Push for greener, leafier spaces on Parisian roofs

PARIS -- City-led initiative looks to double amount of rooftop gardens to harvest their many benefits
Written by Bryan Pirolli, Correspondent (Paris) on

PARIS – A new biodiversity initiative seeks to convert over 17 acres of Parisian rooftops to thriving gardens by 2020.  This endeavor would nearly double the existing green spaces atop city buildings.

With Paris continually employing new greener practices, the city is now looking to produce actual green space atop its buildings.  Using various methods, the hope is to create pockets of biodiversity across the city through innovative new rooftop gardens.

While creating more habitats for animals and insects, the gardens also act as insulation.  During the winter they keep in heat while in the summer they have a cooling effect, a welcomed addition in a city notorious for little air conditioning.  The plants will also absorb two of the city’s biggest pollutants: carbon dioxide and sound.

The project is not as easy as buying every building a watering can.  Structural considerations are important to ensure that gardens won’t collapse roofs and proper drainage is needed to avoid water damage.  Also, promoting biodiversity means finding ways to integrate different types of plants to a very particular Parisian climate.

Current rooftop gardens feature plants that are well adapted to temperature extremes and dryness, but according to Marc Barra, business and biodiversity administrator for Natureparif, there is work left to do.  Natureparif is an agency that is working with the city to promote and advise on biodiversity issues in the Ile-de-France region – the French region that includes Paris.

Barra said that existing gardens don’t adequately promote diversity, instead favoring plants that are easily maintained on flat roofs.  “Today, we don’t have many examples of rooftop gardens as we’d like to see them,” he said.

With this city-led initiative, Paris should be a little bit greener as seen from the sky.  Some of the more surprising projects in the region include rooftop gardens with meter-deep soil for growing vegetables, a hanging garden wall by the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, and a 16-story building in the 13th arrondissement that will be wrapped with a vegetal envelope to promote spontaneous seeding.  There is even a building in Boulogne-Billancourt that is attempting to plant trees.

In February, Natureparif will publish a 200-page architectural industry guide with an entire chapter devoted to helping architects better understand how to construct rooftop gardens

Photo: Paris.fr

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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