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Nerissa Hannink
Media Officer
The University of Melbourne
Victoria 3010, Australia
t: +61 3 8344 8151
m: 0430 588 055

A University of Melbourne led study will examine the use of green roofs to tackle climate change in a project recently announced by the State Government.

Dr Nicholas Williams from the University of Melbourne’s School of Land and Environment says the Green Roof Research Program will look at tackling climate change through planting vegetation on city roofs and examine the best green roof design model for Australian conditions.

“Placing vegetation on the roofs of buildings is known to help cool the urban environment especially during summer heat waves. Green roofs also assist with building heating and cooling costs, improve the quality of stormwater flows which end up in our rivers, create an urban biodiversity habitat and help reduce noise," says Dr Williams.

“However we have to find our own solutions as Australia has a unique environment and the plants and substrates used in other parts of the world may not work here.

“Our research will significantly progress the Australian green roof industry by overcoming barriers to their implementation and lead to multiple environmental, economic and health benefits. The project will also develop an understanding of the attitudes of building owners, developers, planners and other stakeholders about green roofs.

“A lot of building owners are interested in establishing green roofs and the Green Roof Research Program will help inform them about which plants are best adapted to be grown on roofs, which soils are most appropriate and what the impact is on stormwater run-off.”

Environment and Climate Change Minister Gavin Jennings, who announced the project, says the State Government had contributed $120,000 over three years to the University of Melbourne’s Green Roof Research Program.

The Program is also being funded by a $1.33 million Australian Research Council 2009 Linkage Project grant that includes a monetary contribution from Melbourne Water and in-kind support from Melbourne City Council and the Committee for Melbourne.

“In large cities like Melbourne, concrete buildings and heavy construction materials capture and store the sun's heat, especially in summer. Through this effect cities can be around four degrees warmer than surrounding rural areas and contribute to global warming,” says Mr Jennings.
“As well as making cities more attractive, green roofs also enhance the liveability of the urban environment by creating opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors.”

The Green Roof Australia Conference will be held at the University of Melbourne’s Burnley Campus on 23-25 September.