Treasury goes green with the help of University researchers

Seedlings at the University of Melbourne Burnley campus
Seedlings at the University of Melbourne Burnley campus. Image credit: Peter Casamento.

The University of Melbourne has partnered with the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) and the City of Melbourne on a research project to retrofit the building that houses the office of the Victorian Premier with a green roof.

Officially launched by the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio  at 1 Treasury Place, the Green Roof project promotes green infrastructure for greening and cooling, making Melbourne more comfortable in heat events, and helping to bring nature into the city.

A portion of the green roof will be devoted to research and will be designed by researchers at the University of Melbourne, in conjunction with the project architects Aspect.

Co-funded by Hort Innovation, the project seeks to overcome the organisational, community and horticultural barriers to greater green roof construction in Australia.

University of Melbourne lead researcher Nicholas Williams said the uptake for green roofs in Australia has been slow.

“Our previous research has demonstrated that green roofs have substantial stormwater runoff, energy and employee productivity benefits but the number of green roofs built in Australia remains low compared to similar countries in Europe and North America,” Associate Professor Williams said. “Hopefully this project will change that.”

The research project will run to December 2021 and involves urban horticulture and psychology researchers from the University of Melbourne and the University of New South Wales Business School, including several PhD students.

The team will:

  • Develop proven plant palettes for green roofs with different depths and irrigation availability
  • Evaluate industry and economic barriers to green roofs
  • Better understand the maintenance required for different green roof designs so that building owners can plan and factor in the cost of maintenance
  • Determine which green roof designs best enhance the well-being of people viewing and using them.

The venture between DELWP and the City of Melbourne is valued at $2.5 million.

Minister D’Ambrosio said that investing in Green infrastructure has environmental as well as economic benefits. It also has demonstrated health and wellbeing outcomes.

"Establishing more green roofs across Melbourne is a great way to help the environment and reduce building operating costs, while also improving the health and wellbeing of those living and working in the city," Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said.

Associate Professor Williams said the University of Melbourne is extremely pleased to be involved. “It’s fantastic that the State Government is investing in green infrastructure, such as green roofs,” Associate Professor Williams said.

“It is a proven, low cost, climate change adaptation technique that will cool our cities, reduce flooding and provide many other environmental and social benefits.”