As Kermit so wisely said: ‘Its not easy being green‘. Nevertheless, at Ambriel HQ we’re giving it a go. Its a green light to going that little bit greener. We have installed a living roof.
It may sound odd to install a green roof in the countryside. Might it be a little ‘over the top’? (sorry). Vineyards are pretty green after all, and Ambriel is already carbon neutral. Wineries however – even lovely wineries in the middle of the vineyard like ours – need to have areas of smooth, flat concrete areas for pallet trucks, forklifts, presses and bottling lines etc. Concrete floors are not environmentally friendly.
So how do you mitigate that? Well, one way is just go up a storey and cover it with a green roof. That way you can recreate a living landscape.
Concrete is a biological desert. Nothing really thrives on it. Sedum is more welcoming. So all you animals, birds and insects out there … welcome to your new home. A Swiss study into green roofs found 172 different species living on green roofs. Ours is now ready and waiting to be occupied. I look forward to meeting our new neighbours.
The pyramid roof that little children draw is great in pictures, but in real life it just dumps water on the ground. This can be dramatic in a downpour. As concrete flooring cannot absorb water it causes run-off.
In contrast, green roofs absorb water and slow down the water dump. Apparently a green roof can reduce the flow of stormwater by 65% and delay the flow rate by 3 hours. This is not a big consideration for us personally because we are not in a flood-prone area and we’re on a hill …. But every little helps.
What IS beneficial though is rainwater filtering. Sadly, as rainwater falls from the sky it picks up pollutants. We don’t want that in our rivers or drinking water. The plants remove harmful toxins giving us purer rainwater. That’s better.
Concrete absorbs and radiates heat. It makes surrounding area hotter. By covering our concrete slab with a green roof we lessen the build up of heat and cool the air.
Better than that, the vegetation on green roofs reflects sunlight rather than absorbing it. As the plants evapotranspirate they release moisture back into the air which cools it. Clever, eh?
Just like any roof, there’s shade for sunny days too. Or shelter from the archetypal British rain.
Shockingly, air pollution allegedly contributes to 24,000 deaths in the UK every year. So while we admire our green and pleasant land, there’s no grounds for complacency. Ambriel HQ is only 50 miles from London and 30 miles from Gatwick, so air pollution must affect us too. Green roofs improve air quality removing 37% of sulphur dioxide, 21% of nitrous acid and 0.2kg of dust particles/square metre each year.
I’m not going to pretend that we are going to be climbing up onto the roof often, but just being near greenery is good for you. It is said to reduce stress and improve memory. All well and good, but I’m still not going up there to practice yoga.
Improved biodiversity engages people in the natural world. I’m genuinely interested to see what thrives and who moves in.
On balance, I’d rather look at a beautiful, vibrant, living roof than a concrete slab.
From the vineyard track you now look down the hill, over the green roof towards stunning views of the South Downs. It makes life that little bit better.
Only a muppet would disagree.