Businesses join scheme to grow vegetables on office roofs
Four firms kick off London's closed-cycle green roofs network
Report from – Jo Smit
Businesses in central London's Holborn area have signed up to a pilot project to introduce a network of green roofs producing fruit and vegetables. Four buildings have signed up to the pilot, which follows the example set by the network of green roofs across midtown Manhattan and Chicago in the USA. The four are:
- Olswang, 90 High Holborn
- Cartesian, 8 Gate Street
- Trades Union Congress, 23-28 Great Russell Street
- Mishcon de Reya, 12 Red Lion Square.
The initial £35,000 cost of the pilot has been jointly provided by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and inmidtown, the business improvement district (BID) for Bloomsbury, Holborn and St Giles.
The roofs are said to be the UK's first 'closed-cycle green roofs', whose produce will be used in the canteens of businesses below, while resulting food waste is used to fertilise the plants.
The roofs will be covered in a modular vegetation system by Pocket Habitat. Developed by Arup and Sky-Garden, it involves encasing plants in a 'pocket' of recycled material for protection, irrigation and portability. The system has already been used on Arup's headquarters and by developer British Land.
The six-month pilot will involve quantifying how much each building saves on heating and ventilation costs. The scheme could be rolled out to any of the 570 businesses in the inmidtown BID.
Tass Mavrogordato, chief executive of inmidtown, said: "Each company will be helping to create a greener, cleaner and more energy-efficient London.
"There is also a human side to this story. Employees in large urban centres do not usually tend to interact a great deal with their immediate environment. However, our green roofs initiative allows employees to interact in a fresh environment away from their desks and gives businesses the opportunity to contribute to the fabric of their community."