hursday, 21 October 2010 10:05

Melbourne’s skyline is now a little greener with the completion of the world’s first fully functional, competition-designed, retrofitted green roof, located at 131 Queen Street. City of Melbourne Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, officially opened the green roof on Thursday 15 July alongside members of Growing Up, an initiative of eight young business leaders taking part in the Committee for Melbourne’s Future Focus Group.

Taking inspiration from progressive cities such as Chicago, New York and London, and aiming to make Melbourne more sustainable, the Growing Up project was launched in March 2009 offering Melbourne CBD building owners an opportunity to win a free green roof, designed and retrofitted for their building. The building at 131 Queen Street and winning design by BNET Architecture best exemplified the environmental and amenity benefits, as declared by the chair of the judging panel and Victorian Government Architect, Geoffrey London.

Growing Up spokesperson Tiffany Crawford said the project has produced a best-practice example of how public and private organisations can partner with industry, business and research institutions to create innovative solutions to sustainability issues. “Green roofs are more than just a response to climate change though; they offer many and varied benefits including creating green relief in our urban landscape. We found that the chance to win a green roof was compelling for many building owners given their environmental, economic, social and aesthetic advantages including reduced heating and cooling costs.”

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle agreed that 131 Queen Street was an excellent example of government, private building owners and businesses working together for a more sustainable future. “We are proud to support the Growing Up Project and the unveiling of this green roof and also the owners Corporation, who are one of the leadership signatories to our 1200 buildings program, aimed at retrofitting commercial buildings in Melbourne.” the Lord mayor said.

“Roof tops make up 17 per cent of total land area in the city. This project will capture the imagination of Melburnians, proving that nature can coexist with the built environment. This green roof is a practical example of the benefits of environmental sustainability and gives the owners, tenants and visitors to 131 Queen Street a whole new space in which to meet.”

The General Manager Water Ways, Melbourne Water, Chris Chesterfield, was an early supporter of the Growing Up initiative. “A roof such as this one provides significant benefits, not least of which is capturing rainfall and reducing the pressure of stormwater run-off on our infrastructure. This is a key reason why we are keen to test its effectiveness in inner-city Melbourne,” Mr Chesterfield said.

Construction of the project has relied on funding from key partners including Melbourne Water, Sustainability Victoria, City of Melbourne, Australia Post and VicUrban. Industry partners quickly realised the benefits of the project and were instrumental to its success, volunteering substantial in-kind time and products to realise Growing Up’s vision, including Better Projects Pty Ltd, Green Roof Technologies, WeBlow, Debco, the Nursery & Garden Industry Victoria, and Polyseal.

The scale of the Growing Up project has been considerable, involving transporting soil by blowing it up 12 stories and planting over 1300 plants. Green roofs are a relatively new concept in Australia and so the green roof includes a dedicated research area to facilitate further research by scientists from Melbourne University about plant species and the technology most suitable for Melbourne’s unique climate.

Ken Hitchcock from Green Roof Technologies, a key project partner, believes green roofs provide more than the chance to combat climate change in our warming cities. “Green roofs offer attractive spaces for employees and residents to enjoy,” Mr hitchcock said. “I applaud the vision of Growing Up and the Committee for Melbourne for initiating and supporting the green roof movement and was thrilled to be a part of this ground breaking project which had brought different components of the industry together.”

Winners of the design competition, BNET Architecture, aimed to showcase the environmental, social and economic benefits of green roofs through the creation of an oasis within the city. “We wanted to create an area for the building occupants that is both connected to and protected from its surrounds. The design revolves around a central landscape hill, bound by edges of seating and planting, and inhabitants are surrounded by greenery along a continuous experience of the roof. Traditional garden structures, such as a folly, gazebo and terracing create diversity along the journey,” said architect. Merran Porjazoski.

Growing Up are urging Victoria’s government, corporate, education and community sectors to follow its lead and help transform Melbourne into Australia’s first green roof city. Ms Crawford explained that “The growing up project was always about more than one green roof – it is about asking Melbourne to rethink the use of its roof-tops. We are so proud to have worked with our sponsors, project partners and the owners at 131 Queen Street to deliver this unique and beautiful space for the building occupants. It is our hope that Melbourne will now be inspired to take oin our challenge and literally “grow up”.

Source: Green Roofs.