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Notes from Sweden #3: The Scandinavian Green Roof Institute in Malmo

[Clicking an image in this post will load a larger version of the image. A slideshow of the images in this post, and more, is also available. Previous posts in the "Notes from Sweden" series include #1: How They Get Around, and #2: Western Harbor in Malmo.]On a wide-ranging tour of interesting projects, programs, and companies in the Skåne region of Sweden this past Monday, we visited the Scandinavian Green Roof Institute in Malmo. It's a fascinating project in an equally fascinating neighborhood in this very green city.

At Augustenborg's Botanical Roof Garden, there are wonderful displays of different roof planting options
A small vertical panel showing a variety of sedums

The institute is a centerpoint of the Augustenborg neighborhood. This neighborhood of affordable housing was created in the late 1940s in a depressed part of Malmo with an unemployment rate of about 65%. The multifamily housing units were quite modern in their day, but deteriorated over the years. Efforts to retrofit them for energy conservation in the 1970s and '80s caused moisture damage, and flooding has been a frequent problem in the low-lying area. In the 1990s, two local political and business leaders in Malmo began an effort to rejuvenate the neighborhood, and they centered the effort around the emerging concept of green (vegetated) roofs. Augustenborg's Botanical Roof Garden project was launched in 1998, and the roof garden construction began in May, 1999. This is the world's first demonstration roof garden, according to superintendent Louise Lundberg, whom we met with.

Louise Lundberg shows off the mat of an extensive green roof; in the background is a decorative green roof pattern

The sprawling green roofs cover about 9,000 square meters (nearly 100,000 square feet) of roof on industrial buildings and maintenance garages owned by the City of Malmo. Here, they are demonstrating green roof construction systems, stormwater management practices, living roof horticultural practices, and wildlife habitat types. The facility — and the Scandinavian Green Roof Institute that manages it — promote such benefits as stormwater runoff reduction, traffic noise reduction, energy savings, human health and productivity improvements, extended life of roof membranes, and bringing greater biodiversity into cities. (For background on green roofs, see EBN Vol. 10, No. 11.)

A portion of the Botanical Roof Garden is an "intensive roof," which has significantly deeper planting media than an "extensive roof"
The recycling Center in Augustenborg (foreground) also has a green roof - in this case on a pitched roof
Along one section of building supporting the demo green roof, PV panels are used as shades above windows - the PV panels are partially translucent, transmitting about 10% of the sunlight; note the solar-thermal panels on the garage building in the background
Even this birdhouse has a green roof!

During our visit, we bought some honey that is produced from beehives situated on a portion of the green roof. They also grow herbs and some vegetables, though most of the roof areas are planted to sedums. For more on the Augustenborg Botanical Roof Garden and the Scandinavian Green Roof Association, visit their website. — Alex Wilson, Malmo, Sweden, 12 December 2007

Published December 12, 2007

(2007, December 12). Notes from Sweden #3: The Scandinavian Green Roof Institute in Malmo. Retrieved from

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