Green roof hydrologic performance and modeling: a review

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Green roofs reduce runoff from impervious surfaces in urban development. This paper reviews the technical literature on green roof hydrology. Laboratory experiments and field measurements have shown that green roofs can reduce stormwater runoff volume by 30 to 86%, reduce peak flow rate by 22 to 93% and delay the peak flow by 0 to 30 min and thereby decrease pollution, flooding and erosion during precipitation events. However, the effectiveness can vary substantially due to design characteristics making performance predictions difficult. Evaluation of the most recently published study findings indicates that the major factors affecting green roof hydrology are precipitation volume, precipitation dynamics, antecedent conditions, growth medium, plant species, and roof slope. This paper also evaluates the computer models commonly used to simulate hydrologic processes for green roofs, including stormwater management model, soil water atmosphere and plant, SWMS-2D, HYDRUS, and other models that are shown to be effective for predicting precipitation response and economic benefits. The review findings indicate that green roofs are effective for reduction of runoff volume and peak flow, and delay of peak flow, however, no tool or model is available to predict expected performance for any given anticipated system based on design parameters that directly affect green roof hydrology.

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