The Green Roof reduces urban air pollution and improves human health

30 Jun 2014

imageundp lebanon - the inauguration of the Green Roof initiative at the Central Bank Beirut

UNDP - CEDRO project and Banque Du Liban (BDL) launched the Green Roof initiative which covers an area of 834 m2, at the Central bank main branch in Hamra on June 30th at 5:00 pm. Governor of Lebanon's Central Bank (Banque du Liban) Riad Salameh along with UNDP Resident Representative Ross Mountain attended the event in addition to UNDP country Director Luca Renda and  Assistant Resident Representative Edgard Chehab.

During his speech, Mr. Mountain stressed on the costs of environmental degradation saying, “Some $2 billion a year is paid by the government to subsidize the power supply and still the supply and management of power is not adequate.  The cost of environmental degradation on the other hand was equivalent to 2.8 – 4.0 percent of GDP in 2004.  The most significant negative impact is caused by the effect of urban air pollution on health in Greater Beirut and Tripoli.” He added, “One initiative that increases energy efficiency in buildings, reduces urban air pollution and improves human health is “green roofs”.  They reduce carbon dioxide emissions and increase the absorption of particulate and air pollution.  These spaces have positive effect on people; they provide a great way to escape the stresses of day-to-day life, constitute a buffer to the surrounding noises and pollution, and increase value of real estate in surrounding areas.”

As for Mr. Salameh, in his speech he said, “the roof is an addition to the green spaces already found in the Central Bank. We promote the development of the environmental sector and eco-tourism, especially in the villages which in turn encourages citizens to protect and invest in this sector.” He also mentioned that the Environmental loans supported by BDL have reached one hundred million U.S dollars due to the social responsibility exercised by the Central Bank towards the environment.  

This project is one of the first of its kind in Lebanon and the region, and serves as a model project that will, hopefully, be adopted by the public and private sectors, and encouraged.

The pilot green roof initiative was funded by both BDL and UNDP.  The UNDP contribution is funded by the Government of Spain through the Lebanon Recovery Fund that supports the CEDRO project. The roof was designed by a local company supported by international experts.  It has a growing media consistent of: peat, sand, gravel, old rubber tires, rockwool, perlite or vermiculite and monitored by sensors connected to a control room, measuring water and nutrients level. While phase 1 features a horizontal cover with native species showcasing patterns in their different colors, heights and blooming season, phase 2 emphasizes on the verticality of the elements with three European olive trees. The plant selection stressed on different blooming seasons, to guarantee a continuous flourished roof.”