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Tackling the urban water crisis with green roofs
By Katarzyna Wardal on March 22, 2019

Safe water, water use and access to water are critical global concerns and today has been designated United Nations World Water Day to highlight the water crisis facing billions of people who are “struggling to survive and thrive”.

These issues are particularly striking in overcrowded urban areas. Jure Šumi, our Green Solutions Business Development Director, says: “Our cities and towns are creaking under the weight of ancient systems that combines storm-water and wastewater. We are facing a crisis of over-population in urban areas, an increasing number of floods and the far-reaching impact of climate change.”

Radical solution needed for water systems

“Planners and policy makers need a radical new approach to water management and green infrastructure is an energy efficient, climate friendly and highly effective solution.”

In cities such as Toronto, Singapore and Copenhagen green roofs are mandatory and Knauf Insulation has been campaigning to put urban green infrastructure at the heart of European Union flood management, water framework and waste water treatment directives.

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Hamburg is the first city in Germany to have developed a comprehensive Green Roof Strategy. It plans to plant 100 hectares of green roof surface by 2020.

In a consultation document on the EU’s 27-year-old Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, the World Green Infrastructure Network, which includes Knauf Insulation, stated: “Well-designed green roofs can typically retain up to 70-90% of storm-water in summer. Water from a fully saturated green roof can naturally evaporate at a rate of between three and five litres per square metre.”

Urban planners must be ambitious

The European Commission has highlighted other benefits of green roofs as well: “Green infrastructure provides multiple benefits in the form of improving quality of life, protecting biodiversity [and] delivering disaster risk reduction, water purification, air quality and climate change mitigation and adaption.”

Jure says: “Green roofs are a win-win for everyone. They reduce the amount of storm-water that is released directly into water systems and play a critical role in limiting the amount of extra water pumped into waste-water treatment centres saving energy costs. With such obvious advantages we call on all urban areas to show more ambition when it comes to green infrastructure.”

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