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Umgawa’s Green Roofs a Symbol of Conservation

Umgawa Zipline Adventures’ green roof is a small symbol of its commitment to conservation and the first on the island of Langkawi, Malaysia

In Malaysia, green roofs are considered as a fairly new concept although the concept offers many benefits. Green roofs have proven to promote amenity and aesthetic benefits, environmental benefits, and economic benefits and have become quite popular in Asia but primarily in urban areas of Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and China. In fact, in the past 15 years, only a handful of buildings in Malaysia have adapted green roof as a main green feature element and Umgawa Legendary Adventures’ new green roof on Langkawi is a first on the popular island for tourism.

The global warming phenomenon has triggered a movement towards sustainability in the Malaysian construction industry. The Honorable Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has made a commitment to reduce Malaysia’s CO2 emission by 40% by the year 2020. In urban areas such as Kuala Lumpur, there are a lot of opportunities to implement green roofs in the development because of rapid expansion in these areas but few have been created so far. Malaysia has a very different climate to the temperature regions of the northern hemisphere where green roofs are more common. Japan has become a center for green roof technology. Its capital, Tokyo, is the first city to mandate building vegetation must constitute 20 percent of all new construction.

Umgawa is growing herbs and grass on its roof with the herbs used for tea tasting by guests. The building houses the check-in and outfitting operations at the entrance to its zipline eco-canopy tour at Telaga Tujuh, Seven Wells Waterfall. The building was designed to help make a first impression statement to visitors that the company is serious about its commitment to the Geopark environment. Green roof is a small step, but when combined with the company’s commitment to zero waste and guest education about the wildlife, flowers, fauna and trees, it can be an example for others to learn, share and change.

Green roof is a system that grows medium grasses and vegetation on the top of a building roof. The vegetation is planted in a layer of soil or growing medium as the top layer of the roof. The water membrane system is positioned between growing medium and roof deck to carry away access water and also have a filter system to make sure that the plants have a sufficient water supply during dryer day.

The roof at Umgawa has a thin substrate layer with low level planting, typically sedum or lawn, and is very lightweight in structure. These roofs require little or no additional structural support from the building. The main benefits of green roofs may be considered to fall into three main categories: Amenity and Aesthetic Benefits, Environmental Benefits, and Economic Benefits, although there is a great deal of crossover between categories. Amenity & Aesthetic Benefits visual aesthetic value, health and therapeutic value, and food production. Environmental Benefits include ecological and wildlife value, water management, air quality, sound absorption, and reducing the urban heat island effect. Economic Benefits include increased roof life, building insulation and energy efficiency, and green building assessment and public relations.

The phenomenon of global warming or climate change has led to many environmental issues including higher atmospheric temperatures, intensive precipitation, increase greenhouse gaseous emission and of course increase indoor discomfort condition. Some scientists believe that changes are part of natural variability while others point to human activity as the cause of increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and the key driver of climate change. As the Carbon dioxide (CO2) in atmosphere increases, the ability of earth surface to reradiate heat to the atmosphere is lessen. Carbon dioxide acts as a blanket over the surface and keeps the earth warmer than it would otherwise be. The warmer climate outside will also affect the indoor temperature of a building. When the outdoor air temperature increases, building experience indoor discomfort. Therefore, it is vital important to reduce the energy consumption in a building by reducing the usage of air conditioning system where the air conditioning systems release the carbon into the air which has been identified as the element that insulates planet and one of the major contributor in global warming.

Research has shown that buildings last longer, and over a lifetime can play a part in contributing to the destruction of the environment. Over its life cycle, a building uses many resources and is the source of much pollution emissions. This is because most of the heat 75% enters from the roof compared to 25% from wall. Besides that, the roof is exposed most for the longest period to solar radiation where heat radiated from the sun is absorbed by the roof surface and the ceiling absorbs the radiated heat.

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