Potential of high-rise greenery

In the past decade, we have seen the rise of high-rise greenery in Singapore. A new target of achieving 200ha of high-rise greenery by 2030 was set in 2014 after the previous target of 50ha by 2030 was met two decades earlier. As of 2014, Singapore has 61ha of greenery covering the exterior of the buildings; one of the highest among cities in the world. This huge increase could be due to the Skyrise Greenery Incentive Scheme (SGIS). Under the SGIS, NParks will fund up to 50% of the installation costs of rooftop greenery and vertical greenery.

Green roofs and vertical greening improves the thermal performance of the building, saving energy needed for air-conditioning. This is especially significant in Singapore given our climate. In addition, green roofs help with storm water discharge control, reduce noise pollution, improving air quality and reducing the urban heat island! With more buildings having vertical greenery coming up, I wonder about the potential for fauna among such urban greenery and its potential to be used as biodiversity corridors or stepping stones that allow connectivity between different urban parks and nature areas in Singapore. Would developers/building tenants choose to not attract biodiversity (or actively getting rid of them) as it would add to the maintenance cost of the green roof/wall making it sub optimal to plant? After all, I think the vertical greenery is mainly planted due to its attractiveness and for its properties of cooling the building.

Do contribute your thoughts and any possible ideas for improving connectivity through green roofs/walls!

References:

http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/culture-high-rise-gardens-takes-root

https://www.skyrisegreenery.com/

 

6 thoughts on “Potential of high-rise greenery

  • March 23, 2016 at 11:13 am
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    I agree with you about the fact that green walls are planted mainly for aesthetic and energy reduction purposes. But in my opinion, I don’t think that vertical greenery has very high potential for increasing the connectivity between nature areas for wildlife, especially urban avoiders. Green walls are usually quite narrow and the vegetation planted on green walls are usually small plants, so they might not provide enough vegetation cover for the urban avoiders to deem as a safe passage to use. Also, vertical greenery excludes terrestrial animals. That being said, green walls might still be important connectors for some small species. It is therefore crucial to conserve existing forest remnants that act as connectors, such as the Tengah forest which connects the Western and Central catchments.

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    • March 26, 2016 at 3:51 pm
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      Hey Nic thanks for the comment. I think for Singapore’s case, connectivity for urban avoiders is almost impossible except smaller groups like insects. But I think that urban adapters (mainly insects but possibly birds/bats?) can stand to benefit from the different types of high-rise greenery in Singapore IF suitable plants are planted, no pesticides are used and if the people who are potentially in contact with such urban wild life are accepting of them. Sadly, this does not seem to be the case in Singapore as some people are phobic about some insects and might only want the aesthetic part of the green wall/roof and many people do not see the importance. Plants that are planted are mainly hardy plants that are low in maintenance that might not be suitable for our biodiversity.

      Nevertheless, urban greenery can never replace our natural forests and it is crucial to conserve them. However, as Singapore gets more urbanized, we should try to adapt and reconcile nature with the harsh urban environment so that our biodiversity might have a chance to adapt to such novel habitats.

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    • March 29, 2016 at 2:05 am
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      What do you mean when you say “vertical greenery excludes terrestrial animals” ? Also, are you saying that the reason why it’s crucial to preserve forest remnants is so that they can function as connectors ?

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  • March 26, 2016 at 7:23 am
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    I think green roofs have a good potential in increasing connectivity between green patches! Especially if they are intensive green roofs (rooftop gardens). Rooftop gardens have a greater variety and diversity of plants species that can attract a multitude of biodiversity. If there are many rooftop gardens located within close proximity of each other, it is quite possible that it could act as a form of connectivity. Of course, as Nicolette has pointed out, this excludes the terrestrial animals who are incapable of flight.

    Connectivity between buildings can be further improved by perhaps building a bridge between the buildings. Pinnacle@Duxton and SkyHabitat in Bishan are a couple of examples with a bridge that connects 2 or more buildings together. These bridges, if greened, can help to increase connectivity between green roofs/walls. However, this might only be applicable to buildings located side-by-side and are owned by the same developer. If the buildings are owned by different developers, perhaps some sort of partnership and cooperation could be formed between them to build a bridge? Feasibility of this might not be that great, but i believe that it could be an idea to be developed.

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    • March 26, 2016 at 4:09 pm
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      Hi Amanda, I love the idea of bridges between the buildings connecting the various green roofs. The sky park at Pinnacle@Duxton does seem a little lacking in greenery though. It would be fantastic if they are connected and we can have a park in the sky similar to the others in the world like the Namba Parks complex in Osaka, the High Line in New York City and Promenade Plantée in Paris!

      But like you said, it can only be possible if the developers are the same or if they are willing to commit the funds for such a project. I think this idea would only be possible for new buildings due to the problem of loading and the need to retrofit the roof if not the entire building for this. Maybe NParks can do something like that to increase the number of green spaces and up the park provisioning numbers.

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