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Green buildings the way of the future


30 October 2008

When horticulture meets architecture: green buildings the way of the future says leading landscaper

It might sound like something out of 1960s science fiction: mutant plants taking over the concrete jungle but green roofs and green walls are moving into the mainstream overseas and have the potential to do the same here, according to leading landscape designer Graham Cleary. 

“It’s a bit more sophisticated than training ivy up your chimney, but the principle is the same,” says the managing director of landscape design and build company Natural Habitats.

Cleary and Mark Paul, Australia’s leading designer and builder of green walls, last night (29 October) spoke to more than 70 architects, designers and specifiers about the benefits of incorporating horticulture into building design and construction.

“As well as the aesthetic appeal, a layer of plants in roofs and walls provides significant environmental benefits, including better stormwater control, additional insulation from noise and heat, reduced energy costs, and green spaces for the enjoyment of occupants,” says Cleary.

Backed by local government subsidies, green roofs and walls are rapidly springing up in cities across Europeand the US.

Chicago, once renowned as the birthplace of the skyscraper, is rapidly gaining fame as the city with the greenest roofs, with more than 200 buildings in the city centre covering their roofs with grasses and other hardy plants, and reaping the economic and environmental benefits.

In New Zealand, the Auckland Regional Council is conducting a three year practical research project into green roof feasibility atop the Auckland University Faculty of Engineering building, while Waitakere Civic Centre has also recently completed its green roof project.

Cleary says the principles behind green roofs and green walls fit well with Natural Habitats’ philosophies, and the company is excited to be working with Mark Paul, well-known across the Tasman for his work in the Qantas lounges in Sydney and Melbourne and on the Six Green Star-rated Lendlease Headquarters in Sydney.

“To be honest, I was surprised by the level of interest we have received in this already. The potential to improve energy-efficiency, reduce pollutants in the atmosphere, and even mitigate greenhouse gas emissions is huge, and I am confident we will see green buildings becoming a part of our cityscapes in the near future.”



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