Increased amenity & recreational space

Amenity values are defined in the Resource Management Act 1991 as ”those natural and physical qualities and characteristics of an area that contribute to people’s appreciation of its pleasantness, aesthetic coherence, and cultural and recreational attributes”.

Our appreciation of an area can be significantly increased by the installation of green roofs.  No more apparent is this when standing on top of the green roof on the School of Engineering building at the University of Auckland – what an amazing city Auckland would be if all our roofs were greened.   

Our urban areas amenity is becoming increasingly more important as seen by the direction of many urban design policies and local government groups.  It is important we provide aesthetic green spaces for people living and working in our urban areas.  Living roofs can provide aesthetic green space, visually soften the built environment, and help people’s mental and physical health.  They have an important ecological role, support biodiversity, and providing a sense of place.

Within our urban centres there is a need for increased residential densities as our cities continue to grow in population and expand in area.  As residential infill occurs, there is a loss of aesthetic green space and amenity.  Green roofs may be considered a solution to help mitigate these adverse effects.

Our country’s rooftops should be seen as an under-utilised asset.   Living roofs can provide us with a recreational resource.  The Michael Hill Golf Course green roof is an example of where a green roof installation provides significant visual aesthetic mitigation.  Recreational green space has been provided on living roofs all over the world, where Jubilee Gardens, Canary Wharf Station, London is a prime example.

London’s Kensington Roof Gardens, built in 1938, provide gorgeous aesthetic recreational space in the middle of a heavily populated city.  Cannon Street station is another example of an intensive roof garden in the heart of London.


Contributes to improved human health

"There is a substantial amount of evidence that considers that contact with greenery or vegetation provides benefits to humans.  Cleaner air and reduced stress levels have been attributed to the provision of green space.

Access to green space can bring about direct reductions in a person’s heart rate and blood-pressure, and can aid general well-being.  A Texan study of post-surgery recovery in hospitals demonstrated that recovery was quicker and with less chance of relapse if patients could look out onto green space.  A number of American hospitals have subsequently been redesigned to bring these benefits to patients, and have been rewarded with greater patient ‘through-put’.  A roof on the Kanton Hospital in Basel was redesigned 20 years ago by vegetating it, because it was felt that patients in intensive care would benefit from looking out onto this rather than the grey-space of before.  A few community hospitals in the UK are now being designed with a greater consideration of green-space provision, and the good-practice work on hospital design being developed by Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment [CABE] is likely to further this."

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Work environments within buildings could be improved

"The thermal benefits that green roofs provide may also have indirect benefits for people living or working within the buildings. This has not been researched, but anecdotal evidence from Germany in the late 1990s is of interest. In a survey of staff absence from sickness at the Bundepost offices in Stuttgart, it was shown that staff in one building demonstrated significantly lower absences than those in others. The only change in the 4-year period that could be identified was that one of the buildings was given a green roof; this building supported lower staff sickness levels. It is possible that the green roof reduced the fluctuation of daily mean temperatures within the upper levels of the building, and/or the vegetation helped cool and moisturise in-going air near ventilation ducts.”

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Improved local vistas

Living roofs can significantly improve local vistas.  This can be of value when adding extensions to dwellings or commercial buildings and visual mitigation is required at the planning stage.