Maintenance planning

A maintenance plan should include a clear description of:

  • maintenance objectives – created based on the design intent, or the landscaping or environmental objectives that were the basis for the roof, wall or facade development
  • performance targets, such as the time frame for complete coverage of an area by plants and foliage
  • responsibilities of various personnel involved in operating the building, outlining the type, scope, duration of task and occurrence
  • training requirements (such as Working at Heights certification) and safety equipment
  • resources available.

Maintenance planning should also incorporate risk management, with the aim of reducing or eliminating the likelihood of failure that could result in property damage or personal injury.


IMG_6216For large projects, maintenance planning is often based on ‘asset management planning’ where the whole life of the asset is considered, including design, construction, establishment, operation, maintenance, renewal and demolition/replacement.


For some green roofs, walls or facades, particularly those located on commercial premises, maintenance will be undertaken by someone other than the building owner. A maintenance agreement with the installation company or with a recommended third party may be the most economical way to ensure the best long-term performance of a green roof, wall or facade. If a maintenance contract is used, it is important to be clear about the duration of the maintenance agreement, the scope of maintenance responsibility, and the need for handover at changeover to either new contractors or back to the building owner.


A supervisor may be designated to oversee the overall and ongoing management of maintenance activities, and can provide direction to maintenance staff and assess that work has been carried out satisfactorily. The supervisor’s role will involve:

  • scheduling of maintenance: flexibility may be needed, as, for instance, additional visits may be necessary to repair damage following extreme weather events
  • signing maintenance contractors in and out at the start and end of a visit, offering a toolbox talk at the commencement of a visit, and providing keys and providing any specialist equipment that is required
  • occupational health and safety: ensuring contractors have appropriate certification; scheduling mandatory annual checks (and repair or replacement if necessary of safety anchor points); ensuring conditions are safe for maintenance staff to perform their work; providing safety signage or other barriers to restrict access during maintenance; and ensuring that staff understand the process for reporting actual or potential hazards
  • informing other contractors who work on the building about the roof, wall or facade, so that they do not inadvertently damage the asset (for example, water service contractors turning off water for a prolonged period).


Access for maintenance

Roofs that are not generally accessible to the building owner or tenants may need to be accessed by ladder, using ropes and harnesses or other ‘fall arrest’ systems to work safely. For small wall and facade installations, within a few metres of the ground, a mobile work platform at ground level is probably the most efficient solution for access. However, ropes and roof-mounted attachments may be required for larger areas or higher buildings. Green walls and facades extending more than 10 metres above ground level will usually be maintained from a roof-mounted work platform. A hybrid living wall system developed in Adelaide addressed maintenance access with an inbuilt platform at each floor level that allowed safe access for maintenance of the vegetation and for other services such as window cleaning.