Skip to main content

Public Awareness and Acceptance

a large bus stop shelter with a green roof superimposed.
Proposed mock up of CATA (Capital Area Transit Authority) bus shelter in East Lansing

Barriers Affecting Residential Green Roof Adoption in Michigan

This study examined current perceptions of professional and lay audiences surrounding the adoption of green roofs on residential structures in Michigan.  The research team querried two audiences: 1) one thousand lay households using a telephone interview; and 2) over two hundred professionals (landscape architects, community planners, real estate appraisers, and building contractors) via a  mail survey.  Both groups received similar questions about their perceived barriers to green roof adoption on residential structures.  Responses to the survey indicated that the single greatest barrier to green roof adoption was lack of "consumer product knowledge".   The second most widely mentioned barrier was "cost per square foot".  This finding was true for both lay audiences and professional groups.  Other barriers like restrictive protective covenants, ordinances, unfavorable banking policies, or unsightly home appearance were not rated high by either survey audience.  This study is not yet complete.

Complete results have been submitted for review prior to publication.

Overcoming Current Perceptual Barriers to Green Roof Adoption: A Community Demonstration Proposal in Sustainable Design

The technical challenge in this study is to develop a mechanism to inform the public about the value of green roof technology (as a residential application to control community-wide storm water impacts) when no precedent exists and no wide-spread demonstration effort has been developed in this country to date.  Because green roofs are known to have significant eco-service benefits in protecting water resources while reducing infrastructure demands for scarce public dollars, they have been identified in many Great Lakes watershed plans as a “best management practice” (BMP) in site development. The lack of tradition in building green roofs on residential structures (and thus, little public exposure to the benefits and costs of the systems) is seen as the greatest challenge that the team will face. 

To help formulate a project design, the team asked two fundamental questions: 1) do public sites exist in a community that have high visibility and can be easily adapted for green roof systems as demonstration sites; and 2) is there some way that social media can be introduced on these demonstration sites for transferring and creating dialogue about green roof systems?  A recently complete State of the State Survey of 1,000 Michigan households by Michigan State University Institute of Public Policy and Social Research found that a quarter of homeowners (29%) were favorably inclined to green roof adoption on their homes, despite the fact that more than 92% of survey respondents “knew only a little about” or “never heard of” green roofs. The single most frequently stated “barrier” to residential green roof adoption in the survey was a “lack of public knowledge” about this form of green technology.

This study explores the feasibility of retrofitting a common structure in most Midwest communities—bus stops—with a green roof system, a modern-day adaptation of a cistern, and  “SMART” green technologies to capture, store, and recycle to the roof of the structure.  An technical information transfer strategy that uses “SMART” phone technology and various social media venues to educate the public about the benefits and costs of these green technology systems will be tested; the purpose of this part of the study is to determine which type of social media is most effective in conveying different types of information on the benefit-costs of green roofs systems for an individual residential structure- and ultimately, for community-wide adoption. Information derived from this study is critical to advancing green roof information and application advances among planners, designers, building contractors, and consumers who are interested in applying the new renewable technologies available to them.

Another bus stop with a superimposed green roof.
Proposed mock up of CATA (Capital Area Transit Authority) bus shelter showing educational opportunities