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, 87 (3), 350-63

Life-cycle Cost-Benefit Analysis of Extensive Vegetated Roof Systems


Life-cycle Cost-Benefit Analysis of Extensive Vegetated Roof Systems

Timothy Carter et al. J Environ Manage.


The built environment has been a significant cause of environmental degradation in the previously undeveloped landscape. As public and private interest in restoring the environmental integrity of urban areas continues to increase, new construction practices are being developed that explicitly value beneficial environmental characteristics. The use of vegetation on a rooftop--commonly called a green roof--as an alternative to traditional roofing materials is an increasingly utilized example of such practices. The vegetation and growing media perform a number of functions that improve environmental performance, including: absorption of rainfall, reduction of roof temperatures, improvement in ambient air quality, and provision of urban habitat. A better accounting of the green roof's total costs and benefits to society and to the private sector will aid in the design of policy instruments and educational materials that affect individual decisions about green roof construction. This study uses data collected from an experimental green roof plot to develop a benefit cost analysis (BCA) for the life cycle of extensive (thin layer) green roof systems in an urban watershed. The results from this analysis are compared with a traditional roofing scenario. The net present value (NPV) of this type of green roof currently ranges from 10% to 14% more expensive than its conventional counterpart. A reduction of 20% in green roof construction cost would make the social NPV of the practice less than traditional roof NPV. Considering the positive social benefits and relatively novel nature of the practice, incentives encouraging the use of this practice in highly urbanized watersheds are strongly recommended.

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