Regulation of use of roof gardens in city eyed

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BAGUIO CITY  – The City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance regulating the use of roof gardens of buildings in the city.

The ordinance authored by Councilor Leandro B. Yangot, Jr. stated roof gardens of buildings, if and when used as refreshment parlor, bar, night club, restaurant, floor or stage show or other public use and if and when parties and social gatherings are to be held shall conform with the requirements prescribed in the said measure.

Among the proposed guidelines that must be complied by the building owners include the fact that it shall be provided with sufficient fire escapes or stairs; outer wall shall be of reinforced concrete hallow blocks 5 feet high with 1 foot inch wire mesh, 3 feet high over such walls. If the side of the building is fronting a street or open court, the width of which is not less than 10 meters, the height of the reinforced concrete or concrete hallow block wall may be reduced to a minimum of 4 feet without the necessarily providing the wire mesh over the said wall.   Further, roof gardens of buildings not in conformity with the prescribed requirements shall not be allowed, in any case, to be used as refreshment parlor, bar, night club, restaurant, floor or stage show or other public use, and the City Mayor shall order the immediate closure of such establishment unless the said requirements are complied with.

Under the proposed ordinance, the owner of the building or any person who shall violate any provision shall be fined not less than P1,000 but not more than P5,000 or by imprisonment of not less than 30 days but not more than 6 months or both fine and imprisonment upon the discretion of the court.

The ordinance added evaluation of the regulation and long-term impact of the use of urban roofs shall be done by the City Buildings and Architecture Office (CBAO) and other representatives from the local government.

Yangot argued the urban heat island effect is the difference in temperature between a city and a rural area that surrounds it and dark surfaces absorb and radiate heat, raising temperature as much as 6 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit and the result is more than uncomfortable.

He explained it has consequences for the health of the people, and the environment and the key to reducing the urban heat island effect is to reduce the total area of dark, heat-absorbing surfaces such as rooftops and pavements.

According to him, the use of vegetation on a roof is an excellent option considering that plants reflect heat, provide shed and help cool the surrounding air through evapotranspiration.

Yangot claimed a rooftop garden cuts the energy use within the building, especially for cooling and in addition, plants actually filter the air.

Moreover, he noted plants improve air quality by using excess carbon dioxide to produce oxygen and a rooftop garden can add usable leisure spaces to a property that is attractive to people as well as to wildlife such as butterflies and birds.

He explained utilizing rooftops for other purposes aside from gardens will definitely compromise the contribution of the plants in improving the quality of air in the city and will result to more problems.

By Dexter A. See

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