Sunday, May 29, 2011

Museum of London Gets a New Green Roof

Part of the preparation of the old roof to make way for the new green roof. ALL photos courtesy: B. Alter

It's always a tonic for me when I see news such as this. What better way to show everyone that being environmentally responsible can be done anywhere on any scale. It also shows that environmental responsibility can result in truly tangible benefits to the people in nearest proximity to it. Now, all anyone working in this building need do for a breath of nature is to go to the roof, sit, look, breathe; and, enjoy.

I'm thrilled that an institution such as the Museum of London, a world leader on many levels, has chosen to do such a project which should inspire others to follow suit.

As part of the Museum of London's massive refurbishment, they have begun to install an ambitious green roof on the top of the building. This will be a long-term research and demonstration project, rather than the sexy public spaces that we have seen on other buildings.

By having a number of different habitats, it will show the diversity that green roofs can have. There are plans for wildflower meadows, wetland areas, bluebell wood and planted walls. All using recycled materials from the existing roof.

The job is massive; but, the benefits outweigh the effort by a very large margin.

By planting the green roof, the Museum reckoned that they could extend the life of the roof, avoid flash flooding and provide a valuable demonstration project for other buildings. An energy savings of 10% a year was assumed, as well, it would increase the green space in the City of London (the financial district).

It has been a massive job. All of the pavers and insulation from the old roof are being removed and being replaced with the Bauder waterproofing and green roof system.

One of my favourite parts of nature - the wildflowers.

One of the volunteers who helped out has written of the experience. The blog is definitely worth a look. You'll find more information on the refurbishment and more photos as well.

The landscaped wildflower habitat on the roof area was planted in low banks to provide a sheltered area for the flowers. A mixture of Bauder green roof substrate and sharp sand was used, along with the existing shingle ballast from the old roof covering. It is hoped that the sand banks will encourage ground dwelling solitary bees. More than ten varieties of wild flowers were manually plug-planted into the banks.

Hedges are a typically British thing to do.

Hedges are being planted along the elevated sides of the roof. These will act as wind breakers as well as insect habitats. In England, the majority of farmers divide their fields and lands with either hedges or tree breaks. Very few fences are used in the countryside.

For many years, the favourite hedge of choice was hazelnut (otherwise known as a filbert). Hazelnut plants remain low growing so they don't block the view from one field to another; and, when their edible nuts are ripe, they fall to ground and wait to be collected. There are many old hazelnut hedgerows in the countryside of Britain.

What a fragrant part of the gardens.

There are new herb plantings, just put in this summer, which are already flourishing. Imagine a culinary and medicinal garden right on the roof of your place of work. An area for alpine plantings is also being installed.

This is were you will find me. I love decorative grasses; cool, shaded areas; and the smell of moist earth.

This is the site of the future bluebell wood. The shady area will have grasses and ground covers. Optimism is a necessity in this business.

Another aspect that is being examined is planning for flash floods. These happen during the summer when there is a sudden rainfall. Studies of rainwater run-off from different green roofs are being researched. Retaining rainwater helps reduce flash flooding, which has been a big problem in central London in recent years, causing several tube stations to flood.

Britain has a very active plan to encourage the return of bees. This hive and the other ones planned for the roof will provide a significant boost to this project.

The courtyard that is open to the public has also been refurbished and turned into a little green garden of Eden. There is a thriving hive which is part of a City of London wide project to install more hives on roofs in that area. As anyone who knows me or reads my blog knows, I am very high on saving winged pollinators; and, personally, do everything I can to make a change. If for no other reason than their hives, I am totally delighted with this refurbishment and wish others would follow in the Museum of London's "green" footsteps.

New plants in the courtyard such as Verbena and a wild flower meadow and potted herbs are bee-friendly. Indeed, the first honey was just bottled last month and was delicious. The courtyard is rather sterile; but, designed to be flexible and easily changed, to fit in with exhibitions in the galleries.

No comments: