Assessing the fire risk of vegetated roofs includes the determination of their possible contribution to fire. Green roof components such as plants and growing media are organic materials and present a fuel that can catch and support the spread of fire. The flammability characteristics of these components were analyzed and compared to a typical roof covering. Growing media with 15% of organic matter were tested using cone calorimeter apparatus. The fuel load and heat release rate of the growing media were measured in both moist (30%) and dry conditions. It was observed that growing media in a moist condition do not present a fire risk, reaching a maximum heat release rate of 33 kW/m2. For dry substrates, a peak heat release rate of 95 kW/m2 was recorded in the first minute, which then rapidly decreased to 29 kW/m2 in the second minute. Compared to a typical bitumen roof membrane, the green roof showed a better fire performance. The literature data report more severe results for plant behavior, reaching peak heat release rates (HRRs) of 397 kW/m2 for dried and 176 kW/m2 for a green material. However, a rapid decrease in HRR to much lower values occurs in less than 2 min. The results also show that extensive and intensive types of green roofs present 22% and 95% of the additional fire load density when installed on a modified bitumen membrane, 19.7 and 85.8 MJ/m2, respectively.
Flammability Characteristics of Green Roofs