Researchers from the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) have built a roof covered with plants and a watering system that will optimise the consumption of a building’s heating and cooling systems thanks to its insulation. It is a third-generation ecological roof, characterised by its sustainability and the use of indigenous plant species.
“The importance of the roofs”, explained Francisco Javier Neila, Professor at the UPM and co-author of the study, to SINC, “is that each geographical area requires the structures and plant species that work best”. In this case, the researchers divided the roof of an experimental building in Colmenar Viejo (Madrid) into 20 modules, and carried out a test with different supports and regional plants based on three factors: the plant growing at a good speed, the density of the biomass perfectly covering the roof and the result being visually attractive.
Indigenous species work better
In winter and summer conditions, the best performing roof has an 8 cm tank that collects rainwater and offers an even irrigation system.
Plants such as sedum (Sedum praealtum) or aptenia (Aptenia cordifolia) provide the best insulation “because they have a thick leaf and are resistant to frosts and heat”, indicated Neila. But each location where an ecological roof is installed will have its own catalogue of plants, starting with indigenous plants “because in its habitat, the plant performs better”.
The researchers also considered covering the roofs with an effective plant and decorating it with another prettier one to fulfil both requirements, but the result is difficult ,“since when a single space is shared by two species, the stronger one will predominate”, Neila explained.
There are a series of superimposed layers under the groundcover. The first is a very light special substrate which helps to drain rainwater quickly so the plant does not drown. Here, the best solution is pine bark crushed and mixed with sewage sludge.
The substrate lies on porous concrete which acts as a sieve for excess water that will end up in the tank, the capacity of which is controlled by raised floor systems similar to those that support the raised floor of an office. The water contained rises up to the roof through capillary action and enables even irrigation. Just before the building’s floor framing, the roof consists of a waterproof sheet which prevents leaks.
Between each layer an extruded polystyrene sheet is inserted which, according to the roof model, can be situated under the porous concrete or beneath the tank. Each layer also includes a sensor that measures temperature and humidity variables which can be compared with data collected by an adjoining weather station for checking any change caused by the roof during the four seasons of the year.
The researchers have also left various modules without an ecological roof to clearly demonstrate its effectiveness. “Roof areas with plants optimise better the heating and cooling of a building than a normal structure, regardless of how well insulated it is”, the expert commented to SINC.
The design of ecological roofs responds to the challenge of merging urban and rural lifestyles and is being developed in countries such as Germany, Switzerland, the USA and South Africa. Ecological roofs reduce pollution in cities, absorb lead and other organic components. “A forest would be less contaminated with the same intensity of urban pollution", said Neila.
These roofs will help to reduce the temperature of cities, which today are a kind of urban heat island. Scientists have also estimated that acoustic contamination would be reduced to three decibels, thanks to plant absorption.
Groundcover is therefore becoming a new type of building material but development prospects are not positive due to its high price. Neila cites Germany, “where the situation is being resolved with tax benefits, council taxes, increase in suitability for building, which means it does not cost developers so much to invest in this option”.
SINC Team | alfa
Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland
Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
23.03.2017 | Life Sciences
23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences