In the last 20 years green roofs (vegetated layers that sit on top of the conventional roof surfaces of a building) have become relatively commonplace in Germany, Austria and Switzerland because of their role in urban stormwater management. In particular, the so-called ‘extensive’ green roof technology (very lightweight, low maintenance, vegetated roof surfaces) has been adopted widely because of its capacity to be ‘retro-fitted’ onto existing buildings, or incorporated onto new buildings without the need for major structural modification or support. Specific benefits of green roofs include: a) Overall reduction of rainfall run-off and attenuation of storm run-off; b) Summer cooling and reducing the urban heat island effect; c) Contribution to biodiversity e.g. ground-nesting birds; d) Improved quality of life for urban citizens; e) Extended roof life: a roof life is at least doubled with the addition of a green roof. This project seeks to establish a long term partnership between a leading commercial provider of green roof technology (Zinco) and an internationally leading research institution (University of Sheffield) through a collaborative programme of research and development and a suite of knowledge transfer activities. The project brings together established academic researchers with technicians, engineers and marketing specialists from Zinco each with highly relevant expertise in key areas. There is a balance of longer term and short term staff exchanges at different levels throughout the programme as well as recruitment of experienced researchers to fulfill particular tasks within the collaborative programme. This innovative programme of interdisciplinary research is targeted to fill a research gap that is constraining the development and exploitation of urban green roof technologies in the EU.
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