32. Archbishop’s visit to the project
Feb 15th, 2017
H.G. The Archbishop of Malta Mgr Charles Scicluna visited the LifeMedGreenRoof project as part of our effort to inspire policy makers and other influential bodies on the need to introduce green infrastructure in our urban areas. If green roofs are to be successful, such entities need to lead by example and encourage initiatives to introduce green roofs. The Church is one such entity.
H.G. was very enthusiastic about the idea of green roofs. He recognises the benefits such technology has on both the natural environment, which suffers degradation due to human activities, and on the lives of people. “The Church considers the damage of the natural environment due to urbanisation and human activity to be of increasing concern, as is evident in Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical Laudato sì: On Care for Our Common Home, with its urgent call for an integral ecology. Nature is God’s creation and a heritage which human beings are duty bound to protect”.
“Nature provides human beings with ecosystem services, which are central to the survival of the human race. Services such as pollination, provision of materials, replenishment of oxygen and aesthetic quality render life possible and more pleasant. Man not only needs to protect nature for his own survival but he is also morally bound to protect it for its own intrinsic value.”
The Archbishop was welcomed by the Dean of the Faculty for the Built Environment, Profession Alex Torpiano. The visit commenced with a presentation about the project by the project manager followed by a short intervention by H.G. the archbishop and an informal discussion on issues concerning the subject. For the event members of staff from the Faculty for the Built Environment and the Faculty of Theology were also present. A site visit to the green roof followed. The Archbishop proved to be knowledgeable and appreciative of local plants and appreciated the effects of nature on people’s well-being and quality of life.
The Archbishop was accompanied by members of the Church’s Environment Commission.
31. Networking visit in Poland (RadomKlima (LIFE14CCA/PL/000101))
Jan 31st – Feb 2nd, 2017
Between January 31st and February 2nd, 2017, members of the LifeMedGreenRoof project visited the RadomKlima LIFE project in Radom Poland. The overall objective of this project is to make the city of Radom more resilient to climate change by building demonstration green and blue infrastructure for managing extreme storm water flows and control floods. This is to be achieved by restoring and creating multi-use retention areas, include green infrastructure while creating habitats for biodiversity. It is also intended to re-naturalise the river to restore its natural retention capacity.
Representatives from the University of Malta, Fondazione Minoprio and Minoprio Analisi e Certificazione attended a meeting composed of the various partners of the project. The Project manager for the LifeMedGreenRoof Project gave a presentation on the project. Following the meeting, the members of the LifeMedGreenRoof project were shown around the sites within Radom which are covered by the RadomKlima project.
The visit to Radom was informative and this was coupled by the warm welcome we received by the project management and Radom municipality.
The next day a visit was conducted to the green roof atop the library of the University of Warsaw. Although the roof was all covered in snow, one could easily perceive the beauty of the garden and how green roofs contribute towards better views and habitat for wildlife. The visit was followed by a visit to the University of Warsaw museum.
We would like to thank the RadomKlima municipality especially the project coordinators Ms Katarzyna Jankowska, and Ms Kinga Lewicka for organising the meeting, Mr Michal Zdybiewski for taking us around the Radom sites, Ms Adriana Slodka, and the driver for his availability. We look forward to hosting representatives from RadomKlima later on this year.
30. Seminar participation ‘Water Problems and Solutions- A Comprehensive Approach’
Jan 24th, 2017
The LifeMedGreenRoof Project was invited to give a presentation during a half day seminar organised by the Cleaner Technology Centre and the European Youth Parliament for Water, in collaboration with the World Water Assessment Programme UNESCO and the Energy and Water Agency.
During this seminar, with the theme “Water Problems and Solutions- A Comprehensive Approach”, experts looked into the issue of “New Water”, “Nature Based Solutions” and “Water and Jobs- Economics of Water”.
Professor Dr Uhlenbrook, Coordinator, United Nations World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) and Director, Programme Office on Global Water Assessment, gave the keynote presentation of this seminar. The outcome of this seminar serves as a platform for future collaborations between Malta and WWAP.
The seminar was held on Tuesday, 24th January 2017 at the Aula Magna, Valletta
29. Minister Joe Mizzi visits the LifeMedGreenRoof Project at the University of Malta
Jan 20th, 2017
Transport Minister Joe Mizzi recently paid a visit to the LifeMedGreenRoof Project at the Faculty for the Built Environment at the University of Malta. The Minister was welcomed by Professor Alex Torpiano, Dean of the Faculty, Project Manager, Antoine Gatt and landscape architect, Vince Morris.
The project which has been running since 2013, is partially funded by the EU under the LIFE+ Scheme. The aim of the project is to create a baseline study on green roof technology in Malta and to create awareness of its benefits. Green Roofs are an important addition to a sustainable urban area. They are defined as those roofs or other similar structures with a layer of damp-proofing and having a growing substrate spread over the surface in part or in full. Several intermediate layers are used to eliminate the possibility of damage to the damp-proofing and to the underlying building.
The Faculty for the Built Environment has constructed a demonstration Green Roof which is open to the public during office hours. The project seeks to demonstrate that Green Roofs can successfully be constructed with minimal risks of water ingress into the underlying rooms and to further illustrate their benefits and potential.
Green Roofs are very popular in various countries. They are being incentivised by governments as they not only provide benefits to the owner of the roof in terms of thermal insulation, creation of amenity space and increased property value but provide benefits to society such as increasing ecosystem services. These are benefits people derive from nature such as the mitigation of flooding, the provide habitats for pollinators and the creation of more pleasant views.
Minister Mizzi stressed that such projects should be encouraged not only for their visual appeal but more importantly, for their benefit in improving urban quality life and sustainability of towns and cities.
As part of the project deliverables, the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority recently launched the first draft of a standard for Green Roofs for Malta as part of a public consultation process. The standard will create a document which would aid the successful construction of Green Roofs whilst limiting any possible failures which could damage the reputation of the technology.
The LifeMedGreenRoof Project is led by the Faculty for the Built Environment of the University of Malta in collaboration with the MCCAA, Fondazione Minoprio and Minoprio Analizi e Certificazioni.
THE ABOVE IS THE OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE AS ISSUED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF MALTA FOLLOWING THE VISIT TO THE DEMONSTRATION GREEN ROOF BY HON MINISTER JOE MIZZI
28. FEEfest 2017
Jan 12th and 13th, 2017
The LifeMedGreenRoof project participated in the FEEfest as part of its efforts to disseminate information about the benefits of green roofs amongst school children and teachers. The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) is the largest global network involving 73 countries around the world. Its programmes represent the absolute cutting edge in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Environmental Education (EE). FEE’s vision is to empower people everywhere through these programmes to live sustainably and in an environmentally conscious manner.
Due to its ever widening involvement in ESD, instead of the traditional annual seminars, this year Nature Trust Malta invited schools to the FEE Fest. The FEE Fest was a 3-day event with different exhibition stalls and scheduled sessions targeting students and teachers.
The LifeMedgreenRoof Project stall was exhibited over the period of two days. Teachers and student groups visited the stall and showed a lot of interest in our project. The Minister for Education, who presented prizes to schools who participated in various environmental activities throughout the year, met with the LifeMedGreenRoof project representative, Mr Vince Morris, and discussed issues pertaining to green roofs and education.
The minister will be visiting the LifeMedGreenRoof Project at the University of Malta in March 2017.
27. Public Consultation on the Draft National Standard for Green Roofs, Malta
Jan 11th, 2017
As part of the LifeMedGreenRoof Project, the Standardisation Directorate within the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA) has on Wednesday 11th January 2017, organised a workshop to launch the public consultation on the Draft National Standard for Green Roofs.
As part of the EU’s 2020 Strategy which aims at reducing the energy requirements by a minimum of 20% by 2020, the Commission’s Energy Efficiency Plan 2011, has identified that buildings have the greatest energy saving potential. The plan focuses on mechanisms to reduce the energy requirements of existing buildings in particular public buildings and the role of dissemination projects in introducing energy efficient measures.
Many countries encourage the dissemination of green roofs because they offer a number of benefits which increase the urban quality of life. Green roofs are considered an important addition in the effort to create sustainable cities. Unfortunately, in Malta green roofs have not as yet gained ground.
The LifeMedGreenRoof project aims at understanding better the performance of Green Roofs especially in the local context and to demonstrate the benefits of the technology for a wider dissemination of the technology.
As a project partner, the MCCAA’s role in this project is to draft the Green Roof standard for Malta based on the results obtained from the research being carried out at the University of Malta, the project’s lead partner. The project has to date identified base line information including a list of local flora that can be grown on a roof, confirmed that green roofs improve thermal insulation of buildings and reduce storm water run-off to mitigate flooding. They also provide important habitats and feeding ground to wildlife increasing ecosystem benefits and provide visual amenity.
Following a workshop that was held in May 2016 that launched the process of developing the national standard, a technical committee made up of various stakeholders was set up and a number of technical meetings (14) were held during the last 6 months to draft the standard.
The second workshop held on 11th January 2017 launched a public consultation on this draft. During the workshop, technical committee members explained the benefits of green roofs and the technical details of constructing and maintaining green roofs in Malta.
The draft standard can is freely available from MCCAA website (http://www.mccaa.org.mt/en/development-of-standards) and facebook page. MCCAA welcomes comments by 3rd March 2017 for the technical committee to consider before it is finalised. The final standard shall be launched at a public event in the coming months.
For further information about the LifeMedGreenRoof project, visit the website www.lifemedgreenroof.org or find the facebook page Lifemedgreenroof project. The project is partially funded by the EU through Life+, the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental projects. The partners in the project include two Maltese institutions (The University of Malta and MCCAA), and two Italian (Minoprio Analisi e Certificazioni and Fondazione Minoprio).
Refer to the Gallery (MCCAA Green Roof Standard Workshop)
26. Inauguration of the Demonstration Green Roof, Malta
May 25th, 2016
The demonstration green roof at the University of Malta has finally been inaugurated. This is a big moment for the project as it brings together all the hard work carried out over the past two and a half years.
The ceremony was inaugurated by the Dean of the Faculty for the Built Environment. Present for the inauguration were representatives of the Italian project partners Dott. Massimo Valagussa, Dott. Alberto Tosca, members of staff of the Faculty for the Built Environment, Heads of other faculties within the University, Members of networking partners and related entities as well as the EU desk officers and external monitoring team.
The creation of the demonstration green roof (the first of its kind in Malta) is an important step forward in introducing green roofs in Malta. It showcases what a green roof could possibly look like and what plants could survive in such an environment. It would also serve as a test bed for further experimentation and testing of green roof technology within the local context. The demonstration green roof is split between an open air laboratory open to academics and students willing to research green roofs and another area open to the public. The latter will be accessible to the general public and those interested from Monday till Friday during office hours all year. We encourage all those interested to visit this garden. If anyone would like to discuss the issues feel free to contact us on [email protected]
25. Joint monitoring visit
May 25, 2016
A joint monitoring visit was conducted today at the University of Malta by technical desk officer Mr. Alexis Tsalas, financial desk officer Ms. Merle Lehtveer and external monitor Ms. Chiara Caccamo. The agenda for the day follows:
Meeting at the coordinating beneficiary premises in Malta:
University of Malta, Faculty for the Built Environment, Msida
9:30-9:45 Desk officers and technical monitor arrival at CB’s office in Msida. Welcome to participants and partners’ presentation.
9:45-13:00 Two parallel sessions:
Technical session (technical desk officer and technical monitor)
• Project overview: objectives, actions, state of progress (UoM)
• Description of the activities implemented action by action (including dissemination)
• Perspectives, critical issues (by coordinating beneficiary)
• Discussion of any possible technical issues emerging during the meeting
• Discussion of the issues raised in the Commission’s letters of 09/03/2015 and 10/07/2015
Financial session (financial desk officer)
• Short introduction, state of project expenditures (UoM)
• Check of the accounting system
• Examination of the financial documentation
• Discussion of any possible financial issues emerging during the meeting
• Discussion of the issues raised in the Commission’s letters of 09/03/2015 and 10/07/2015
14:00-17:00 Continuation of the technical session and visit to the green roof installed on the
roof of the Faculty for the Built Environment (technical desk officers and
17:00 End of the visit.
From 19:00 Participation in the official opening of the demonstration green roof.
For the meeting the representatives of the project partners Dott. Massimo Valagussa, Dott. Alberto Tosca and the project manager Landscape Architect Antoine Gatt gave presentations on the work carried out to date highlighting issues encountered and results achieved.
Although some technical difficulties with getting the presentation running were encountered, (computers always seem to let one down at crucial moments), the meeting went well.
The desk officers and external monitor were also invited to the opening of the demonstration green roof.
24. Valletta 2018 Green festival
May 6-8, 2016
Just like last year, the LifeMedGreenRoof project was invited to participate in this year’s weekend-long event which saw the transformation of Pjazza San Gorg, into a huge floral carpet. This activity is very popular with both locals and foreigners alike.
This activity gave us the opportunity to once again exhibit our project to the public in general and discuss the benefits of green roofs. Our stall attracted quite an interest amongst the visitors to the square. A small sized model of a typical green roof proved instrumental in getting people to understand how green roofs are constructed. The mention of the demonstration green roof at university attracted interest with a number of individuals visiting the green roof in the days following the event.
At times the weather was unfavourable. The week-end was particularly windy with the occasional light rain. On Saturday afternoon we also experienced very strong winds which blew away the exhibition boards and damaged the banner we had fixed on our stall. However, this weather did not deter visitors to go to the event and visit our stand. We were particularly pleased by the interest shown by the public.
23. Update of works at the University of Malta
It has been a very dry winter, the driest in living memory apparently (www.timesofmalta.com/…/worst-winter-drought-in-half-a-century-unless…Feb 29, 2016). It has also been particularly windy which is not ideal for the plants either. However, notwithstanding these stumbling blocks the green roof in Malta has been installed and most of it planted. The building process went as smooth as one would expect. (please refer to the image gallery and refer to our Facebook page).
Irrigation on the test beds at the University of Malta ceased between October and the beginning of April (as we did last year). The plants did suffer stress but losses were minimal. The species which succumbed to the drought included Coronilla valentina (Shrubby Crown vetch), but this was expected given that this plant likes a bit of moisture compared to the other plants. Lavandula multifidi (Egyptian lavender) did not flower as profusely and there has been some die-back of the lower leaves. One or two specimen of the Thymbra capitata (Wild thyme) also died. Lobularia maritima (Sweet Alison) did not grow as much as it generally would. Although the rest of the plants did not die, they did show signs of stress.
Since the beginning of April, irrigation has started once again with 1.5lt of water per plant per week. The plants have shown signs of recovery. Cheirolophus crassifolius (Maltese rock-centaury) is developing many flower buds. The Phagnalon graecum (Eastern phaganlon) which went dormant is also growing new leaves and flowering.
Since the completion of the construction of the demonstration green roof atop the Faculty for the Built Environment, various jobs have been carried out including the installation of an irrigation system. This will give us more control on the amount of water each plant gets per week. A weather station has been set up to monitor the local climatic conditions together with the installation of other monitoring equipment so as to monitor the insulation and storm water properties of the green roof. (All we need now is some rain!!) The real benefit of green roofs in terms of insulation will be more clear in the summer months when the air temperature spirals up.
The green roof is up and running and visitors are more than welcome. We have already had a number of visitor to the green roof. We have also had queries on the technology from various individuals.
22. Extending the area of testing in Italy
The area of experimental green roofs from which data is being recorded has been extended to the roof of the Politecnico di Milano. This was done to allow us to compare data from Minoprio to that of a big metropolitan area such as Milan.
For many years Prof. Matteo Fiori and his collaborator Dr. Ing. Riccardo Paolini have been monitoring the environmental parameters of green roofs. Matteo is regarded as the ‘father’ of the Italian green roof standard UNI EN 11235. In order to have more reliable data and performance comparison, the substrate on the 42m2 roof at the Politecnico has been substituted for the MAC 7 substrate. This is one of the substrates being tested at Fondazione Minoprio. Plant species have also been substituted for uniformity. This new plot has been equipped with existing temperature sensors to record the performance of the green roof, but an IR probe to monitor the vegetation temperature has been purchased.
Both green roofs have been monitored since spring 2016.
21. Ongoing research at Minoprio Analisi e Certificazioni S.r.l.(MAC), Italy
MAC is testing different types of biochar with the aim of identifying some of them for use as a component of green roof growing media. Moreover MAC is conducting ongoing tests with a rain chamber to determine run-off coefficient of the green roof system implemented by the project.
Currently, the different systems used in the Italian green roof are being tested. These tests will also be carried out on the Maltese green roof system.
In the basin of the rain chamber the adopted green roof systems are faithfully reproduced in terms of layering and thickness. The system is then saturated to simulate irrigation and after 24 hours a block rain of consistent intensity is applied (27lts/m2 in 15 minutes = 108 mm/h of rain intensity).
Such block rain is repeated for 3 times on a daily basis. In this way the run-off coefficient (amount of water discharged in 15 minutes /amount of rain in 15 minutes) is determined as average value of 3 replicates.
Continuous monitoring over the 15 minutes of simulated precipitation determines the (a) delay in terms of time of water run-off, (b) the water retained by the system and (c) the influx coefficient (defined as the ratio between the maximum flow rate per unit of surface observed during the test and the intensity of precipitation used to carry out the test).
20. Mid-term Seminar at Fondazione Minoprio, Italy
November 12, 2015
On the 12th of November 2015, the mid-term seminar ‘Green roofs in the Mediterranean Environment’ was organised at Villa Raimondi at Fondazione Minoprio, in Italy. More than 150 participants of the 180 individuals who registered attended the seminar.
Also around 100 students from FM and from the master courses organised by the Politecnico di
Milano attended the activity. Apart from those presentations describing the progress of the project (discussing results and deliverables such as the green roof substrates and species selection) other presentations dealt with issues such as urban climate and the effects of green roofs, biodiversity in substrates, weeds and management, public perception of green roofs, green roof related hydrology and building performance. The feedback received (both written and oral) has been positive and encouraging. There has been appreciation of the work done by the speakers of international calibre who have put forward new perspectives to the green roof issue.
During the organisation of the seminar, a good relationship was formed with Agrifutur, an Italian company specialising in microbiological technology in agriculture. Agrifutur is a partner in an FP7 project “GrabGas”. This project looks at the abatement of VOC emissions in industrial gas by passing them through green roof substrates which are eventually decomposed by the microflora in the rhizosphere. (refer to the images in the ‘Gallery’
You can view the presentations by following this >link< and scroll down to SEMINARIO “I tetti verdi nell’ambiente Mediterraneo 12 Novembre 2015”
19. Construction of demonstration green roof, Malta
Following months of administration procedures, works on the demonstration green roof at the University of Malta commenced. The delay was due to lengthy tendering procedures and an appeal to the decision of the adjudication board following the award of the tender. Although this setback impacted the momentum at which the project was moving forward, it will not affect the results or other actions of the project as a whole.
Works started on the upper green roof which will be used as a laboratory for future green roof research by the University staff and students. Works on the lower green roof will follow soon.
The works so far included the replacement of the damp proof membrane, and the construction of a number of test beds which will eventually be infilled with growing media. This roof will be utilised to test the flood mitigation properties of green roofs in Malta and their insulation characteristics.
Images of the construction of the green roof in Malta have been uploaded in the photo gallery on the website.
18. Voluntary work at the LifeMedGreenRoof Project
During the last week of November we were pleased to welcome volunteer, Cerys Lowery who came along to tend to our plants and did a sterling job in weeding the planting area outside our Faculty. Although, her name would suggest that Cerys is a native of Wales, she actually hails from Cheltenham, England. Apparently she is named after her Welsh Grandmother.
Following her M.Sc. in Ecology gained from St Andrew’s University, Scotland last year, Cerys decided to come and volunteer for the Gaia Foundation in Malta. The Foundation derives its name from ‘Mother Earth’ in Greek Mythology. Their interesting website explains that:
“The Gaia Foundation’s mission centres around the interconnection of all things and life on earth, and around working towards harmony and social and environmental justice for all creatures. Humans are thus included in the equation. Gaia is therefore not just an ecology organisation, but a “whole Earth” organisation”. (http://www.projectgaia.org/index.php/about-us)
The LifeMedGreenRoof Project team have visited the Gaia Foundation on a number of occasions and have purchased some plants from their native plant nursery. We are delighted that Cerys decided to spend two days of her vacation to come and work with us, following a visit to our project by herself and her colleagues some days before.
17. Construction of demonstration green roof, Italy
In summer of 2015 the demonstration green roof was completed. The service building of the educational greenhouses was extended vertically to accommodate lecture theaters. The roof has been vegetated so as to demonstrate the feasibility and efficiency of roof greening. Following the cleaning of the anti-rooting damp proof membrane, the various layers making up the green roof
(protective layer, drainage module, and filter fabric) were laid. Thermal probes were installed on both the green roof and the traditional roof to monitor their performance and create an opportunity to compare results. Four (4) types of growing media have been laid in 5 plots (the sixth being the control). In plots 1 & 2 a media (MAC 7) with biochar was used to replace peat. The invasive characteristics of plants will also be observed in plot 1 whereas plot nr. 2 will be used to monitor the general performance of the roof. The substrates of plots 3 & 4 do not contain biochar but peat or rather coconut coir. The last plot has been filled with a commercial mix containing biochar. Following the installation of the irrigation system in mid-July, the parcels were planted with ornamental vegetation. The species used include: Dianthus carthusianorum, Dianthus gratianopolitanus, Potentilla neumonniana, Cerastium biesbennii, Thymus serpyllum.
In between the individual plants, cuttings of Sedum albus have been included to increase coverage and retain the functionality of the roof even in extreme periods of drought. In August, temperature sensors were placed in the growing media, on the underside of the roof slab and in the rooms directly below the two areas to be monitored. On the underside of the slab, two flux meters were attached. A data logger records all the data from the meteorological station and the sensors. (refer to the images in the ‘Gallery’ tab)
16. Monitor’s meeting
June 12, 2015
On the 12 June 2015 a monitor’s meeting was held at the LifeMedGreenRoof offices at the University of Malta. The monitor is an EU Life+ representative whose role is to appraise the management of the project to make sure that it is proceeding as planned.
Monitor meetings are conducted on an annual basis with the scope of assessing the point at which the project is at, and confirm that all procedures are carried out appropriately. Both the administration and the technical aspects of the project are looked into.
The project partners were all present for the meeting with the monitor. The monitor also visited the tests on the growing media and plants which are held on the roof of the Faculty for the Built Environment.
The initial response by the monitor was positive and encouraging.
Date: 12 June 2015
Venue: University of Malta, Faculty for the Built Environment
Project support office, Regional Business Centre, UoM
0930hrs Meet monitor at the faculty
Meeting with technical members of the Project (Project Partners) to review procedures, deliverables and progress.
1330hrs Meeting with Faculty Dean
1400hrs Meeting with Project Support Office to discuss
1600hrs Sum up of daily issues
15. Partners’ meeting
June 10th – 11th 2015
Between the 10th and the 11th June 2015 a partners’ meeting was held at the University of Malta. For the meeting members of Fondazzione Minoprio and Minoprio Analisi e Certificazioni were present together with members of the University of Malta.
During the meeting issues discussed included the monitoring of the demonstration green roofs, networking, the updating of the website and the progress of the tests being carried out at the University of Malta.
A site visit to a local school were studies on the coefficient of discharge is being carried out was organised.
The agenda for the meeting follows:
Date: 10-11 June 2015
Venue: University of Malta, Faculty for the Built Environment
Wednesday 10th June
13.30hrs Collect guests from airport and proceed to Hotel
14.30hrs Proceed to UoM
Items on the Agenda:
• Test beds
• Mid-term seminar
• Other issues
Thursday 11Th June
Items on the Agenda:
• Meeting with monitor
• Monitoring equipment
• Mid-term press release
• Website/Monthly report
• Other issues
14. Tests on plants & growing media
June 8, 2015
To date, the testing carried out on the roof of the Faculty for the Built Environment at the University of Malta is progressing well. We did have a couple of small problems which have been/are being taken care of. Two species have shown signs of stress and exhibited discoloration of the leaves. The species in question were treated with a mineral fertilizer to which the plants have reacted positively. We do not like using fertilizers or other agrochemicals however it is often necessary to avoid recurrent problems.
Two of the Silvery ragworts (Senecio bicolor) have been infested by mealy bugs to the extent that the plants are showing signs of stress. We have already experienced similar problems with aphids on one of the Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa), however due to the winter weather and biological control the aphids were controlled and the plant recovered well. Because of the hot weather which often leads to water stress, we intend to treat the ragwort with soapy water which should control the pest invasion. We do not intend to use pesticides to control insect pests because of the large quantity of beneficial insects which visit the test beds on a regular basis. Various bee species, wasps, butterflies, spiders etc. have been recorded and photographed on the test beds. We have also observed a number of ladybirds and their nymphs feeding on aphids which infest the Stonecrops (Sedum sediforme).
Since the end of the rainy season, the plants are irrigated 3 times a week. Refer to the photo gallery and our Facebook page.
13. V18 Exhibition
May 29-31, 2015
Between the 29th and the 31st May 2015, we participated in an exhibition at Pjazza San Gorg in Valletta as part of the V18 Greenfest activity. Various other projects and initiatives exhibited their work including another Life+ project, LifeSavingBuskett link.
There was considerable interest shown in our project by the visitors to the stand. A talk was given by one of the members of staff of the project. Images related to this activity can be found in the image gallery and our facebook page.
Way back in January the same exhibition was set up at the National Museum of Natural History in Mdina.
12. Progress report
The feedback for the progress report submitted by the end of January 2015 has been received and is positive. Nevertheless, some suggestions have been put forwards to improve the quality of the report and which should be submitted with the mid-term report due June 2016.
11. Tender document
March 11, 2015
The Tender document for the construction of the demonstration green roof has been published on the 24 February 2015 and can be accessed following this link
The tender reference number being UM1871. The closing date for tender offers is 1 April 2015.
10. Tests and other activity
February 11, 2015
It has been a quiet period at the LifeMedGreenRoof project at least in terms of the plants and growing media being tested. The plants are still showing resilience to the climate although some damage has been observed due to the hail events we had so far this winter. However the cold temperature and strong winds do not seem to be effecting the development of the plants. We are looking forward to warmer temperatures as this will surely encourage plant activity. We are especially curious to see the development of the Rockrose (Cistus sp. ) as it has not shown any signs of growth since the beginning of the wet season. The rest of the plants are developing well.
In the mean time we have been working on the administrative aspect of the project. Most of January has been dedicated to the drafting of the progress report. We have also been working on the publication of the tender document for the construction of the demonstration green roof. The tender should be published in the coming weeks. We are also collecting cuttings to propagate plants for the demonstration green roofs.
We have a busy schedule ahead with the propagation of plants, construction of the demonstration green roof, and the commencement of the tests related to the monitoring of the performance of the green roof. However we are confident that we will have positive results.
February 4, 2015
Filming for the creation of a DVD has commenced. It will be published towards the end of the project in mid-2017. The DVD will provide information about the LifeMedGreenRoof Project and benefits of green roofs. The short 30minute (max) documentary will provide an insight on the construction of the demonstration green roof to be constructed at the University of Malta. Results of the tests to be carried out on the green roof to establish the insulation and storm water management potential of green roofs will also be illustrated. The filming will be produced by the Media Centre and the script will be written by Maltafilm.
8. Birdlife visits the Green Roof Project
November 21, 2014
We were delighted to welcome Birdlife’s head researcher, Ben Metager to our test beds recently. Ben was very interested to hear of our early success in attracting invertebrates and particularly our star performer, the Maltese Swallowtail. He was also delighted to hear that regular visitors to our test beds include the Black Redstart and White Wagtail.
Ben commented, “Both these species are insectivorous and are often seen in urban settings. They are obviously feeding on the invertebrates that have been encouraged by the setting up of the test beds.” Ben also said that he found the concept of setting up green roofs very exciting as it would, if widely adopted in Malta, provide valuable habitat for wildlife and enhance the island’s biodiversity.
It was very apt that Ben should visit the Life+MedGreenRoof project as he is himself coordinating an EU Life+ project also based in Malta, the Life+ Seabird Project. This initiative aims to create an inventory of marine Important Bird Areas (IBAs) for three seabird species; the Yelkouan Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan), the Scopoli’s Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea), and the European Storm Petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus).
The above photograph shows Ben exchanging project information and tee-shirts with Antoine Gatt, the LifeMedGreenRoof Project Manager who commented, “We are very pleased to welcome Birdlife to our project; networking in this way allows for the exchange of ideas and can benefit both of the Life + projects.”
7. Minister’s visit to the project site
November 7, 2014
Despite the threat of thunderstorms, this morning’s visit by The Minister for Sustainable Development, Environment and Climate Change, Mr Leo Brincat to the Green Roof Project based at the Faculty for the Built Environment, University of Malta was a great success.
The minister was welcomed to the Faculty for the Built Environment by the Faculty Dean, Professor Torpiano. Mr Brincat was then shown around the LifeMedGreenRoof Project facility by the Project Manager, Antoine Gatt and Assistant Project Manager, Vince Morris.
On leaving, the Minister kindly provided the following comment:
“Today we are witnessing the first anniversary of a thriving and dynamic EU funded research project whose inaugural activity I had the honour to attend a year ago at the Mediterranean Conference Centre. This is a concept and a project that has withstood its initial trials very well and which, when fully implemented will take environmentalism from both a green and an architectural level to a higher plane. It is not an everyday occurrence that one can come across such a multipurpose type of project that apart from preserving biodiversity, can also absorb rainwater, provide insulation and provide a more aesthetically pleasing landscape while also helping in its own way to reduce our urban air temperatures and mitigate heat effects. On a regional basis it must also be a first of its kind; filling us with enthusiasm and admiration as it does, do count on our support. ”
6. MAC website
Minoprio Analisi e Certificazioni have just revamped their website and included a brief description of the LifeMedGreenRoof project and a link to the project website. Visit the MAC website by clicking on this link
5. Partners’ meeting
Between the 30th September and the 3rd October, a technical partners’ meeting was held at the Faculty for the Built Environment of the University of Malta. The aim of the meeting was to assess the performance of the plants and the performance of the growing media being tested on the roof of the Faculty. Furthermore discuss issues relate to the monitoring of the demonstration green roof.
Present for the meeting were: Dr Massimo Valagussa agronomist researcher at MAC, Antoine Gatt and Vince Morris project manager and assistant project manager respectively at the University of Malta.
To date the tests being carried out on the roof look promising. The plants have established well and seem healthy although plants growing in media mix M1 are progressing better than those plants in media mix M2. On considering the circumstances it was decided to decrease the volume of water and frequency of watering in media M2 as the biochar in the mix retains more humidity within the growing media. Thus a new watering regime has been established. Instead of watering each 1 x 1m test tray (16 plants) with 8lts of water 3x a week, test trays with M1 mix will be watered 12lts twice weekly and test trays M2, 9lts twice weekly. This obviously is subject to precipitation. Visit our Facebook page to view images of test trays with vegetation or click on ‘photo gallery’ in the website.
During the meeting the issue of monitoring the thermal properties of the demonstration green roof and the storm water management potential were discussed. A meeting with the Faculty’s Senior Laboratory Officer was held to discuss the apparatus available and methods which could be adopted to carry out the required analysis of the demonstration green roof performance.
Another meeting was held with Ing. Ivan Dimech, Assistant lecturer, Faculty of Engineering, to discuss thermal analysis to determine the insulation properties of the green roof system. He mentioned the possibility of utilising thermal imaging, using a thermal camera so as to be able to assess the temperature in both the rooms below the green roof and the conventional roof as well as the temperatures of the roof surface. Further discussion and research is needed to establish the way forward.
4. The construction of a rain chamber at Minoprio Analisi e Certificazioni to test growing media runoff
It is now established that green roofs have a role to play in reducing flooding in urban areas. To establish the discharge of the growing media in a laboratory environment, a standard measuring system is used. The apparatus employed for such analysis is known as a rain chamber.
The rain chamber consists of a non-permeable basin measuring 1mx5m with the bottom set a gradient of 2% to collect water run-off. The sides of the basin are high enough to accommodate green roof samples. The scope of the rain chamber is to mimic precipitation of different intensity ranging from 108mm/h to 22mm/h. Water meters and electronic devices are used to monitor the volume of water run-off per set time.
Monitoring and testing of the growing media using the rain chamber is in accordance with FLL Guidelines (2008). FLL stands for Forschungsgesellschaft Landschaftsentwicklung Landschaftsbau e.V. or the German ‘Landscape Research, Development and Construction Society’ and the abbreviation refers to the German Green Roof Guideline.
How does the rain chamber work?
The green roof system to be tested is reproduced in the basin of the chamber and saturated. After a 24hr period, a block rain of consistent intensity (27lt/m2 in 15min) is applied. The volume of access water from the saturated media (the run-off) in relation to time is monitored. This experiment is repeated 3 times on a daily basis. From the data collected the coefficient of discharge is calculated. The coefficient of discharge is the quotient of run-off volume and rain volume during a block rainfall. This will indicate how much water is retained within the growing media. Thus if in a conventional roof with a tiled surface the coefficient of discharge is 0.9 (not all water falling on the roof will go down the drain, a small percentage will remain on the roof), depending on the type of growing media, the coefficient of a green roof can vary from 0.1 to 0.7. To date, the rain chamber is being calibrated and is expected to be functional within the coming days.
3. Setting up of trials to test adequacy of native species and growing media
The test trays are up and running as can be seen in the photo gallery in this website and our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/lifemedgreenroofproject) . The plants are doing fine although there is already a marked difference in plant performance between the two growing media mixes. More time is needed however to be able to conclude on the performance of the growing media and plants.
Promising plant species so far include the Lavender (Lavandula sp. ), the Maltese salt tree (Darniella melitensis), Golden semphire (Inula crithmoides), and the hardy Mediterranean stonecrop (Sedum sediforme). Of particular note is the Greater snapdragon (Antirrhinum tortuosum), it has shown particular growth and is in flower.
Other plants exhibiting inflorescence include the Yellow germander (Teucrium flavum), Silvery ragwort (Senecio bicolor), and Golden semphire (Inula crithmoides). Watering is ongoing three times a week however we hope that this would be reduced dramatically after the first year, when the plants would have established.
We are also pleased to note a few visitors to the green roof test beds. We are noticing an increase in invertebrates, mainly insects. Photographic evidence has been posted on our Facebook page. We have seen Soldier bugs (Spilostethus pandurus ), ants, spiders (jumping spider and crab spider), cabbage white butterflies and a cicada. Hopefully as more plants flower (we are also expecting the lavender to flower in the coming days) and as the hot summer season peters out, we should be seeing more fauna.
2. Tests on possible growing media materials commenced
Tests to determine possible materials that could be used to create the ideal growing media for green roofs in both Italy and Malta have commenced. Laboratory tests are being carried out in Italy by Minoprio Analisi e Certificazioni S.r.l and field tested by Fondazione Minoprio, both partners of the project. Materials from Malta have been sent to Mac so as to ascertain their viability as components within the growing media. The materials tested so far include crashed globigerina limestone, hardstone spalls (coralline limestone), sand produced from crashed coralline limestone, crashed concrete and compost produced at the recycling plant in Marsascala by Wasteserv Malta. All the materials other than the compost are used in the construction industry and are widely available in Malta. The project team have been searching for other materials, possibly industrial wastes, which could be recycled instead of being dumped in a landfill site.
A new material, biochar, is also being tested as a component of the growing media. Tests are underway and look promising.
Natural soil is unsuitable on green roofs due to factors such as weight and compaction. These would affect the performance of the green roof and the successful development of plants. However, growing media generally selected for Green Roofs are composed mainly of lightweight inorganic material with a small percentage of organic material. The use of commercially available growing media might not respond well to different climatic conditions and as a consequence the project is proposing the testing of specific substrate components best suited for the creation of a growing medium within the local climate. These ingredients will undergo rigorous assessment using established standard methods of testing.
Specific mixes are expected to be created by March and will be tested on site in Malta and Italy in purposely built test trays. The tests will verify the compatibility between the growing media and plants.
1. Project Manager and Research Support Assistant employed
October 2013 – February 2014
The project has recruited the project manager whose responsibility will be the overall responsibility of running the project. The project manager is Antoine Gatt, a landscape architect by profession. He has experience in managing and co-ordinating EU funded projects and has worked in project related to sustainable urban areas.
Following two calls for applications, a research support assistant has also been recruited to assist the project manager in the daily running of the project. Vince Lloyd Morris is of Welsh nationality and a landscape architect by profession. He also possesses a degree in education. He has experience in EU funded project and has been involved in various community related projects.