Green Roofs

A green roof

Green roofs are becoming a critical component in "green" urban infrastructure, and can provide a wide variety of environmental, aesthetic and cost benefits. A green roof can cover any size building and be used on any building type given the building has been designed or retrofitted to structurally support the weight. It generally consists of drought-tolerant vegetation and light-weight growing medium layered over an efficient drainage system and waterproofing membrane.

Benefits of Green Roofs:

  • Can significantly slow down and/or capture stormwater compared to typical roof systems
  • Ability to meet regulations addressing stormwater
  • Reduce roof temperature, which lessens energy costs
  • Urban heat island effect mitigation
  • Extend the life of the waterproofing material on the building by 2-3 times
  • Insullation from noise: up to 10 decibels per 3" of media
  • Connect fragmented green spaces together
  • Increase biodiversity
  • Food production
  • Amenity & expanded living space
  • Electromagnetic radiation blocking

Green roofs help manage stormwater by capturing rainfall.  This video discusses stormwater management and the benefits of green roofs. 


The American Society of Landscape Architects recently constructed a green roof on their headquarters building in Washington, D.C. Runoff and temperature measurements from the site are already indicating environmental and energy benefits.

The Green Roofs for Healthy Cities web site provides an extensive list of green roof benefits. Green roofs have been successfully used in Europe for decades. Green roofs in Nebraska have also been around for a long time – if you count the green roofs on the sod houses of Nebraska pioneers! Regional projects using new technologies and materials are still relatively few in number, but interest and investment in green roofs is growing.

Green Roofs for the Central Great Plains, a website from the UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture.  See photos and learn about the innovative ideas making green roofs a part of the landscape in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Green roof power point presentation by Kent Holm of Douglas County Environmental Services and Andy Szatko, graduate student at UNL.

Douglas County Green Roof Working Committee: Click on the 'Technical Memorandum' link to see the report put together by the committee.

Video Description of Green Roofs by Jim Dyck & Richard Sutton on YouTube from Backyard Farmer.

Information presented within the Stormwater Management section of this Water Web site has been reviewed by the University of Nebraska Stormwater Management Team.  Please contact Katie Pekarek, Kelly Feehan, or Thomas Franti with questions.

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