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Extensive Green Roofs: Horticultural Considerations for Stormwater Management

Articles: Extensive Green Roofs: Horticultural Considerations for Stormwater Management

An extensive green roof is a contained ecosystem with a soil depth of less than six inches (15.25 centimeters); the shallow depth results in a lighter-weight roof than a traditional intensive roof garden, thus reducing the cost of the building's engineered structure. Such roofs have been shown to provide both aesthetic improvements (beauty and useable space) and economic benefits (reduced energy use and extended roof life). However, researchers, horticulturalists, and commercial developers are increasingly creating extensive green roofs that meet specific ecological goals, such as stormwater management, reduction of the urban heat-island effect, enhanced air filtration, and habitat creation.

Successful extensive green roofs result from a holistic design approach, influenced by regional climates, rooftop microclimates, plant needs, and, most importantly, the green roof goals. The composition of a green roof varies within and across regions, reflecting local considerations that may include building codes and neighborhood character but certainly bear upon the prioritizing of these ecological goals. In the Pacific Northwest, for instance, stormwater management ranks high among those...

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