, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 151-164
Date: 04 Apr 2008

Establishing Green Roof Infrastructure Through Environmental Policy Instruments

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Abstract

Traditional construction practices provide little opportunity for environmental remediation to occur in urban areas. As concerns for environmental improvement in urban areas become more prevalent, innovative practices which create ecosystem services and ecologically functional land cover in cities will be in higher demand. Green roofs are a prime example of one of these practices. The past decade has seen the North American green roof industry rapidly expand through international green roof conferences, demonstration sites, case studies, and scientific research. This study evaluates existing international and North American green roof policies at the federal, municipal, and community levels. Green roof policies fall into a number of general categories, including direct and indirect regulation, direct and indirect financial incentives, and funding of demonstration or research projects. Advantages and disadvantages of each category are discussed. Salient features and a list of prompting standards common to successfully implemented green roof strategies are then distilled from these existing policies. By combining these features with data collected from an experimental green roof site in Athens, Georgia, the planning and regulatory framework for widespread green roof infrastructure can be developed. The authors propose policy instruments be multi-faceted and spatially focused, and also propose the following recommendations: (1) Identification of green roof overlay zones with specifications for green roofs built in these zones. This spatial analysis is important for prioritizing areas of the jurisdiction where green roofs will most efficiently function; (2) Offer financial incentives in the form of density credits and stormwater utility fee credits to help overcome the barriers to entry of the new technology; (3) Construct demonstration projects and institutionalize a commitment greening roofs on publicly-owned buildings as an effective way of establishing an educated roofing industry and experienced installers for future green roof construction.