Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 30, pp 30170–30179 | Cite as

Annual variation patterns of the effluent water quality from a green roof and the overall impacts of its structure

  • Hongxiang ChaiEmail author
  • Yue Tang
  • Xiaojie Su
  • Weijie Wang
  • Hao Lu
  • Zhiyu Shao
  • Qiang He
Research Article


To explore the optimal combination of vegetation type, substrate type, and substrate thickness in a green roof and the interannual variation patterns of the runoff quality, eight green roof units were constructed in Shenzhen, China. Runoff quality of the eight units was monitored for 3 years (24 rainfall events). The rainfall event mean concentrations (EMC) were used to evaluate runoff quality as well as annual pollutant load. An orthogonal L8(24) experiment was designed to verify the significance of different factors. An optimal level of significant factors was selected to determine the optimal design of green roof. The optimal vegetation was Ophiopogon japonicus. The optimal substrate was modified perlite, while optimal substrate thickness was 200 mm. A three-year interannual variation analysis was performed on the optimal green roof. It was found that the interannual variation of each runoff quality index is different. The concentrations of SS, COD, and NH4+-N in the runoff decreased with years. The concentration of NO3-N increased over time, while TP remained stable. The concentration of TN had certain volatility with no significant interannual variation. Overall, the runoff quality of the green roof improves over time. The optimal green roof’s runoff quality in the third year including 11 rainfall events was monitored. Results showed that the effluent quality from the green roof was lower than that of precipitation. The average concentrations of SS, COD, NH4+-N, TN, and TP decreased respectively by 37.85%, 28.89%, 30.25%, 14.52%, and 12.93%, but NO3-N increased by 69.91% comparing to the traditional roof.


Sponge city Low impact development Runoff Green roof Interannual variation 


Funding information

The work reported here was financially supported by the National Key R&D program of China (Grant No. 2017YFC0404704).


  1. Archer NA, Quinton JN, Hess TM (2002) Below-ground relationships of soil texture, roots and hydraulic conductivity in two-phase mosaic vegetation in South-east Spain. J Arid Environ 52:535–553CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. APHA (2005) Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater. American Public Health Association (APHA), Washington, DC, USAGoogle Scholar
  3. Berndtsson JC (2010) Green roof performance towards management of runoff water quantity and quality: a review. Ecol Eng 36:351–360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berndtsson JC, Bengtsson L, Jinno K (2009) Runoff water quality from intensive and extensive vegetated roofs. Ecol Eng 35:369–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berndtsson JC, Emilsson T, Bengtsson L (2006) The influence of extensive vegetated roofs on runoff water quality. Sci Total Environ 355:48–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blecken GT, Zinger Y, Deletic' A, Fletcher TD, Hedstrm A, Viklander M (2010) Laboratory study on stormwater biofiltration: nutrient and sediment removal in cold temperatures. J Hydrol 394:507–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Buffam I, Mitchell ME, Durtsche RD (2016) Environmental drivers of seasonal variation in green roof runoff water quality. Ecol Eng 91:506–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carlson C, Barreteau O, Kirshen P, Foltz K (2015) Storm water management as a public good provision problem: survey to understand perspectives of low-impact development for urban storm water management practices under climate change. J Water Resour Plan Manag 141:04014080CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carpenter CMG, Todorov D, Driscoll CT, Montesdeoca M (2016) Water quantity and quality response of a green roof to storm events: experimental and monitoring observations. Environ Pollut 218:664–672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Emilsson T (2008) Vegetation development on extensive vegetated green roofs: influence of substrate composition establishment method and species mix. Ecol Eng 33:265–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Getter KL, Rowe DB, Robertson GP, Cregg BM, Andresen JA (2009) Carbon sequestration potential of extensive green roofs. Environ Sci Technol 43:7564–7570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gregoire BG, Clausen JC (2011) Effect of a modular extensive green roof on stormwater runoff and water quality. Ecol Eng 37:963–969CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hsieh CH, Davis AP, Needelman BA (2007) Nitrogen removal from urban stormwater runoff through layered bioretention columns. Water Environ Res 79:2404–2411CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Harper GE, Limmer MA, Showalter WE, Burken JG (2015) Nine-month evaluation of runoff quality and quantity from an experiential green roof in Missouri, USA. Ecol Eng 78:127–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kok KH, Sidek LM, Chow MF, Abidin MRZ, Basri H, Hayder G (2016) Evaluation of green roof performances for urban stormwater quantity and quality controls. Intl J River Basin Manage 14:1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lucas WC, Greenway M (2008) Nutrient retention in vegetated and non-vegetated bioretention mesocosms. J Irrig Drain Eng 134:613–623CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Le Coustumer S, Fletcher TD, Deletic A, Barraud S, Poelsma P (2012) The influence of design parameters on clogging of stormwater biofilters: a large-scale column study. Water Res 46:6743–6752CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Liu H, Jia Y, Niu C (2017) “Sponge city” concept helps solve China’s urban water problems. J Environ Earth Sci 76:473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mentens J, Raes D, Hermy M (2006) Green roofs as a tool for solving the rainwater runoff problem in the urbanized 21st century. Landsc Urban Plan 77:217–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. MacAvoy SE, Plank K, Mucha S, Williamson G (2016) Effectiveness of foam-based green surfaces in reducing nitrogen and suspended solids in an urban installation. Ecol Eng 91:257–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mitchell ME, Matter SF, Durtsche RD, Buffam I (2017) Elevated phosphorus: dynamics during four years of green roof development. Urban Ecosyst 20:1121–1133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Nagase A, Dunnett N (2012) Amount of water runoff from different vegetation types on extensive green roofs: effects of plant species, diversity and plant structure. Landsc Urban Plan 104:356–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rowe DB (2010) Green roofs as a means of pollution abatement. Environ Pollut 159:2100–2110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ren NQ, Wang Q, Wang QR, Huang H, Wang XH (2017) Upgrading to urban water system 3.0 through sponge city construction. Front Environ Sci Eng 11:9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. SEPA (2002) Water and wastewater monitoring and analysis method, Fourth edn. China Environmental Science Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  26. Susca T, Gaffin SR, Dell’Osso GR (2011) Positive effects of vegetation: urban heat island and green roofs. Environ Pollut 159:2119–2126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Teemusk A, Mander U (2006) The use of greenroofs for the mitigation of environmental problems in urban areas. 4th Int Conf on Urban Regeneration and Sustainability 93: 3–17Google Scholar
  28. Teemusk A, Mander U (2011) The influence of green roofs on runoff water quality: a case study from Estonia. Water Resour Manag 25:3699–3713CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Vijayaraghavan K, Joshi UM, Balasubramanian R (2011) A field study to evaluate runoff quality from green roofs. Water Res 46:1337–1345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wong NH, Cheong DKW, Yan H, Soh J, Ong CL, Sia A (2003) The effects of rooftop garden on energy consumption of a commercial building in Singapore. Energy Build 35:353–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Xia J, Zhang YY, Xiong LH, He S, Wang LF, Yu ZB (2017) Opportunities and challenges of the Sponge city construction related to urban water issues in China. Sci China Earth Sci 60:652–658CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Zhao JW, Shan BQ, Yin CQ (2007) Pollutant loads of surface runoff in Wuhan City Zoo, an urban tourist area. J Environ Sci 19:464–468CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Zhang QQ, Miao LP, Wang XK, Liu DD, Zhu L, Zhou B, Sun JC, Liu JT (2015) The capacity of greening roof to reduce stormwater runoff and pollution. Landsc Urban Plan 144:142–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hongxiang Chai
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Yue Tang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiaojie Su
    • 3
    • 4
  • Weijie Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hao Lu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhiyu Shao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Qiang He
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Three Gorges Reservoir Region’s Eco-Environment, Ministry of EducationChongqing UniversityChongqingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.National Centre for International Research of Low-Carbon and Green BuildingsChongqing UniversityChongqingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Dependable Service Computing in Cyber Physical Society (Chongqing University)Ministry of EducationChongqingPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.College of AutomationChongqing UniversityChongqingPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations