Green shoots on the roof

16 08 2010

Everything is green here at the Whitworth this August, as typical Manchester rain, followed by sun, followed by rain is slightly frustrating those of us who would like to believe in summer but really helping our progress with reducing the carbon footprint of our building and expanding the biodiversity of our environment.

Both of these considerations are central to our overall capital plan. We intend to reduce the carbon consumption of the whole building by 10% overall, even as we will be increasing the footprint of the Gallery by 30%. I’ll write more about how we are setting about achieving this in future posts.

For the moment, our attention is focused on a green roof, which is being planted as I type, on the flat roof of the front portion of the building (the 1889 bit). As you’ll see from my photo (apologies for the quality, but it had to be taken from behind the safety barriers) our contractors are doing a fabulous job laying a green carpet (mostly sedum) on the roof – with the regular showers proving very useful!

It’s tremendously exciting as it feels a really visible milestone in our attempt to make the upkeep and long term maintenance of the Gallery more environmentally and economically sustainable. The new development will also have biodiverse roofs. This one is important, as it is visible from inside the building, from the Edwardian staircases that the capital development will open up to the public. It’s also visible from the top deck of the many, many buses that run past along the Oxford Road. So, I’m very happy that we’re wearing a statement about our green intentions on our sleeve (or at least our roof).

It’s been possible to plant this green roof, almost a year in advance of starting the new build work, because Manchester City Council, the University Estates Department and the charity Red Rose Forest, have found funding to pilot a number of green roofs on public buildings – to explore how effective they are and to promote their adoption across the public realm. We’re really pleased to be involved in this good work and there will be a small exhibition in the Gallery in Autumn, showcasing the different projects.

So, as you heard in the last posting, we know a lot already about the biodiversity of our setting (including bats and woodmice as well as birds, bees and other crawly things). We hope this green roof will only increase the positive impact our Gallery and particularly our Park has on our urban setting.

Contractors planting the first green roof at the Whitworth

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One response

12 01 2011
Daniel Hoogterp

Great example for making it a greener world and save money in the long run!

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