What are green roofs? Green roofs or living roofs – i.e. roofs that contain growing substrate and vegetation - can mitigate many of the negative environmental impacts that urban environments create. “Green” services that they can provide include: thermal insulation for buildings which decreases energy use for heating and cooling; mitigating a heat island effect; mitigating carbon dioxide build-up and climate change; aesthetic qualities of natural beauty and recreational space; filters for gray water and storm-water runoff mitigation; local plots for agriculture and medicinal plants; increase efficiency of photovoltaic panels by lowering roof temperatures; critical habitat in otherwise highly limited urban environments to house ecological communities thus aiding in preserving biodiversity (both species diversity and genetic diversity).
Research at the Center. Research and development of green roofs is a rapidly expanding interdisciplinary field though work on green roofs in more arid regions is comparatively lagging. Research on the roles of green roofs in mitigating biodiversity losses is also lagging. The newly created Kadas Green Roofs Ecology Research Center at the University of Haifa will address these problems, in particular, how green roof habitats can contribute to biodiversity conservation in semi-arid environments. The Center brings together, ecologists, architects and environmental engineers.
Housed within the Institute of Evolution and Faculty of Natural Sciences, our primary focus will be on understanding what contributes to biodiverse roofs. To understand how we can maximize the biodiversity contribution made by green roofs, we need to draw from conceptual evolutionary biology and ecology. Reciprocally, green roof habitats provide opportunities to develop and test evolutionary and ecological theories. We intend to study how factors such as substrate type and depth, topographic heterogeneity, plant diversity and identity, gray water irrigation, nutrient regimes and canopy cover of photovoltaic panels interact to affect plant and animal communities as well as other factors such as drainage and electrical production efficiency of photovoltaic panels.
In addition to being a center of conceptual and applied research, it will serve as outreach for educating the public and, in cooperation with industry, government agencies and NGO’s, to promote and develop green roofs in Israel.