SGRI’s Biosolar Roof Pilot Course

12 participants from all over the world attended the five-day long pilot course that was held the 14th- 18th of June at Augustenborg’s Botanical Roof Garden in Malmö, Sweden. The course content were a mix of theory on biodiverse and biosolar roofs and practical elements and workshops alongside an excursion to the biodiverse green roofscape of Malmö and Copenhagen. Two green roof sites were installed at the Roof garden. For one of these areas, the students mixed their own substrate consisting of pumice, coarse sand and crushed bricks. The students also got to enhance a sedum roof’s ecological value, conduct risk assessments and design their own Biosolar roofs.

A well appreciated pilot course!

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INIT’s Biosolar Roof Pilot Course


GENERAL context

  • Contexte: participate to ecological changements
  • Green roof and Biodiversity: furthermore, in France, currently installed green roofs are not suitable to the development of biodiversity.
  • Communication target: We choose to present this project by promoting the return of biodiversity, to stay in tune with the news, and to focus on a new vision of green roofs.

Our role, as an organiser of events and trainings in the field of ecological transition is to promote everything that can contribute to change practices in the construction sector.

Then in our communications, we have demonstrated the value of synergy between GR and energy production.

We share the calendar in two sections, so, after an introductory day with speakers who introduced the role of the city in biodiversity and its development prospects, the 3 following days were devoted to step by step training about the design of a Bio Solar roof.

Presentation day 1: Details the benefits of biodiversity in the town and the building

Stakeholders: 3 including an elected official of the Region, Nathalie Baumann, Pascale Coppin (environmental manager), Pierre Alexandre Swistek, Engineer of Le Prieuré (growing plants for green roofs and installation of green roofs).

     presentation             biosolarroof      

Days 3, 4 and 5:

Trainers Nathalie Baumann (Ecologue and university teacher, Switzerland) and Philippe Peiger (designer and installer of green roofs, Paris) develop the whole course.

The persons coming on day 1 as well as professionals registered for the all training have been quite focused and highly motivated.
Number of Participants:
- 32 people for the introduction, day 1
- 25 persons for the entire training period

-         Day 1: 2 elected officials, 2 environmental association officials, 1 companies federation head, 1 trainer, 1 speaker, 1 individual client, 16 constructions professionals, 5 professionals from vegetation sector, 2 traders.

-         Next day: Professions: professionals from construction industry: workers, engineers, architects: (16) Professionals from vegetation industry (5) Traders (2).

Teachers were highly experienced they were much appreciated. This was one of the success key of the course.

The topic:
- Biodiversity: approaching green roofs raising ecosystem/biodiversity issue is 
paradoxically new. The ecosystems consideration, his role and the connection with climate change and consequently the changes that must be followed are very rallying and mobilizing.

- The combination with photovoltaics: in France, interest in the photovoltaic diminished considerably. Yet the combination green roof/PV still interest the media and trainees really want to know more about it.

Pilot and contents:
The evaluation results show how much the results are positive. The experience and knowledge of the team members generate contents and documents with an exceptional quality.
It is interesting to point the topics that students would have liked to go deeper. It concerns unit outside the vegetation:
- waterproof system
- PV energy (in order to promote it better)
Those needs are mostly due to the development of versatility and importance of a holistic view in construction sector at least. The overall management vision in a project is getting more important than juxtaposed skills so we can see the development of “coordinator” job. Taking account of this type of competence is important since it is a new process and since the target rather concerns small companies (crafts and liberal professions)
The experience:
The experience was perfect overall thanks to the team deep competence in building this pilot.
Thanks to the teachers, the public, everything matched.

presentation2    biosolar news


Biosolar roofs bring all the benefits of green roofs and solar power to play in a synergy of technologies. Green roofs are good tools for achieving storm-water management; longer life for roof membrane; lower energy costs; mitigation of the urban heat island effect; habitat for urban wildlife; amenity value, aesthetics & marketing. Any given green roof delivers multiple benefits, primary drivers tend to be economic, insulation or more significantly reduction of heat flows into buildings during hot weather reduces energy cost. Now more than ever energy efficiency will see significant increased GLOBAL demand for green roofs. You need a skilled workforce to supply demand & this project aim is to achieve this.


Green roof and Solar Panels at the Olympics (S. Connop)

A by-product of this project has seen extensive consultation taking place with a wide range of stakeholders including potential buyers if this service. We've learnt that commercial & domestic customers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their requests; aware of the multiple benefits available they seek a green roof that deliver this, commercially public relation reasons are paramount. An additional project is needed to develop a solution to meet this request. We seek to develop a green roof solution that both houses solar panels (further reducing energy cost) but also stimulates urban wildlife in particular, pollinators. Growing awareness of the global decline in honey bee populations is an important factor for stimulating action on pollinators, any contribution to offset this problem contributes to general well-being; University of Reading research indicates every third mouthful of a European diet has been pollinated by the honeybee. Unless addressed declining populations of the honeybee threatens the food chain.


Green Roofs offer numerous benefits, broadly they help reduce building heating/cooling cost, stimulates urban biodiversity, help manage intensive rainfall and increases city/town green spaces. North American market grew by 115% in 2011 with 16M Sq ft installed alone.

LIVING ROOFS & WALLS Technical Report: Supporting London Planning Policy 2008; found that buildings cover 24,000 Hectares (16%) of Greater London. Calculations suggest 10M m2 potential for green roofs, leading to a savings of 19,200 MWh per year & capacity to store 80,000 m2 of rainwater at roof level.

Demand exists for a green roof that will facilitate solar panels, as the combination produces further synergy. A recent French study found that while plants reduce a roof’s contribution to the urban heat-island effect by lowering the surrounding air temperature through evaporation; this cooling also helps photovoltaic panels perform more efficiently. Plants also reduce airborne pollutants & dust particles, allowing the panels to absorb more sunlight. Studies vary in the efficiency boosts reported, from 3 to 16 percent. This is in addition to green roofs’ known effect of cooling indoor air, which reduces annual energy use by 6 percent.

Additionally there's interest in developing a green roof that stimulate pollinators especially given declining honeybee populations globally.

Research led by Dr Potts, Reading University found that;

  • Bees play an important role in agriculture, with the value of commercial crops that benefit from bee pollination estimated at £100 million to £200 million a year in the UK alone.
  • There was a 54 per cent decline in managed honey bee populations in England between 1985 and 2005 compared to an average of 20 per cent across Europe.
  • In Europe every third bite we consume is dependent on honeybee pollination.

Wildlife charity 'Buglife' sponsored scientists that undertook a 3 year study in the UK that confirmed the enormous potential for stimulating pollinators through green roof designed specifically to encourage them, the report was published in March 2012. The guidance produced from this study also reviewed research undertaken in Switzerland.

Both of these new innovations reflect commercial buyers growing understanding of the benefits a green roof that can deliver & the positive public relations generated.

Therefore we need to train a workforce able to deliver high quality installations in line with market demand.

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