June 03 2014

From Grey to Green: or, How to Make Green Roofs Legal in Buenos Aires

Recently, many things have changed in Buenos Aires concerning environmental awareness and policies towards more responsible urban planning - ones that are in tune with the rest of the world. As mentioned in previous posts, the government of the city is making huge changes in waste management, sustainable transportation and promoting an overall “green” mentality.

However, until not so long ago, green or sustainable building was left lagging behind or even forgotten entirely in the priorities of the government. Responsibility was left mainly to the private sector, which self-imposed some green building regulations and imported ideas from North America.

Buenos Aires Street, Buenos Aires, Argentina

That promises to change from now on due to the recent approval by the Buenos Aires Legislature for the Green Roofs and Terraces Law, which will provide economic benefits for all building owners who green their roofs and decks. More specifically, tax credits will be given on city taxes to those who carry out green roofing initiatives, especially the “Alumbrado, Barrido y Limpieza” tax (lighting, sweeping and cleaning).

Urban fabric of Buenos Aires, Argentina

The new law also states that these covers must have waterproof membrane insulation, a protective folder and after coating at the gravel drainage layer, and that all green covers must have a structural analysis to verify the resistance loads generated by their implementation.

The city government hopes that the implementation of this law will create a massive expansion of green roofs or terraces whose main objective is to contribute to the improvement of the urban environment. A sustainable future can be achieved only through ecological sustainability and adaptation strategies to climate change, and this obviously should also apply to buildings.

Industrial Architecture  in the Barracas districs, Buenos Aires, Argentina

At this level, clearly the aim of these measures on buildings is to contribute to a more sustainable development of the city, as it reduces runoff, helps to reduce the effect of the urban heat island and improves air quality. However delayed this law is in the global context, it is a huge step considering the recent developments of a city that was falling dangerously behind in terms of sustainability.

And even if there is much still to be accomplished, the fact that the government is taking a strong position on the issue makes one hopeful of the future and hopeful that other cities in the country learn from this example.

Do you think governmental action is essential for sustainability? Can our cities rely on the private sector? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Credits: Images by Luis Lozano-Paredes. Data linked to sources.

Luis Lozano-Paredes

Luis Lozano-Paredes is currently a student seeking a Diploma of Architecture and Urban Planning at Belgrano University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Born in Colombia in 1987, he grew between the cities of Bogotá and Santiago de Cali, and then moved to Argentina in 2006. There, he finished the Common Basic Cycle of Architecture, Design, and Urbanism at the University of Buenos Aires before pursuing studies in Landscape Design at the same Institution. Inspired by the Urban Transformation of Bogotá in the past decades, his interests evolved from Landscape Architecture to his current passion; Urban Planning, Policy Making, and Sustainable Development. He plans to continue his studies in Urban Planning and Sustainability in Canada, Chile, or the U.S.; but for the moment he currently works as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center of Metropolitan Transport Studies of the University of Buenos Aires and is a Member of the Observatory of Urban Sustainability at Belgrano University. Luis’ main interests lay within the study of Smart Cities, Urban Sustainable Development, and Social Architecture in Latin America.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014 at 9:25 am and is filed under Architecture, Energy, Engineering, Environment, Environmental Design, Government/Politics, Urban Development/Real Estate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


2 Responses to “From Grey to Green: or, How to Make Green Roofs Legal in Buenos Aires”

  1. R callway Says:

    Hi – has there been any studies of the impact of the green roof law since it was introduced?


  2. Luis Lozano-Paredes Says:

    Hello Rosalie,

    Sorry for the delay in my answer, I hope you are still in touch with the different articles of Global Site Plans and The Grid.

    About your question, it is a relatively new law so a serious study about its impact has not been published yet, however there are different articles and studies from the Federal and City Government that you can consult, they are all in Spanish though.



    Thank you!

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