Building for Wildlife - Not Just People - Pager Power
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Building for Wildlife – Not Just People

Building for Wildlife – Not Just People
August 16, 2021 Rosie Ranson

Whenever we build something, a patch of earth that could have been a home for wildlife is transformed. While many would opt for renewable energy and sustainable materials as a way to maintain sustainability when developing houses, Dusty Gedge would suggest making the roof into a patch for nature. Gedge, president of the European Federation of Green Roofs and Living Wall Associates (EFB), is a long-time advocate for covering roofs with soil, mosses, and plants. [1]

Dusty Gedge: The Advocist

The EFB was founded in 1997 by Gedge. As of 2019, there are 15 members: Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Scandinavia, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic, Portugal, England, Spain and Serbia. [2] Their mission is to promote the use of green roofs and green facades throughout Europe. The EFB believes that these technologies have the capability to support improved quality of life in towns and cities, by restoring developed surfaces back to nature and help with Climate Change Adaptation. In 2018 the European Parliament updated the EU Energy Efficiency Directive, which enabled green roofs and walls to contribute even more to improving a buildings energy performance.

building for wildlife

Figure 1: Green roof at the WIPO headquarters. [7]

So, What Are The Benefits?

A study conducted in 2007 by the Canadian cultural botanist, Erica Oberndorfer analysed that green roofs can provide “habitats for various species, reduce heavy run off of storm water from buildings and even help to cool interiors”. [3] Alongside this, green roofs hold many other benefits at economical, ecological, and societal levels:

  • Rainwater buffer
  • Air purifier
  • Reduction in ambient temperature
  • Increase solar panel efficiency
  • Reduce ambient noise
  • Extend life span of roof
  • Add value to the building
  • Increase biodiversity
  • Create fire-resistant layer
  • Increase the feeling of well-being
  • Healing the environment
  • Erosion protection. [4]

Notable Developments Within The UK

In Hertfordshire, highways bosses have begun installing green roofs to bus shelters, with a focus on helping the bee population. The pilot scheme is currently concentrated to Hertfordshire, however highway bosses are hoping that the new approach could be rolled out across the country. The plants and flowers utilised in the roofs encourage pollinators and insects, which in turn will encourage more wildlife and biodiversity. [5] In 2014, the Green Roof Consultancy (GRC) started the “Green Roof Map” project, which pinpoints every green roof across London. As of 2021, there are roughly 700 green roofs in central London, covering an area of over 175,000m2. [6] The GRC are aiming to create a greener London and this project, which is part of the “London Environment Strategy,” is just one small part. 

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[1] Baraniuk, C., 2021. Why we should build for wildlife as well as people. [online]
[2] 2021. About Us | EFB. [online]
[3] Oberndorfer, E., Lundholm, J., Bass, B., Coffman, R., Doshi, H., Dunnett, N., Gaffin, S., Köhler, M., Liu, K. and Rowe, B., 2007. Green Roofs as Urban Ecosystems: Ecological Structures, Functions, and Services. BioScience, 57(10), pp.823-833.
[4] Roofs, G., 2021. Benefits of a green roof – Sempergreen. [online]
[5] Borehamwood Times. 2021. Bus shelters will have ‘living roofs’ designed to attract bees. [online]
[6] Urban Greening. [online]
[7] Emmanuel Berrod (June 2021) from WikiCommons. Last accessed on 16 Aug 2021. Available at:


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