Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 697–708 | Cite as

Influence of substrate depth and vegetation type on temperature and water runoff mitigation by extensive green roofs: shrubs versus herbaceous plants

  • Andrea NardiniEmail author
  • Sergio Andri
  • Maurizio Crasso


The relative contribution of substrate depth and vegetation type on temperature mitigation and stormwater runoff reduction was studied in an experimental green roof in North eastern Italy. Two substrate depths (120 and 200 mm) and two vegetation types (herbaceous plants and shrubs, respectively) were used, and compared to control modules with similar substrate depths but left bare of vegetation. Experimental observations showed that: a) green roofs substantially reduce thermal load over the rooftop, with significant effects of substrate depth and no apparent impact of vegetation type; b) thermal effects are strongly influenced by substrate water content; c) green roofs strongly reduce water runoff with significant substrate x vegetation effects. Our data suggest that green roof design addressed to optimization of the thermal functions should take into account adequate planning of substrate depth. Moreover, our data show that vegetated modules out-competed medium-only ones in terms of runoff reduction capacity, in accordance with some previous studies. Both shrub-vegetated and herbaceous modules intercepted and stored more than 90% rainfall during intense precipitation events, with no significant difference between the two vegetation types despite different substrate depths.


North-eastern Italy Green roof Substrate depth Substrate water content Water runoff Roof temperature 



We are grateful to the Corpo Forestale of Regione Autonoma Friuli Venezia Giulia for allowing us to set up experimental modules over the roof of the Centro Didattico Naturalistico di Basovizza. We are particularly grateful to Dr Diego Masiello and Drs Roberta Soldà for kind assistance and hospitality.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze della VitaUniversità di TriesteTriesteItaly
  2. 2.Harpo SpA, Divisione SEIC Verde PensileTriesteItaly

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