Stormwater Attenuation by Green Roofs

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Andrew Sims1, Denis M O'Carroll2, Clare E Robinson2 and Chris C Smart2, (1)University of Western Ontario, Civil and Environmental Engineering, London, ON, Canada, (2)University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada
Innovative municipal stormwater management technologies are urgently required in urban centers. Inadequate stormwater management can lead to excessive flooding, channel erosion, decreased stream baseflows, and degraded water quality. A major source of urban stormwater is unused roof space. Green roofs can be used as a stormwater management tool to reduce roof generated stormwater and generally improve the quality of runoff. With recent legislation in some North American cities, including Toronto, requiring the installation of green roofs on large buildings, research on the effectiveness of green roofs for stormwater management is important. This study aims to assess the hydrologic response of an extensive sedum green roof in London, Ontario, with emphasis on the response to large precipitation events that stress municipal stormwater infrastructure. A green roof rapidly reaches field capacity during large storm events and can show significantly different behavior before and after field capacity. At field capacity a green roof has no capillary storage left for retention of stormwater, but may still be an effective tool to attenuate peak runoff rates by transport through the green roof substrate. The attenuation of green roofs after field capacity is linked to gravity storage, where gravity storage is the water that is temporarily stored and can drain freely over time after field capacity has been established. Stormwater attenuation of a modular experimental green roof is determined from water balance calculations at 1-minute intervals. Data is used to evaluate green roof attenuation and the impact of field capacity on peak flow rates and gravity storage. In addition, a numerical model is used to simulate event based stormwater attenuation. This model is based off of the Richards equation and supporting theory of multiphase flow through porous media.