A modelling study of long term green roof retention performance
Stovin, V., Poe, S. and Beretta, C. 2013

This paper outlines the development of a conceptual hydrological flux model for the long term continuous simulation of runoff and drought risk for green roof systems. A green roof's retention capacity depends upon its physical configuration, but it is also strongly influenced by local climatic controls, including the rainfall characteristics and the restoration of retention capacity associated with evapotranspiration during dry weather periods. The model includes a function that links evapotranspiration rates to substrate moisture content, and is validated against observed runoff data. The model's application to typical extensive green roof configurations is demonstrated with reference to four UK locations characterised by contrasting climatic regimes, using 30-year rainfall time-series inputs at hourly simulation time steps. It is shown that retention performance is dependent upon local climatic conditions. Volumetric retention ranges from 0.19 (cool, wet climate) to 0.59 (warm, dry climate). Per event retention is also considered, and it is demonstrated that retention performance decreases significantly when high return period events are considered in isolation. For example, in Sheffield the median per-event retention is 1.00 (many small events), but the median retention for events exceeding a 1 in 1 yr return period threshold is only 0.10. The simulation tool also provides useful information about the likelihood of drought periods, for which irrigation may be required. A sensitivity study suggests that green roofs with reduced moisture-holding capacity and/or low evapotranspiration rates will tend to offer reduced levels of retention, whilst high moisture-holding capacity and low evapotranspiration rates offer the strongest drought resistance.

doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2013.09.026