Green Roofs and Facades: A Habitat Template Approach

by Jeremy T. Lundholm

Saint Mary's University,, Department of Biology/Environmental Studies Program, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 3C3 Canada


Extensive green roof habitats are characterized by shallow substrates and extreme soil moisture conditions. This set of characteristics, or "habitat template," has natural analogs in rock barren ecosystems such as cliffs, scree slopes, and limestone pavements. Typical plants used in green roof initiatives often have their origins in rocky habitats, as do a host of other common urban species. This paper examines the implications of using natural ecosystems as templates for green roof design. While green roof plant selection has targeted drought-tolerant species, the incorporation of other features of rocky habitats may improve green roof functions.

Key words: biodiversity; biomimicry; community ecology; drought tolerance; ecosystem functions; green buildings; rock outcrops; stormwater; urban ecology