Antoine Gatt, project manager, showing the Archbishop the Faculty's Green Roof
Issues related to quality of life central to the Church’s teaching
Today His Grace the Archbishop of Malta, Mgr. Charles Scicluna, visited the LifeMedGreenRoof Project at the Faculty for the Built Environment of the University of Malta. This project aims at creating a baseline study on green roofs with the intension of encouraging the adoption of the technology in urban areas. Green roofs are important in rendering towns and cities more liveable and sustainable and could mitigate urban related problems. Mitigating such problems would contribute to a better quality of life to urban dwellers.
Issues related to quality of life are central to the Church’s teaching, which proposes an authentic human development where human well-being is dependent on the health of the natural environment. Excessive and unsustainable development and environmental degradation are negatively impacting the lives of many. Some of the consequences of such actions are either discounted as not important or are not immediately obvious. Increasing personal wealth and greed has often created a self-centred society where little thought is given to the effects of one’s actions and where environmental accountability and responsibility are often ignored. Unfortunately, the resulting suffering is mostly borne by those who are more vulnerable or less fortunate.
The damage sustained by the natural environment due to urbanisation and human activity is considered by the Catholic Church to be of increasing concern, as is evident in Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato si’: On Care for our common home (2015) with its urgent call for an integral ecology. Nature is God’s creation and a heritage which human beings are duly bound to protect. Unfortunately, given that many live in urban areas (since 2014, more than 50% of the global human population live in an urban environment) it is easily perceived that humans and nature are separate and that humans are able to exist without nature. This is not the case; for not only is man an integral part of nature, humankind cannot survive without it. Nature provides humans with services (termed ecosystem services) which are central to his survival. Services such as pollination, provision of materials, replenishment of oxygen and aesthetic quality are but some of these benefits which render life more pleasant. However, humankind not only needs to protect nature for his survival but is also morally bound to protect it for its own intrinsic value.
Green roofs are a way of giving back to nature part of what has been taken away due to urbanisation with the consequences of creating a more attractive and pleasant living environment. Such roofs should not be seen as an excuse to further extend urbanisation but as a means of mitigation and adaptation to climate change and other urban related issues. The benefits of green roofs are well documented, and it is no wonder that many countries are creating incentives and policies to encourage the adoption of roof greening. They have been known to reduce flooding, reduce the carbon footprint of buildings (i.e. the reduction of electricity consumption for air conditioning), trap air pollution and provide habitats for a diversity of beneficial wildlife such as bees which are endangered due to pesticides and other agrochemicals.
The LifeMedGreenRoof project has to date shown that green roofs can be successfully constructed with no danger to the underlying structure.
The type of vegetation used will dictate the amount of maintenance needed although native plant species or other Mediterranean climate type plants would require less resources. It is also evident that green roofs reduce storm water run-off and insulate the building from the sun’s energy.
The LifeMedGreenRoof Project is partially funded through LIFE+ which is the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental and nature conservation projects. For more information visit our website or contact us on email@example.com