From Green to Blue: An Integration of Plants to Architecture

My interest in preservation and sustainability is deeply rooted from my sister’s career in architecture specializing in the preservation of heritage buildings. Years of architectural tours made me question the possibility of integrating plants to architectural design for environmental preservation and sustainability.

green roof.jpg

A few days after class started, a conversation with Dawn and Michael about the increase of pollution corresponding urbanization urged me to do a bit of a research. That research lead me to a world of green buildings.

This video is a great introduction to green roofs:

Green roofs is, basically, plant roofs. They are also known as vegetation roofs or eco-roofs. It consists of the following: waterproofing membrane, growing medium (soil), and vegetation (plants). These are installed on top of a traditional roof. Green roofs proposes a wide range of benefits.

Environmental benefits:

  • Increase habitat and promotes biodiversity
  • Improves air quality
  • Improves water quality through reduction of stormwater runoff as well as less overflows of combined sanitary and stormwater sewage system
  • Lower temperature of building roofs and the atmosphere around the building in most climates due to  the cooling effect of plant respiration and insulation as well as shading and thermal mass of the plant and soil layers
  • Reduced consumption of energy in most climates

Economical benefits:

  • Lower energy costs due to the reduction of energy consumption
  • Less frequent roof replacement because green roofs are more durable than conventional ones
  • Reduce stormwater management costs
  • Creation of job opportunities for installation and maintenance that encourage progression of the emerging field of urban agriculture

Different countries have utilized these green roofs for current infrastructure building. Our very own university even has one!

Here is a photo of Lassonde Building rooftop.


But it doesn’t stop there. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection conducted a pilot project between 2010-2012 on blue roofs. Blue roofs are designed to store rainwater. It is designed to mitigate runoff impacts, reuse of water for irrigation or cooling as well as other recreational opportunities. Some recreational blue roofs are designed to work with green roofs as an irrigation system.


Here is a photo of the Blue-roof system used in the New York pilot project. Blue-roof trays were designed to hold two inches of water. It resulted in 45% reduction in roof runoff.


Here is a photo of the first integrate blue and green rooftop systems that was unveiled in New York City by the NYC Department of Environmental Protection.


The blue and green roof is less expensive than a traditional green roof. It is also lighter in weight, cost-effective alternative for older buildings that may not withstand the weight of a traditional green roof or the weight of stored water in blue roof systems.

The blue roof is designed to slow runoff velocity of rainwater to reduce erosion potential and increase infiltration rates. The green roof containing the growing medium and vegetation absorbs this water.

For more information, check out these links:

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