decade, with 80.5 hectares of skyrise greenery across 182 projects. Our environment, wellbeing, and wallets depend on it.