Storm Water Retention on Three Green Roofs with Distinct Climates

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Patrick A Breach, Andrew Sims, Denis M O'Carroll, Clare E Robinson, Chris C Smart and Brandon S C Powers, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada
As urbanization continues to increase the impact of cities on their surrounding environments, the feasibility of implementing low-impact development such as green roofs is of increasing interest. Green roofs retain and attenuate storm water thereby reducing the load on urban sewer systems. In addition, green roofs can provide insulation and lower roof surface temperature leading to a decrease in building energy load. Green roof technology in North American urban environments remains underused, in part due to a lack of climate appropriate green roof design guidelines. The capacity of a green roof to moderate runoff depends on the storage capacity of the growing medium at the start of a rainfall event. Storage capacity is finite, which makes rapid drainage and evapotranspiration loss critical for maximizing storage capacity between subsequent storms. Here the retention and attenuation of storm events are quantified for experimental green roof sites located in three representative Canadian climates corresponding to; semiarid conditions in Calgary, Alberta, moderate conditions in London, Ontario, and cool and humid conditions in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The storage recovery and storm water retention at each site is modelled using a modified water balance approach. Components of the water balance including evapotranspiration are predicted using climate data collected from 2012 to 2014 at each of the experimental sites. During the measurement period there were over 300 precipitation events ranging from small, frequent events (< 2 mm) to a storm with a 250 year return period. The modeling approach adopted provides a tool for planners to assess the feasibility of implementing green roofs in their respective climates.