On the impact of porous media microstructure on rainfall infiltration of thin homogeneous green roof growth substrates
Journal article, 2020

Green roofs are considered an attractive alternative to standard storm water management methods; however one of the primary issues hindering their proliferation is the lack of data regarding their ability to retain and reduce storm water under a variety of climatic conditions. This lack of data is partly due to the complexity of physical processes involved, namely the heterogeneous microscopic behavior that characterize flows in unsaturated porous media. Such an anomalous behavior is difficult to predict a priori, especially in the presence of layered structures. This paper examines water infiltration of a green roof at the pore-scale with the aim to evaluate the effect of the porous microstructure in thin substrate layers. In such layers, the thickness of the medium and the particle size are within the same order of magnitude and the effect of the packing arrangement on the flow dynamics can be pronounced. In this study, three packing arrangements and two different hydraulic heads, analogous to extreme rainfall events typical of Scandinavia, are investigated by means of direct numerical simulations based on the lattice Boltzmann method. The results show that a wider variability of pore sizes in a thin medium can be linked directly to flow pathing preference and consequently less homogenized flow in the primary flow direction. This situation corresponds to intermittent flow behavior at the pore-scale level and reduced macroscopic infiltration rates. This observation unveils the possibility of designing innovative green roof growth substrates: by tuning the particle size and thickness of the layers composing the medium the desired green roof detention time can be attained.

Green roof Lattice Boltzmann Microstructure Rainfall Infiltration Substrate


Kaj Pettersson

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Building Technology

Dario Maggiolo

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences, Fluid Dynamics

Srdjan Sasic

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences, Fluid Dynamics

Pär Johansson

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Building Technology

Angela Sasic Kalagasidis

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Building Technology

Journal of Hydrology

0022-1694 (ISSN)

Vol. 582 124286

Potentials of using existing roofs for mitigation of storm water flooding risks in urban areas

Veg Tech, 2016-01-11 -- 2019-01-11.

Formas, 2015-09-01 -- 2018-12-31.

Framtiden, 2016-01-11 -- 2019-01-11.

City of Gothenburg, 2016-01-11 -- 2019-01-11.

Sintef Byggforsk, 2016-01-11 -- 2019-01-11.

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)

Subject Categories

Water Engineering

Fluid Mechanics and Acoustics

Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources


C3SE (Chalmers Centre for Computational Science and Engineering)



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