October 20, 2009

Rooftop Agriculture: Greenroofs as Productive Envelopes

Daniel Roehr MBCSLA CSLA AK-B
Assistant Professor, Landscape Architect Greenskins Lab School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture University of British Columbia

Growing fruits and vegetables on rooftops has a number of benefits similar to those of an extensive green roof, such as retaining rainwater, improving air quality and biodiversity, increasing thermal resistance. In addition, they provide local and organic food, training and education opportunities to a community, and, potentially, create jobs. However, green roofs intended for agricultural use need to be designed in close relation to local climate. This study explores the potential for green roof agriculture based on local rainfall and irrigation needs in coastal cities on the Pacific Rim, such as Shanghai, P.R. China, Tokyo, Japan and Vancouver, BC. • Shanghai, P.R. China: The average annual precipitation is 1255mm. A large percentage (78%) of this is generated from April to October. The annual rainfall would largely cover the water needs of crops. During a year with average rainfall, high water use crops would require 182mm of additional irrigation per year. To create a sustainable water cycle for rooftop agriculture in this location, it is therefore recommended to store a small amount of rainwater for irrigation needs. • Tokyo, Japan: The average annual precipitation is 1482mm. Most of it (84%) falls from April to October. The annual rainfall would largely cover the water needs of crops. During a year with average rainfall, high water use crops would require 77mm of additional irrigation per year. Rooftop agriculture in this location does not necessarily require rainwater storage or grey water recycling. • Vancouver, BC, Canada: The average annual precipitation is 1224mm, but only 24% of this falls from April to October. The annual rainfall would not cover the water needs of crops. During a year with average rainfall, high water use crops would require 717mm of additional irrigation per year. To create a sustainable water cycle for rooftop agriculture in this location, it is vital to provide rainwater storage and grey water recycling.

© Greenskin Lab

greenskins lab
www.greenskinslab.sala.ubc.ca

October 20, 2009

Calculated results show that both Shanghai and Tokyo are appropriate locations for green roof agriculture, as they both experience an important amount of rainfall during the summer months when irrigation is most urgently needed. Due to scarce rainfall during the summer months in Vancouver, water re-use - by means of winter rainwater storage or grey water recycling - will be needed to cover irrigation needs. Even though cities like Vancouver require additional technology for green roof agriculture to attain a largely self-sustaining water use cycle, many case studies show that green roof agriculture can create successful “productive” green envelopes that have the potential to offer additional benefits such as community involvement, job creation and environmental improvement. For more detailed information, please contact Greenskins Lab at www.greenskinslab.sala.ubc.ca

© Greenskin Lab

greenskins lab
www.greenskinslab.sala.ubc.ca

October 20, 2009

Rooftop Agriculture: Greenroofs as Productive Envelopes

PV

1

Green Roof Agriculture: Sustainable Cycle
· Rainwater harvesting · PV energy for irrigation and building · Benefits (Social, Environmental, Economic)

H2O

CR

OP

Produce crop & $ Increase thermal performance Grow community Educate

Bu

ild

ing

2

Climate: precipitation
Pacific Ocean

Shanghai, P.R. China Annual precipitation: 1255mm 400 mm

Tokyo, Japan Annual precipitation: 1482mm

Vancouver, BC Annual precipitation: 1224mm

0 mm

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Shanghai, P.R.China

Tokyo, Japan

Vancouver, BC

© Greenskin Lab

greenskins lab
www.greenskinslab.sala.ubc.ca

October 20, 2009

3

Rainwate Storage and Crop Water Need
Green roof agriculture vs. urban farm · No infiltration · Limited soil depth and water retention capacity · Limited availability of organic matter

Potential rainwater available for storage Crop water need (Evapotranspiration) Irrigation requirement

400 mm

0 mm
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Shanghai, P.R.China

Tokyo, Japan

Vancouver, BC

462mm

Grey water

182mm

H2O

77mm

H2O H2O

Annual irrigation requirement

Shanghai P.R. China

Rainwater cistern

Tokyo Japan

Not required

Vancouver, BC Canada

Rainwater cistern

© Greenskin Lab

greenskins lab
www.greenskinslab.sala.ubc.ca

October 20, 2009

Rooftop Agriculture: Greenroofs as Productive Envelopes

4

Case studies
Hakutsuru Sake Company Rooftop Ginza, Tokyo Key benefits: economic, social
Size: 70 sq m

Objective:
Create a rooftop rice field to demonstrate how rice grows and is used to brew sake. Provide education and information opportunities. -- City Farmer Info http://www.cityfarmer.info
Hakutsuru Sake Company Rooftop Ginza, Tokyo

The Green Potato Project Tokyo Key benefits: economic, environmental

Objective:
Create a rooftop farm that offers a source of jobs as well as a solution for the urban heat island effect. -- City Farmer Info http://www.cityfarmer.info

The Green Potato Project Tokyo

greenskins lab
www.greenskinslab.sala.ubc.ca

October 20, 2009

Organic Rooftop Farm Uncommon Ground Restaurant Chicago, IL Key benefits: economic, social, environmental

Objective:
Create a rooftop farm that caters to the needs of the restaurant and teaches adult volunteers and children how to grow food organically in a rooftop environment. -- City Farmer Info http://www.cityfarmer.info
Organic Rooftop Farm Uncommon Ground Restaurant Chicago, IL

YWCA Rooftop Community Food Garden Vancouver, BC Key benefits: social, economic, environmental
Size: 300 sq m

YWCA Rooftop Community Food Garden Vancouver, BC

Objective:
Create a rooftop garden that provides produce to supplement the diets of women and children on the Downtown Eastside, and teaches adults and children how to grow food in a rooftop environment.

-- YWCA Vancouver http://www.ywcavan.org

greenskins lab
www.greenskinslab.sala.ubc.ca

October 20, 2009

Roofop Agriculture: Greenroofs as Productive Envelopes

City Farm Boy Urban Agriculture CSA Vancouver, BC Key benefits: economic, environmental

Objective:
Run an urban farming as Community Supported Agriculture enterprise, promoting urban agriculture, farming and gardening as a viable and environmentally positive way to enhance landscapes and lifestyles. -- City Farm Boy http://www.cityfarmboy.com

City Farm Boy Vancouver, BC

Rooftop Kitchen Garden Fairmont Waterfront Hotel Vancouver, BC Key benefits: economic, environmental
Size: 195 sq m
Fairmont Waterfront Hotel Vancouver, BC

Objective:
Supply the hotel kitchen with fruit, vegetable, herbs and honey. Current yield worth about $16,000 annually. -- City Farmer Info http://www.cityfarmer.info

greenskins lab
www.greenskinslab.sala.ubc.ca

October 20, 2009

Greenpoint Rooftop Farm Brooklyn, NY Key benefits: economic, environmental
Size: 557 sq m

Objective:
Sell produce to local restaurants, and involve volunteers. - City Farmer Info http://www.cityfarmer.info

greenskins lab
www.greenskinslab.sala.ubc.ca

Greenpoint Rooftop Farm Brooklyn, NY