Green Roof Strategy

Many cities have already developed successful Green Roof strategies. Depending on local needs and resources, different emphasis has been put on the 3 modules “Regulations”, “Initiatives” and “Public Relations and Education”. The practical insights gained from these strategies can be found in the “Municipal Case Studies” section.

Experience has shown that it is advisable to establish the position of a municipal Green Roof manager who will coordinate the Green Roof strategy. This is particularly important because regulations, incentives and public relation activities are handled by different municipal departments. Even the best Green Roof strategy might fail if staffing requirements have not been developed sufficiently. The Green Roof manager also serves as a first point of contact for public enquiries. Other responsibilities carried by the manager include internal training for the various departments, political body reporting, and incorporating the Green Roof policy in the municipal climate protection and climate change adaption strategies. The aim should be to create an optimally developed Green Roof strategy which is firmly anchored in the political and administrative bodies and which pairs the “Green Roof Policy Toolkit” to the municipal resources. We have compiled the most important steps to reach this target.

Development of a Green Roof Strategy

Step 1: Kick-Off-Meeting - Motivation for the Green Roof Strategy

A “round table” with representatives from the various municipal departments (e.g. Building and Urban Development Department, Garden Department, Nature Conservation and Environmental Department, Storm water and Tax Department, Business Development Department and Public Relations Department) and the city council is a good starting point. The Kick-Off-Meeting should provide information about the basic principles of Green Roof technology and demonstrate the potential of Green Roofs in improving the urban environment. The following questions should be discussed so that the Green Roof strategy can be adapted to local conditions:

Result: Clarification of the Green Roof strategy; creation of a road map for the development and implementation of a municipal Green Roof strategy; creation of a network for information exchange.

Recommendations: Remember to take both current environmental problems and future challenges into account when considering the potential of Green Roofs. Climate change will have a particularly strong effect on cities. The extra green spaces on rooftops can be important buffers for the expected increase in precipitation and temperature extremes. This should be reflected when creating models of a sustainable and climate adapted city development.

Step 2: Workshop - Module “Regulations”

The Green Roof Policy Tools in Module 1 “Regulations” have a mid to long term impact. Extensive and intensive planning is therefore required when choosing and designing the instruments and the respective departments and political authorities must be involved. The introduction of environmental regulations is often opposed by contractors and investors. The following, and similar, questions should therefore be discussed during the workshop:

Result: Selection of appropriate Green Roof Policy Tools from Module 1 “Regulations”; adaption to local conditions; coordination with tools from the Modules “Incentives” and “Public Relations”.

Recommendations: Accompanying direct and indirect financial incentives (see Module 2 “Incentives”) can help with the acceptance of regulations, or provide replacement, where the application of “Module 1) is limited (e.g. for existing buildings and renovations). The introduction of “Regulations” should also include information for private builders and investors about the municipal environmental goals.

Step 3 - Workshop - Module “Incentives”

Direct and indirect financial incentives are the second module of the municipal Green Roof strategy. They can be short term and locally restricted (e.g. direct financial incentives) or of a mid and long term nature applying to the whole urban area (stormwater tax reduction). The spatial impact, together with the financial framework, therefore also has an important role. The following questions can help start the discussion:

Result: Selection of possible instruments from Module 2 “Incentives”; support of and addition to the measures from the “Regulations” and “Public Relations” modules. 

Recommendations: Financial incentives also act as an attractive supporting message for a general publicity campaign for more urban green.

Step 4: Workshop - Module “Public Relations”

The third workshop deals with information gaps, both on the side of citizens and investors (external communication) and within the administration and political decision making bodies (internal communication), and how these gaps can be closed. Publicity campaigns play an important role in communicating Green Roof strategies and in supporting instruments from the “Regulations” and “Incentives” modules. The following questions, amongst others, therefore need to be answered:

Result: Identification of information gaps; coordination of modules 1-3 for a synergy effect; development of a coherent and comprehensive Green Roof campaign.

Recommendations: The value of internal communication for the successful establishment and implementation of a municipal Green Roof strategy cannot be stressed enough. Presentations and reports showcasing current research, environmental advantages and “Best Practice” examples of Green Roofs can be important tools in assuaging doubts and closing information gaps. Political bodies must be included in the planning and development of a Green Roof strategy so that it is firmly anchored in the municipal development standards. Public opinion still harbours many prejudices concerning Green Roofs (e.g. the cost of Green Roof installation, damage to the roof waterproofing from roots) which can only be overcome through an active communication policy. The environmental and economic advantages together with the visual pleasure of a Green Roof create an attractive package which can be convincingly communicated. Additional information about municipal Green Roof promotional tools also paves the way for acceptance among private builders and investors. The information campaign will have a broad basis right from the start if environmental associations, educational institutions, the local economy lobby and householder representatives are involved.


The results of the workshops provide the basis for implementing a comprehensive municipal Green Roof strategy. A second “round table” should prepare the resolutions for the political decision making bodies. At first glance, preparing a municipal Green Roof strategy by way of “round tables” and successive workshops might seem unduly laborious. However, it pays off. A consistent vision which is well established and communicated in the administration and municipal politics can reduce future bureaucracy and delays in implementation. It also builds the basis for the efficient and long-lasting use of Green Roofs in the urban environment.