A visit to Organic Roofs

I visited Building Green partner Organic Roofs‘ workshop and green roof demonstration centre in Shoreham recently.


Lee Evans with the green roof research station at Organic Roofs HQ, Shoreham

Organic Roofs head honcho Lee Evans showed me around the site, which has an amazing view of the harbour.

We will be holding the next green roof DIY workshop there on 24/25 October – book here. It’s a great venue for it.

On the site are two green roofs created on shipping containers, a nursery for green roof plants, and a new research station that will be measuring the performance of different substrates and plant systems. There’s also a ‘waste office’ which takes after the award winning Waste House in Brighton.

Organic Roofs won a number of awards recently, including NRFC Green Roof of the Year, Brighton & Hove’s Best Environmental Industry Company, as well as being finalists in 2 other categories at the #BAHBAs – Fastest Growing Company and Best Place to Work.

Container green roof at Organic Roofs HQ, Shoreham

Container green roof at Organic Roofs HQ, Shoreham


Plant nursery, Organic Roofs HQ, Shoreham


Organic Roofs HQ, Shoreham

Come and learn how to build your own green roof

3 weeks left to book a place on the original Green Roof DIY course.

Book by visiting the Brighton Permaculture Trust website.

shed green roof on allotment in Brighton

shed green roof on allotment in Brighton

Running over the weekend of 24-25 October, this year we’ll be hosted on the Saturday at the Organic Roofs office and workshop in Shoreham. There are real green roofs to see close up, and plenty of materials to get your hands on…and an amazing view of the harbour to boot! Or is that ‘to boat’.

Book by visiting the Brighton Permaculture Trust website.

small sheds…Big Nature!

Come say hello at the Big Nature event in the Brighton Centre, this Saturday 3 October, 2-4 pm. It’s free!

Building Green banner

Building Green banner

Building Green will be there with a stand, a ‘flowery building’ competition for kids, and we will be doing a free talk on how to DIY small shed green roofs.

We’ll be signing people up for the DIY Green Roof weekend.

We’ll also be talking about the importance of Madeira Drive green wall, and hoping to make new contacts that can help promote green roofs and living walls in the city.

Madeira Drive A5 leaflet Building Green 1509

Book your place and learn to green roof!

It’s nearly that time of year again…

Building Green is running our DIY Green Roof course on 24-25 October in Brighton.

This is run with our partners Organic Roofs and Brighton Permaculture Trust. It’s the first of it’s kind in the UK, and was established back in 2007.

Learn hands on how green roofs work, question the experts about your project, and visit some inspirational examples in the city.

Bookings can be made here.

Happy course participants in 2013, building their green roof bird boxes

Happy course participants in 2013, building their green roof bird boxes

Building Green at Big Nature

Big Nature is a free event to encourage awareness and involvement in the natural environment.

Building Green will be there to promote green roofs and living walls for nature in the city. We will be running activities for kids, providing free advice, and talking about how to DIY your own shed green roof.

We’ll also be raising awareness of the importance of our existing environment in the city, including the historic and unique Madeira Drive Green Wall.

Download the new Madeira Drive Green Wall leaflet here.

Madeira Drive A5 leaflet Building Green 1509

Wallflower, Madeira Drive green wall, Brighton

Wallflower, Madeira Drive green wall, Brighton

Big Nature in the Biosphere, Sat 3rd October, 1 to 4 pm, The Foyer, The Brighton Centre

Big Nature in the Biosphere is an interactive event aimed at all ages where you can see what wildlife a pond in your back garden could attract or learn how to make your very own butterfly haven on your front lawn or garage roof. The event will be promoting the great work people are doing within our community and you can find out how to join a group caring for local wildlife reserve near you or how to do it for yourself in your own back garden. 

Get it right first time!

The new Amex building was opened to great fanfare in 2012.

Built by Robert McAlpine and designed by EPR Architects and claimed big sustainability credentials.

Many of these are undoubtedly worthwhile (the result was a BREEAM Very Good), but the biodiversity features are, sadly, dead.

‘Green walls’ at the back of the building were tokenistic pre-grown ivy stands and have all withered and died, possibly due to a lack of irrigation. Judging by the aerial views you can glimpse if you watch ITV’s new police documentary ‘The Nick’, the small green roof has also died or is dying.

Amex green walls have died

Amex green walls have died

Meanwhile the green wall planted by the Victorians at Madeira Drive is still thriving at 130 years old, and the Crew Club green roof is going strong at over 10 years old.

All of this points to the value of a good specification, clear planning conditions, no skimping on the budget, and a maintenance programme. The green roof won’t be visible to many, but the walls now let down the corporate image and will surely need replacing.

Perhaps American Express could get in touch with Building Green for advice?

Background: UK Green Building Council citation on the building contained this statement:

Biodiversity: Green roofs and living walls are located in a number of locations, some of which were a request by the planners, and these include green walls which can be easily seen from street level. The roof areas include 15 bird boxes in specific locations. 20 new semi-mature trees have been planted within the site and neighbouring school grounds as part of an improved biodiversity and ecological target. The site prior to the building works contained at grade car parking and two small scale buildings, and an ecological survey found no presence of bats or other protected species. Monitoring will be carried out by the FM team once in full occupation.

How a Quick Glimpse of Nature Can Make You More Productive

A nice walk through a city park can do wonders for a work-weary brain, reducing mental fatigue and improving attention. But if you’re trapped on the high floors of an office tower all day, you can’t exactly break for a long stroll and a picnic. Well, fear not. If you have a view of a nearby green space, like say a green roof, and even just a minute to spare, you can reap some of the same refreshing benefits of urban nature.

More here.

Bold New Law Requires Green Rooftops In France

Rooftops in France are going green. Under a law passed last week by the French Parliament, new buildings in commercial zones must partially cover their roofs with plants or solar panels. – see more here.

London, of course, has had this requirement on major developments for many years.

Brighton is some way off – though the City Plan and Sustainability Checklist do encourage urban greening.