Water quality function of an extensive vegetated roof

Dimitar Todorov, Charles T. Driscoll, Svetoslava Todorova, Mario Montesdeoca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


In this paper we present the results of a four-year study of water quality in runoff from an extensive, sedum covered, vegetated roof on an urban commercial building. Monitoring commenced seven months after the roof was constructed, with the first growing season. Stormwater drainage quality function of the vegetated roof was compared to a conventional (impermeable, high-albedo) membrane roof in addition to paired measurements of wet and bulk depositions at the study site. We present concentrations and fluxes of nutrients and major solutes. We discuss seasonal and year-to-year variation in water quality of drainage from the vegetated roof and how it compares with atmospheric deposition and drainage from the impermeable roof. Drainage waters from the vegetated roof exhibited a high concentration of nutrients compared to atmospheric deposition, particularly during the warm temperature growing season. However, nutrient losses were generally low because of the strong retention of water by the vegetated roof. There was marked variation in the retention of nutrients by season due to variations in concentrations in drainage from the vegetated roof. The vegetated roof was a sink of nitrogen, total phosphorus and chloride, and a source of phosphate and dissolved inorganic and organic carbon. Chloride exhibited elevated inputs and leaching during the winter. The drainage from the vegetated and impermeable roofs met the United States Environmental Protection Agency freshwater standards for all parameters, except for total phosphorus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)928-939
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Green infrastructure
  • Green roof
  • Nutrients
  • Stormwater management
  • Water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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