Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Siobhan Brooks

Second Advisor

Stacey Schulte

Third Advisor

Dale Miller

Abstract

The built environment makes significant contributions to environmental issues such as green house gas emissions, global climate change, and pollution. Additionally, global urbanization is occurring at an unprecedented rate, 66 percent of the world’s population will be urban by 2050 (UN 2014). Increased environmental impacts arise with the acceleration of urbanization including: area of impermeable surfaces, air and water pollution, heat island effect, pluvial flooding, and loss of biodiversity and habitats. The adoption of green roof technology will help to unify the natural and built environment. The integration of vegetative systems into the urban fabric has the capacity to reduce negative environmental impacts and increase economic and social well being. This honors thesis is a qualitative analysis of green infrastructure in urban settings. My research questions have lead to the explanation of the ecosystem services provided by green roof technology and how these outputs vary between design models. My thesis proposes that green roofs are a viable and preferable alternative to cities’ conventional storm-water management systems by the provision of multiple ecosystem services. These ecosystem services improve air and water quality, reduce energy use and runoff, extend roof lifetime and provide habitat space (EPA 2010). I compare four green roof models with contrasting objectives in different climatic regions. I conclude by proposing living roof parameters for future Boulder developments and the Alpine Balsam site. I have derived these proposed parameters from my case studies and conclusions about design efficiencies as well as local climatic conditions.