Plant science fuels advances in green roof technology

Green roofs that are more effective, cheaper and easier to apply lead to economic savings for business. Companies are more likely to adopt green roof technology, which in turn brings environmental benefits to cities.

Professor Duncan Cameron, Animal and Plant Sciences

Green roof technology is a growing industry in the UK and Europe, and has the potential to aid sustainable urban drainage, store carbon, improve air quality and create biodiversity habitat.

Plant biologists at the University of Sheffield have collaborated with Boningale Ltd, a leading supplier of plants to the UK landscape industry, to face a technological challenge and improve the functioning and range of green roof materials.

Application of basic plant science on interactions between plant roots and symbiotic soil fungi, and their role in plant nutrient and carbon acquisition from the soil has led to the development of green roof materials with good plant growth, but ranging nutrient content and water-holding capacities. An enhanced understanding of the properties of green roof substrates has resulted in cutting-edge improvements, allowing the design of green roofs better suited to different requirements.

Based on these advances, we can now create tailor-made green roofs depending on the climatic and rainfall conditions in different areas of the UK, and recommend the appropriate green roof materials to maximise functional value, suitability and environmental benefits.