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Scholar Hopes to Cool City By Covering Roofs With Greenery

學者提倡使用綠屋頂讓城市降溫

Photo: VOA - B. Matta Hong Kong professor Jim Chi Yung's experimental rooftop garden.

As Hong Kong struggles to build an environmentally friendly city, one professor is studying ways to help cut carbon emissions and lower electricity usage by covering the city's rooftops with plants.

香港正努力發展成對環境友善的城市,一名教授研究屋頂綠化來減少碳排放量與減少用電量的做法。


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 英語宅急便   

As Hong Kong struggles to build an environmentally friendly city, one professor is studying ways to help cut carbon emissions and lower electricity usage by covering the city's rooftops with plants.

Jim Chi Yung, a geography professor at the University of Hong Kong, set up his first green roof in 2006 on top of one of the buildings at the university. He wanted to research how plants and grass covering a roof affect heating and cooling.

Variety of plants

The roof was divided into four parcels: one is bare concrete, and three others are covered with different plants. The first is grass, the second, a perennial that produces yellow flowers and the third, a shrub.

"So far I have been able to figure out quite a significant difference between the three vegetation type in terms of ecological and environmental benefits," Jim said.

Using infrared sensors between the plant layer and the roof, Jim found that the planted areas lowered the roof's surface temperature by as much as 26 degrees Celsius.

Bare roofs can reach temperatures as high as 50 degrees on a hot summer day because of all the solar radiation they take in, while planted surfaces stay closer to air temperature. In the winter, Jim found, the planted area helps the roof below stay warmer.

For building owners this means the top floors of a building remain cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter so less money is spent on heating and cooling.

More research

The professor's study is expanding. He has covered the university's library roof with plants, and he is researching what plants can best endure the intense sunlight in Hong Kong, and can grow in a thin layer of soil.

His plan is to develop a lightweight green roof for the city's old neighborhoods. The older buildings in those areas cannot handle a lot of extra weight on their roofs.

Construction and energy experts say many cities in warm climates, such as Hong Kong, never included insulation and other conservation measures to reduce electricity use.

Green plan

John Herbert is an energy scientist and director of Kelcroft, an environmental consulting company in Hong Kong. He says rapidly developing countries such as China and India can reduce their energy use significantly by avoiding mistakes made in other countries.

"India and developing countries in general should really, instead of just plowing ahead, they should really look at the mistakes the West has made in the building sector and not repeat them," Herbert said. "And it's easy not to repeat them because the evidence is here all around us."

The green roofing industry is well established in Europe, Germany in particular, and in Asian countries such as Singapore and Japan. North America is also catching on.

Studies throughout the world show similar results to Professor Jim's. While the temperature reductions vary, all indicate that plants act as added insulation, reducing a building's energy demand. Studies show that can mean savings of 25 percent in cooling costs.

Pros and cons

Roof gardens also can reduce storm water run-off and help combat the urban heat island effect. That is caused by heat bouncing off concrete and steel, running engines and machinery and pollution. City temperatures can be up to three degrees higher than in rural areas.

Despite the benefits of green roofs demand in Hong Kong remains relatively low.  

People fear that loading roofs with plants will lead to leaks, cracks, mosquitoes and other pests. They also fear the construction cost and maintenance fees.

So far, the push to create green roofs in Hong Kong is a voluntary, non-profit effort that gets little attention.

Will others follow?

Jim says the government needs to do more.

"What I describe as psychological barriers which could be easily overcome by providing people with the right kind of information and knowledge," Jim said. "We should tell the world a compact city can be built in an environmentally friendly as well as sustainable manner."

Jim hopes that the green roof effort in Hong Kong eventually will follow in Singapore's footsteps - with roof gardens producing fresh vegetables and fruit.

 


Language Notes

emission (n) 排放物;散發物

parcel (n) 一小塊地;小包裹

concrete (n)混凝土

perennial (n) 多年生植物

shrub (n) 灌木叢

radiation (n) 輻射

香港大學的地理教授研究使用屋頂花園來減少碳排放 (carbon emissions)的方法。他把屋頂分成四個區塊 (four parcels),無覆蓋的水泥表面 (bare concrete)跟其它三種由不同植物覆蓋的屋頂表面,有單純的草皮 (grass)、多年生的開花植物 (a perennial that produces yellow flowers),還有灌木叢(shrub)。目前的研究發現,無遮蓋的屋頂會吸收太陽輻射熱 (solar radiation),夏日可達到五十度的高溫,而被植物覆蓋的地方,維持跟氣溫一樣 (air temperature)。結論是,植物覆蓋的屋頂有「冬暖夏涼」的作用,可以減少空調上的花費 (less money is spent on heating and cooling)。

expand (v) 擴大,增加

endure (v) 忍耐,忍受

handle (v) 處理,控制

這個教授的計畫還在擴大研究階段 (expand),希望能找到適應香港氣候的植物,可耐強烈日曬而又只需淺層土壤就可以生長的植物 (he is researching what plants can best endure the intense sunlight in Hong Kong, and can grow in a thin layer of soil)。由於舊式建築物的屋頂無法承受 (handle) 過多的載重,所以教授也計畫發展出一個「輕量型」的綠化屋頂方案 (lightweight green roof)。

plow ahead (v phr)自顧自地進行,一股腦去做某事 *plow是美式拼法,plough為英式拼法

sector (n) (尤指一國經濟的)部門,領域,行業

insulation (n) 隔熱;絕緣

學者呼籲積極開發中的國家,應該要以西方國家的營建產業 (building sector)為前車之鑑,從他們的錯誤中學習,而不是自顧自的發展 (plow head)。許多國家都進行有綠化屋頂的計畫,報導中指出,綠化屋頂的產業 (green roofing industry)在歐洲已有良好的發展基礎 (well established),其中又以德國做的最好。很多研究都顯示,雖然不同的植物降溫的效果有異,但都可以達到一定的隔熱效果 (insulation),減少建築物能量上的需求 (reducing a building's energy demand),甚至可以減少建築物在空調上百分之二十五的花費 (savings of 25 percent in cooling costs)。

pros and cons ( n phr) 利與弊

heat island effect (n phr) 熱島效應

maintenance (n) 維修 *要注意本字發音,重音在第一音節

voluntary (a) 自願性的,自發性的

綠化屋頂跟屋頂花園有好處也有壞處 (pros and cons)。好處是可以減少風雨時的地表逕流和積水 (storm water run-off),也可以對抗 (combat)大城市因散熱不易所產生的熱島效應 (heat island effect)。綠化屋頂可能有的壞處則是屋頂漏水,屋頂裂縫與滋生蚊蟲 (leaks, cracks, mosquitoes and other pests),還有建構時的費用與日常維修支出 (the construction cost and maintenance fees)。在香港,綠化屋頂現在還只是民眾在沒有獎金鼓勵的情況下,自發性的行為 (voluntary and non-profit effort),所以還沒有得到廣大的注意。

barrier (n) 障礙,屏障

sustainable (a) (對自然資源和能源的利用)不破壞生態平衡的,合理利用的

follow in someone’s footsteps跟上某人腳步,仿效某人

推動綠化屋頂的研究員表示,民眾對於綠化屋頂的憂慮都只是心理障礙而已 (psychological barriers),只要提供正確的資訊與知識 (providing people with the right kind of information and knowledge),就可以去除疑慮。他並期望香港可以跟上新加坡的腳步 (follow in Singapore's footsteps),在屋頂花園種植蔬果。

 

Source:http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/asia/Hong-Kong-Professor-Hopes-to-Cool-City-By-Covering-Roofs-With-Greenery-100423444.html

 
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