More than half of the world’s population is concentrated in cities and this concentration becomes a threat. Accelerated urban development generates a series of problems, not only social and economic, but also environmental, especially visible in the cities of developing countries, which generally lack adequate infrastructure to mitigate the effects of disorderly urban expansion. In addition, like large North American or European cities, they also face air pollution, heat island effect and/or insufficient sewer capacity during heavy rains.
A response to these problems has been provided by science and new technologies; from relatively simple solutions such as increasing the coverage of green areas, to relatively new sustainable technologies such as solar energy, building materials that reflect the sun’s rays, rainwater reuse and techniques used for water and energy storage. Among these recent ESTs are green roofs that were born in response to the difficulty of expanding vegetation areas in urban centres. Green roofs, also known as green roofs, green roofs, nature systems and green roofs, are a new way of incorporating plant mass into urban life, in those spaces that have been undervalued as the envelopes of buildings.
In recent years, the use of roofs to grow plants has increased, not only for aesthetic reasons, but also to improve the environmental quality of the environment. Plants can reduce heat by reflecting solar radiation and generating shade. They can also reduce heat through the transpiration process, which reduces the temperature inside and outside the building (Fujii et al., 2005). Finally, plants can improve air quality by removing pollutants and trapping particles in leaves (Nowak, Crane and Stevens, 2006). In this way, green roofs are increasingly recognized as a modern and environmentally friendly technology for dealing with climate change and the most common environmental problems in the urban environment.
However, despite the great potential that green roofs offer to cities, the risk of these systems not fulfilling their function may be high. Therefore, the question of the feasibility of installing a green roof system is a critical factor, as the cost is high and the technology demonstrates high sensitivity to climate. In addition, cultural and legal factors also depend on local conditions. In other words, the feasibility of implementing green roofs varies from one roof to another and also from one city to another. This article therefore seeks to introduce the subject of green roofs, and to show the advantages and limitations for their adoption in the northern part of the Colombian Caribbean.
The study area is located in El Rodadero in the Tourist, Cultural and Historical District of Santa Marta. The sample focuses on the hotel sector, considered the most suitable for the implementation of sustainable technologies, mainly due to the following factors:
– Many accommodations are part of large hotel chains that generate high income, which allows a large investment in the long term;
– It is more feasible to implement green roofs in the hotel sector, since the vast majority of buildings have only one owner;
– Green roofs become green gardens and can be used as viewpoints, substantially increasing the tourist attractiveness of the hotel; and
– There is a trend in the hotel sector towards socio-environmental responsibility that increases the attractiveness of the hotel and is an important factor for tourists. There is no doubt that the commercial sector has most of these characteristics, demonstrating a high potential for the implementation of green roofs. However, the area per unit of hotel roofs is much larger than that of commercial buildings in El Rodadero. The study therefore focuses on the hotel sector.