Green roof in England declared nature reserve

Sharrow School, Sheffield

Sheffield Design & Project Management, Sheffield City Council

Biodiverse roof by: Bauder

There are many benefits of having a green roof, but recently a new one has been added to the list  – Your green roof could become a nature reserve.

This is exactly what pupils and teachers at a Sheffield school have been celebrating after their roof was given special protection as a nature reserve. The green roof on Sharrow Primary School in Sheffield has been declared a Local Nature Reserve by Natural England. The school is the first green roof in the country to achieve this status and recognises the importance of the green roof both in attracting local wildlife and the education of the pupils at the school.

The school’s roof has become such an important wildlife haven in the city centre that conservation organisation Natural England, together with Sheffield City Council, decided it needed protection.

Peter Nottage, Natural England’s Regional Director said:

“In our changing climate, we need to find new ways of supporting our wildlife and managing extreme weather … This is a superb example of how we can also involve our future generations in looking after our environment.”

Restricted ground space opened up the opportunity to create green roofs at three levels for play space, 44m² of outdoor classrooms and a 1200m² biodiversity roof designed to replicate a meadow, complete with cornflowers and other urban plants. It is also a haven for birds and other kinds of wildlife, with rotting tree stumps provided for many kinds of insects. All of the roofs are used as a learning resource with curriculum-friendly uses for all the children.

The 2000 square meters of green roof habitat has developed well over the last two years and its colourful display of flowers attracts many butterflies and bees. The roof was designed to resemble the mosaic of habitats found around Sheffield, such as limestone grassland and wildflower meadows. There is also a wetland area with a small pond and dead tree to provide a roost for birds and habitat for insects. Like Sheffield, the roof is not flat – it has small hills and valleys, all made of locally sourced and recycled materials. Parts of it have been left to just grow and small trees are beginning to appear, adding to the rich biodiversity.

Over the last few years, thanks to the work of local organisations like the Green Roof Centre, Sheffield has become the green roof capital of the UK. There are an estimated 120 green roofs in the city but this is the first one to be declared a Local Nature Reserve.

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Author: Fermín Beltrán

Fermín Beltrán has worked in Architecture for many years gaining a wide range of real-world design and construction experience. He is fascinated by finding alternatives methods of creating modern architecture in ways that are sustainable, elegant, comfortable and functional. He has vast experience designing and constructing a wide array of buildings ranging from state-of-the-art music halls to social housing and even small holdings in South America. He is currently completing a Masters in Advanced Sustainability at the University of Dundee in Scotland Connect with him on » LinkedIn » and on Flickr

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