Greens, Tees…and Roofs?

Gregg Doggettin Industry News

Golf 040-RL.jpgThe construction industry has seen changes in building technology as a result of climate change; solar panels, water harvesting, green building materials, etc.

However, no other green building technology offers as many benefits and opportunities as a Green Roof. The terms used to describe Green Roofs are many and varied including: sky gardens, green roofs, sedum roofs, eco roofs, roof gardens, turf roofs, grass roofs and grass roofing, but the structure is the same.

Green roofs are vegetated layers that sit on top of the conventional roof surfaces of a building. Usually a distinction is made between 'extensive' and 'intensive'. These terms refer to the degree of maintenance the roofs require.

Green Roofs offer many advantages for building developers, owners and users. They benefit the wider environment through their positive impact on sustainability, biodiversity and the attenuation of storm water. Green Roofs improve the quality of life for the building users whilst providing a payback for the environment and can have wide ranging long term financial benefits. Green Roofs improve energy efficiency, they help remove carbon from the atmosphere, give us much needed green spaces and can improve our general well being as well... less dust, cooler air and something nice to look at!

So, when it comes to designing new club houses why haven't we seen more Green Roofs when one would create a beautiful feature and a talking point on any Golf Course? Because they are highly visible, they also clearly signal intent for sustainable building and can give a very positive and distinctive image to the club.

It may also help to combat Golf Course vandalism which has become more and more common in recent years. Environmental groups such as 'The Anarchist Golf Association' believe courses have a negative impact on the environment because of the heavy demand they put on resources, such as rigorous water usage in dry conditions. Incorporating a Green Roof into a clubhouse design will create an extra, sustainable, natural habitat to help counteract any negative environmental image that courses may currently have - as well as reducing CO2 emissions.

Estimates suggest that the adoption of Green Roof technology could result in a reduction of thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The use of vegetation on a roof surface ameliorates the negative thermal effects of conventional roofing surfaces through the cooling effect of evapotranspiration. As well as absorbing CO2 directly during the day, a 1,000m2 Green Roof will start to offset nearly 5 tonnes of carbon emissions a year, every year, from the day it's installed. This is because of its insulating effect which saves carbon emissions indirectly by reducing the need for heating and air conditioning.

The biodiversity benefits of green roofs are manifold. The greening of a roof can support rare and interesting types of plant, which in turn can host or provide suitable habitat for a variety of rare and interesting invertebrates. New developments lead to a loss of habitats - a Green Roof can contribute to biodiversity and address local biodiversity action plans. The life of a roof is at least doubled with the addition of a Green Roof, thereby reducing resource use in roof replacement and repair.

One such club that has embraced a Green Roof is the privately owned Rockliffe Hall Golf Course, nestling in the village of Hurworth-on-Tees. The stunning 14,000 sq ft Club House had an Alumasc's Zinco green roof installed with a variety of wild grasses to complement the natural-timber profile of the clubhouse facade.

Ever mindful of this growing movement, British Seed Houses has developed the A29 Eco-Green Roof mixture. It is mainly based on AberAce and AberFleece cultivars; bred by the BSH funded amenity seed breeding program, IBERS (Aberystwyth). These cultivars complement each other perfectly to make them ideal for all Green Roof applications - other species in the mixture are Count and Raisa.

BSH A29 Eco-Green Roof is designed for the seeding of all green roofs where a low nutrient grass cover is required. The high, fibrous root system created from this mixture offers soil stabilisation and acts as an excellent carbon sink. The seed can be planted in 150mm of soil and can be trimmed as little as once a year, if at all.

AberAce Is the smallest White Clover leaf on the market and has the highest stolon density of any white clover and will not take over the sward, unlike its agricultural counterpart. AberAce produces a good floral habitat that will attract birds, butterflies and bees looking for a strong pollination environment. AberFleece is exceptionally low nutrient/ drought tolerant and has attractive wild flora appearance with slow growing attributes.

'Pound for pound' and shoot for shoot, AberAce will 'fix' more nitrogen than any other White Clover Leaf on the amenity market. All nitrogen needed by BSH A29 Eco-Green Roof is supplied by AberAce, making it extremely low maintenance.

In the future, as Green Roofs become more popular and advanced, we hope designs will get more and more creative and perhaps we'll see a wild flower meadow on your roof? And who knows, councils may insist on the inclusion of Green Roofs in building developments in the not too distant future!

British Seed Houses, Camp Road, Witham St Hughs, Lincoln, Lincolnshire LN6 9QJ UK

Tel: +44 (0)1522 868714 - Fax: +44 (0)1522 868095

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