Organisation - June 10, 2010

NIOO green roof to become lab

Wageningen UR will be expanding onto NIOO's roof. This second level will be covered with river valley vegetation.

The roof of the new Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO) building opposite Wageningen campus will be a trial site for green roofs. There is 'nothing of interest' in terms of biodiversity on the average Dutch green roof, according to NIOO director and WU professor of Evolutionary Ecology Louise Vet. Sedum, a boring succulent, is the dominant vegetation. 'Her' roof is going to be quite different. A quarter of the surface area of one thousand square metres will literally become a laboratory. Various borders on top, each with its own habitat, and an arsenal of measurement instruments below mapping the hydrological effects of all that vegetation.
Wageningen UR is particularly closely involved in that last part. Hydrologist Dr Klaas Metselaar of the Soil Physics, Ecohydrology and Groundwater Management Group explains that there is very little scientific knowledge as yet about green roofs. 'We still know very little about the consequences of a roof like that for a building's energy and water consumption. At the same time, the industry is very interested in such knowledge.' NIOO and Wageningen UR are aiming to fill those gaps in knowledge, together with two producers of green roofs.

Walking
The borders on the NIOO roof will fit in with the environment in the local area. According to Vet, that means there will certainly be grass with plenty of flowers, and the vegetation typical of river valleys. Species on the Red List will also be included if at all possible. What is more, there is access to the entire roof: you can walk onto the green roof from the canteen.
The intention is that the green roofs of the future should eventually contribute towards biodiversity. It is that contribution to biodiversity that has led the Ministry of Agriculture to give the project financial support. Vet says the final commitment should arrive any moment. The habitat roof will cost more than four hundred thousand euros in construction, maintenance and research over the next two years.

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