London report “Living Roofs and Walls”, 2019

London report “Living Roofs and Walls – from policy to practice. 10 years of urban greening in London and beyond”, 2019

Published by the European Federation of Green Roof and Green Wall Associations (EFB) and on behalf of the Greater London Authority, written by Gary Grant and Dusty Gedge of The Green Infrastructure Consultancy Ltd (GIC).

London Living roofs & walls report, 2019

Executive summary
This report is a summary of the progress that has been made in mainstreaming green roofs and walls as a response to the challenges facing cities now and in the future. It also updates information about the benefits of green roofs and walls and highlights policy development in London and elsewhere which aims to encourage more urban greening to ensure the urban environment becomes greener, healthier and more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
Green roofs (living roofs) and green walls (living walls) have, over the last decade, become the most obvious manifestation of urban greening in London. This has been driven by the ambitious and pioneering Living Roofs and Walls Policy which was first introduced into the London Plan in 2008 following the publication in that year of a technical report, Living Roofs and Walls, supporting the policy.
Since then, green roof and wall uptake in both large and small developments has increased annually across London. The main focus of activity has been in the inner London boroughs and in a few of the outer London boroughs where there is major regeneration. As a result:

  • The total area of green roofs in the Greater London Area was 1.5 million m2, which equates to 0.17m2 of green roof per inhabitant (2017 figures)
  • In the Central Activity Zone (CAZ) green roofs covered 290,000m2, which equates to 1.26m2 of green roof per inhabitant (2017 figures). This is higher than many other cities in the world which are famed for their green roofs
  • 42% of the total UK green roof market is in London (2016 figures)

This has been achieved without the subsidies or financial incentives that have been available in many other leading cities. Whilst some of those cities are recognised as global leaders in delivering green roofs and walls, London’s progress, for the most part, has not been widely acknowledged.
This report shows that the London Living Roofs and Walls Policy has begun to transform the capital’s roofscapes. The city is now regarded as a leader in urban greening, in terms of policy, planning and design, as well as in the overall amount of green roofs and walls being installed.The 2008 technical report has influenced policymakers in other cities around the world and raised awareness of the benefits of green roofs and walls within the construction and property industry. Now many companies embrace their use as part of their own approach to delivering greener, healthier and more climate-resilient buildings and neighbourhoods.The future is certain to be one in which the provision of green roofs and walls on new developments across the whole of London will continue to grow. The projected increase in population in London (and most other cities) will require more intensive use of developed sites and therefore a significant increase in the quantity of green roofs and walls.However, urban greening policy and practice will need to develop further. It is imperative that new approaches, such as biosolar roofs (green roofs combined with photovoltaic arrays) and blue green roofs (green roofs that can store stormwater), become part of the standard range of urban greening measures planned, designed, managed and integrated into the wider green infrastructure network, to make the cities of the future more sustainable.