Sydney has released a new draft policy to encourage residents and businesses to green their roofs and walls.

The draft policy and implementation plan promotes the measures as a means of improving air quality, supporting biodiversity and creating new places for relaxation in the city centre.

At the moment, there are around 96,000 square metres of green roofs and walls across Sydney and the trend continues to grow rapidly. Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the city is receiving around one new development application featuring a green roof or wall each week, and that there are more than 50 projects already approved for construction.

“Green roofs and walls are not only beautiful additions to buildings, they also improve air quality, clean stormwater and provide a natural habitat for biodiversity. We want to support this emerging industry, give local providers a boost and help city residents and businesses discover the benefits of installing green roofs and walls,” Moore said when announcing the new draft policy.

Rooftop garden at M Central apartment complex in Sydney's Pyrmont.

Rooftop garden at M Central apartment complex in Sydney’s Pyrmont.

While Sydney’s green roof and wall industry is still young, those in the industry have seen it grow rapidly and expect that growth to continue.

“Initially we were only seeing demand for green roofs and walls from big corporations, but now we are witnessing an interest from all sectors of the community. People are really expressing a desire to live in a greener and more natural environment,” said Hanna Gammon, managing director of Junglefy, a company dedicated to green roof and wall solutions.

Stuart Tyler, national sales manager of Fytogreen, another of Sydney’s green roof and vertical garden companies, said his company boomed in 2010 and is now busier than ever.

Green Wall Australia

Green Wall Australia – St John’s Park Bowling Club

“We grew substantially in 2010 when the company was commissioned to deliver the largest vertical green wall in Australia at 1 Bligh Street in Sydney,” he said. “The future for our company looks great and we are constantly excited by the interesting requests we get from our customers for creative and natural green spaces.”

Moreover, the City has seven green roofs and five green walls of its own, including the recently installed green roof at Prince Alfred Park Pool in Surry Hills, which is the biggest in Sydney and boasts 35,917 plants and six varieties of indigenous wildflowers and grasses.

The City’s new policy, the first of its kind in Australia, aims to unlock the potential of the green roof/wall sector and encourage investment in research and technology while reducing installation costs and educating the community on the benefits green roofs and walls provide.

Green rooftop in Sydney CBD.

Green rooftop in Sydney CBD.

Through the policy statement, Sydney will raise awareness of the benefits of green roofs and walls, develop resources to fill gaps in technical and general information, and encourage and support the recognition of green roofs and walls in existing systems, including the development application process, local planning controls, Environmental Upgrade Agreements and sustainability rating tools for buildings.

The City will also implement and promote green roof and wall infrastructure on municipal buildings and monitor the number and quality of green installations in the city to measure the potential impact of the new policy.

“We are looking forward to working more closely with local businesses and residents to further develop this emerging industry and increase the number of green spaces across Sydney,” Moore said.