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.
WHY IS IT NECESSARY?
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.