A Successful First UK Green Roof Research Conference: Marie Curie Industry-Academic Partnerships and Pathways

June 28, 2013 at 10:15 am

I’m a bit late on reporting on this, but Jeff Sorrill of the Department of Landscape at the University of Sheffield says the first UK Green Roof Research Conference went very well and was well received by those attending!

Held on March 18 and 19, 2013  at the University of Sheffield, Green Roof Centre, The Green Roof Research Conference – Bringing together the world’s leading green roof scientists – was the first entirely science focused vegetated roof conference.  The principle aim of the Marie Curie Industry-Academic Partnerships and Pathways (IAPP) Green Roof Systems Project is to create a long term strategic partnership between the Green Roofs Research Group at The University of Sheffield and ZinCo GmbH:

The conference fed back on the 4 year EU funded project between the University of Sheffield and ZinCo GmbH, Germany, and set out to challenge the custom and practice of green roofs.

The research findings established through this Industry – Academia partnership interrogated the fundamental green roof understanding of the current age. The very performance metrics by which green roof elements are measured were questioned, the outcomes demonstrated that new research agendas should be adopted.

In addition, leading scientists from the most innovative green roof research centre’s around the world presented their leading edge investigative activity. Speakers included Ed Snodgrass, Emory Knoll Farms, Maryland, USA; Claire Farrell, University of Melbourne, Australia; Professor Nigel Dunnett, IAPP Project Coordinator, University of Sheffield; Dr. Robyn Simcock, Landcare Research, New Zealand; Dr. Abigail Graceson, Harper Adams University College, UK; Mr. Ralf Walker, Division Manager Research and Development, ZinCo GmbH.; Daniel Roehr, Associate Professor, University of British Columbia, Canada; Dr. Anna Palla, University of Genoa, Italy and Dr. Virginia Stovin, University of Sheffield.

Research topic areas include plant selection + screening; Optimised hydrological performance (both, vegetation establishment and stormwater) and Integrative whole system hydrological modelling.

The conference was intentional programmed as a single stream of presentation to emphasise the importance and impact of each consideration of green roofs.

The conference was well attended by a wide range of delegates, from those with a general interest in green roofs, to those with particular research agenda in plants, substrates design and function, manufactured layers and their interaction with water and stormwater management. ~ Green Roof Research Centre 2013 Press Release

By the way, Christine Thuring – PhD researcher (included in the above group  photo and also one of our contributing editors along with Ed Snodgrass)- was also one of the Marie Curie IAPP Green Roof Systems Project Researchers.

You can review much more information as well as the abstracts available at www.green-roof-systems.co.uk.  For additional information, please contact:

Jeff Sorrill,Department of Landscape
University of Sheffield
Arts Tower
S10 2TN
Tel: 0114 222 0622

Happy greening (and continued research!),

~ Linda V.


See the UK Green Roof Student Conference Programme & Register by 6th May 2011

April 22, 2011 at 6:08 pm

As I told you about in February, the Green Roof Centre is proud to announce the  The 1st National Green Roof Student Conference @ The Green Roof Centre, to be held over the 16th and 17th May 2011 at the  University of Sheffield,ICOSS Building, 219 Portobello, Sheffield, S1 4DP.  The aim of the conference is to help to develop a community of early stage researchers relating to green roof function, performance, benefits and design.

Organised by the University of Sheffield and The Green Roof Centre, the 1st National Green Roof Student Conference will feature short presentations by research students and early stage researchers on research projects relating to green roofs.  Open and constructive discussion will be encouraged.

See the 2-day Green Roof Student Conference Programme here – I’ll be presenting on the second day, May 17 at 13.00, Session 3 – Theme: Ecology and Decision making on “Ecological trends on old green roofs – a review and synthesis.”

Book your place now – Closing date is 6th May 2011!

The cost is only £25 per person which this covers both days’ sessions and lunches.  Both days must be paid for, a single day fee is not possible.  Pay online at www.thegreenroofcentre.co.uk/news and  see the Green Roof Centre link for complete details.

I hope to see you there!

Happy Earth Day ~ Christine

The 1st National Green Roof Student Conference @ The Green Roof Centre

February 17, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Eleven years since Britain’s first (peer-reviewed) green roof experiment, this field of research has attained a zenith of sorts.  Never before have so many postgraduate (PG) students across the land been engaged by Master’s and PhD degrees as direct contributions to green roof research and application.

To celebrate and unite young researchers in Britain and beyond, the University of Sheffield and  The Green Roof Centre are proud to announce the 1st National Green Roof Student Conference, 16th- 17th May 2011.   In addition to sharing findings and facilitating discussion, the aim of the conference is to help develop a community of early stage researchers focused on green roof function, performance, benefits and design.

This 1st National Green Roof Student Conference partly represents the critical mass that green roofs are approaching in Britain, but it also reflects momentum hosted in Sheffield. Currently, at least 10 postgraduate (PG) students are doing green roof research at the University of Sheffield, and several departments are involved in green roof projects at undergraduate levels.   A major cause of momentum is possibly the biggest international green roof research projects ever, as supported by a  EU Marie Curie Industry Academia Partnership grant.

Overall, the Marie Curie project is supporting 6 early career researchers (including 3 PhDs), 3 experienced researchers, and the exchange of permanent staff between the University of Sheffield and its industry partner in Germany,  ZinCo GmbH.

I’m one of the PhD students in this scheme, and am hosted by the Department of Landscape to work on the plants package (I may share a blurb of my work soon, so stay tuned!).   Another PhD student, Gianni Vesuviano, is in the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering and looking at matters of hydrology and modelling.   The third PhD student will start next year, with the role of whole systems investigation.


The University of Sheffield has a global reputation for both teaching and research, but also for innovation in the structure and delivery of graduate education.   According to Shanghai Jiao Tong Institute’s Academic Ranking of World Universities 2003, out of more than 500 European universities, Sheffield ranks 18th.   It is also one of the largest UK universities, with over 23,000 students (5,000 postgraduate) from over 120 countries.

With regards to green roof research, the Green Roof Centre at the University of Sheffield has built significant networks with public end-users in the UK (e.g., municipal authorities).  The Green Roof Centre is the only British research group to join the informal network of green roof associations around the world (e.g. Sweden, Switzerland, U.S., Canada).   Outside of big-city London, Sheffield has the most green roofs of any city in Britain.


Update: Abstracts to the  1st National Green Roof Student Conference must be submitted by 25th  March to the Green Roof Centre.  Full papers are due by 25th April.   The conference fee ( £25) must be made by cheque to ‘University of Sheffield’ before the event.   Please see the Green Roof Centre link for complete details.

I hope to see you there!

~ Christine

Launch of The GRO Green Roof Code for the UK

January 27, 2011 at 10:57 pm

By Jeff Sorrill

New industry supported code is set to raise the bar for green roofs in the UK, thanks to European funding.   Green roofs have become more common features in our towns and cities over the last five years, but maximum environmental benefits have not always been realised, due to a lack of UK specific guidance.  In response to this, the Green Roof Organisation (GRO) has developed and launched a UK code, with LIFE+ funding, secured by Groundwork Sheffield.

Published on January 18 of this year, The GRO Green Roof Code provides clear and practical guidance on green roof best practice in the UK.  Funded by the European Commission LIFE+ fund and Groundwork Sheffield, The GRO Code is also financially supported by the Homes and Communities Agency, The Green Roof Centre, Livingroofs.org, and is facilitated by the National Federation of Roofing Contractors  (NFRC).

GRO is an industry forum facilitated by the  NRFC, and  GRO also acts as the technical arm of  Livingroofs.org, founded by Dusty Gedge.  Members include industry providers, government bodies, researchers and awareness raising organisations.   GRO’s remit is to establish guidelines for all parts of the green roof design, specification, installation and maintenance process.

Groundwork Sheffield is a federation of local trusts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland which help people and organisations make changes in order to create better neighbourhoods, build skills and job prospects and to live and work in a greener way.   Groundwork Sheffield gained €914,213 in funding from LIFE+ to develop the UK code of best practice.

The LIFE+ programme is the European Union’s funding instrument for the environment.  The general objective of LIFE is to contribute to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental policy and legislation by co-financing pilot or demonstration projects with European added value.   LIFE began in 1992 and  since then,  LIFE has co-financed some 3,104 projects across the EU, contributing approximately €2.2 billion to the protection of the environment.

NFRC’s Chief Executive, Ray Horwood CBE, says:

“A UK specific code of best practice is long overdue, and the launch of The GRO Green Roof Code is welcome news for everyone involved in the green roof industry. By adhering to best practice, the numerous benefits of green roofs can be maximised, and the long term sustainability of green roofs ensured. The GRO Green Roof Code will set the benchmark for the industry.”

As with other green roof guidance around the world, The GRO Green Roof Code has its foundations firmly set in the German FLL Guidelines.  However, only the most technical of data needs to be traced back to the FLL – Forschungsgesellschaft Landschaftsentwicklung Landschaftbau  (Landscape Research, Development and Construction Society).  The GRO Code aims to provide the vast majority of the information required by most designers, specifiers, installers and maintenance providers.

Read more at  our The Green Roof Centre’s Green Roof Code page here, and download The GRO Green Roof Code here (PDF).

~ Jeff Sorrill

Jeff is Centre Manager of The Green Roof Centre, in Sheffield, England.   Contact him at:   Tel: 01142 227131, J.Sorrill@sheffield.ac.uk    or visit The Green Roof Centre.

The Green Roof Centre is the National Centre of Excellence for green roofs.   Based in Sheffield, The Green Roof Centre was founded by the University of Sheffield, Groundwork Sheffield, and the four surrounding local authorities (Barnsley, Doncaster, Sheffield and Rotherham).   Our primary aim is to promote green roof development and implementation through research, education, demonstration, information and technology transfer.

The University of Sheffield is the leading research establishment in this field in the UK, with an unrivalled range of expertise in the green roof arena.   It has developed an international reputation for excellence in green roof studies.   The Green Roof Centre operates with partners nationally to demonstrate the potential of green roof uptake in the UK.