Climate change, carbon emissions and the reduction of pollution is an issue of global concern. Around the world, governments have brought more and more initiatives into existence in order to adopt more sustainable practices and to reduce harmful impacts on the environment.
Many of these countries have committed to carbon neutrality within the coming decade. To do so will require the implementation of innovative ideas, such as green rooftops to counterbalance carbon emissions and urban rooftop gardens for use in growing food as well as the enjoyment of citizens in a park environment with an incredible view!
Green cities are vastly becoming a sought-after model of how to incorporate sustainability and sustainable development with city planning. We see more and more green housing infrastructure, sustainable energy sources and incorporation of nature into building plans for a greener alternative to living which bring some breathtakingly beautiful results.
If one finds themselves visiting a destination city which is a green city or contains urban rooftop gardens, it is recommended to visit the rooftop garden if it is possible. Most of the rooftop gardens are open to the public and many are listed as free for visiting. It is a good way to spend the day enjoying an eco-friendly activity!
Urban rooftop gardens and sustainability
Incorporating urban rooftop gardens is one initiative which green cities are taking in order to follow a more sustainable path and also to beautify the cities with amazing public places – both high and low.
One may wonder; How does an urban rooftop garden contribute to sustainability?
- Counteracting carbon emissions as plants clean the air and give us oxygen as a by-product.
- Water conservation via Rainwater catchment systems not only reduces the dependence on city water, but also decreases the amount of rainwater that would evaporate otherwise.
- The shade from the plants helps to maintain a moderate temperature, as does the insulating ability of the green areas, which help to insulate the building which it is on.
- Provides a planting space where one can grow plants which produce food, thus reducing the strain on traditional agriculture and providing local produce options.
- Provides a space in cities where people can enjoy social activities while also enjoying the beauty of nature which the plants provide.
Rooftop gardens can be modern or funky
Notable cities and urban rooftop gardens are the Waldspirale in Darmstadt Germany, the Novo Nordisk in Copenhagen, the Beijing airport or the Moesgaard Museum in Aarhus Denmark where visitors are encouraged to picnic on the green roof.
Green rooftops can vary from a small garden usage using the rooftop space to elaborate gardens spanning a large area. Some buildings make use of every space on every level they just can. The office and retail space at Namba Parks in Osaka, Japan has a sprawling eight-level urban rooftop garden which is truly a sight. In Vancouver BC, the six-acre roof of the Vancouver Convention Centre is one of the 10 largest green roofs in the world.
Places such as London’s Skygarden are built in a multi-use fashion, having provided a greenhouse atmosphere with an amazing view overlooking London which also contains a path for walking and viewing, a dining area and even a bar.
Taking it to new levels
Some urban rooftop gardens take it one step further and create complete vertical gardens along the exterior of their buildings. One example of this is the Bosco verticale in Milan, Italy. The exterior vertical garden is such a magnificent sight and feat of architecture that it makes one feel as though the buildings interior must be equally as breathtaking.
Green Roofs for Healthy Cities is a not for profit association which has an annual award selection for excellence in green roofs. Awards are granted in 8-12 categories. One example of this is the 510 West 22nd Street in Manhattan, NY which won the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities 2019 award for excellence in the intensive commercial / industrial / institutional category. This garden aimed to create wild gardens within Manhattan that would serve as habitat for migrating birds and to attract pollinators. The garden is a multi-level urban rooftop garden which is open for use as a venue for tenants and commercial properties alike.
Rooftop gardens are not an entirely new idea. Throughout history, grass top roofs have been in existence as a way to show wealth, such as the Torre Guinigi in Lucca, Italy which has an oak garden atop the tower, planted by the family in the 1300’s. Green roofs were historically used as a form of insulation. These traditional uses of green roofs are sustainable options which are still viable to this day.
Spending a day in an urban rooftop garden is like taking a picnic, visiting a garden, seeing the city and visiting a farm – all in one!
A quick search on the internet will provide some amazing images of urban rooftop gardens around the world. It is worth a visit to the urban rooftop gardens in the destination of choice, especially if it is a large city and the traveller is looking for a sustainable-friendly tourism option.
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