Topic 1

Evidence suggests that regular, direct contact with natural green space (and elements of the natural world such as birdsong and seasonal color change) is good for people’s health.

Therefore, the current EU Strategy on Green Infrastructure links closely with the European Pact for Mental Health and Wellbeing.

On 6 May 2013, the Commission adopted an EU-wide strategy promoting investments in green infrastructure, to restore the health of ecosystems, ensure that natural areas remain connected together, and allow species to thrive across their entire natural habitat, so that nature keeps on delivering its many benefits to us. The strategy promotes the deployment of green infrastructure across Europe as well as the development of a Trans-European Network for Green Infrastructure in Europe. This can also help enhance the health and wellbeing of EU citizens, provide jobs, and boost our economy.

A roof on the Kanton Hospital in Basel was redesigned 20 years ago by vegetating it, as it was felt that patients in intensive care would benefit from looking out onto this rather than a grey space of before. A few community hospitals in the UK are now being designed with greater consideration of green space provision.

The thermal benefits that green roofs provide may also have indirect benefits for people living or working within the building.

A study conducted by Environment Canada found a 26% reduction in summer cooling needs and a 26% reduction in winter heat losses when a green roof is used.

Extensive planting within cities is now widely recognized as a means of improving air quality. Therefore, green roofs contribute to the reduction of a number of polluting air particles and compounds not only through the plants themselves, but also by deposition in the growing medium itself.

The key benefits of green roofs are as following:

  • plants reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and produce oxygen,
  • green roofs reduce the heat island effect, which is the main cause of ozone production,
  • plant roofs remove heavy metals, airborne particles and volatile organic compounds,
  • being absorbed into the green roof system these polluting particles do not enter the water system through surface run off leading to improvement in water quality.