2017 Green Roof Report - How is the industry faring?

Green roofing is a relative newcomer to the UK.  Other European countries have been researching and developing green roofs – well – since bronze age times.  In Germany, sedum roofs started appearing from as early as the 1960’s. The UK started to wake up to the benefits of green roofing in response to the threat of climate change, I’d say in the 1990’s.  But correct me if I’m wrong. 

There’s still a little way to go before we catch up with our European cousins.  And the same can be said for most of the western world.  However the green roof report, recently published by www.livingroofs.org indicates positive changes in the planning policies that drive the industry.

What the Green Roof Report Tells Us

  • The industry showed a growth rate of 17.1% between 2015 and 2016
  • Data was gathered from major green roof suppliers and does not DIY green roofs
  • The green roof market is driven mainly by planning policy.  London aims to make 50% of the city green by 2050 which partially explains why 42% of new green roofs are in London.
  • Commercial green roof prices average out at £52/m2 for an extensive (eg sedum) green roof and £100/m2 for an intensive green roof.
  • House Developers aiming for net gain in biodiversity on their newbuild sites are increasingly incorporating green roofing.
  • The potential area available for retrofit green roofs in the UK has not yet been evaluated.
  • The value of the green roof industry to the UK job market is being studied.

 small sedum roof on garden shed

Small green roofs like this one make a huge contribution to our wildlife, our ecosystems and our air quality.  DIY roofs are difficult to record and therefore don't figure in the green roof report but that doesn't make them irrelevant.   If every gardener in the UK popped a green roof on one of their outbuildings the benefits to our environment would be enormous

The future of Green Roofing in the UK

It’s good to hear that Livingroofs.org has a positive view of the future of the UK green roof industry. 

London’s planning policy is awesome and several smaller towns and cities are adopting similar attitudes towards green infrastructure.  As town planners, architects, housebuilders and homeowners realise the value of green roofs, there is good reason to hope that the green roof market continues to expand year on year.

I’m going to take a moment here to “big up” a local homebuilder.  Abel Homes from Watton in Norfolk incorporate green roofing into their newbuilds.  Just small ones mind you, probably too small to have been included in the data for the Green Roof Report.  However, it’s a visible contribution to the eco-system. 

What will happen to the cost of green roofing?

Like so many other things, the cost depends not just on the materials but on the transport and the labour.   My personal hope is that green roofing becomes even more affordable as it becomes more mainstream.  Sadly though I suspect that even if the cost of UK grown constituents remains mainly static, associated costs may rise and cancel out that benefit.  

What we really need are some firm figures on how much money a green roof can save in terms of energy usage.  Then, hopefully, homeowners and developers will look at green roofing the same way as they do triple-glazing – as an investment. 

What are your thoughts?

What do you think will happen to the UK green roof market?

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Download the green roof report here