Greening Australia: Exploring Australia’s Emerging Green Roof and Wall Industry

By Tracy Jackson

The Australia green roof and wall industry has grown more than 50 percent in the last year. Sydney, Australia is poised to host to the World Green Infrastructure Congress this October, bringing together industry professionals, researchers, government officials and organizations throughout the world. Presented by the World Green Infrastructure Network and Green Roofs Australasia, the conference will shine a spotlight on green roof and wall opportunities in a market that has $5.17 billion gross national revenue for the landscape industry and $18.2 billion in revenue for the national horticulture market.

Australia’s typical roof surface in the summer months reaches 80°C (176°F). Given the climate, the energy consumption for cooling is much larger than for heating. This presents some unique challenges to design, installation and maintenance professionals that will need to be fully worked out in order to accelerate industry growth.


Australia boasts the tallest green wall project in the world — the One Central Park project in Chippendale. Designed by botanist Patrick Blanc and architect Jean Nouvel, the wall is more than 1,200 square meters (12,900 sf) covering 50 percent of the building facade. Reaching almost 380 feet, more than 450 species of plants are included, with half indigenous.

The largest green roof project to date in Australia is the Victorian Desalination Plant in Wonthaggi. Funded in part by the Victorian government, the roof was constructed on a 20-degree slope. This massive project’s green roof spans more than 26,000 square meters (280,000 sf) with more than 98,000 indigenous plants supplied by Fytogreen. In this drought-prone area, the roof is capable of supplying up to 150 billion liters of much-needed water to Melbourne, Geelong and surrounding areas through stormwater capture and convergence.

Encouraging youth to reduce their carbon footprint, the St. Rose and Mosman PET bottle project allowed students at St. Rose’s Collaroy Plateau Catholic School to create a green wall out of recycled plastic bottles with Mark Paul, director of The Green Wall Company. “The overall objective of this first site was to show how simplistic and feasible it is for schools across Australia to adopt the project and green their own built environment,” he said.


Aspect Studios, in partnership and collaboration with Eco Harvest and Thermal Environmental, supported by the City of Sydney technical advisory panels and others have developed a computer thermal performance model for roofs. The model will be able to provide an accurate assessment of a green roof’s energy saving performance. The model demonstrates compliance with the Building Code of Australia’s Section J for building thermal performance for thermal resistance and thermal mass contribution of an extensive green roof on summer cooling energy demands.

Integrated Water Cycle Management is of great interest in drought-stricken areas within Australia. Sustainable Building Research Centre (SBRC), located at the University of Willongong’s Innovation Campus, is a 33-hectare business and research hub. SBRC has been designed to meer the Living Building Challenge to achieve net zero energy and net zero water.


Policy guidelines such as Melbourne’s Green Growing Guide, and the Green Roofs & Walls Policy Implementation Strategy in Sydney are helping to support the development of the industry. Green Roofs Australasia (GRA) advocates the use of green infrastructure in Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and other countries in the region. “The industry has surged over the past 18 months due to new policy,” said Matt Dillon, president of Green Roofs Australasia. “The World Green Infrastructure Congress could not be more timely for networking and sharing knowledge in the expanding green Australia environment.”

Tracy Jackson is a director at Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.


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