Green Roofs Are Hot New Design Feature in London

In London, the latest rage in building design is green roofing: Roofs covered in soil and foliage that can provide habitat for insects, lizards, and birds. The trend first took off as part of a government effort to protect the black redstart, a black-and-orange songbird that nests in urban areas and has come to be something of an icon for Brit urban enviros. In some parts of the U.K., local governments are starting to require that some buildings feature rooftop gardens. The roofs — first developed in Switzerland — help prevent flash floods by absorbing rainfall, help insulate and cool buildings, and attract small critters. A recent study of eight green roofs by entomologist Richard Jones found that 136 invertebrates, including several rare beetles and spiders, had found their way there. The concept has gained such cachet that green building principles are expected to spread from roofs to total site design, including lawns and even parking garages. Heck, maybe they’ll even spread across the Atlantic Ocean.

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