University of Haifa promoting construction and cultivation of greenery at on campus roofs

While environmentalists around the country are striving to protect Israel’s nature on the ground, the University of Haifa is now promoting the construction and cultivation of greenery at a bird’s eye view – on campus roofs.

Israel’s first Green Roofs Ecology Research Center has recently been dedicated at the university, following a gift from a British expert in the field, the university said.

The project, facilitated by the university’s Vice President for External Relations and Resource Development Amos Gaver, will focus on research and development of non-irrigated green roofs, improving biological diversity from up high and generating new ecological and evolutionary theories. Planting garden on roofs can enhance energy efficiency in the entire building by creating instant insulation, lowering air conditioning and heating consumption with minimal environmental damage, the university said.

The green roofs also provide an urban living space for many different types of animals and increase the amount of photosynthesis occurring within a city.

Heading the new center, a first of its kind in Israel, will be Prof. Leon Blaustein of the university’s Evolutionary and Environmental Biology Department. The center will allow for a thorough examination of what flora can survive on Middle Eastern climate roofs and will determine whether such gardens can thrive without artificial irrigation, according to the university. Looking at whether native Israeli flora can survive on the roofs and whether the roofs increase the biological diversity of plants and insects will also be crucial for the initiative.

The center’s researchers will also be experimenting with the use of grey water – recycled sink water – for irrigating the plants, and will examine the impact of roof garden drainage on the local environment.

Already, one of the University of Haifa’s roofs has been transformed into a laboratory of 48 plant beds. There, researchers are determining which plants are roof favorites and which are able to attract more insects and birds.

Following the launch of this initial pilot roof, the center’s leaders have begun searching for additional suitable roofs as the project continues to expand, the university said.