Quantitative hydrologic performance of extensive green roof under humid-tropical rainfall regime

Kwan Lam WONG, Chi Yung JIM

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


Urbanization replaces permeable surfaces with relatively impervious ones to intensify mass and temporal response of stormwater runoff. Under heavy rainfalls, urban runoff could impose tremendous stress on the drainage systems, contributing to combined sewer overflow and flooding. Green roof offers an on-site source-reduction sustainable stormwater management measure that mimics pre-development hydrologic functions. It can retain and detain stormwater as well as delay and suppress peak discharge. However, previous studies were conducted mainly outside the tropics. Since green-roof hydrologic performance can be notably influenced by local meteorological conditions, dedicated investigation in the tropics are necessary. Moreover, substrate depth has long been regarded as an influential factor in green-roof stormwater retention, but recent findings have implicated that such relationship may be more complex. This study (1) evaluates green roof stormwater mitigation performance and potentials in humid-subtropical Hong Kong; and (2) investigates systematically the effect of substrate depth and addition of rockwool, a high water-retention growth medium, on quantitative performance. Using multiple 1.1-m2 raised green-roof platforms placed on an urban rooftop, the effect of four substrate-depth treatments on stormwater mitigation performance was examined over a 10-month study period. The results show that, while the retention under Hong Kong's frequent and heavy rainfall regime seems to be less effective, remarkable peak reduction and peak delay were evidently expressed even when the green-roof systems have reached full moisture-storage capacity. No statistical significance was found between treatments, despite the slightly higher mean performance of the 80-mm soil substrate. Satisfactory peak performance of the 40-mm soil substrate implies that a thin substrate can provide effective peak mitigation, especially if building loads are of concern. Extensive green roof remains as a promising alternative mitigation strategy to urban stormwater management in Hong Kong with potential application to other tropical areas. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-378
JournalEcological Engineering
Early online date15 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


Wong, G. K. L., & Jim, C. Y. (2014). Quantitative hydrologic performance of extensive green roof under humid-tropical rainfall regime. Ecological Engineering, 70, 366-378. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoleng.2014.06.025


  • Tropical extensive green roof
  • Hydrological performance
  • Rainwater retention
  • Stormwater runoff
  • Substrate effect
  • Sustainable urban stormwater management


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