Sustainable Living; what’s it all about?
You often hear people talk about sustainability, but what does it really mean?
The Dutch have a great ethos with sustainability and are some of the leaders in this field. We could learn a lot from them. But how do they do it?
The Netherlands, with a relatively low population, and small (ish) economy, manages to hit targets way beyond its remit. But why can they seem to be so forward thinking when it comes to green living, leaving the rest of us trailing behind?
The first, and probably most important contributary fact, is education. Sustainability is actually written into the school curriculum. This is vital when trying to take back control of our environment. The more understanding you have, the more co-operation you’ll get! The cross-sector co-operation between businesses, governments, charities and the general public is what drives the initiative; “Many hands make light work”.
Alongside the daily ‘sustainability’ duties to ensure that, individually, they are looking after the planet, the Dutch have many other innovations which can be seen across the landscape!
Who has heard of a Green Roof?
Now, the Dutch can’t claim the concept of the Green Roof itself, and nor do they try to do so. But what they can do is improve on the idea, and improve on the idea they have!
A Green Roof is a living roof and it is often installed, not only because it is attractive, but because of the positive environmental impacts it can have. For example, it reduces the stormwater, which can have a positive effect on the local sewer systems by reducing the stress put on them. Essentially, these roofs absorb the rainwater through the plants and the drainage layer. So, if you were in a high-risk flood area, and everyone had this type of roof, you could potentially help to reduce the flood risk. These small changes, collectively, can have quite an impact.
We all know that certain plants can help dramatically with air purification. So, having a roof covered in plants will ultimately contribute to the conversion of CO2 into Oxygen! Can’t say fairer than that!
Not only do Green Roofs add value to your property, they also extend the life span of the roof as the plants offer protection to the material underneath. This will not only save you money, but also reduce your impact on the environment. This type of roof also acts as a sound barrier, reducing the noise by absorption! Who doesn’t want to hide away, somewhere quiet, yet beautiful?
The maintenance required for this type of roof is actually very low. This is sometimes a fact which is overlooked, or misunderstood. It is often assumed that there will be a lot of upkeep to ensure they don’t become overgrown, or covered in weeds. But by using the vegetation blankets, you can easily create your roof. The mats are pre-cultivated, which means weeds don’t really have the chance, or ability, to grow, or get established, which is ideal. You don’t want a roof to look like an overgrown weed jungle!
As we all know, plants contain quite a bit of moisture, and there is something that doesn’t like moisture, Fire! So, these roofs actually create a fire-resistant layer! As you can see there are quite a few benefits to having a green roof, not to mention the feelings of well-being and healing which are often felt when living in a green environment! But the problem is that green roofs were mostly seen on either flat roofs, or slight pitched roofs. Now, thanks to a unique Dutch concept, you can get a roof tile which is supplied with overgrown plants! You can read about the concept here (you may need a translator) http://www.groendakpan.nl
This concept gives you the advantages of a roof tile but with all the positives of a Green Roof! You can use this tile on any roof type. No longer is it just for a particular roof style. The Green Roof tile can be used in addition to your existing roof tiles and the installation is exactly the same as any normal roof tile.
This is why the Dutch are so good at sustainability. They are always pushing for more. They’re never satisfied. They always want to better the existing materials and concepts, as well as come up with new ideas. They’re not the only country that takes sustainability seriously, but we can learn a lot from them. They have, like many of us, got a lot to master, but they also have it right in so many ways. Education is where they lead. Ensuring the future generations are interested, knowledgeable and sympathetic to the green initiatives and sustainability, will help to prolong the longevity of our environment and essentially our planet!