Green Roofs as Nature-Based Solutions

by Dr. Anna Zakrisson on Thursday, March 12, 2020

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What are nature-based solutions and how do green roofs fit in?

Nature-based Solutions are defined as “actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems, that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits”.
Green roofs are modified ecosystems, but they clearly provide human well-being and improve urban biodiversity. Since green roofs also battle urban heat island effects (UHI) and act as pollution mitigation tools, we can clearly conclude that green roofs / vegetated roofs indeed are nature-based solutions. This is also how green roofs are classified by researchers working in the field of nature-based solutions.


This is the short version of the interview with Dr. Helen Toxopeus. The full version can be found at the end of the article.
Feel free to embed these videos on your website. They are for educational purposes.

Nature-based solutions and Naturvation

We met with the researcher and sustainable finance expert Dr. Helen Toxopeus in Utrecht, The Netherlands, to talk nature-based solutions and green economy. Dr. Toxopeus, is a researcher at Sustainable Finance Lab, Utrecht University.

One of the projects Toxopeus is involved in is the four-year European project Naturvation, funded by the European Commission. The project includes many different institutions across Europe including universities, but also practitioners, and stakeholders such as municipalities.

"The aim of Naturvation is to upscale nature-based solutions in urban areas. A lot of the work is research-focused, but many projects are direct collaborations with practitioners and municipalities with the aim to implement the research conducted.
Naturvation aims to find best practices and developing tools and trying to overcome certain barriers to why nature-based solutions are currently not yet mainstreamed. There is a great need to identify and develop pathways for mainstreaming urban nature-based solutions”, Toxopeus told us.

We can warmly recommend checking out the atlas at the Naturvation site showing all nature-based solutions in the European region with project information added along with photos: NATURVATION ATLAS.

Economic incentives, NGOs and water infrastructure

We wanted to know if there are any special projects or organizations that Dr. Toxopeus would like to highlight that are working in the field of sustainable finance or in nature-based solutions.
“Yes, so one thing that I am interested in, especially in line with this collaborative governance is the work that the Nature Conservancy is doing. The Nature Conservancy is a large NGO looking at preserving nature but is also looking at how we can measure the impact of what nature and natural solutions can do for us.
The Nature Conservancy is, for example, setting up water funds across the world where they invite both public and private actors to pull funds and to invest in nature and nature-based interventions. This fund has motivated actors like Coca-Cola and many other companies that are interested in keeping water infrastructure well-structured to join the cause. However, these are just a few examples of what is being done.”

How an insurance company became a green roof spokes-agent

We ended the interview with a very interesting green roof story showing how an insurance company suddenly became a spokes-agent for green roofs in the Netherlands.
“So, I’m doing a lot of interviews at the moment all over Europe. Here, in the Netherlands, I’ve interviewed an insurance firm. This insurance firm is actively stimulating people to build green roofs.

This company is actively working to make it easier for you to build a green roof. They are even coordinated with a green roof firm so that they can provide you with a fixed cost, as well as a free scan of your roof. Even if the roof is very small, they basically organize it for you. It’s essentially collective buying power organized by an insurance firm. You probably do wonder why an insurance firm would do this? One of the things is that they hope to reduce damage costs from water as green roofs are better protected. But, of course, the green roof delivers other benefits as well."

Watch the full-length interview on YouTube

CONTACT Purple-Roof directly if you have any green roof related questions.