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New pond and path at Ruchill Park, Glasgow. ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or

Greening the built environment

Including ‘green infrastructure’ in the design of urban areas can help to counter the effects of climate change.

We help others to promote ‘green infrastructure’ as part of urban design. We do this by supporting efforts in this area by the Scottish Green Infrastructure Forum (SGIF) and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

Green roofs

A green roof is in essence the growing of plants on our rooftops. People have grown green roofs across the world for centuries.

Benefits of green roofs include:

  • insulation – buildings stay cooler in summer and warmer in winter
  • run-off attenuation – helping to mitigate flooding
  • water quality treatment – via passive processes
  • better air quality – due to carbon dioxide (CO2) uptake and protection from ozone depletion
  • habitat provision – helping to conserve biodiversity
  • greater lifespan of the roof surface – by around 30 to 70 years
  • recreational amenity – if roof access is provided
  • waste minimisation – if waste brick is used for the roof substrate
  • health benefits – due to the recreational amenity, improved air quality and reduced ‘urban heat island’ effects

Find out more about green roofs and other urban green infrastructure on the SGIF website. SGIF aims to promote the use and benefits of green infrastructure to support sustainable development in Scotland.

Sustainable urban drainage systems

These are facilities that manage surface water in a sustainable manner to help reduce the risk of flooding.

Sustainable urban drainage systems – or SUDS:

  • aim to manage water flow and water quality as well as amenity value, e.g. biodiversity
  • can operate at a number of different scales
  • may comprise ponds, detention basins, swales, filter drains, infiltration trenches and porous paving

Find out more about sustainable urban drainage systems on the SEPA website. SEPA is the statutory agency responsible for Scotland’s water environment.

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