Optimizing Green Roof Technologies in the Midwest

EPA Grant Number: SU833189
Title: Optimizing Green Roof Technologies in the Midwest
Investigators: Morgan, Susan , Yan, Terry , Retzlaff, William
Current Investigators: Morgan, Susan , Wackerly, Abby , Noble, Brad , Hise, Crystal , Richey, David , Gaffney, Debbie , Woods, Emily , Luckie, Heather , Gibbons, Joe , Gibbs, Julie , Forrester, Krista , Bhusa, Kusumakar , Richter, Lane , Swearingin, Lauren , Sydow, Mariellen , Sachdev, Rahul , Basham, Rakesh , Lucas, Ray , Watson, Richard , Kaufman, Sam , Hu, Shunfu , Yan, Terry , Retzlaff, William
Institution: Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2006 through May 30, 2007
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Green roofs, while extensively used in Europe, are an emerging technology in the U.S. They have an array of potential benefits (including improved storm water management, increased energy conservation of buildings, reduced urban heat island effects, and extended roof life) that, if they were widely implemented, could have significant environmental and societal benefits. Because this system uses plants, its design and implementation is partially contingent on the location of the roof. In addition, peer-reviewed data quantifying the environmental benefits of green roofs is lacking, in particular in the area of energy conservation. The proposed project addresses three important issues concerning green roofs – quantifying atmospheric storm water loss, storm water quality (specifically nitrate nitrogen concentration), and thermal effects – for green roof technologies in the Midwest. It builds on continuing research at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and is designed with replicated trials to provide statistically sound data. The project is interdisciplinary – involving biologists, engineers, horticulturalists, environmental scientists, and business people. Undergraduate and graduate students from multiple disciplines will collect, analyze, and present the data as part of their individual senior assignment and masters research requirements. In addition, the project will provide a platform for educating others about green roofs.

Funding is requested for acquisition of equipment to automate storm water collection, to calculate atmospheric water loss, and to expand the monitoring of temperatures below the green roof modules. Currently, storm water is collected manually, so the first flush from saturated media is missed. This water is anticipated to contain the highest pollutant concentrations, similar to the first flush from impervious surfaces, so it is important to sample it separately. To quantify the ability of green roofs to reduce the quantity of storm water runoff, a scale is required that will weigh the green roof modules for an experiment to calculate the atmospheric water loss through evaporation and evapotranspiration. Temperature sensors and data loggers are required to monitor additional green roof modules to create a more robust data set for analyzing temperature effects. The current project will be the basis for future work (Phase II) in which small, individually-metered buildings will be constructed with the best-performing Phase I green roof systems. Energy conservation will then be measured and an economic analysis completed.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 9 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

alternative building, ecological design, energy efficiency, environmentally conscious construction, environmentally conscious design, environmental engineering, EPA Region 5, green building, LEED, modeling, monitoring, nitrate, pollution prevention, precipitation, stormwater, sustainable development, US Green Building Council,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Environmental Engineering, clean energy, green building design requirements, sustainable development, green design, environmental sustainability, environmental conscious construction, alternative building technology, green roof, energy efficiency

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report