THE TALON

Can Green Roofs Reduce the Effects of Sea-Level Rise Flooding?

Kayakers+explore+the+Charleston+Market+during+a+flood.+
Kayakers explore the Charleston Market during a flood.

Kayakers explore the Charleston Market during a flood.

Kayakers explore the Charleston Market during a flood.

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In a study conducted for my senior thesis,I found that if implemented in the Charleston market, green roofs will offset a lot of the water that would originally have run off the roofs and onto the street.

The visual to the left is a representation of my findings. Charleston uses a baseline 25 year 24 hour storm when planning projects.I  decided to use this to display the difference in street water depth with green roofs as opposed to without green roofs. Keep in mind that this water depth only applies to depth of water from runoff, not depth overall.

The reason that this data is significant is that it shows how green roofs, if implemented, would reduce the amount of surface water in the streets. Reducing the amount of water from rooftop runoff by 50% would have a positive impact on mitigating the amount of standing water in Downtown Charleston at times when it has already started flooding. Green roofs would not play a role in preventing flooding, but would instead be beneficial to reduce the overall volume and depth of water once Downtown Charleston has already begun to flood.

The research has provided valuable information about a cost-effective way to mitigate flooding during storms and storm surges, specifically in the Historic Downtown Charleston Market. Hopefully, this project can serve as insight for the committee in charge of reducing flooding in Charleston, in hopes that they see the value in cheap, green solutions. This study shows how effective simple solutions such as green roofs can be, and combining multiple simpler solutions may be more effective than one large scale solution. Hopefully this project attracts the interest of city planners who will see the value in these solutions.

The increased flooding is costing the city millions of dollars, with most of the focus being on drainage work, and while this is beneficial in mitigating flooding, there are alternative solutions that can help in times of complete inundation. Green solutions can be implemented that help reduce standing water in streets, especially in times where the drainage systems are at a standstill. This study shows the efficiency and water retention ability of green roofs in the market.

Below is a copy of the data from my study. Terms 1-100 year refer to the severity of the storm based on NOAA’s Point Precipitation Frequency Index. Letters refer to specific market buildings. Unretained volume is the volume that passes through the green roofs without being retained.

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