Don’t have a garden? No problem! There are other areas in your house where you can sun yourself, or grow fruit and veggies, like your roof!
The University of Haifa recently opened Israel’s first research center for Green Roofs Ecology, which will focus on research and development of non-irrigated green roofs, improving biological diversity on roofs and developing ecological and evolutionary theories.
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Over recent years, awareness of the “green roofs” gardening method atop building roofs has increased. It is intended to enhance a building’s energy efficiency while minimizing environmental damage. The rooftop vegetation creates better insulation for the building, which lowers air conditioning and/or heating consumption, improves photosynthesis in the city and can even even serve as an urban living space for various animals.
Until now, Israel has not had a research center for green roofs and research from other countries has not necessarily been applicable in the unique climate and flora of the Middle East. The new center, headed by Prof. Leon Blaustein of the University’s Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology, will be examining the field in the Israeli context: Will it be possible to assemble green roofs in the Israeli climate without artificial irrigation? Will Israeli flora be reliable to serve for green roofs? And, do green roofs increase the biological diversity of insects and plants?
Research at the center will also examine the utilization of grey-water irrigation for the roofs, whether a building’s height affects insect attraction to a green roof and whether drainage from green roofs might cause more environmental damage than good.
One of the University of Haifa’s roofs has already been transformed into a green research laboratory with 48 different plant beds. Its first research project is focusing on the preferred types of plants and how the different plants attract insects and birds.
The University of Haifa stresses that the center has been established thanks to a generous gift from a British expert in the field, and was facilitated by the university’s VP for External Relations and Resource Development Amos Gaver.