Green Growth Sprouting Up All Around Greece

© Andrew Clements/Oikosteges. The green roof on the Treasury building in Athens helps the government save money on heating and cooling costs.

The Greek economy may be ailing, but not every kind of growth is stagnant in the Mediterranean country: Green roofs are popping up all over, beautifying buildings and helping both government offices and private citizens save much-needed cash.

Though not all of its decisions have been so prudent, the Greek Ministry of Finance smartly kicked off the recent trend in 2008, by installing an oikostegi (Greek for "green roof") on top of the Treasury building in Athens. According to a story on Mother Nature Network:

A 2009 study by the Metsovio National Technical University revealed that air-conditioning costs for the building had been reduced as much as 50 percent in the floor directly below the rooftop, and as much as 9 percent throughout the 10-story, 130,000-square-foot building. Further, researchers noticed that an abundance of insects had moved onto the rooftop, including honeybees, ladybirds and butterflies.

© Andrew Clements/Oikosteges. Another green roof in Athens, with the Acropolis in the background.

The green roof has also reportedly reduced heating costs by 4 percent and is helping mitigate urban air pollution.

Properly planted, the vegetation on green roofs can stay healthy through all kinds of ups and downs in the weather, from extreme heat and drought in the summer months to snow and ice in the winter, according to Vanya Veras from VVOiko Ltd., a company that promotes green roofs and walls and helps customers plan and maintain them.

© Andrew Clements/Oikosteges. A green roof on the Greek island of Antiparos, which is very hot and dry in the summer and windy all year.

A combination of local Greek herbs and flowering plants, including lavender, thyme, dittany, rosemary, and spreading succulents, needs no additional watering after becoming established, an important feature in water-scarce Greece. In addition, as Veras told TreeHugger:

What occurs, as the green roof creates a natural, fertilizer-free environment, is that the local wild species from the surrounding countryside will also find their way onto the roof, making it an integral part of the local ecosystem.

© Andrew Clements/Oikosteges. A green interior wall in a Greek home.

The same can't be said, of course, for the internal green wall that VVOiko Ltd. has designed for a Greek home, but it does help improve indoor air quality while adding an interesting aesthetic touch. And an external green wall the company put on a balcony helps insulate the home against strong winds in the winter and keep away some unwanted members of the local ecosystem in the hot summer months: pesky mosquitoes.

Tags: Cities | Greece | Green Roofs