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Performance monitoring of three ecoroofs in Portland, Oregon

Spolek, Graig
Urban ecosystems 2008 v.11 no.4 pp. 349-359
buildings, design for environment, ecosystems, energy, energy conservation, flowmeters, green roofs, heat transfer, leadership, monitoring, rain, rain gauges, seasonal variation, stormwater, summer, temperature, urban areas, winter, Oregon
Ecoroofs, also known as green roofs, are becoming widely installed with relatively little data collected on their in situ performance. For this study, three large ecoroof portions (280-500 m²) located on two different buildings in Portland, OR, USA were instrumented and monitored continuously for more almost 3 years. For the Broadway Building, a student dormitory on the campus of Portland State University, measurement of ecoroof energy conservation and rainwater discharge abatement helped qualify the building for its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver award. Using an electromagnetic flowmeter, stormwater discharge was monitored and compared to rainfall. Over a 3-year period, rainwater discharge was reduced by about 25%. Rooftop heat flux was simultaneously measured using an array of temperature sensors. When compared to a rock ballast roof exposed to the same weather conditions, the ecoroof heat flux was reduced by 13% in winter and 72% in summer. Retrofit ecoroof installations on the Multnomah County Building, an office building, were also monitored for almost 3 years for two separate ecoroof sections with different plantings, using similar electromagnetic flow meters and a rain gauge. Overall reductions of rainwater discharge were 12% and 17% for those two ecoroofs. For all three ecoroofs, discharge reductions varied widely by month due to seasonal differences in the amount of rainfall. Based on the measurements taken in this study, ecoroofs in Portland, OR, USA appear to offer some performance advantages.