Greening buildings and urban surfaces

Greening surfaces in built-up areas is becoming ever-more important.
© Fraunhofer IBP
Greening surfaces in built-up areas is becoming ever-more important.

Greening surfaces in built-up areas is becoming ever-more important. Especially in cities, buildings and other urban surfaces are increasingly being used for greening. The attractively-planted surfaces are not only aimed at visually improving appearances and supporting biodiversity, but also at maintaining valuable and important ecosystem services. Catchwords such as urban heat island effect, water retention or resilience to extreme events are often used in this context. Greened areas serve to store rainwater, balance the surrounding temperatures, reduce noise and absorb pollutants from the air.

Greened roofs are already comparatively well-developed and numerous solutions have become established  on the market for a wide range of tasks and requirements. However, techniques for greening façades still need to be improved. Many of the existing systems are complicated and costly or susceptible to damage. Together with our partners, we want to develop extensive greening methods using plants that are appropriate for the respective location, such as certain types of moss. By specifically controlling and encouraging plants to grow on surfaces, attractive greened areas with uniform growth can be achieved. The focus on plants adapted to locations also benefits the local flora and increases the diversity of numerous animal species.

The key to the success of façade greening lies primarily in selecting the right plants for the planned application because these plants can support themselves to a large extent and require minimal maintenance. Last but not least, the requirements of customers and investors with regard to design naturally also have to be taken into account.

No methods exist to compare the performance and needs of different greening systems on the basis of objective criteria. Therefore, a suitable catalog of criteria urgently needs to be developed as an aid for planners and building contractors. To achieve this, a development and test bench is required.