Vegetated roofs and walls in apartment buildings when we cannot build planter boxes

By October 31, 2011 Uncategorized No Comments

For no less than 4 days commencing 9 November 2011, you can attend the Green Roofs Australasia conference in Sydney – Green Roofs Australia. Experts will gather for the fifth time at this conference to promote the incorporation of green roofs and wall infrastructure into the built form. Green Roofs Australasia is a not for profit devoted to this cause to reduce the carbon footprint of our buildings.

A noble cause indeed and this international trend has traction here. Our newest Sydney CBD office block, 1 Bligh, has an impressive vegetated feature wall. Further south in the nation’s capital, our federal parliament is one of the great buildings of this type in the world.

But these are structures of the commercial world with a single tenant and big repair and maintenance budgets. The conference program does not admit of discussion about this topic for strata titled buildings but the strata management magazines from North America, would have us believe they are increasingly popular in condominiums in those parts.

Why not then have these in our strata titled office blocks? Two reasons spring immediately to mind; we can’t build a residential apartment building that does not leak and our owners corporations won’t fund a round of drinks for the AGM let alone repair and maintain these seemingly complicated feats of engineering.

Our building defect lawyers will testify a simple planter box on a flat roof is presently beyond the competence of our builders and developers. The inevitable leaks through the ceiling to the lot below from this unsophisticated form of greening, accounts for a substantial number of cases each year.

The principal sponsor of this conference, City of Sydney, and its counterpart local authorities elsewhere in the country should not get ahead of themselves on this trend. We need tighter certification of our humble planter boxes before we put Centennial Park on our rooftops.

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