A New Method for Sensing Soil Water Content in Green Roofs Using Plant Microbial Fuel Cells.
ABSTRACT: Green roofs have many benefits, but in countries with semiarid climates the amount of water needed for irrigation is a limiting factor for their maintenance. The use of drought-tolerant plants such as Sedum species, reduces the water requirements in the dry season, but, even so, in semiarid environments these can reach up to 60 L m-2 per day. Continuous substrate/soil water content monitoring would facilitate the efficient use of this critical resource. In this context, the use of plant microbial fuel cells (PMFCs) emerges as a suitable and more sustainable alternative for monitoring water content in green roofs in semiarid climates. In this study, bench and pilot-scale experiments using seven Sedum species showed a positive relationship between current generation and water content in the substrate. PMFC reactors with higher water content (around 27% vs. 17.5% v/v) showed larger power density (114.6 and 82.3 ?W m-2 vs. 32.5 ?W m-2). Moreover, a correlation coefficient of 0.95 (±0.01) between current density and water content was observed. The results of this research represent the first effort of using PMFCs as low-cost water content biosensors for green roofs.
Project description:In urban areas green roofs provide important environmental advantages in regard to biodiversity, storm water runoff, pollution mitigation and the reduction of the urban heat island effect. There is a paucity of literature comparing different types of green roof substrates and their contributions to ecosystem services or their negative effects. This study investigated if there was a difference between sedum and wildflower green roof substrate properties (soil organic matter (SOM), potassium (K) and phosphorus (P) concentrations and pH values) of 12 green roofs in the city of Brighton & Hove. One hundred substrate samples were collected (50 from sedum roof substrates and 50 from wildflower roof substrates) and substrate properties were investigated using standard protocols. Comparisons were made between substrate characteristics on both types of roof substrate with a series of multiple linear regressions. Sedum roofs displayed significantly higher values of SOM, P and pH. There were significant positive relationships between SOM and K concentrations, SOM and P concentrations, pH and K concentrations and pH and P concentrations on sedum roofs. This study concluded that sedum roof substrates are more favourable for plant water use efficiency and also contained a significantly higher percentage of SOM than wildflower roofs. However, higher concentrations of P in sedum roof substrates may have implications in regard to leachates.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:In the first months of 2016, the Mexico City Metropolitan Area experienced the worst air pollution crisis in the last decade, prompting drastic short-term solutions by the Mexico City Government and neighboring States. In order to help further the search for long-term sustainable solutions, we felt obliged to immediately release the results of our research regarding the monitoring of carbon sequestration by green roofs. Large-scale naturation, such as the implementation of green roofs, provides a way to partially mitigate the increased carbon dioxide output in urban areas. METHODS:Here, we quantified the carbon sequestration capabilities of two ornamental succulent plant species, Sedum dendroideum and Sedum rubrotinctum, which require low maintenance, and little or no irrigation. To obtain a detailed picture of these plants' carbon sequestration capabilities, we measured carbon uptake on the Sedum plants by quantifying carbon dioxide exchange and fixation as organic acids, during the day and across the year, on a green roof located in Southern Mexico City. RESULTS:The species displayed their typical CAM photosynthetic metabolism. Moreover, our quantification allowed us to conservatively estimate that a newly planted green roof of Sedum sequesters approximately 180,000,000 ppm of carbon dioxide per year in a green roof of 100 square meters in the short term. DISCUSSION:The patterns of CAM and carbon dioxide sequestration were highly robust to the fluctuations of temperature and precipitation between seasons, and therefore we speculate that carbon sequestration would be comparable in any given year of a newly planted green roof. Older green roof would require regular trimming to mantain their carbon sink properties, but their carbon sequestration capabilities remain to be quantified. Nevertheless, we propose that Sedum green roofs can be part of the long-term solutions to mitigate the air pollution crisis in the Mexico City Metropolitan area, and other "megacities" with marked seasonal drought.
Project description:BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Green roofs are constructed ecosystems where plants perform valuable services, ameliorating the urban environment through roof temperature reductions and stormwater interception. Plant species differ in functional characteristics that alter ecosystem properties. Plant performance research on extensive green roofs has so far indicated that species adapted to dry conditions perform optimally. However, in moist, humid climates, species typical of wetter soils might have advantages over dryland species. In this study, survival, growth and the performance of thermal and stormwater capture functions of three pairs of dryland and wetland plant species were quantified using an extensive modular green roof system. METHODS: Seedlings of all six species were germinated in a greenhouse and planted into green roof modules with 6 cm of growing medium. There were 34 treatments consisting of each species in monoculture and all combinations of wet- and dryland species in a randomized block design. Performance measures were survival, vegetation cover and roof surface temperature recorded for each module over two growing seasons, water loss (an estimate of evapotranspiration) in 2007, and albedo and water capture in 2008. KEY RESULTS: Over two seasons, dryland plants performed better than wetland plants, and increasing the number of dryland species in mixtures tended to improve functioning, although there was no clear effect of species or habitat group diversity. All species had survival rates >75 % after the first winter; however, dryland species had much greater cover, an important indicator of green roof performance. Sibbaldiopsis tridentata was the top performing species in monoculture, and was included in the best treatments. CONCLUSIONS: Although dryland species outperformed wetland species, planting extensive green roofs with both groups decreased performance only slightly, while increasing diversity and possibly habitat value. This study provides further evidence that plant composition and diversity can influence green roof functions.
Project description:The world is rapidly urbanizing, and many previously biodiverse areas are now mostly composed of impervious surface. This loss of natural habitat causes local bird communities to become dominated by urban dweller and urban utilizer species and reduces the amount of habitat available for migrating and breeding birds. Green roofs can increase green space in urban landscapes, potentially providing new habitat for wildlife. We surveyed birds and arthropods, an important food source for birds, on green roofs and nearby comparable conventional (non-green) roofs in New York City during spring migration and summer breeding seasons. We predicted that green roofs would have a greater abundance and richness of both birds and arthropods than conventional roofs during both migration and the breeding season for birds. Furthermore, we predicted we would find more urban avoider and urban utilizer bird species on green roofs than conventional roofs. We found that both birds and arthropods were more abundant and rich on green roofs than conventional roofs. In addition, green roofs hosted more urban avoider and utilizer bird species than conventional roofs. Our study shows that birds use green roofs as stopover habitat during migration and as foraging habitat during the breeding season. Establishing green roofs in urban landscapes increases the amount of habitat available for migrating and breeding birds and can partially mitigate the loss of habitat due to increasing urbanization.
Project description:Recent studies have highlighted the ecological, economic and social benefits assured by green roof technology to urban areas. However, green roofs are very hostile environments for plant growth because of shallow substrate depths, high temperatures and irradiance and wind exposure. This study provides experimental evidence for the importance of accurate selection of plant species and substrates for implementing green roofs in hot and arid regions, like the Mediterranean area. Experiments were performed on two shrub species (Arbutus unedo L. and Salvia officinalis L.) grown in green roof experimental modules with two substrates slightly differing in their water retention properties, as derived from moisture release curves. Physiological measurements were performed on both well-watered and drought-stressed plants. Gas exchange, leaf and xylem water potential and also plant hydraulic conductance were measured at different time intervals following the last irrigation. The substrate type significantly affected water status. Arbutus unedo and S. officinalis showed different hydraulic responses to drought stress, with the former species being substantially isohydric and the latter one anisohydric. Both A. unedo and S. officinalis were found to be suitable species for green roofs in the Mediterranean area. However, our data suggest that appropriate choice of substrate is key to the success of green roof installations in arid environments, especially if anisohydric species are employed.
Project description:Green roofs, which are roofs with growing substrate and vegetation, can provide habitat for arthropods in cities. Maintaining a diversity of arthropods in an urban environment can enhance the functions they fill, such as pest control and soil development. Theory suggests that the creation of a heterogeneous environment on green roofs would enhance arthropod diversity. Several studies have examined how arthropod diversity can be enhanced on green roofs, and particularly whether substrate properties affect the arthropod community, but a gap remains in identifying the effect of substrate heterogeneity within a green roof on the arthropod community. In this paper, it is hypothesized that creating heterogeneity in the substrate would directly affect the diversity and abundance of some arthropod taxa, and indirectly increase arthropod diversity through increased plant diversity. These hypotheses were tested using green roof plots in four treatments of substrate heterogeneity: (1) homogeneous dispersion; (2) mineral heterogeneity-with increased tuff concentration in subplots; (3) organic heterogeneity-with decreased compost concentrations in subplots; (4) both mineral and organic heterogeneity. Each of the four treatments was replicated twice on each of three roofs (six replicates per treatment) in a Mediterranean region. There was no effect of substrate heterogeneity on arthropod diversity, abundance, or community composition, but there were differences in arthropod communities among roofs. This suggests that the location of a green roof, which can differ in local climatic conditions, can have a strong effect on the composition of the arthropod community. Thus, arthropod diversity may be promoted by building green roofs in a variety of locations throughout a city, even if the roof construction is similar on all roofs.
Project description:We present the first major systematic study of land snail diversity on green roofs. We surveyed 27 green roofs and the adjacent ground habitat in six major cities in the southeastern United States. We found a total of 18 species of land snails, with three considered to be non-native or invasive species. The majority of land snails encountered in surveys are widespread, generalist species, typically adapted to open habitats. Twelve of the land snails encountered are "greenhouse" species that are very commonly transported via the horticultural trade. Therefore, we infer that at least some land snail species are introduced to green roofs via initial green roof installation and associated landscaping. The major determinants of snail species richness and abundance are the size of each roof and the quality of green roof maintenance regime.
Project description:This study investigates the effects of sieved wastes generated from the brewing industry on lightweight aggregates manufactured with clay. Sludge from a wastewater treatment plant, bagasse and diatomaceous earth were used to obtain the samples. These wastes are usually dumped in landfills, but the current increase in restrictions on dumping and interest in improving the environment make our proposal for gaining value from these wastes a significant contribution. Laboratory tests show that the new aggregate has low bulk density and increased water absorption and porosity. The thermographic camera results provide evidence that new aggregates have significant insulating properties and are suitable for use on green roofs.
Project description:Green roofs are used increasingly to alleviate peaks of water discharge into the sewage systems in urban areas. Surface runoff from roofs contain pollutants from dry and wet deposition, and green roofs offer a possibility to reduce the amounts of pollutants in the water discharged from roofs by degradation and filtering. These pollutants would otherwise enter wastewater treatments plants and ultimately end up in sewage sludge that is spread on agricultural soils. The most common substrates used in green roofs have limited capacity for filtration and sorption. Also, more sustainable alternatives are sought, due to the high carbon footprint of these materials. Biochar is a carbon-rich material produced by pyrolysis of biomass, and several types of biochar have been described as good sorbents and filter materials. Biochar is also a light and carbon negative material, which may fulfill other desired criteria for new green roof substrates. We here report on an experiment where two types of biochar, produced from olive husks at 450 °C or from forest waste at 850 ° C were mixed with volcanic rock or peat, and tested for retention capacity of phenanthrene and six heavy metals in a column experiment with unsaturated gravimetric water flow lasting for 3 weeks. The results suggest that biochar as a component in green roof substrates perform better than traditional materials, concerning retention of the tested pollutants, and that different types of biochar have different properties in this respect.
Project description:In fully mechanized caving mining of extra-thick coal seams, the movement range of overburden is wide, resulting in the breakage of multilayer hard roofs in overlying large spaces. However, the characteristics, morphology and impact effect of hard roofs at different levels are different and unclear. In this study, a secondary development was used in the numerical simulation software ABAQUS, and the caving of rock strata in the finite-element software was realized. The bearing stress distribution, fracturing morphology and impact energy characteristics of hard roofs at different levels were studied to reflect the action and difference of hard roof failure on the working face; thus, revealing the mechanism of the strong ground pressure in stopes, and providing a theoretical basis for the safe and efficient mining of extra-thick coal seams with hard roofs.