A biotope in the industrial area

Green roofs & facades in Oberhausen

Luftaufnahme eines Gründachs.

Turning grey into green: The GMVA waste incineration plant in Oberhausen is setting a good example for adapting to climate change in the region.

The vegetation on the roof and facade of the building absorbs rainwater, reducing the load on the sewer system and providing evaporative cooling, which the surrounding area benefits from in the summer.

  • Around 3,300 square metres of green space on the roofs and facades of the waste incineration plant
  • Buildings with roof gardens provide cooler and cleaner air ...
  • ... and greater biodiversity

Waste incineration plant boosts change towards a blue-green future

A patch of nature on grey industrial and office roofs

The facade of the faded cooling tower disappears behind lush green plant tendrils and the buzzing of numerous insect species can be heard on around 3,000 square metres of green roof space of surrounding buildings. At first glance, the site looks like a “lost place” that nature is reclaiming, but in reality it is anything but. The GMVA waste incineration plant in Oberhausen is actually one of the largest in Germany. Around 700,000 tonnes of waste are incinerated there every year.

The climate change adaptation measures in the form of extensive green roofs and facades, as well as a flower meadow with beehives, were initiated in 2020 by then Managing Director Dr Angela Sabac-el-Cher. She drove the project forward in close cooperation with the Klima.Werk and the city of Oberhausen.


of green roofs and facades


of the green roof cost was covered by the grant

Good for people and the environment

“A large green roof like the one created here isn't just aesthetically pleasing, it also contributes to the climate resilience of our city,” explains Maik Ballmann, city coordinator of the Klima.Werk in Oberhausen and head of the city's climate protection department. “Among other things, the green roofs ensure that heavy rainfall can be retained and does not have to be processed immediately by the overloaded sewer system. It also stores CO2 and binds fine particles”.

Mann und Frau auf einem Gründach der GMVA.
Maik Ballmann and Dr. Angela Sabac-el-Cher in conversation.

The measures also benefit employees, since the green roof doesn't heat up as much in the summer and the environment is noticeably cooler due to increased evaporation. It serves as natural air conditioning. These are benefits that many sites, particularly in the Ruhr area, could benefit from. Given the large number of sealed industrial and commercial sites, green infrastructure needs to be further developed to avoid the urban heat island effect - especially in the light of climate change, which will lead to more extreme weather events in the future.

The project in video: Dr. Angela Sabac-el-Cher and Maik Ballmann explain the green roofs and façades of the GMVA.

An overview of the project

  • First measure realised within the framework of the Ruhr Conference project “Climate-resilient region with international appeal”
  • Low-maintenance sedum plants that absorb rainwater, store CO2 and bind fine dust
  • Reducing the load on the sewer system during heavy rainfall and cooling the environment through evaporation on hot summer days
  • Subsidies from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Emschergenossenschaft amounting to €240,000

Green buildings - simple and environmentally friendly

The green roofs and facades of the GMVA are the first official project of the Ruhr Conference project “Climate-resilient region with international appeal”. The extensive green roof technology was funded with around €240,000 by the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of the Environment and the Emschergenossenschaft. But how sustainable and high-maintenance is such a biotope in the middle of an asphalted industrial landscape? “Caring for the sedum plants is surprisingly simple,” says Maik Ballmann: “Basically, all it takes is for someone to check up on them once or twice a year and remove the roots of self-seeded trees. Fat hen is a member of the sedum family and is extremely undemanding and easy to care for”.

Wild bees and employees alike have come to appreciate the benefits of the all-year green roof, and the city coordinator hopes that other cities will follow suit:

Zitat-Anfang The revegetation of the GMVA in Oberhausen has shown how well the interaction between the private and public sectors can work. Someone just has to take the first step. Zitat-Ende

Maik BallmannCity Coordinator of the Klima.Werk in Oberhausen


Buschhausener Straße 160
46049 Oberhausen

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Images: Klima.Werk/EGLV