The West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority’s new regional Headquarters and ‘Safe-side Centre’ is located close to the centre of Birmingham and is built on approximately 1.75 hectares of a former Co-operative Dairy site. The Centre houses 7,100m2 of office space a dedicated educational safety centre that includes a replica life size town known as ‘Safe-side’, fully equipped with everyday ‘hazards’.

Moore Environment was commissioned to design a biodiversity roof for the new centre. By incorporating this sustainable construction practice, the development met one of its key objectives, the achievement of an ‘Excellent’ BREEAM rating.

The brief for the biodiversity roof combined two objectives: firstly, to design an interesting outdoor educational space for visitors and staff, and secondly to enhance local biodiversity. These objectives were achieved simultaneously by creating a visually interesting scene of sinuous inert textures and native plants, replicating typical brownfield land on the roof. Brownfield land often provides a rich and varied habitat for invertebrates, insects and birds, such as the black redstart, a rare robin-sized bird that has adapted to living at the heart of industrial and urban centres, where the terrain of typical brownfield sites, with brick and concrete debris, resemble its natural mountainous habitat. The roof was also designed to meet long term management objectives.

It is intended that a sustained community interest in the roof will continue to be developed via links with local schools and conservation trusts. Moore Environment was instrumental in creating some of these partnerships and continues to take an active interest. Completion of the biodiversity roof demonstrates how a comparatively small site can successfully contribute to environmental enhancement within an urban area.

The photo shows the roof 18 months after seeding. Log piles and small mounds improve micro-climate and add minor habitat variations for invertebrate and insects. It is intended the more open, rocky areas will attract the black redstart.

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