Could green roofs help curb city winter air pollution crisis?
Paris is entering into its fourth consecutive day of emergency measures as the city struggles with exceptionally high air pollution levels. Controls on vehicles, free public transport and advice to limit intense sports and avoid large traffic sites at time of high circulation are just some of the measures being taken by the French government to protect residents from the effect of the most prolonged air pollution in the last ten years. Paris is not the only one; Athens, Madrid and Ljubljana are just some of the Europeans cities currently taking urgent steps to control growing air pollution; a problem which according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is set to cause as many as nine million premature deaths a year around the world in the next four decades.
So what can be done to help cities prevent this problem rather than finding quick-fix solutions?
Installing green roofs in cities can mitigate the 'heat island' effect, an effect that warms many urban areas, by radically reducing CO2 levels and generating as much oxygen as consumed by adult person in one year*.
Many cities are deciding to go green on their roofs by encouraging and supporting property owners to install green roofs solutions. These solutions can also help building developers score extra points in Green Building Rating Systems.
Knauf Insulation’s Urbanscape® Green Roof System is the world first green roof system with a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) that points out the main environmental benefits of the system. According to the EPD, during the lifetime of an extensive green roof, 1m² of extensive vegetation will directly absorb up to 15 kg of CO² , due to improved energy efficiency. 1m² of green roof would also decrease CO² for additional 50kg in a lifetime (cca 2,5 – 3 kg kg/m2 per year).
Green roofs can also help cool buildings and the surrounding air through water evaporation. This in turn reduces the Urban Heat Island effect. It also has the double benefit of being a great thermal control element, saving building energy for heating and for cooling.
Installing Urbanscape can also contribute to enjoy clean air with plants on green roofs not only filtering collected rainwater but also capturing 0.2 kg airborne particles from the air every year.
In all respects green roofs are becoming the norm. And that’s good news for everyone, particularly city dwellers.
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