The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has released a guidance note providing advice on getting green walls and roofs on commercial and residential developments.

It said the “landmark” guidance, launched this week by NSW planning minister Rob Stokes, offered the world’s first template for owners to adopt when licencing rooftops for commercial uses, making it easier for them to integrate green infrastructure into buildings.

The guidance note looks at green walls and roofs from a surveyor’s perspective, and encompasses technical factors, value and community impacts.

“This guidance note will make it easier to use innovative building elements to help deal with the urban heat island effect and future climate impacts,” Mr Stokes said.

“It will give the private sector the practical information to help keep our city cool and help people save energy.”

Associate professor Sara Wilkinson, a UTS researcher and the report’s co-author, said with roof space making up 32 per cent of horizontal surfaces in urban areas, there was “great scope” to use green roofs to help with issues such as the urban heat island effect and stormwater management.

“We have observed other less expected benefits too, such as these structures bringing biodiversity back to otherwise barren urban areas including bees, birds and small mammals,” she said.

“They have significantly improved air quality around buildings and can soak up rainfall that would otherwise be lost down drains or cause flooding.”

She said rooftops could become income-generating spaces for building owners, with the note proposing an approach to valuation of these spaces.

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