Joerg develops light weight green roof substrates that provide sufficient water and nutrients for a diverse vegetation on roofs in hot and dry climates.
Making green roofs lighter but able to support a diverse range of vegetation with water and nutrients is key to promoting widespread uptake of green roofs in Australia.
Green roofs can make our cities more liveable by bringing nature back into our concrete jungles. Even though they are proven to provide multiple ecosystem services, they are not as common in Australia as in other parts of the world.
Some of the main obstacles are the challenging climatic conditions for plant growth on Australian roofs due to high summer temperatures combined with limited rainfall and the high costs for reinforced roof structures to support the weight of green roofs.
Joerg’s research focuses on making green roof systems lighter but at the same time being able support a wide range of plant species by increasing water and nutrient retention in green roof substrates with biochars.
Biochars are types of charcoal that are specifically designed to improve substrate properties. However, biochars are highly variable depending on (i) the source material they are made from and (ii) the conditions under which they are produced.
By target-engineering biochars for green roof substrates we can not only reduce green roof substrate weight and increase water and nutrient retention, but also use locally available materials.
Prior to starting his PhD, Joerg worked as a technician/research assistant for the green infrastructure research group since 2013. Before coming to Australia, he was a R&D engineer in Germany for green roof systems and vertical gardens since 2007.
During this time, he spent two years as a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield/UK, investigating the hydrological behaviour of green roof systems. Before Joerg’s research career he trained and worked as a landscape architect and gardener in Germany.
Green roofs, green infrastructure, biochar, substrates, technical research equipment