Effects of substrate properties on the hydraulic and thermal behavior of a green roof

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Victoria Paz Sandoval1,2, Francisco I Suarez1,2, Felipe Victorero1, Carlos Bonilla2, Jorge A Gironas1,2, Sergio Vera2, Waldo Bustamante2, Victoria Rojas3 and Pablo Pasten4, (1)Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Santiago, Chile, (2)CEDEUS, Santiago, Chile, (3)VR+ARQ, Santiago, Chile, (4)Centro de Desarrollo Urbano Sustentable, Santiago, Chile
Green roofs are a sustainable urban development solution that incorporates a growing media (also known as substrate) and vegetation into infrastructures to reach additional benefits such as the reduction of: rooftop runoff peak flows, roof surface temperatures, energy utilized for cooling/heating buildings, and the heat island effect. The substrate is a key component of the green roof that allows achieving these benefits. It is an artificial soil that has an improved behavior compared to natural soils, facilitating vegetation growth, water storage and typically with smaller densities to reduce the loads over the structures. Therefore, it is important to study the effects of substrate properties on green roof performance. The objective of this study is to investigate the physical properties of four substrates designed to improve the behavior of a green roof, and to study their impact on the efficiency of a green roof. The substrates that were investigated are: organic soil; crushed bricks; a mixture of mineral soil with perlite; and a mixture of crushed bricks and organic soil. The thermal properties (thermal conductivity, volumetric heat capacity and thermal diffusivity) were measured using a dual needle probe (Decagon Devices, Inc.) at different saturation levels, and the hydraulic properties were measured with a constant head permeameter (hydraulic conductivity) and a pressure plate extractor (water retention curve). This characterization, combined with numerical models, allows understanding the effect of these properties on the hydraulic and thermal behavior of a green roof. Results show that substrates composed by crushed bricks improve the thermal insulation of infrastructures and at the same time, retain more water in their pores. Simulation results also show that the hydraulic and thermal behavior of a green roof strongly depends on the moisture content prior to a rainstorm.