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Can Green Roofs Reduce Storm Water Run-off?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a massive brolly the last few months you cannot have failed to have seen the devastation caused by excessive storm water across the UK and in particular Cumbria. Though these were exceptional circumstances, as a nation there is much we can do to mitigate against these problems.Flooding in Carlisle, Cumbria

As part of a sustainable drainage system strategy, it is essential that we find and implement alternative solutions to preventing localised flooding. In built up areas 95% of the ground surface is sealed. Though we’ve all seen examples of front gardens being concreted over for parking purposes, it is worth noting that roofs represent nearly half of impermeable surfaces in urban areas. This means any excessive amount of rainwater has nowhere to go to apart from our inadequate drainage systems or to the poor souls further down along the watercourse.

How Can Green Roofs Help?

Compared to a conventional roof, an established green roof can reduce total rainwater run off by a significant volume. It is estimated that green roofs will retain up to 80% of rainfall during the summer months and up to 35% during the winter months. The drop off is partially due to less plant growth during the colder months and the fact that there is generally a higher amount of rainfall during the winter months. This of course will vary depending on regional weather patterns, type of vegetation and the particular type of green roofing system.

Summary of green roof benefits

  • Green roofs store rainwater in the plants and growing medium.
  • They steadily evaporate water back into the atmosphere
  • Green roofs are good at retaining water
  • They reduce and delay run off during times of prolonged heavy rainfall
  • They help to reduce the burden on our drainage systems
  • They help to reduce sewage discharge into our water systems
  • As the plants grow, the green roof system will hold more water
  • The stored water is released slowly back into the environment


There are many other benefits of installing green roofs, but just this small list would suggest they have a significant role to play in UK flood management. If you are considering a green roofing project of any size, then please contact Riefa Green Roof on  0844 057 0359.

Read more about buying Riefa green roofing boards

Additional News Update 2017:

The devastating floods created by Hurricane Harvey certainly brings home the power of nature. No amount of stormwater management could have made the situation better due to the size of the weather event. It was massive! However, systems such as green roofs, rain gardens and bioswales do decrease stormwater runoff especially when used in conjunction with water storage and recycling systems. Essentially, they help by soaking up the excess water rather than pouring the stormwater on to the streets. Something for those responsible for developing infrastructure to consider!

Additional News Update 2018:

Storm Callum has created huge problems in Wales with extreme flooding and damage to infrastructure and people's lives. The extreme weather we are experiencing is a result of climate change. It is time to to rethink how we mitigate against these extreme condition at national and local level government.

Wednesday 26th of April 2017

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Green Roof Systems for your Home or Business

Riefa® Board is a unique ultra light weight roof greening product. The first and only green roofing system suitable for both new build and legacy roof projects. Ideal for sedum roof or bespoke planting.

Assured Green Roofing
  • New build or retrofit on flat or pitched green roofs
  • Only 36kg/m2 (inc. vegetation layer) when saturated
  • Reduces rain water run off by up to 50%
  • No specialist installation skills or tools needed
  • Ideal for your sedum roof project