Green Roofs Planet Blue

Green Roofs Planet Blue

How can the University maximize the social and economic benefits of installing green roofs on campus?

Background Information:

Green roofs are beneficial to the environment because they insulate buildings (lowering heating and cooling costs and emissions), filter rainfall and prevent runoff, and improve air quality by trapping impurities. They benefit universities by gaining the attention of prospective students and donors. Read more about the benefits of green roofs here  

  • Intensive: thicker soil layers that can support many different types of plants, even trees; typically have walkways, benches, or other structures that encourage people to spend time on them (see picture below)
  • Extensive: thinner soil layers that support mostly sedums (succulent plants that need little water) and grasses; typically are not made to be utilized by people other than for maintenence
  • Roof Garden: any garden on a roof that does not make up the roof itself 
  • Barriers to Implementation
    • Leaking: green roofs do not leak often; however, the fear that they will can prevent them from being implemented
    • Infrastructure: buildings not originally built to support a green roof often lack the structural support to bear the weight of a green roof
    • Green Roof Examples:

      • A t U of M: Green roof implementation has been largely student driven and has only occurred in new buildings. The University has plans for new buildings and renovations in upcoming years, providing opportunities to implement more green roofs. Read about planned and proposed building projects here .
      • Ross School of Business (2009): extensive green roof, non-accessible
      • North Quad (2011): roof garden, accessible
      • Green Roofs Planet Blue

      Ross School of Business Green Roof, University of Michigan

      • At Other Universities:
      • Loyola University in Chicago has more green roofs than any other University in the midwest. They both build and renovate buildings to include green roofs.
      • Penn State University has four large scale green roofs on campus, with one more under construction. They also have a rule that all new buildings must utilize green technologies; many will have green roofs. Their Center of Green Roof Research uses their green roofs to study stormwater run-off, building energy consumption, water-proofing resistance and more.
    • At Other Institutions:
      • The Chicago City Hall’s green roof was advocated for by Mayor Daley as an option for research and educational outreach. This roof has extensive, semi-intensive, and intensive portions for which the building was retro-fitted. The roof can be seen by many other buildings and holds educational tours. 
      • Chicago City Hall


        Bianchini, F. Hewage, K. (2012). Probabilistic social cost-benefit analysis for green roofs: A lifecycle approach. Building and Environment, 58, 152–162.

        Blackhurst, M. Hendrickson, C. & Matthews, H. S. (2010). Cost-effectiveness of green roofs. Journal of Architectural Engineering, 16(4), 136-143. doi: 10.1061/(ASCE)AE.1943-5568.0000022

        Matsuoka, R. (2010). Student performance and high school landscapes: Examining the links. Landscape and Urban Planning, 97(4), 273–282.

        The content for this page was developed by Environ 211 students Raena Mcdaniel, Olivia Rath, Corrina Marshall, Allison Sharrar, and Krista Hoffman

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