Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Dates: 07/2009 - 12/2011
Research has shown that building green roofs have the potential to reduce energy demand on space conditioning, reduce storm water runoff, expand the lifetime of roofing membranes, improve air quality, and reduce the urban heat island effect in cities. Predictive methods to quantify the benefits of green roofs? capabilities to reduce energy consumption and water runoff are needed. The long-term goal of the proposed research is to develop and verify the methods and tools that can be used to calculate heat/mass transfer through a building envelope covered with natural plant material for a given location in the United States. The goal of the present study is to provide tools and calculation methods to quantify summer cooling effects of a green roof, which presently is the most popular natural plant material for buildings.
The performance of green roofs is climate dependent and having a reliable estimate on potential energy savings is vital in evaluating the investment in this technology. The laboratory experimental methodology to be refined in this project can be applied to other natural plant materials to be incorporated into building envelopes in the future. Furthermore, the impact of the GREEN educational component will not be limited to the two participating schools, but rather an entire community of teachers and students interested in exploring environmental issues. In the future, research results of the present study will be transferable to other diverse natural materials to be integrated not only on building roofs, but also on building vertical walls.