Building Green at the Hanover Action public meeting, 28 October

Building Green founder James Farrell is speaking at the next meeting of Hanover Action, Friday 28 October.

The meeting is from 6pm at Hanover Community Centre on Southover Street, and there will be talks and plant stalls. More details here.

The subject is ‘Greening our urban landscape‘, and James is speaking about the potential to plant up your building surfaces.

Joining James is Organic Roofs head honcho Lee Evans, and Paul Norman from the One Planet Living Group.

Come along – it’s free! – learn stuff, make friends, get inspired!

Brighton & Hove Building Green

DIY green roofs – learn how to do it yourself on 29 & 30 October

The next opportunity to learn how to ‘do green roofs yourself’ is coming up.

On the weekend of 29 & 30 October, Building Green with Organic Roofs and Brighton Permaculture Trust, is running a workshop on the subject.


For bookings go here.

These highly successful workshops have been running for several years. Don’t miss this opportunity to have a fun weekend of learning about this fascinating subject, picking up new skills and quizzing the experts on how to ‘do it yourself’.

For bookings go here.

Green Gym planning a workout at the green wall

Portslade Green Gym volunteers will be at the Madeira Drive green wall again this week, working up a sweat whilst maintaining our natural heritage.


Madeira Drive Green wall below Paston Place, 10 October 2016

They will be tidying up the vegetation along the footpath, helping to maintain the biodiversity of the area whilst keeping things shipshape for pedestrians.

Why not pop along during the morning of 13 October 2016.


Madeira Drive green wall and Duke’s Mound from the air, 1935

Building Green is working with the Council and volunteers to protect this Victorian green wall – planted c1850 – and in time restore it along its length. It is the longest of its kind in the UK, and was planned alongside the unique listed Victorian ironwork of Madeira Terrace, the Shelter Hall, and the Volks Electric Railway.

Find out more here – more coming soon.


Rooftop revolution?

Councillor Robert Nemeth has called for a ‘rooftop revolution’ to do something with Brighton’s ‘wasted roof space’. Visitors to the i360 look across a pretty desolate landscape north over Brighton.

Here at Building Green we couldn’t agree more and will seek a meeting. We’re pleased to see the Aroe MSK installation on the Hilton roof, but think green roofs would be a greater contribution to the health of the city.


Read the article in the Independent here and here.


In London there are planning requirements for green roofs and walls on developments over a certain size. In Germany and Switzerland things are rather more established, with Government incentives that encourage greening that creates benefits for storm water management. Portland does this too, with it’s Ecoroof incentive.

That’s the gauntlet for Brighton & Hove then – develop the incentives and policies to make the city a leader in making the most of that ‘wasted space’. A hella better view for i360 tourists too!

green rooftops in Hamburg

Some inspiration from across the Pond

So we like to think we have some great green roofs and walls here in Brighton. Well, we do – but there are lessons we can learn from others including the good citizens of Olympia WA, San Francisco CA and Portland OR.

I was lucky enough to visit this summer – here are some pictures that I hope act as inspiration. We could think, and act, so much bigger.

In the Government complex at Olympia, Washington, is a large area of green roof established on underground car parks. Food is grown for local food banks, tended by Government workers. Some lovely large squash ripening in the sun. There is a large area of wildflower mix (‘Ecolawn’) sown for insects and appearance, and is not watered. This has been established by the Department of Enterprise Services – basically the legal and procurement department!

Nearby, just outside the historic Capitol building, is an area of rain gardens that have been retrofitted to help manage storm water. They are very attractive, and feature seating to encourage enjoyment.

San Francisco Academy of Sciences has a living roof…that is so large it is a visitor attraction in its own right. Not a very good photo, so I’ve stolen one from the website and there are more here.



Also in San Francisco were these mini gardens, usually in shopping areas, that brought planting into very urban settings, softened the street scene and provided fun features and places to relax. A ‘public parklet’ indeed!


Portland, Oregon is well known for its approach to sustainable urban planning and design. The whole neighbourhood we stayed in (Alberta – much like Brighton in its hipsterness) has bioswales and other street level drainage built in. Basically permeable sidewalks (ownership extends to the kerb so householders plant up their strip of sidewalk however they like), roof drainage to ground level, street level swales and other features incorporated into street furniture and traffic calming. Drains are clearly marked to encourage people not to use them for disposing nasties. Much of the sidewalk strip was used to grow veggies and fruit – including a nearby pub that harvested salad crops from the street and boasted of it on its menu.

Here in Brighton, a number of partners including the Council and Environment Agency have launched a pilot ‘sustainable drainage’ scheme in Portslade. Great, but surely we could be bolder?

10 years ago today

10 years ago today, Brighton & Hove Building Green had its very first meeting.

The first meeting agreed to establish a forum, and set out some success criteria. Here’s how we think we’ve got on.

“The forum would look to achieve the following:
* the mainstream establishment of green buildings in Brighton and Hove as a contribution to a healthier City

Green roofs and green walls are certainly more mainstream, with links in planning policy. Some of the ambitions – for London-style planning requirements – have not been achieved and there is work to do to encourage better quality installations that last and perform.

* greater public awareness about the role of green buildings, through practical demonstrations, guidance and media attention

Building Green has been central to promoting green buildings in Brighton & Hove – we’ve run many events, and contributed many stories to the media.

* generate pride in Brighton and Hove’s existing green buildings through open days etc

We have run tours of green buildings in the city, and were a partner in Eco Open Houses – many of the houses featuring green roofs and/or walls.

* the growth of small (household) projects – especially sheds, garages, dormers – through the provision of practical advice and demonstrations

Building Green established the UK’s first training course in how to ‘do it yourself’, and has gone on to run events

* demonstrate new, locally appropriate techniques such as vegetated shingle roofs”

The UK’s first vegetated shingle roofs are currently being constructed at Brighton Marina. Building Green is planning a tour to see how they’re getting on.

Madeira Drive – further designs published

New designs have been published for Madeira Drive – attempting to address the restoration of the Victorian arches whilst regenerating the seafront between the Pier and Marina.

This is the latest in a number of ideas – see Michael Doyle’s and the Council backed ideas of Sea Lanes and the ‘Lockwood Project’ that aims to retain and enhance the historic green wall.

Paul Nicholson (Chalk Architects) favours luxury flats and a park at the level of Marine Parade modelled on the New York High Line.

Visualisation here.

Clearly it would mean the end of sections, at least, of the historic planting and established biodiversity on the Madeira Drive Green Wall, but to remain open minded it may create additional valuable habitat and open space for people and wildlife.

Whether this will remain a fanciful sketch, or a vision fulfilled, remains to be seen. Building Green will want to be involved if this gets off the drawing table.