Wild About Manchester

manchesters biodiversity strategy

Green Roofs PDF Print E-mail


First of all, what is a green roof? A green roof is a roof where vegetation has been intentionally planted, either across the whole roof or just on part of it. This can be done for a number of reasons as green roofs have a wide range of benefits for both new and existing buildings and for the people and wildlife that live in and around them.
1. Green roofs benefit local biodiversity by providing habitat for plants and animals.

2. They absorb and use rainwater, which is becoming an increasing problem for our drainage systems to deal with, particularly as climate change deals us more and more unpredictable weather.

3. They reduce something called the Urban Heat Island Effect, which is where our towns and cities become unnaturally hot due to buildings and roads absorbing the Sun's radiation.

4. They provide extra thermal insulation for buildings, which reduces the cost of heating buildings in the Winter and cooling them in the Summer.

5. They provide extra noise insulation. Some airports even install them to absorb the noise from the surrounding planes!

6. They extend the life of normal roofs by protecting them from UV radiation, weathering and frost damage.

7. They improve local air quality by absorbing pollution from the surrounding air.

8. They are visually attractive and improve the health and wellbeing of people. For example, staff with a view of greenspace, including green roofs, have lower absence rates. And hospital patients have been known to recover quicker and use less drugs because they have a view of greenspace from their window!

 Black Redstarts

One particularly special reason to install green roofs is a rare, protected bird called the Black Redstart. There are only approximately 100 breeding pairs of this bird in the UK and we are lucky enough to have a population in Manchester. There are several areas, particularly in the City Centre, that provide potential habitat for the Redstart. The canals, old mill buildings, brownfield land and unfinished car parks are just some of the areas that you might expect to spot Redstarts.


One particular threat to the Redstart is from new development removing existing areas of habitat. We’re working hard with Manchester City Council’s planners to avoid this and to even use new development as an opportunity to provide new areas of rooftop habitat.
For more information go to the Greater Manchester Black Redstart Biodiversity Action Plan.
Greater Manchester Biodiversity Project also offers training to ecologists, planners and others on Black Redstart Ecology, Surveying, Mitigation and Green Roof Design.
For further information and to book a training session contact the Project on
0161 371 8146. www.gmbp.org.uk
Green Roofs in Manchester
Green roofs have an important role to play in Manchester for a number of reasons, including adapting us to the effects of climate change, reducing flood risk and improbing biodiversity. The Manchester Biodiversity Strategy even includes a target for 5 green roofs by 2006. We've shattered that target and at last count (April 2008) had 25 green roofs installed and planned across the City! These range from small domestic roofs through to large commercial developments in the City Centre. Have a look at our gallery of Manchester green roof case studies.
New Developments in Manchester


New developments provide one of the biggest opportunities to install green roofs across the City. No specific planning policies currently exist for green roofs in Manchester but information is available to help design and install them on new and existing buildings. Further information.

 Domestic green roofs

Why not have a go at installing your own green roof or a living wall? Have a look at our guide to creating your own green roof. 

Things to remember!

Before you decide to install a green roof or living wall always contact Development and Building Control first.  They will be able to advise you on a number of issues before starting including;

  • Possible increase in weight to the roof.
  • Insulation levels.
  • Minimising the potential risk of fire.
  • Protecting from damp.


Some of these issues may affect the green roof you install, so it’s always wise to check first!

 Further Information

1. Living Roofs

2. Green Roof Centre