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The momentum behind using the roofscape to attenuate storm water as a SuDS mechanism continues to grow. The uptake of this method, referred to as a Blue Roof, will be further fuelled by the new London Plan. The draft of this document specifically puts blue roofs at the top of the preference hierarchy in its requirement for Sustainable Drainage. An extract from the draft document is given below.
Development proposals should aim to achieve greenfield run-off rates and ensure that surface water run-off is managed as close to its source as possible in line with the following drainage hierarchy:
  1. rainwater harvesting (including a combination of green and blue roofs)
  2. infiltration techniques and green roofs
  3. rainwater attenuation in open water features for gradual release
  4. rainwater discharge direct to a watercourse (unless not appropriate)
  5. rainwater attenuation above ground (including blue roofs)
  6. rainwater attenuation below ground
  7. rainwater discharge to a surface water sewer or drain
  8. rainwater discharge to a combined sewer.

Despite this, there is limited thorough design guidance on blue roofs.  CIRIA have recognised this and have commenced the plan to develop guidance on the delivering blue roofs, but there remains limited understanding across many of those asked to design or install such systems.

Engineer Carl Harrop was instrumental in driving the early focus on blue roofs as an important and cost effective element in the sustainable management of rainwater flows and his paper in the CIBSE journal in 2010 was seen by many as the catalyst for the move toward widespread uptake.

At the time, Carl was Technical Director at consultants WSP, but he saw that many consultants, clients and contractors lacked access to experienced and independent design support.  This lead to Carl recently setting up Watershed Engineering a consulting engineering practice specialising in providing blue roof, SuDS and rainwater harvesting independent support.

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