Green cities roadmap touts COVID-19 recovery stimulus

Australian roadmap says greening cities can help kickstart economy

University of Melbourne

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IMAGE: Biodiversity Green Roof at Yerrabingin Indigenous Rooftop Farm, South Eveleigh view more  Credit: IMAGE: Junglefy

A Roadmap to fast-track flourishing green roofs, walls and facades in Australian cities released today promotes six positive actioned based strategies to help grow green cities.

Researchers collaborating on the project also say the recommendations could provide a COVID-19 stimulus and support recovery.

A Roadmap for green roofs, walls and facades in Australia’s urban landscapes 2020-2030 recommends establishing an industry Knowledge Hub, strong government leadership, policies combining incentives and regulation, and education and advocacy to ensure standards in design, installation and maintenance.

Compiled by the University of Melbourne and the UNSW Sydney with funding from HORT Innovation, it draws on the collective knowledge of over 60 experts in the building and horticultural industries, government agencies and universities.

Roadmap author, University of Melbourne Associate Professor Nick Williams, said while COVID-19 was not part of the core research, learnings from the pandemic illustrate the potential for green roofs, walls and facades on environmental, economic and social benefits, including adapting cities to climate change, bringing nature back to city centres for workers and residents, and importantly, creating jobs.

“The upheaval brought to the way we live and work by the pandemic is an opportunity for developers and building managers to rethink apartment and office building design.

“Rooftop and podium level green roofs, viewed through many building windows but easily accessible from lunch-rooms could help alleviate the high demand for inner city green space seen during the pandemic, and along with good hygiene practices help office workers feel safer in communal areas.”

Co-author Professor Leisa Sargent, Senior Deputy Dean of the UNSW Business School added: “Retrofits of this type could receive a business tax incentive to stimulate the construction industry as they create workplaces that improve employee productivity and wellbeing.

“Green roofs, walls and facades require a diverse mix of professions and trades to build them and many jobs will be created as the sector grows. In Toronto, a 2009 bylaw that made green roofs mandatory on large new buildings is estimated to have created 1600+ jobs in their construction and 25 jobs annually to maintain them.”

Australian cities are lagging behind many of their international counterparts in the implementation of these green infrastructure technologies but researchers point to the City of Melbourne as an example of government that promotes green cities and is tailoring policies to encourage green infrastructure via a planning scheme amendment, through its Green Our City Strategic Action Plan, and recently releasing a tool to measure and improve vegetation cover on new developments, particularly on private land.

“We want Melbourne to remain a place where people want to live and work. This means planning for a city with health and wellbeing of residents and workers front and centre,” City of Melbourne Councillor Cathy Oke said.

“One way that we can do this is through designing in and encouraging more green spaces in our city. The City of Melbourne’s Green Factor Tool will assist developers to increase greening within proposed new buildings, by measuring the quality and quantity of green infrastructure, such as green roofs, walls and gardens.”

Jock Gammon, the managing director of Junglefy, one of Australia’s leading living infrastructure companies and Roadmap contributor agrees.

“We don’t want people to escape the city to enjoy the benefits nature brings. The adoption of living infrastructure helps create thriving, vibrant, healthy spaces where humans and nature intertwine,” Mr Gammon said. “With limited opportunities to include nature in our cities due to urban density, there is a need, now more than ever to breathe life back into our cities.”

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From EurekAlert!

39 thoughts on “Green cities roadmap touts COVID-19 recovery stimulus

  1. Somebody missed something.

    Australian roadmap says greening cities can help kickstart economy [ down a path of harmful self destruction under the guise of the greater good ].

    • Rubbish.

      There is nothing attractive about bad, lazy, illogical, profit driven design that ignores basic scientific principles. Melbourne is probably one of the worst of the Australian cities, a furnace in summer, freezing in winter, full of smog, noise, dust and fumes.

      Green walls and roof top planting helps get rid of the dust, quietens the city and in the inner suburban streets especially, street trees can have a significant cooling effect.

      Why is it that the “leafy” suburbs in cities almost always have a higher value than the ones without greenery?

      If by path of self destruction you mean moving to a more pleasant environment with higher property values then you have a strange use of words.

      • Perhaps the owners of property in Melbourne that want a better environment can borrow the needed money themselves instead of wanting all other Australians to borrow it for them. After-all, they are the ones who will profit from the increased debt, oh sorry, increased property values.

        I understand (probably wrongly) that the coronavirus “crisis” has increased Australia’s national debt by more than $AU300,000,000,000. You want it increased by even more? Do you own low value Melbourne property I, wonder?

  2. ““Rooftop and podium level green roofs, viewed through many building windows but easily accessible from lunch-rooms could help alleviate the high demand for inner city green space seen during the pandemic, and along with good hygiene practices help office workers feel safer in communal areas.”

    Co-author Professor Leisa Sargent, Senior Deputy Dean of the UNSW Business School added: “Retrofits of this type could receive a business tax incentive to stimulate the construction industry as they create workplaces that improve employee productivity and wellbeing.”

    So what I read is the Ivory tower professors wants government money (taxpayer monies) to build nice rooftop green garden spaces to hold their afternoon Departmental tea-coffee breaks. Did I get that right?

    Oh and it will create “green” construction jobs to build those nice rooftop gardens in urban spaces.
    It’s all a wonderful time of fun and games until you run out of OPM.

    • What’s wrong with the posted image at the top of the article?

      The uge umbrellas and the patio floor are “yellow” in color.

      Why not “green” if they are touting greenery?

  3. Australia’s Covid response has been so successful that the governments that the stimulus measures taken so far are massively disproportionate with the outcome. They should be looking for opportunities to cut back expenses especially where the reduced expenses have a minor impact on jobs. If one looks at the historic massive cost of every green job created I think cutting back of green schemes makes a lot of sense, Then the money can be more efficiently distributed to building up manufacturing capability and tourism where Australia gets real value for the money spent. The real lesson from Covid is that we need to actively move our reliance away from China and not buying any Chinese solar panels would be a good start.

  4. Say what you will, the Hoover Dam payed for itself. link In addition …

    The dam provided an abundance of cheap electricity for California and the Southwest, and is credited with paving the way for much of the growth that has occurred in the last 50 years. (the article was written in 1987)

    The correct way to stimulate the economy is to create wealth. That way, everybody wins eventually. It’s something like the difference between teaching someone to fish or just giving them a fish.

    • the Hoover Dam payed for itself.
      TRUE!
      That is why the Govt. will never build such a project like it again.
      Honestly, I think we all know that the Hoover Dam could never be built today.

    • If the government supports a project that benefits private businesses, that is a good project. Examples are the Hoover Dam, the Interstate system, Panama Canal etc. Those projects that only enhance the egos of over indulgent politicians are a waste of the taxpayers money. Public buildings built too big and then staffed to the capacity of the building. You could probably put Art in that basket, projects that should probably be funded by private business rather than tax monies.

  5. Did *anyone* proposing this do *any* research on what it takes to maintain a rooftop garden of any size at all? How much water, how much fertilizer, how much soil replenishment, how much trimming, how much cleaning, weeding, etc? My city put in small planter boxes around some downtown street lights to make things “pretty”. They lasted about five years before the city decided it was more reasonable to just install plastic plants! (plastic – fossil fuel?) Even those have to be replaced every so often after the sun has cooked them and the winter has frozen them!

    • And not to forget to stabilise the roofs, a garden has a lot of wight.
      And roots are very creative to find ways into walls and the roofs, necessary to consider too.

      • And a school in the UK that was built with a ‘green’ roof collapsed the following year!

    • Unless the top of the building has been designed for a planted garden with water and people access to enjoy it (maintain it). It would be incredibly costly and difficult to retrofit a rooftop garden on a building.

      This article is nothing but uninformed nonsense from a virtue signaler.

      I would love to build my retirement house with a grass roof; and have bought books and ready many online articles. The challenges are legion.

      • Dear Greg

        Just because something is hard to do correctly doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be done. The proposal is to first learn from other peoples successes and failures and then to do it correctly through establishing rules of proper engineering practice.

        Its not only retrofitting existing buildings but also on new builds, a lot of which are only a few stories high and therefore only marginally more costly (if you know what you are doing), especially in times of low interest rates meaning low discount rates applied to future increases in cash flows (rents, resale values etc.)

        Sometimes “virtue signalling” is simply someone pushing a worthwhile idea.

        • Of course the question is worthwhile to who?

          The second question, paid for by who?

          I worked for a city building department. We often got push back when enforcing building codes, you know to protect people and property. The complaints were about the associated costs of safe construction.

          The planners had a bright idea of not only putting a wall around the dumpsters, fair enough to obscure the ugly things, but then to put a roof over them? Added cost with no net benefit since all the dumpsters were already required to have lids. City council loved the idea, no cost benefit analysis of any kind done. BTW, this was Las Vegas, Nevada. LV gets about 4 inches annual rainfall. Little need for a roof even without covered dumpsters.

          When money is flowing or the economy is good, planners always ask for MORE. In Vegas, when things were booming 15 to 20 years back, planners required wider green areas beside roads in new master planned developments, more parks, property set aside for schools and other government buildings, etc. etc. There was never enough, always new IDEAS to spend other peoples money. Since the mortgage collapse, government elected officials have been waiving many requirements, but they never seem to actually permanently REMOVE them.

        • Ope
          Rubbish your rubbish.
          Melbourne is one of the best designed and greenest cities in the entire world.
          Melbourne has been voted most liveable city in the world numerous times.
          Total area 10000sqm
          Central business district 10sqm.
          Yes there are not many trees in CBD but any money spent trying to green the 10sqm can be used more effectively in the other 9990sqm.

        • When “hard” = “costly” then where does the money come from? As I pointed out our city fathers decided to change *inexpensive” planters around street posts to PLASTIC because of the upkeep costs for real live plants! If you don’t water the plants regularly they will die and then you have nothing but a butt-ugly brown weed patch. If you don’t pull the weeds from the mulch (weeds will take root almost anyhwere) then pretty soon you have a butt-ugly brown weed patch. If you don’t inspect and spray regularly then you can wind up with spider webs and insect infestations everywhere. Pretty soon you have a butt ugly brown weed patch. If you plant perennials then you have to thin them every so often or you wind up with an overgrown, butt-ugly patch of say iris. If you plant annuals then you have to replant them every so often or you wind up with butt-ugly open areas with dead plants rotting into the soil.

          And then comes winter when everything dies back and turns brown and you wind up with a butt-ugly mess to look at.

          Of course you can always put a greenhouse on top of every building so you can control temperature, humidity, shade, sun, etc. But then who is going to ever see it?

  6. Wow, that all sounds so nice- until you inject even the slightest economic reality into the situation.
    These Ivory Tower dreamers are out to lunch (on taxpayers money I might add). As several previous commenters already pointed out this is NOT the way to create wealth and what do you intend to do when OPM runs dry.?
    Oh, right revert to a feudal system based on Green totalitarianism. I think we’ve all been seeing what that future could hold over the last few days in the streets of America, and I vote a resounding NO to that mess! Some kind of magical omniscient oligarchy all based on Mother Gaia, with the current band of (climate alarmist) astounding hypocrites leading the way? A big no to that.

  7. Not sure about that road sign. Nowhere is 580km from Perth and 1,360km from Sydney. It’s about 4,000km between the two cities.

    The Sydney to Brisbane distance is about right.

  8. Nice addition to office buildings but subsidized by tax money? Why do all the so called “green” activities always either require tax money or make life worse for me or both?

  9. Utterly ludicrous. This is a old idea, keeps being recycled. It is “sustainability”, meaning how to keep unsustainable fat-cats (such as the authors) in the lifestyle they prefer.
    I am still regarded as an “expert” in sustainability, but what I used to promote is “sustainability for the rest of us”. If it does not have universal validity or application, it is not sustainable. The only problem is, I have had to stop using the word, because it is now regarded as bad, promotes a reaction of disgust. So I switched to “resilience” but the usual suspects have made a mess of that concept as well, so I have to try and explain in long-hand, avoiding any term that has been corrupted. And I am running out of words I can use …

  10. Australian universities would like this (more economic geniuses have their say on this page):

    3 Jun: World Economic Forum: The Great Re-Set: (scroll down) The ‘greenest recovery ever’ – Ma Jun
    The post-COVID recovery must be “greener than any of the previous recoveries” said Ma Jun of the China Green Finance Committee.
    “The size of stimulus package is very big – bigger than historic numbers” he added, estimating that it amounts to around 20% of GDP in the United States and 8% in China.

    Ma Jun had 6 recommendations for the Great Reset:
    1. Make sure the percentage of green projects is higher than any other time in history.
    2. Ensure projects that can’t be labelled as green are made to follow strict environmental standards.
    3. Consumption stimulus needs to be green. Governments could make a list of green consumer goods and these should be given preference on list of consumer subsidies and coupons.
    4. Employment generation programmes must be green. Migrant workers have lost jobs. Instead of paying them unemployment benefits we should ask them to plant trees and pay them for that.
    5. Governments to consider green bonds as much as possible. This enhances market participation, encouraging the private sector to join too.
    6. Any central banks considering using quantitative easing should use green bonds.
    https://www.weforum.org/great-reset/live-updates/week-ending-june-7#greenest-recovery-ever-ma-jun-china-green-finance-committee

    • Will the Chinese be applying that solution to their own future projects or is this just something they want to foist onto the rest of the world to slow us down. Again.

  11. “Associate Professor Nick Williams, said while COVID-19 was not part of the core research, learnings from the pandemic illustrate the potential for green roofs, walls and facades on environmental, economic and social benefits, including adapting cities to climate change, ”

    This is the kind of illiterate meaningless nonsense that “scholars” these days say with no one taking them on. Ask Prof Nick what on earth he means and you’ll get an immediate second, more meaningless reply without skipping a beat. “…learnings from the pandemic illustrate the potential for green roofs..” indeed!

  12. Gardens on the roof burn just as fierce as vegetation anywhere else in bush fire weather. Geoff S

  13. In Australia Covid is done as a headline.

    The short road to recovery will be paved with tax cuts, and less public funding of universities.

  14. Okay but be careful not to mention UHI in the plans. That might upset the information directors that suppress UHI discussion as part of the surface temperature record.

  15. Don’t dizz Australia. My husband posted documents to a relative in NZ last week. This week they came back ‘Return to Sender: Postal Service Temporarily Suspended’. You will be in hobit country sooner than they.

  16. Here in Melbourne’s CBD one of the best city gardens is the rainforest atrium at the ExxonMobil Melbourne headquarters. Built in 1995 but not mentioned as a real life successful example. ????

  17. Some quite negative comments so far about this, not quite sure what’s triggering about leafy walls but anyway…

    Setting aside who pays what for the moment, (I know it’s important), and looking at the core idea of greening cities, an idea by the way already decades old, I think there’s a real future for integrating this type of architecture into our world.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no happy clappy pie in the sky everyone eat insects kinda guy, and I despise crony capitalism, but sometimes there’s a risk of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    Development in green roofs and green walls has come a long way, and I invite anyone wishing to update their negative predisposition about such things to check out the links below.

    Quote from the late Roger Scruton: “Beauty is vanishing from our world because we live as though it did not matter.”

    General info, pros/cons etc from the RHS: green roofs https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=289 Green walls https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=547

    For the London living roofs and walls report 2019 : https://livingroofs.org

    Patrick Blanc, inspirational, a bit eccentric (he’s french) but one of the pioneers : https://www.verticalgardenpatrickblanc.com

    ANS global, real world case studies and project gallery : https://www.ansgroupglobal.com

  18. I’ve tried 3 times posting to this thread with no luck………. do comments get closed?

  19. ah……just me then.

    Not sure what’s triggering about leafy walls but anyway…

    Setting aside who pays what for the moment, (I know it’s important), and looking at the core idea of greening cities, an idea by the way already decades old, I think there’s a real future for integrating this type of architecture into our world.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no happy clappy pie in the sky everyone eat insects kinda guy, and I despise crony capitalism, but sometimes there’s a risk of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    Development in green roofs and green walls has come a long way, and I invite anyone wishing to update their negative predisposition about such things to check out the links below.

    Quote from the late Roger Scruton: “Beauty is vanishing from our world because we live as though it did not matter.”

    General info, pros/cons etc from the RHS: green roofs https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=289 Green walls https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=547

    For the London living roofs and walls report 2019 : https://livingroofs.org

    Patrick Blanc, inspirational, a bit eccentric (he’s french) but one of the pioneers : https://www.verticalgardenpatrickblanc.com

    ANS global, real world case studies and project gallery : https://www.ansgroupglobal.com

  20. oh good lord… mods please delete the repeated comments… and this one please.

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