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By Martina Bondone
The “green roofs” consist of a fully or partially landscaped tall roof on common or cultivable soil. That is: grass roofs. It does not refer to flowerpots, beds or orchards since their placement implies the use of technologies that fulfill an ecological function. The term also applies to other sustainable tools such as solar panels and irrigation systems. They emerged in Germany around 1960 and quickly spread throughout the rest of Europe, mainly Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Hungary and Sweden.
The architect Diego Rybka defines himself as a "developer" who is involved in his projects from design to construction. Although you began proposing the idea of green roofs five years ago, you can only now begin to implement them. Approved municipal law No. 4428 in 2012, which incorporates and regulates the figure of green roofs to the urban planning code, the Buenos Aires government also decreed a price reduction in the construction permit and in the ABL for all buildings that opt for this modality. "With Macri these taxes increased by almost 300% so green roofs became a selling point," explains Rybka. Although he emphasizes that although "everyone" wants a green space, money is always a problem, especially for older people who did not receive the ecological education that younger ones did. However, Rybka believes that it is not that there is greater ecological awareness but that the State is forced to apply rules: "Recycling is a necessity because we do not know what to do with the garbage, this is the same".
Mariana Kameniecki is a floriculture technician (UBA) and an organic vegetable production technician (UBA), together with Ana de Mendonça, nurseryman and landscape designer, teach the course "Green Roofs, a sustainable approach". Both coincide in the multiple advantages of their placement: they provide a landscaped space for relaxation and contemplation, they generate thermal and acoustic insulation, which leads to energy savings (in cooling and heating). Furthermore, due to the evapotranspiration process of the growing plants, there is a decrease in the “heat island” effect that occurs in cities when all concrete surfaces absorb and emit high temperatures. Plants retain pollutants from the air and fix carbon in their structures, which would otherwise be part of the greenhouse effect gases. Meanwhile, Rybka highlights the contribution of this technique in oxygen recovery and its filtering function during storms. On this point he details another aspect of the law: the placement of tanks to slow down rainwater. Although it is not mandatory, in his constructions the architect reuses the liquid contained for irrigation.
Kameniecki emphasizes other important benefits that are not always met by a green roof and are related to the conservation of biodiversity: including native plants, it provides refuge for wildlife and contributes to the conservation of species of flora and fauna. local. In addition, the space can be managed with low maintenance (not requiring periodic cutting or chemical fertilization), reducing dependence on external inputs.
With regard to the limitations and conditions of placement of a green roof, de Mendonça clarifies that the construction structure -walls, columns, beams- and the roof itself must be considered to know if it supports the weight that is going to be loaded. , that the roof slopes are appropriate and that the drain works properly so that there is no moisture leakage. Kameniecki adds that it is only after this evaluation that construction can be considered, which involves the placement of insulation materials, drainage and substrates, to support the growth of different types of plants. "The choice of species and the design will depend on many variables: amount of overweight that the existing structure can support, exposure to sun / shade, use of space", clarifies the specialist.
For Rybka, the green roof law is an advance, but there is still a lag compared to Europe and the United States with respect to the green wave and only in ten years could the real change be seen. “You can do much more, such as awarding ecological prizes, encouraging the separation of garbage and reuse of materials in the works, constant campaigns and not from time to time. In addition, I believe that the regulations should be in the whole country because although it is not an issue on the agenda, it is gaining notoriety, for example in the province they evaluate urban density to see how it impacts at the environmental level ”, says the architect. While Kameniecki and de Mendonça agree that there is still a long way to go, they think that there is a contradiction in the policies of the city government, which encourages the construction of green roofs but reduces the amount of green spaces in the city, covering numerous surfaces with cement that previously featured vegetation.
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