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Saanich mayor’s rooftop is home to an eco-friendly garden

Benefits of a green roof include reducing stormwater runoff and improving home insulation
Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes shows off his lush rooftop garden that benefits the surrounding ecosystem and reduces home costs. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes has made his commitment to environmental improvement clear through the way he lives his life at home – namely through a commitment to gardening and the maintenance of Saanich’s first living green roof.

Haynes said it is important to him and his wife to create a space for insects, small animals, and fish to thrive at their property that overlooks a lake.

“When we built our house, my wife and I built a house that would have the smallest environmental impact we could manage, and in doing that we opted to grow a garden rooftop,” said Haynes.

He and his wife have worked hard to grow their garden with the help of Helen Hertel, a horticulturist and landscape designer who possesses a wealth of knowledge about plants and how to grow them.

“If you imagined an aerial view of a green living roof you wouldn’t even necessarily know there’s a building under there,” said Hertel. “A green roof is replacing the on-ground footprint that was removed of vegetation and habitat and just bringing it up higher.”

Hertel said that a garden roof helps to reduce the warming of the atmosphere since the sun hitting a living roof is absorbed and utilized by plantlife, rather than being reflected back into the atmosphere by asphalt and other building materials.

Some other benefits of a living roof include the reduction of stormwater runoff which can otherwise overwhelm stormwater infrastructure, damage waterways, and negatively impact fish habitats in the nearby lake.

A rooftop garden is able to retain rainwater and then return a portion of that water to the atmosphere through evaporation. Stormwater that does leave the roof is delayed and reduced in volume and is far cleaner than runoff from typical rooftops.

These gardens also have the ability to lessen the need for energy cooling and heating – in the summer months the garden protects a home or commercial building from direct solar heat and minimizes heat loss in the winter because of its natural capacity for insulation, explained Hertel.

Haynes said he wanted to demonstrate what’s possible for other Saanich residents who are considering installing their own garden rooftop.

ALSO READ: Heatwaves, wildfires prompt Saanich mayor to reiterate district’s climate commitment

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