The Potential Carbon Offset Represented by a Green Roof

George, Ammy Marie, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia

As a roof covered by plant material, a green roof is purported to have the potential to mitigate CO2 emissions in urban areas. This thesis offers an academic review for two avenues of research that provide seemingly reasonable methods to reduce C02 in the atmosphere: carbon sequestration and reduction of the demand for energy generated from the combustion of fossil fuels. The first avenue is the carbon sequestration potential of a green roof which centers on the plants: i.e. the plant biomass represents the C02 taken up through photosynthesis. The second avenue of reducing C02 involves a reduction in the quantity ofenergy that commercial users demand to heat and cool a space. The magnitude of the carbon offset depends upon the plant selection, soil depth and irrigation regime on the green roof Academically, the carbon offset under optimal conditions could be as much as 1.22 kg C02 m'2 yr'1. This thesis will provide a review of both avenues to demonstrate how the variables of plant type, soil depth and irrigation regime affect the carbon offset potential of a green roof Additionally, this thesis will offer a critical assessment of the feasibility of the two avenues in the world beyond the scientific setting.

MA (Master of Arts)
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