News & Press: Research Updates

Rooftop Roofs: Midwest Landscape Benefits

Thursday, December 17, 2015  
Posted by: Paulette Sorenson

As green roofs are becoming increasingly common, the search for plants adapted to green roof environments continues.   

  • Nearly every segment of the nursery and landscape industry can profit from the growing interest in green roofs including landscape designers, nursery growers, landscape installers, and landscape maintenance firms. 
  • Green roofs have evolved beyond their basic stormwater management functions to become landscapes that are increasingly encountered and used by people, landscape irrigation, landscape lighting, and other landscape amenities and features are also becoming increasingly common in green roof environments.
  • Green roofs filter stormwater, reduce runoff rates, and can reduce runoff volumes by as much as 75% or more through absorption and ultimately evapotranspiration). 
  • Green roofs can also provide numerous environmental benefits include socioeconomic benefits, compared to conventional roofs.  Examples include reduced energy use and costs associated with heating and improved air quality, enhanced wildlife habitat, extended roof lifespans, improved sound-proofing, enhanced fire protection increased green/public space, reduced stormwater infrastructure requirements and maintenance costs, improved aesthetics and views, and increased property values.  Green roofs can also be used to grow food. 
  • Concerns about winter hardiness and whether specific plants will survive in a green roof environment in cold climates is another factor that has hampered the acceptance of green roofs in areas that experience cold winters like Minnesota. 
  • Green roof plantings can be established using both native and introduced species Native plant species that will tolerate rooftop environments are often recommended as a result of their wildlife benefits and Minnesota and portions of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa (specifically the non-glaciated Driftless Area) where the growing environment is not unlike the conditions experienced on a green roof. 
  • Alone and combined with the experience of others, the green roof research at the Chicago Botanic Garden is providing valuable information and supports the idea that a wide variety of plants may have potential for use on green roofs. 

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