Background and History of Green Roof Activity in Sheffield

Green roof activities in Sheffield originated with some small research programmes at the University of Sheffield in 1999. Since then, research activity has increased dramatically, Sheffield City Council became very active in policy development and promotion of green roofs. Groundwork Sheffield is a powerful green roof advocate, and the city now contains a number of landmark green roof projects.

UK Green Roof Conferences

The first national green roof conference in the UK attracting over 200 delegates, was held at the University of Sheffield in September 2003, in partnership with Sheffield City Council. This conference cemented the working partnership between the University of Sheffield and Sheffield City Council, and led directly to the implementation of green roof projects in the region such as Moorgate Crofts Business Centre, Rotherham. The conference spurred the establishment of the national green roof organisation Moreover, the close partnership that has developed between the University of Sheffield, Sheffield City Council and Groundwork Sheffield has great potential to maximise knowledge exchange and technology transfer through an extensive network of contacts.

In 2006, the University hosted the UK’s second national green roof conference, at which keynote speakers from the UK, the US, Germany and Austria inspired 230 delegates.

Green Roof Forum

In 2004 the Green Roof Forum was established in Sheffield, comprising of members from Sheffield City Council, Groundwork Sheffield, the University of Sheffield, the Environment Agency, and other interested parties. The Forum met regularly and aimed to raise awareness about green roofs within the city and region, to push for their implementation on a wide-scale basis, and to support policy development, as well as providing a valuable networking event. The Forum strived to secure green roof sites across South Yorkshire to raise the profile of the technology and was key to the development of green roof policy in the city. Subsequently, similar green roof forums have been established in other cities and countries.

GRID Project 2006-2008

In 2004 the University of Sheffield and Groundwork Sheffield submitted a bid to Objective1 ERDF funding to run the Green Roof Infrastructure Development project (GRID). The bid was successful and the project was launched in late 2006 with the remit to be champions for green roofs across South Yorkshire. This involved targeting construction professionals and policy makers to inform and educate them on the benefits and opportunities of green roofs.

The project comprised the following elements:

• Provision of a central information source for anyone interested in designing or implementing green roofs
• Generation of performance data to indicate green roof benefits in the region as the basis for impartial advice based upon robust research
• Financial support for new green roof projects through a regional design competition
• Development of a number of demonstration projects to stimulate interest through provision of a network of different sites in differing contexts
• Development of a national green roof demonstration site

The project concluded in the summer of 2008, having achieved all its outputs, on time and in budget. The centre of excellence took on the title of The Green Roof Centre and continues to be a partnership project between the University of Sheffield and Groundwork Sheffield.

Green Roof Code of Best Practice 2009-2012

In 2007 Groundwork Sheffield and Green Roof Centre staff began preparing a bid for the European Commission LIFE+ fund, to develop a UK code of best practice for green roof design, specification, installation and maintenance. At the time there are no UK-specific guidelines or standards, which meant that there was an over-reliance on European standards, which were not in tune with the UK construction practice, legislation or climate.

The bid was successful and work started on the Green Roof Code in early 2009. With assistance from major industry players such as the NFRC (National Federation of Roofing Contractors) The first GRO Green Roof Code was published in February 2011.

GRO Green Roof Code

Green Roof Organisation (GRO)

The UK green roof industry, facilitated by the NFRC and other interested parties (including The Green Roof Centre,, the Homes and Communities Agency and the Construction Products Association) have come together to form the Green Roof Organisation (GRO) – a national forum and steering body for the development of sustainable green roofs in the UK. The creation of the code of best practice was strongly supported by GRO.

GRO has 3 principal objectives:

- To promote the green roof concept
- To provide suitable guidelines to manufacturers and installers
- To recognise and promote correctly trained roofing companies

Marie Curie Project 2009-2013

In 2008, Dr Nigel Dunnett, Director of the Green Roof Centre and Professor at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape, secured funding from the EU via the Marie Curie Academic/Industry partnership programme to undertake the single largest international green roof research project to date. The three year project in partnership with ZinCo GbmH, Europe’s leading green roof supplier, re-evaluated green roof design and function in the context of climate change.

Marie Curie Project website