Introduction – Our green roof story

Welcome to 38 Westbury Street. This Website was established to document the retrofitting of a green roof on our 1950’s apartment block in St Kilda East.

We hope it will provide useful information for anyone looking to take on a similar project and inspire an explosion of green roofs on established buildings. Hope you get as excited as I am about green roofs.

How the Green Roof began

I live in a 1950s apartment block in the inner city suburb of East St Kilda in Melbourne. One day my partner Bart, who is a sound recordist, came home from a film job and said he had just been on a Green Roof and thinks we should get one too. “No way!” was my initial response. But then I thought about it – I always wanted a garden and so I started to do some research and was blown away when I discovered the benefits of a green roof.

Get your Community involved

Our rooftop is one big blinding white reflective heat producing surface, exposed to all the elements. It is not conducive to social gatherings. We use it to hang up our washing. The prospect of changing this into something we can enjoy and something that will benefit the environment is too good to contemplate.

I couldn’t do this alone so I formed a Green Roof Committee with like-minded residents. We were lucky the people in our apartment block had so many skills to tap into. An Architect, Graphic Designer, Art Teacher, Internet Savvy Web Designer/Start up Guru, Psychologist, Sound Recordist and me, a Film Production Manager/Line Producer (looking for a new project while being a mamma). Collectively we could achieve a lot. As a group we decided to look for funding opportunities because we could not afford to pay for a green roof as we were already contributing money into a building maintenance fund. I never knew that “funding opportunities” existed. It did not take long to discover a State Government of Victoria initiative calling for submissions from community groups to improve the water cycle. We had nothing to lose and thought it would be good training to apply for our first grant.

The application was a huge task, like writing a thesis. We researched and talked to as many people as we could with the knowledge we needed. We attended workshops, read papers and gradually pieced together our first grant application. Months later we got the happy news that we were successful. We popped the champagne and thanked our lucky stars. Other people can do this too!

Work Required to Retrofit our Green Roof

 I discovered that not many Green Roofs are retrofitted onto an existing building. Most Green Roofs are designed and built into new buildings. There is huge potential for older style apartments with flat rooftops to retrofit. As our population increases and the density of inner city living increases, we lose green spaces. Our Street was once made up of big houses with big lush green back yards. Gradually the houses have disappeared to be replaced with apartments jammed to maximum land potential, leaving little or no garden remnant. There is nowhere for water to be absorbed into the land, no place for biodiversity or communal gathering. Green Roofs are a means to help rectify this problem.

We need to share all our experiences to help green our cities. If you would like to share your Green Roof story please let us know.


Add yours

  1. Hi Sonia, a fabulous story and very exciting project. ON YA!! 🙂 Rowena x

  2. Brilliant you guys! Well done- I look forward to watching your progress xx

  3. Wonderful project, I also agree with the need for innovative use of spaces and low food miles. I have just moved (renting) to Melbourne into an older style apartment from a double block in semi country SA, Willunga. Have always had a garden and trying to grow in the very limited soil available around my apartment. Will enjoy checking in with how your project Grows.
    All the best and well done 🙂

  4. Hi I was very impressed by the coverage that you received on Gardening Australia. I was wondering if I could see what you have done. Judy Shevlin

  5. So great! Congrats on becoming a finalist, hope you win 🙂

  6. congrats on the premiers award. well deserved. yay for you. Inspiring stuff

  7. I read your article on how you initially formed a working committee and went about developing a roof top garden.
    Looking forward to finally seeing the garden
    See you tomorrow Sonia
    Judy Shevlin

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