Manage water to optimise ecosystem services of living roofs - Robyn Simcock

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NZ findings in storm water mitigation, aesthetics and biodiversity Auckland, New Zealand has one of the most favourable climates in the world for effective bioretention, receiving around 1100 mm/year as frequent small rain events totalling and long growing season with mean daily temperatures rarely higher than 25 C or below 5 C. Bioretention has been promoted in Auckland since the early 2000s by Auckland Regional Council (ARC, Mr Earl Shaver) primarily for storm water mitigation. ARCs Technical Publication 10 (TP10) Storm Water Management Devices: Design Guidelines Manual (ARC 2003) included green or living roofs but in the absence of local living roofs, lacked detailed design guidance and performance evidence relative to more common bioretention devices such as rain gardens and swales.

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Marie-Curie IAPP Green Roof Systems Project The Green Roof Research Conference 18-19 March 2013, Sheffield Manage water to optimise ecosystem services of living roofs: NZ findings in storm water mitigation, aesthetics and biodiversity Robyn Simcock1, Elizabeth Fassman2, Emily Voyde 2, Renee Davies3 and Yit Sit Hong2 1Landcare Research NZ Ltd, 2 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Auckland, 3 Department of Landscape Architecture, Unitech Institute of Technology, SimcockR@landcareresearch.co.nz Introduction Auckland, New Zealand has one of the most favourable climates in the world for effective bioretention, receiving around 1100 mm/year as frequent small rain events totalling and long growing season with mean daily temperatures rarely higher than 25 C or below 5 C. Bioretention has been promoted in Auckland since the early 2000s by Auckland Regional Council (ARC, Mr Earl Shaver) primarily for storm water mitigation. ARCs Technical Publication 10 (TP10) Storm Water Management Devices: Design Guidelines Manual (ARC 2003) included green or living roofs but in the absence of local living roofs, lacked detailed design guidance and performance evidence relative to more common bioretention devices such as rain gardens and swales. In 2007 two Auckland Councils sponsored design, construction and monitoring of two full-scale extensive living roofs to quantify their ability to mitigate storm water and support native ecosystems. Ecosystem services such as surface temperature moderation, provision of native plant and invertebrate biodiversity, and aesthetics were also of interest as stacked benefits. Figure 1 Waitakere Civic Centre Living roof, December 2012 aged 6.5 years, 100 mm media depth (with full irrigation since 2010) is visually dominated by tussock (Festuca coxii), NZ iris (Libertia peregrinans) and Astelia banksii Marie-Curie IAPP Green Roof Systems Project The Green Roof Research Conference 18-19 March 2013, Sheffield Overview of Methodology Growing media were developed using locally abundant volcanic aggregates and imported expanded clay, as no proprietary media were available. Media were a blend of 1-10 mm pumice and zeolite with 15 to 20% v/v organic material, largely based on composted bark. In 2007 3 media were installed on two roofs at 50 to 120 mm depth and planted with both New Zealand native, largely endemic plants and/or non-native sedums. Five small sheds were constructed in 2009 to performance-test a more resilient medium that applied lessons gained from specification, blending and installation. This allowed more plant species to be trialled under conditions of minimal irrigation. A hydrological balance was developed using continuous monitoring of runoff and rainfall for 8 to over 24 months, supported by short-term, in-situ and glasshouse evapotranspiration measurement. Comparing runoff from the different roofs demonstrated the sensitivity of storm water performance to rainfall event size, season, media depth (retention volume) and scale. Plant mortality, cover, and diversity of planted and adventive species, were used as indicators of aesthetic values. Invertebrate fauna was monitored for one month in most summers using pitfall and emergence traps. Figure 2 University of Auckland Roof plot 2, established with sedum mat on 50 mm media in April 2008, about 1 year after placement (left), October 2011 (centre) and December 2012 (right) Key Findings The extensive living roofs achieved up to 56% cumulative storm water retention, with relatively consistent seasonal performance. Rainfall depth, rather than media depth, had the greatest influence on runoff retention where moisture retention of all media, even at 50 mm depth, was greater than common storm depths; 80% of Auckland storms are Marie-Curie IAPP Green Roof Systems Project The Green Roof Research Conference 18-19 March 2013, Sheffield Figure 3 Runoff of the studied living roofs (Fassman-Beck et al. in press) Healthy plant cover is the key determinant of living roof aesthetics, and a transpiring plant cover provides effective storm water mitigation, particularly for successive rain events. Transpiration removes stored water, renewing pore space for rainfall storage. Interception probably has a very minor role. In summer, sedum transpiration reduces markedly within 2 to 4 days of an event that restores nominal field capacity. Regular, strategic irrigation and/or a combination of sedums and plants lacking a strong response to decreased water availability may enhance both extensive living roof aesthetics and stormwater performance. Plant moisture needs, not storm water mitigation, determine media depth in the Auckland climate. This creates excess storm water volume capacity and potential to use on-flow from adjacent roofs. A very narrow range of low-stature ( Marie-Curie IAPP Green Roof Systems Project The Green Roof Research Conference 18-19 March 2013, Sheffield Further Reading Davies R, Toft R, Simcock R. 2012: Biodiversity opportunities for a NZ indigenous living roof. World Green Roof Congress, Copenhagen. 18-21 September 2012. Fassman-Beck E, Simcock R, Voyde E, Hong Y (in press). 4 living roofs in 3 locations: does configuration affect runoff mitigation? Journal of Hydrology Fassman E, Simcock R 2012: Moisture Measurements as Performance Criteria for Extensive Living Roof Substrates. Journal of Environmental Engineering. Fassman E, Simcock R, Voyde E. 2011: Extensive Living Roofs for Stormwater Management. Part 1: Design and Construction Auckland UniServices Technical Report to Auckland Regional Council. Auckland Regional Council TR2010/017. http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/SiteCollectionDocuments/aboutcouncil/planspoliciespublications/technicalpublications/tr2010017greenroofsstormwatermitigation.pdf Lewis M, Simcock R, Davidson G. 2010:Landscape and ecology values within stormwater management. Auckland Regional Council Technical Report TR2009/083. http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/council/documents/technicalpublications/TR2009083.pdf Voyde E, Fassman E, Simcock R. 2010: Hydrology of an extensive living roof under sub-tropical climate conditions in Auckland, NZ. Journal of Hydrology 394:384-395. Voyde E, Fassman E, Simcock R, Wells J. 2010: Quantifying Evapotranspiration Rates for New Zealand Green Roofs. Journal of Hydrologic Engineering 15(6):395-403.

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