Cyprus Mail

Environment commissioner advocates rooftop gardens

rooftop garden
Green roofs shape microclimates within cities by creating 'pockets' of cool air

Environment Commissioner Antonia Theodosiou has suggested that people create more rooftop gardens to help mitigate the effects of urban heat islands caused by concrete cities, which can distort temperature readings when assessing global warming trends.

In her greeting at the technical lecture on the introduction of green roofs organised by the Technical Chamber Etek, Theodosiou said the increase in urbanisation and the concentration of buildings had led to a dearth of green spaces at ground level.

“This worsens the phenomenon of urban heat islands as well as air quality,” she said.

Taking into consideration that most human activities are concentrated in urban areas, she added that it was essential that policies and practices focus on “adapting to the climate crisis” and limiting its consequences through the application of innovative techniques.

Theodosiou said that in recent years, a number of studies had been carried out to find the best methods of managing and utilising the urban environment in order to make cities sustainable and resilient with sufficient greenery, cleaner air, and a more pleasant environment.

She referred to cities that would encourage “green habits”, such as the use of sustainable public transport and in general, encouraging activities with zero ecological impact.

“With the degradation of public space and the shrinking and/or absence of green spaces, rooftop planting to reclaim or revitalise public space is a promising practice, especially in densely populated urban centres,” she said.

She also said that planted roofs offer several benefits and “can be a powerful resilience and bioclimatic management tool because they help reduce the urban heat island effect, the trapping of heat from streets, sidewalks and buildings”.

Green roofs shape microclimates within cities by creating ‘pockets’ of cool air, which regulate temperature and improve air quality resulting in a healthier and more sustainable urban environment,” she added.

“They can be a habitat for species of plants, birds, microorganisms, insects, etc. to enhance biodiversity but also by improving human interaction with nature in a built-up environment. They provide an aesthetic upgrade, reduce noise pollution, improve well-being and the physical and mental health of residents.”

She outlined the benefits of green roofs, noting their role in reducing the urban heat island effect, regulating temperature, improving air quality, enhancing biodiversity, and promoting human interaction with nature. Green roofs act as natural filters and “green lungs,” sequestering carbon, reducing heat stress, and improving comfort for residents.

She said they also improve comfort and reduce the incidence of heat stress for residents from high outdoor temperatures.

“Services, licensing authorities, architects, engineers and other professionals can work together to integrate this practice into urban planning and development policies,” Theodosiou said.

At the same time, she added, the issue of providing incentives and, above all, regulations that promote and regulate the adoption of this solution must be considered. She called for awareness-raising and the provision of technical information for professionals as well as the general public.

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