Green Roofs and Rainwater Management | Turf Online Knowledge Base

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Green Roofs and Rainwater Management

Preventing Floods

2012 was one of the wettest years ever recorded in Britain. Many homes were destroyed in severe floods caused by unusually heavy rainfall and inadequate drainage systems.

In urban and built up areas:

  • Up to 75% of rainwater becomes run-off.
  • Most rainwater run-off is pumped directly into streams, rivers, and lakes.
  • The run-off carries pollutants into open bodies of water having a negative effect on all types of river and pond life.

In rural areas, however, there is less run off as almost all rainwater is absorbed by soils and local plant life. Some of this water will eventually make its way into rivers and streams but will be filtered by the earth on its way removing most harmful pollutants before it can harm anything else.

Green Roofs can be effective in both urban and rural areas as a solution to managing rainwater drainage.

Up to 75% of rainfall is absorbed by an extensive living roof, and up to 90% is absorbed by an intensive green roof system.

Excess water drips from the roof gradually so drains are not overwhelmed by a sudden deluge.

A green roof will filtered a large amount of pollutants from the water before releasing it – particularly heavy metals

A living roof works in the same way as the natural water cycle that is so effective in rural areas.

Rainwater can be stored in the roofing system for up to 2months where it is used by the green roof plants and released gradually into the atmosphere by evapotranspiration.

Green roofs reduce the likelihood of overloading existing drainage systems, thus also reducing the risk of flooding.

In the long term up to 45% of yearly rainfall can be completely absorbed by an extensive green roof system, and with an intensive system this can be as much as 75%.

To find out exactly what we mean by Extensive and Intensive Green Roof Systems click here.

Despite having the potential to hold so much water on a long term basis, installing a green roof can actually help the waterproofing layer on your roof to last longer. See why on our Green Roof Protect and Waterproofing page.

Sustainable Urban Drainage (SUD) Systems

Green roofs are supported by many local councils and organisations in the UK, such as the Forestry Commission, because they work so well in conjunction with SUD systems.

Sustainable Urban Drainage (SUD) schemes are a cost effective and environmentally friendly way of managing rainwater in built up regions.

Green roofs are frequently mentioned in conjunction with SUD schemes as being one of the top ways to meet demands for improved stormwater management, especially since they are generally installed on previously unused space.