Cities are currently undergoing a construction wave, which often involves densification and the consequent loss of green spaces. To ensure sustainable and resilient urban environments, it’s essential to integrate nature into the city using innovative approaches.

One such solution involves utilizing large empty roof surfaces to create solar green roofs. Solar green roofs are roofs that contain both solar panels and vegetation.

By combining renewable technology and nature-based solutions, we can achieve interesting synergies that lead to more sustainable cities. When green roofs and solar panels are integrated on the same surface, the system can generate climate-smart electrical energy while providing essential ecosystem services. These ecosystem services include promoting biodiversity, managing stormwater, and mitigating the urban heat island effect.

A holistic design approach also ensures that these roofscapes offer experiential value and contribute to the city’s aesthetics and recreational opportunities.

Solar green roofs have become increasingly popular in Scandinavia. A notable example is the BaseCamp student dormitory in the northern suburbs of Copenhagen, Denmark. The dormitory, which serves students at the nearby Technical University of Denmark, offers vegetation, solar power generation, and recreation activities all on the same roof.

However, some challenges must be addressed when combining solar panels with green roofs. Proper roof vegetation maintenance is essential to prevent shading of solar panels and potential damage by tall or woody plants. Thicker water-holding substrates can support more diverse plant species, promoting biodiversity.

Additionally, solar panels installed at a distance above vegetation can lead to lower panel temperatures, thereby increasing energy production efficiency.

To maximize the benefits of combining solar panels and green roofs, it’s crucial to consider the interaction between the roof covering material and the electrical system. Proper fire safety measures need to be in place to reduce the likelihood of ignition and the consequences of electrical faults.

By embracing solar green roofs, we can create sustainable and climate-resilient cities that prioritize both nature and technology.

Image source: Paul Wilshaw,