When we think about creating safe, accessible and attractive towns and cities we often forget one thing. Nature. Not just in the parks and nature reserves, the Downs and our wonderful coastline here in Brighton & Hove…but in the spaces in between. The built surfaces. This is where Building Green focuses.
1. Biodiversity. We are on the cusp of a sixth mass extinction on earth and scientists agree it’s our fault. We have both rare and everyday plants and animals in our city, and a duty to protect them. Gardens, parks, allotments, nature reserves, green roofs and green walls… all have a role to play.
2. Health. Being active in the natural environment is good for us. The annual cost of inactivity to the NHS in England is £8.2bn. For England as a whole, people living closer to green space have lower death rates and less heart disease. The importance of local green space for kids and poorer communities is especially important for health. And on average, individuals have both lower mental distress and higher well-being when living in urban areas with more green space. Accordingly, doctors are beginning to prescribe a dose of nature in some parts of the country.
3. Community. Recent work has estimated that ‘neighbourliness’ delivers a £28bn saving to the UK from increased social connections and demand on policing, social care, welfare and environment. Creating and managing green features is an opportunity for community activity and cohesion, and the greener our places, the less crime we are likely to suffer (48% fewer property crimes and 56% fewer violent crimes in green Chicago estates according to one major study).
4. Functional benefits. Greener cities are cooler (current heatwave temperatures are predicted to be the average by 2050), with better air quality (our city has twice the national limit of harmful nitrous oxides), and better storm water management (and we are one of the most at risk locations in the country for surface water flooding).
Green roofs maximise the use of otherwise wasted roof space. Establishing plants on a roof can bring a combination of benefits:
- improved views
- new open space
- a home for nature
- absorbing rainfall and reducing the burden on waste water infrastructure
- making rooms below cooler and more comfortable
- reducing the urban ‘heat island’ to make our cities more pleasant places to live in hot weather
- increased lifespan for building surfaces and infrastructure.
There are many types of green roof – from parks and gardens to private terraces, meadows or other wildlife habitats.
Well known examples of green roofs can be found all across Brighton & Hove. See our case studies (below) for some inspiration.
Greening walls involves the use of climbing plants or other vertical planting techniques, and can be a very effective and low cost way of providing building performance benefits and enhancing the cityscape for people and wildlife.
The green wall at Madeira Drive is one of the oldest and longest in the country – there are others across the city.
See our case studies (below) for inspiration.
Building Green member Hanna Waldbaum compiled a set of case studies of green roofs and walls in Brighton. These will be added to as new projects are built.
B+H BG Case Studies Feb 2008