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Three-year study to explore best green roof design

University of Auckland engineering student Emily Voyde is embarking on a three-year study to find the most suitable materials to use in “green roofs” in Auckland City.
Ms Voyde, 23, has received a Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarship to fund her study.

She is the first female Maori PhD student in the University’s Faculty of Engineering, and the only PhD student assigned to conduct research on Auckland City’s only green roof, which was built on top of the university’s engineering building in September last year with funding from the Auckland Regional Council (ARC).

“The main purpose of a green roof is to reduce the volume of stormwater meeting our waterways, but it also benefits air quality, insulation and attracts biodiversity to the city,” Ms Voyde says.

“My goal is to find the most effective combination of plants and substrates that release the most amount of water back into the atmosphere in Auckland’s conditions.”
Her study is looking at materials to retrofit existing commercial buildings with green roofs. Because of this, the materials must be low-cost, low-maintenance and very light in weight. Soils are not used in the study because they are too heavy for most existing buildings.

Ms Voyde will focus on native plants and locally sourced substrates, such as pumice and zeolites.
Using her results, she will model the environmental impacts if green roofs were installed across Auckland City.

The results will feed into the Faculty’s overall aim of producing design guidelines for the ARC on retrofitting green roofs.
The Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarships are funded by the Government. Scholars receive an annual stipend of $25,000 for up to three years towards their PhD study, course fees and conference funding.

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