One emerging trend in the commercial building world is rooftop gardens. While rooftop gardens have been around for centuries, if not millennia, in the urban jungles of the developed world they’re enjoying a resurgence. This trend can be traced to the environmental, social and climatic benefits they offer – plus the fact that in some European countries, rooftop gardens on commercial buildings are now mandatory.
As rooftop gardens are also becoming more common in Australia, we thought it was time to explore the benefits of rooftop gardens and the things you should consider before installing one on your commercial building.
Rooftop gardens provide an outdoor greenspace for buildings where a landscaped garden surrounding your property isn’t possible or practical. This greenspace provides a place for employees to unwind and enjoy lunch, in turn improving productivity thanks to the benefits of spending time in nature.
Because gardens absorb rainfall, they reduce stormwater runoff and the threat of expensive flooding. With their naturally insulative properties, rooftop gardens can lower your power bills by reducing your building’s heat loss during cooler weather and heat gain during the warmer months. Rooftop gardens also help to improve air quality, reduce the effects of urban heating and increase your roof’s lifespan.
And of course, rooftop gardens beautify an otherwise less-than-aesthetically-pleasing area.
To install a rooftop garden, your rooftop needs to be safely and easily accessible and must be approved for pedestrian access. If you want to use or access the garden at night, you’ll need appropriate lighting. You should also consult with a structural engineer to check your roof’s load-bearing capacity, as this will affect your garden type and size.
Consider the wind, sun and rain in your area and how they may affect your design and plant choices. Can you take advantage of these natural forces or will you need to adjust your design to mitigate their effects? For example, do you need to account for the fact that your roof is shaded by surrounding buildings or in an area that experiences high winds?
Watering is also a key consideration. Your rooftop garden must feature appropriate waterproofing between the garden beds and rooftop. You also need to plan for how you’ll supply your garden with water.
Finally, it’s important to consider whether you want a garden with minimal maintenance or a garden that requires more intensive attention but may supply you with herbs, vegetables or fruit.
All these considerations will affect your choices around plant types (e.g. succulents, shallow roots, etc.) and your garden’s design (e.g. multiple containers and raised beds, a seamless spread across your entire rooftop, etc.). As with any development, always take care of council approval before you begin construction.
At Premis Solutions, we have years of experience in commercial, medical, educational and government projects. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you with your next commercial building fitout or refurbishment.