Can green roofs help with stormwater floods? A geospatial planning approach

Cian Twohig, Ylenia Casali, Nazli Yonca Aydin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


Increasing urbanization, impervious space, and the impact of climate change are threatening the future of cities. Nature-based solutions, specifically urban green infrastructures, are seen as a sustainable strategy to increase resilience against extreme weather events, including the escalating occurrence of stormwater runoff flooding. Consequently, urban planners and decision-makers have pushed their efforts toward implementing green infrastructure solutions to reduce the impact of stormwater floods. Among others, green roofs help store water and decrease stormwater runoff impacts on a local scale. This research aims to investigate the effect of surface permeability and green roof implementation on reducing stormwater flooding and subsequently provide urban planners with evidence-based geospatial planning recommendations to improve urban resilience in Helsinki. First, we modeled the current impact of stormwater flooding using the Arc-Malstrom model in Helsinki. The model was used to identify districts under high stormwater flood risk. Then, we zoomed in to a focus area and tested a combination of scenarios representing four levels of green roof implementation, two levels of green roof infiltration rates under 40-, 60-, 80-, 100 mm precipitation events on the available rooftops. We utilized open geographic data and geospatial data science principles implemented in the GIS environment to conduct this study. Our results showed that low-level implementation of green roofs with low retention rates reduces the average flood depth by only 1 %. In contrast, the maximum green roof scenario decreased most of the average flood depth (13 %) and reduced the number of vulnerable sites. The proposed methodology can be used for other cities to develop evidence-based plans for green roof implementations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number127724
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Evidence-based planning
  • Geospatial planning
  • Green roofs
  • Resilience
  • Stormwater flooding

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