Water quantity and quality response of a green roof to storm events: Experimental and monitoring observations

Corey M.G. Carpenter, Dimitar Todorov, Charles T. Driscoll, Mario Montesdeoca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Syracuse, New York is working under a court-ordered agreement to limit combined sewer overflows (CSO) to local surface waters. Green infrastructure technologies, including green roofs, are being implemented as part of a CSO abatement strategy and to develop co-benefits of diminished stormwater runoff, including decreased loading of contaminants to the wastewater system and surface waters. The objective of this study was to examine the quantity and quality of discharge associated with precipitation events over an annual cycle from a green roof in Syracuse, NY and to compare measurements from this monitoring program with results from a roof irrigation experiment. Wet deposition, roof drainage, and water quality were measured for 87 storm events during an approximately 12 month period over 2011–2012. Water and nutrient (total phosphorus, total nitrogen, and dissolved organic carbon) mass balances were conducted on an event basis to evaluate retention annually and during the growing and non-growing seasons. These results are compared with a hydrological manipulation experiment, which comprised of artificially watering of the roof. Loadings of nutrients were calculated for experimental and actual storms using the concentration of nutrients and the flow data of water discharging the roof. The green roof was effective in retaining precipitation quantity from storm events (mean percent retention 96.8%, SD = 2.7%, n = 87), although the relative fraction of water retained decreased with increases in the size of the event. There was no difference in water retention of the green roof for the growing and non-growing seasons. Drainage waters exhibited high concentration of nutrients during the warm temperature growing season, particularly total nitrogen and dissolved organic carbon. Overall, nutrient losses were low because of the strong retention of water. However, there was marked variation in the retention of nutrients by season due to variations in concentrations in roof runoff.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)664-672
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • CSO
  • Green roof
  • Nutrients
  • Water quality
  • Water quantity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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