Empoderando a las mujeres contra la pobreza energética en el Mediterráneo

Un proyecto internacional liderado por el ICTA-UAB, Enginyeria sense Fronteres Catalunya y el Institut de Recerca en Energia de Catalunya (IREC) contribuye a abordar los problemas de suministro energético en 1.500 hogares del Área Metropolitana de Barcelona.

Global fisheries could alleviate a global food emergency in extreme situations

A new international study argues that, if managed sustainably in advance, global fisheries could alleviate food shortages even after a nuclear war.

Tackling shocking decline in nature needs a ‘safety net’ of multiple and ambitious goals

Researchers from the BC3, ICTA-UAB and the University of La Laguna evaluate the criteria of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Restoring 30% of the World’s Ecosystems in Priority Areas Could Stave Off More than 70% of Projected Extinctions

A new report in Nature involving ICTA-UAB demonstrates that this measure would allow the absorption of nearly half of the carbon built up in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution.

Diet of pre-Columbian Societies in the Brazilian Amazon Reconstructed

A new study shows that hunting and agroforestry management, and not fishing, were the foundations of subsistence economy for pre-Columbian societies in the Amazon coast of Brazil.

Wildlife conservation undermines the rights of indigenous people and local communities in India

A new EJAtlas map launched by the ICTA-UAB denounces that the current model puts growth and gains before human lives and the nature it is intended to protect.

Ocean Warming and Acidification Effects on Calcareous Phytoplankton Communities

A new study led by researchers from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) warns that the negative effects of rapid ocean warming on planktonic communities will be exacerbated by ocean acidification.

ICTA-UAB economist Joan Martínez Alier wins the Balzan Prize for Environmental Challenges

Economist Joan Martínez Alier from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology  of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) is one of the winners of the 2020 Balzan Prize in the category of "Environmental Challenges: Responses from the Social Sciences and Humanities".

Indigenous People Essential to Understanding Environmental Change

An international research involving ICTA-UAB scientists shows how local and indigenous knowledge can help manage ecosystems and wildlife.

New publication in the MAGIC project takes a critical look at circular economy

With the world’s attention focussed on COVID-19, issues that were in the forefront of public concern just a few months ago seem to have magically disappeared.

Economic Benefits of Protecting 30% of Planet’s Land and Ocean Outweigh the Costs at Least 5-to-1

First-of-its-kind report involving ICTA-UAB researcher shows the global economy is better off with more nature protected.

ICTA-UAB awarded the "María de Maeztu” Unit of Excellence Award for the second consecutive time

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has been accredited a Maria de Maeztu Unit of Excellence Award for the second consecutive time by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.

Proyecto experimental de agricultura urbana, local y tradicional en Sabadell

El ICTA-UAB y el Ayuntamiento de Sabadell constituyen la comunidad FoodE, que reúne a todos los actores implicados en el sistema de producción alimentaria de la ciudad y en esta iniciativa.

What do we breathe when in the forest?

For the first time, a study characterizes the forest chemistry of the air under the canopy of a Mediterranean holm oak forest and detects maximum concentrations in July and August.

Catalonia's Scientific Contributions to Fighting Covid-19

Sixty ICREA researchers, including Isabelle Anguelovski of the ICTA-UAB, lead more than a hundred research activities on Covid-19.

Academia in the Time of COVID-19: Towards an Ethics of Care


Computer Platform Gives Visibility to Catalonia's Small Villages

A research team from the UAB, in collaboration with the Association of Microvillages of Catalonia, has created a Geographic Information System (GIS) for Active and Sustainable Hamlets (GISASH), which gathers information on the state of and services offered by the more than 330 municipalities in Catalonia with fewer than 500 inhabitants.

Environmental justice defenders victims of violence and murder

Grassroots movements halt environmental degradation in up to 27% of environmental conflicts worldwide, according to a study by the ICTA-UAB.

Technological changes and new low-carbon lifestyles, key to mitigating climate change impacts

In order to mitigate climate change impacts and achieve a more sustainable society, it is necessary to transform the current energy system based on fossil fuels into a model based on renewable energies.

Exploring climate change impacts through popular proverbs

Members of an irrigation community doing maintenance work in an acequia de careo (irrigation canal built at the top of the mountain) to improve the circulation of water for irrigation and human consumption.

Neolithic vessels reveal dairy consumption in Europe 7,000 years ago

Pottery from the site located in Verson (Francia) analysed during the research (Picture by Annabelle Cocollos, Conseil départemental du Calvados ou CD14 publicada en Germain-Vallée et al.

Economic growth is incompatible with biodiversity conservation

A study involving more than 20 specialists in conservation ecology and ecological economics highlights the contradiction between economic growth and biodiversity conservation.

Power struggles hinder urban adaptation policies to climate change

Transformative actions implemented by cities to address and mitigate the impacts of climate change may be hindered by political struggles for municipal power.

Analysis of tropical fire soot deposited in the ocean will help predict future global climate changes

The ICTA-UAB begins a scientific expedition in the Atlantic Ocean to collect dust and smoke samples from the fires of tropical Africa deposited in marine sediments.

Red coral effectively recovers in Mediterranean protected areas after decades of overexploitation

Protection measures of the Marine Protected Areas have enable red coral colonies (Corallium rubrum) to recover partially in the Mediterranean Sea, reaching health levels similar to those of the 1980s in Catalonia and of the 1960s in the Ligurian Sea (Northwestern Italy).

Sub-national “climate clubs” could offer key to combating climate change

‘Climate clubs’ offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally-harmonised climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.
The selection of techniques and crops can determine the environmental impact and economic cost of rooftop gardens

Date: 2016-02-22

Researchers from the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology (ICTA) of UAB, in collaboration with the Department of Agricultural Sciences of the University of Bologna, evaluated the environmental impacts and economic costs of community rooftop gardens from a quantitative perspective. The results contribute new data and knowledge about the contribution of urban gardens to sustainability in the framework of urban design and planning. The study identifies the best techniques, crops and practices in eco-efficiency terms, that is, with a lower environmental impact and economic cost.

Urban agriculture is growing in extension and popularity in cities of developed countries, like New York or Berlin. In the last years, the roofs of buildings have been colonized as food production spaces, particularly in highly dense cities (for example, Singapore). The roofs of buildings are usually unused spaces that make it possible to considerably increase the productive area of cities without competing with urban development. Mainly socially-oriented, rooftop gardens are a typology of urban rooftop agriculture that seeks to improve the quality of life and urban social injustices through food production and cooperative garden work. Since urban agriculture is a key element in the design of sustainable cities, it is important to evaluate the environmental and economic profile of these rooftop gardens in order to define strategies and recommendations for implementing eco-efficient gardens which contribute to urban sustainability.
This study assesses the environmental impact and economic cost of food production in an on-going community rooftop garden. Particularly, the study focuses on the comparison of different cultivation techniques and diverse crops. For the production of leafy vegetables (lettuce), organic soil production, floating hydroponics and nutrient film technique are compared. In the case of fruit vegetables, organic soil production results are compared for five crops: eggplant, tomato, pepper, melon and watermelon. The analysis is based on experimental data from the community rooftop garden of Via Gandusio (Bologna, Italy). This community garden was implemented through a cooperative project between the City Council of Bologna, the environmental association BiodiverCity and the University of Bologna.
Community rooftop gardens have a lower environmental impact and economic cost than other typologies of rooftop agriculture, such as rooftop greenhouses. In this sense, rooftop gardens seem to be a key strategy to increment local food production in cities, with a low environmental impact and economic cost. However, the selection of techniques and crop determines the environmental impact and economic cost of rooftop gardens. Results showed that organic soil production of eggplant and tomato had the lowest environmental impact due to the high yield of these crops (kg per m2). Nevertheless, floating hydroponic production of lettuce is the technique with the lowest water consumption. For the production of leafy vegetables, like lettuce, floating hydroponic and organic soil production are the most eco-efficient techniques, while the nutrient film technique had the worst environmental and economic profiles.
Secondly, results highlighted best practices related to the design and the management of community rooftop gardens – practices that contributed to a low environmental impact and economic cost. The users employed their own domestic biowastes and the garden greenwastes for producing compost, reducing the consumption of chemical fertilizers and avoiding the final biowaste management. Furthermore, production was pesticides-free. Likewise, the garden design incorporated re-used elements, like pallets or old pipes, minimizing the environmental impact and economic costs associated with the cultivation infrastructure. These practices would therefore be recommended for the design of rooftop gardens with a low environmental impact and economic cost.

Esther Sanyé-Mengual
Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology (ICTA


Sanyé-Mengual, E.; Orsini, F.; Oliver-Solà, J.; Rieradevall, J.; Montero, J. I.; Gianquinto, G. Techniques and crops for efficient rooftop gardens in Bologna, ItalyAgronomy for Sustainable Development. 2015, vol. 35, p. 1477–1488. doi: 10.1007/s13593-015-0331-0.

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