Urban land cover is dominated by impervious surface that degrades both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems relative to predevelopment conditions. There are significant opportunities for designers of urban landscapes to use alternative land covers that have multiple functions, benefiting both human and nonhuman components of the urban ecosystem. Vegetated (green) roofs are one form of alternative land cover that has shown the potential to provide a variety of ecological benefits in urban areas. We evaluated how stormwater retention, building energy and temperature, and rooftop habitat are influenced by the use of green roofs using test plots in Georgia and Massachusetts. Green roofs were shown to recreate part of the predevelopment hydrology through increasing interception, stormwater storage, evaporation and transpiration on the rooftop and worked extremely well for small storm events. Temperature reductions were found on the green rooftop as compared to an asphalt surface, although other roof technologies that minimize temperatures, such as lighter colored membranes, provide similar benefits. Novel habitat was created on the rooftop, although the extent of this habitat was limited in part by plant survivability and the need for additional water inputs for diverse plant communities to survive. Despite the challenges, the green roof benefits reported here suggest that green roofs can be used effectively as a multifunctional land cover in urban areas.
Carter, Tim and Butler, Colleen
"Ecological Impacts of Replacing Traditional Roofs with Green Roofs in Two Urban Areas,"
Cities and the Environment (CATE):
2, Article 9.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.lmu.edu/cate/vol1/iss2/9