Oklahoma Low Impact Development

Green Roofs


Green roofs are vegetated layers that sit on top of the conventional waterproofed roof surfaces of a building. Whilst green roofs come in many different forms and types, usually a distinction is made between extensive, intensive and biodiverse or wildlife roofs.  These terms refer to the degree of maintenance the roofs require.

Intensive green roofs are composed of relatively deep substrates (20cm+) and can therefore support a wide range of plant types: trees and shrubs as well as perennials, grasses and annuals. As a result they are generally heavy and require specific support from the building. Intensive green roofs (what most people think of as roof gardens) have in the past been rather traditional in their design, simply reproducing landscapes found on the ground, such as lawns, flower beds and water features. However, more contemporary intensive green roofs can be visually and environmentally exciting, integrating water management systems that process waste water from the building as well as storing surplus rainwater in constructed wetlands. Because of their larger plant material and horticultural diversity, intensive green roofs can require substantial input of resources – the usual pruning, clipping, watering and weeding as well as irrigation and fertilization.

tray_location_sketch_1.jpgConversely, the green roofs that have received the greatest interest recently are extensive green roofs. They are composed of lightweight layers of free-draining material that support low-growing, hardy, drought-tolerant vegetation. Generally the depth of growing medium is from a few centimetres up to a maximum of around 10-15cm. These roof types have great potential for wide application because, being lightweight, they require little or no additional structural support from the building. Furthermore, because the vegetation is adapted to the extreme roof top environment (high winds, hot sun, drought, and winter cold), extensive green roofs require little in the way of maintenance and resource inputs. Extensive green roofs can be designed into new buildings, or ‘retro-fitted’ onto existing buildings.

Biodiverse or wildlife roof are becoming more popular, as people become more aware of biodiversity issues, and options for conservation. These are designed either to replicate specific habitat needs of a single or small number of species, or to create a range of habitats which can maximise the array of species which inhabit and use the roof.

Because of their very wide range of environmental and economic benefits (in particular their insulation and cooling properties, ability to significantly reduce rainwater runoff from roofs, and their value in promoting biodiversity and habitat in built-up areas), green roofs have become important elements of sustainable and green construction in many countries. Moreover, because they can be highly visible, green roofs clearly signal the intent for sustainable building and can provide a positive and distinctive image to a building or development. (from greenroofcentre.org)

Green Roofs in the News    

Digital Journal: Green Roofs Offer Natural Views and Access to Green Space at Hospital 

Buildings.com: 4 Strategies for Green Roof Maintenance 

The Battalion: Rooftop recharge--Aggie 'green roof' initiative saves energy, stimulates research 

Architizer: Green Architecture Takes Big Leap With Milan’s “Vertical Forest”

Living Architecture Monitor: On the Concept of Failure--Why Green Roof and Wall Failure Can be a Good Thing

...click here for older green roof news stories

Green Roof Fact Sheets

Green Roof: Intensive and Extensive, Charles River Watershed Association

Green Roofs Fact Sheet, Massachussetts Metropolitan Area Planning Council

Vegetated Roofs, Pennsylvania Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual

How to Install a Green Roof, Mother Nature Network

Guide to DIY Green Roofs, Green Roof Centre

Selecting Plants for Extensive Green Roofs in the United States, Getter and Rowe, Michigan State University

Quality Compost Use in Green Roof Construction, Water Resource Action Programme

Vegetated Roof Cover, EPA

Bulletins, journal articles, and Handbooks

Installing a Green Roof, Journal of Light Construction

Green Roof Plant Recommendations, Intrinsic Perennial Gardens, Inc., Hebron, Illinois

Green Roof Videos

Horizon TV segment on the Green Roof at the National Weather Center in Norman , featuring Reid Coffman, OU Landscape Architect

Installing a Green Roof on a Residential Home, DIY Network

Past OSU Training Sessions

...under development

Green Roof Component Resources


Collection of Species for the Native Green Roof, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

An Evaluation Study of Plants for use on Green Roofs, Chicago Botanic Garden, Richard Hawke



Analysis of Green Roof Growing Media Porosity, K. Latshaw, J. Fitzgerald and R. Sutton

Green Roofs in Oklahoma

Cardinal Engineering, OKC

Chesapeake Energy, OKC

Carraba's Italian Grill, Tulsa

Hardesty Arts Center, Tulsa

The US Post Office and Courthouse, Tulsa

TriArch Architecture, Tulsa

Tulsa Community College Metro, Tulsa

Tulsa Zoo, Tulsa

Warren Clinic Natalie Building, Tulsa

Local Distributors

Other Green Roof Web Sites


Green Roof Training, a site from the UK with good info


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