Could Urban Roofs Be the Answer to Sustainable Stormwater Management?

In many cities, the management of stormwater generated during rainstorms presents problems for municipal water treatment facilities and water management systems. The amount of water falling during a typical storm can overwhelm treatment facilities, underground storage areas and management processes. City governments are often operating under federal regulations to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff entering lakes, streams and rivers. Combining urban roofing with stormwater management processes may hold the key to improving the way weather-based water drainage is handled in cities.

The total area of roofs in large cities can provide a vast amount of space that could be used for stormwater management. For example, roofs in New York make up about 11.5 percent of the city’s total surface area of more than 944 billion square feet, according to Roofing. This means that roofs could provide more than a billion square feet of space that could be converted to serve as stormwater management systems.

Two of the more tenable rooftop stormwater management techniques involve so-called blue roofs and green roofs.

  • A blue roof includes equipment that detains stormwater during rainstorms and delays the water from entering the municipal systems. Water held by the blue roof reduces the total amount of water entering treatment facilities and gives city drainage systems a better chance to work properly to keep runoff out of local bodies of water.
  • A green roof incorporates an area of living plants growing on a permanent layer of lightweight soil that has been engineered to capture water. These plants can absorb and use a substantial amount of the rainwater that falls during a storm, completely removing it from the municipal drainage and treatment systems. Green roofs can absorb up to 90 percent of the stormwater that falls on them.

Construction Monitor is the industry’s leading source for building permit data, information on housing starts, and insights into construction trends across the country. Contact us for more information on roofing, stormwater management and how urban roofs could provide cities with an economical and effective method of stormwater management.

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