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Costs and Benefits of Green Roof Types for Cities and Building Owners

Original scientific paper

Journal of Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems
Volume 7, Issue 1, March 2019, pp 57-71
DOI: https://doi.org/10.13044/j.sdewes.d6.0225
Sita H. van der Meulen
Faculty of Technology, Innovation & Society, The Hague University of Applied Science, Johanna Westerdijkplein 75, 2521 EN, The Hague, The Netherlands


Increasing urbanization and the effects of climate change will bring new challenges for cities, such as energy saving and supply of renewable energy, preventing urban heat islands and water retention to deal with more frequent downpours. A major urban surface, the surface of roofs, is nowadays hardly exploited and could be used to make cities more ‘future proof’ or resilient. Many Dutch municipalities have become aware that the use of green roofs as opposed to bituminous roofs positively contributes to these challenges and are stimulating building-owners to retrofit their building with green roofs. This study aims at comparing costs and benefits of roof types, focused on green roofs (intensive and extensive) both on building- and city scale. Core question is the balance between costs and benefits for both scales, given varying local conditions. Which policy measures might be needed in the future in order to apply green roofs strategically in regard to local demands? To answer this question the balance of costs and benefits of green roofs is divided into a public and an individual part. Both balances use a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats framework to determine the chance of success for the application of green roofs, considering that the balance for green roofs on an individual scale influences the balance on a public scale. The outcome of this combined analyses in the conclusion verifies that a responsible policy and a local approach towards green roofs is necessary to prepare the city sufficiently for future climate changes.

Keywords: Green roofs, Green roof policy, Urban heat island, Climate change, Retrofitting rooftops, Heat stress, Water storage.

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