By Andrew Woodger
BBC Suffolk's Rob Dunger helps plant some hardy grasses on the roof
The new £3m children's hospice in Ipswich has had a green roof fitted.
East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH) has incorporated it in the design for the purpose-built centre in St Augustine's Gardens.
The contractor, Bauder, says the roof will provide better insulation, retain water and provide a haven for plants, insects and birds.
EACH's Treehouse Appeal is raising money for the project which replaces the existing bungalow in east Ipswich.
"The vegetation is going to have to survive with minimal maintenance, so it's ground-cover type plants that will be able to survive drought conditions," said Nick Ridout, green roof product manager with Bauder.
The grass is planted in 'extensive substrate' which is 90mm deep
The roof has been covered in soil (called 'extensive substrate') to grow sedum and perennial plants in.
It is about the size of a tennis court, slopes in a north-facing direction and it has waterproof and root layers underneath.
"It's highly engineered dirt," said Nick. "It's about ensuring that the substrate will hold the correct amount of moisture (35% of its total), supply the correct amount of nutrition and will not be overwhelmed by heavy rain.
"It'll attract a wide range of aphids and other insects which, in turn, will attract a fair number of birds which will come to feed on those insects.
"In two or three years' time, it will provide a whole mat of vegetation and it'll have colour and interest in it throughout the year."
Two of Suffolk's existing high-profile green roofs are at
Adnams distribution centre
near Southwold and at University Campus Suffolk (UCS) on Ipswich waterfront.
The roof at University Campus Suffolk at Ipswich's waterfront
Sometimes the roof at UCS can look brown rather than green, giving the impression, to the untrained eye, that it's died.
"Sedum vegetation will actually go quite red through the autumn and winter months," said Nick.
"It will vary from year to year and if you were to go up and have a look at it, you would see that the vegetation is fine and that the leaf structure is just red in colour."
In terms of other eco-features, the new EACH building has ground heat-pumps, but not solar panels.
"We did specify to our architects that we want a building that is eco-friendly, but we're not out to win awards," said Melanie Chew, director of fundraising for EACH.
"It's got to be cost-effective. So, yes there are eco-friendly features, but we are a charity and we've got to keep our costs down."
Bauder says all buildings have to prioritise.
"It comes down to where you spend your money," said Nick. "At the end of the day this is a hospice and the primary purpose is to treat the children.
"In the long term solar panels can save money, but how long do you look to recover the money when you only have a limited budget?"
Melanie said: "The roof is one of the green features which is going to make this a friendly, welcoming place to stay.
"Just behind the building is the whole two acres of woodland. We'll be building the woodland walk which will be suitable for wheelchairs.
"The children will have a much more outdoors, fun experience than they can currently have in our little bungalow [at Walker Close]."
Nick Ridout from Bauder expects the roof to mature within three years
Bauder is also involved in fitting green roofs to people's homes.
"You can put a green roof anywhere. In fact, the smallest one I've seen has been on a birdhouse," said Nick.
"When the green roof is completely saturated, it has no insulation value, but that only happens on one or two days a year.
"Generally, a green roof will do an awful lot to keep a building cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
"The general increase in cost on a small project [compared to a normal flat roof] would be £60-80 per square metre.
"This isn't a cheap thing to do and it's hard to project exactly how much energy you would save on an individual house when lots of other factors come into play.
"What I can tell you is that on a project in Canary Wharf, they retro-fitted a building which was air-conditioned.
"They were able to turn the air-conditioning off on the top two floors which was able to save them over £5000 per annum in energy costs."
Watch a video about
solar panels in Suffolk
- part of our Greening The East series.
How are we doing?
The Treehouse Appeal began on Tuesday, 16 March, 2010 and BBC Suffolk is asking you to help us reach the £3m needed to build the hospice.
This page will be updated to report the campaign's progress, and our totaliser will be updated every Friday morning.