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GRO: Pushing on in 2021 and beyond

by Matt Downs

It’s been a busy 2021 for GRO with the launch of the updated GRO Code, new member sign-ups, and online and live events. Greenscape hears more from the team…

GRO has had an eventful and successful second year. As 2021 has seen the gradual unlocking following COVID restrictions we have kept up the pace with a lot of our ‘behind the scenes’ work on technical guidance and policy, while complementing our online promotion and networking for members with some of our first ‘in person’ events. Thanks to all our board, committees and members for your support and varied contributions, and we look forward to pushing on even further next year. 

Our first AGM in March established our healthy financial position, and having increased our membership to 55 members during the course of the year we have high hopes to expand further next year. Some of our new members have offered particularly unique ways for the green roof industry to develop and engage new audiences, for example Tales from Mother Earth, Hubbub and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew Gardens where we held a green roof engagement exhibition in May.

Above: GRO held a green roof engagement exhibition at Kew Gardens.

Much of our member promotion had to be online for the first part of the year, and huge thanks goes to David Mullholland for very thorough social media support. The launch of our third edition of the GRO Code of Best Practice coincided with World Green Roof Day in June, and provided a chance to demonstrate how our technical outputs can benefit members and provide online networking opportunities. 

Above: GRO at The Landscape Show.

In the second part of the year, we have also had Dusty Gedge doing a podcast and speaking at the RCI Show in Milton Keynes, and Tom Young and Maggie Fennell Wells presenting a seminar and trade stand at The Landscape Show at Birmingham NEC. The Futurescape Show at the Excel Centre in London provided a further chance to engage with prospective members from the landscape industry with our interactive display and full seminar programme offering more members a platform to speak and connect in person, organised by Chris Bridgman and Mark Harris. 

The NFRC Roofing Awards were also a great opportunity to meet up and celebrate the industry successes, and congratulations go to ABG working with Cawston Specialist Roofing for winning the green roof category for the Leeds Skelton Lake Motorway Services project. Further congratulations go to Bridgman & Bridgman Landscapes for success in the Prolandscaper Podium Awards. 

Alongside work on the GRO Code revisions our technical committee have been looking at several important areas of development. Our Technical committee Chair and vice Chair Keith Hills and Phil Singleton have set up working groups updating fire guidance, developing blue roof guidance with CIRIA, refining NBS guidance for Q37 clauses, and defining the hierarchy of risks and ‘design considerations’ that need to be understood throughout the supply chain. 

We invite members to participate and apply their technical expertise to promote the responsible growth of the industry by engaging with these groups, and are also looking to develop more guidance around modular systems with help from members. Please get in contact with Keith Hills (technical@greenrooforganisation.org) if you wish to be involved in any of these committees. Thanks also go to our Technical Secretary Jeff Sorrill, who alongside work with the technical committee plays an important role in helping us develop a robust membership application and approval process to maintain the integrity of GRO and our best practice guidelines while supporting members to improve their work. 

On the policy side we have positioned ourselves as the point of contact for the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) as they develop their green roof definitions for planning guidance. This is increasingly important as environmental and planning legislation develop, so that we can support local planning authorities in confidently promoting good quality green roofs in a way that will provide genuine benefit to their local communities. 

Dusty Gedge has also been involved with helping improve the Biodiversity Metric 3.0 green roof information for Biodiversity Net Gain calculations required by the newly passed Environment Bill, for example promoting the differentiation between wildflowers and sedums. This policy work will be one of GRO’s priority areas to develop next year. 

As GRO looks forward to 2022 and approaches the second AGM next year we have also been reviewing our application process, membership categories, membership benefits and information systems to ensure we have capacity to expand and continue to provide great benefits to our membership. We are excited about engaging more landscape architects, planners and policy makers next year, as well as developing our core membership categories. 

We plan to provide much more educational material online for members and non-members to help keep spreading the GRO message and technical advice. This will enable us to further increase both the quality and quantity of green roof installations over the coming years in a way that provides great contacts and opportunities for our members. 

www.greenrooforganisation.org

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