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Birmingham students learn how to make cities greener

Boningale Nurseries has been sharing its green roof expertise to university students this month. Landscape architects and project managers at Birmingham City University heard how sustainable growth can improve the future of urban environments for both people and wildlife.

The university invited Maggie Fennell, a recognised green roof expert from Boningale Nurseries, to deliver a series of guest seminars on sustainable construction. The aim is to give students a greater understanding of the importance of sustainable design and how it can help meet future environmental targets in cities.

Maggie explains: “As Birmingham is currently at the heart of large-scale national infrastructure projects like HS2, and acting as a stage for international spectator events like the 2022 Commonwealth Games, there is a pressing need for our local construction project managers and landscape architects to be leading the way with advanced, environmentally sound building techniques. These techniques should, in turn, nurture growth in facilities, infrastructure and jobs, whilst still meeting challenging environmental goals.”

“Therefore, it is important for Boningale to share its expertise with local university students, because they will be the next generation designing and shaping the future of our cities and towns here in the Midlands and across the UK – and creating world class green roofs and sustainable landscapes is a fundamental part of this.”

For the last few years Maggie, product development manager at Boningale Nurseries, has played a pivotal role in organising PhD research into green roof innovations with the University of Sheffield. More recently, she developed industry guidelines with the Green Roof Organisation (GRO).

Through the seminars, students have learnt about the benefits of green roofs in urban design. These include providing an excellent and cost-effective way of improving city air quality targets, regulating building temperatures and encouraging wildlife. Maggie also talked about how green roofs play a vital role in aiding a city’s resilience to flooding by capturing and slowing down excess rainwater. She also explained how they extend the lifespan of a building’s waterproofing, saving future replacement costs.

The Birmingham City University students who have benefited from this series of seminars are studying for a BA (Hons) Landscape Architecture and MSc Construction Project Management.

Roger Wall, senior lecturer in environmental sustainability, says: “It’s very important to us that our students get to meet expert practitioners like Maggie, to ensure they can relate theory to practice.”

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