Exploring the world's built environments and seeking sustainable solutions.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Augustenborg Green Roof

Most ecologically based communities are relatively wealthy and relatively new. Augustenborg in Malmo, Sweden is neither. Fashioning a sustainable neighborhood out of a working class 1950’s manufacturing and public apartment district is a difficult and impressive undertaking, but, starting 11 years ago with some funds from the European Union and Swedish government, they began to retool the aging suburb. The main features you see are green roofs (lots of them), surface storm water drainage and various types of photo-voltaics and solar water heating units. What you do not see are years of careful participatory work with residents and neighbors to find out their views, assess what sustainability means to each person and create solutions that can transform this area quietly and slowly. Some of the other gems hidden from view include a soccer (football) field of clay underlain by water tubes, that send solar heated water to the co-generation plant and help cool the field in winter allowing a more consistent ice rink. In addition, new insulation, paints and surfaces are improving the health for residents. But, in the end, it is the many types and intensities of green roofs (and the wonderful educational presentations put on by Louise Lundberg of the Scandanavian Green Roof Association) that most impressed our class. It is one thing to start from scratch with a large site, and a lot of funding; it is quite another to chip away at an existing neighborhood, board by board, plant by plant to make a difference.

By the way, happy Bastille Day!


  1. Installing green roofs is a great solution in keeping our environment clean and fresh. I’m glad that it is becoming a trend, and many areas are on it to establish green roofing. It is a process. It cannot happen in just a snap, and it’s okay. The good thing is that, in the following weeks, months or even years, our environment will be fully improved and recovered.

    Santo Caridine

  2. I agree with Santo. Building a green roof doesn't happen in a day, or two. It needs careful planning and the cooperation of the whole community to be successful. It may take years to see the outcome of the project; but we build this not for us, but for a better future for our children.

    Kip Whitehead

  3. @ Kip: Yeah, the next generation will be the one to benefit from all the hard work put it on all these green roofing projects. All these efforts will definitely be worth it in the future as we‘ll be able to achieve the long-term benefit of green roofs in our economy and in our environment.

    Eugene Head

  4. Wow, much kudos to the residents of Augustenborg; I am so impressed with their teamwork! Installing green roofs can reflect a lot of positive output which will benefit not only the environment, but also the people living in it. Indeed, Augustenborg is an inspiration! =)

    - Richard