23 December 2019

Andrés Bello Catholic University Builds Venezuela’s First University “Green Roof”

As part of its 66th anniversary celebration, Andrés Bello Catholic University recently inaugurated the first "green roof" of a Venezuelan university and the first of its kind that will be open to the public in the city of Caracas. The 330 square meter garden terrace, installed on the roof of the Graduate Studies building on campus, will help to lower the environmental temperature of the building, support energy savings and serve as an outdoor classroom to discuss and debate sustainable development and climate change.

The roof garden has grass, several species of ornamental plants and a weather station that will yield reliable data on temperature, wind speed and rain in the west side of the city. The “green roof” is not an isolated product, but part of a series of initiatives the university has been implementing for five years within the framework of its comprehensive Sustainable Development Policy and its Strategic Plan 2020. Due to its public nature, it also serves as an educational tool to teach students and members of the surrounding communities about the SDGs and the critical relevance of civil society to foster them.

According to the university's director of Environmental Sustainability, Joaquín Benítez, the main idea is to use practical ideas to mainstream sustainability measures into the fabric of the school. The Office of Environmental Sustainability seeks to promote a more sustainable university, contributing at the same time with the process of transformation towards a more environmentally responsible society while establishing itself as a national and international exemplar of incorporating eco-friendly activities aligned with the SDGs.

“This roof will be used as a sort of air conditioner for the building, something that will allow us to lower the temperatures in the classrooms up to six degrees and save electricity at the same time, in addition to serving as an open lab to study the phenomena associated with climate change and urban heat. This is a concrete example of how a college campus and the city can actually be made more sustainable,” Benítez added. Staff of the institution have been properly trained on the care and maintenance this area needs, and students are trained to provide guided tours to other students and the general public.

The university highlighted that the resources to build the new “green roof” came entirely from donations, pointing out not only the alignment of this initiative with the SDGs and the UNAI principle on sustainability, but also with the guidelines that have been adopted by the Association of Universities Entrusted to the Society of Jesus in Latin America and the principles contained in the Laudato si encyclical of Pope Francis focused “on care for our common home.”

This initiative connects with Goal 15: Life on Land and also Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, in particular its target 11.7 which calls for the provision of "universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces". The "green roof" built by Andrés Bello Catholic University is an example of how institutions of higher education collaborate with the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, within their local contexts and from their own perspectives.