The BioBerm™: A Better Way Towards Biodiverse Roofs

What is a BioBerm™

BioBerm™s are rounded mound of growing medium augmented on an otherwise level green roof. They offer a natural, seamless way to combine extensive and intensive systems on one roof. This not only adds visual interests but supports more varieties of plants and a wider range of wildlife. Biodiverse roofs can contribute up to 2 points under LEED v4.1 “Sustainable Sites – Protect or Restore Habitat”.  See Portfolio of Green Roofs with Bioberms™

Why use a BioBerm™

While intensive systems support greater biodiversity, they can be too heavy and/or expensive for many projects. BioBerm™ is a smart way to creatively manage structural and cost limitations. Designers can strategically add depth to those parts of roof that can support the added load, such as over a load-bearing beam or near a structural wall, while keeping weight and cost low with an extensive system on the rest of the roof.

Create Different Microclimates and Microhabitats

In addition, the transition between extensive and intensive systems creates localized hills and valleys on the roof. The hills favour drought tolerant plants while the valleys support taller and denser vegetation, which attract different insects, birds and wildlife. As a result, BioBerms can create different microclimates and microhabitats to support potentially higher biodiversity than an intensive system.

In Toronto, stormwater is often stored in underground cisterns to meet site runoff requirements. This water is reused through irrigation or toilet flushing to create storage space for the next rain event. BioBerms enable designers to combine plants with high and low irrigation needs on one roof, so the green roof will evapotranspirate more when water is available but perverse moisture when the tank is empty.


How to Create a BioBerm™?

Although not necessary, a good way to create a BioBerm™  is to cover the entire growing substrate surface with a pre-vegetated sedum mat. Simply cut slits and plant plugs through the openings into the growing medium underneath. The pre-vegetated mat has many benefits to offer.


Sedum Mat is an Instant Green “Cover Crop”  

While the native plant plugs grow, the sedum mat prevents wind and water erosion of the growing medium during establishment. It also acts as a “living mulch” to preserve soil moisture, reduce irrigation needs and minimize airborne weed encroachment.

Many native and adapted vegetation will thrive in 100-200 mm of growing medium in the BioBerm™. Select plants whose natural habitats are similar to the rooftops and avoid invasive species. Design plant palettes that offer longer bloom time to provide nectars for bees and butterflies and produce seeds and berries for birds. City of Toronto’s Design Guidelines for Biodiverse Green Roofs is an excellent resource in creating a successful biodiverse green roof.

Want to learn more?

Design a biodiverse green roof attend our upcoming live WEBINAR, CLICK HERE. 


More than 2M SQFT supplied coast to coastNext Level Stormwater Management logo in bold blue with logo above in blue and green

Next Level Stormwater Management  is Canada’s leading supplier of pre-vegetated roofs such as LiteN’Less™, Xeroflor® and StormCap™ systems. We customize to local requirements and offer warranty and maintenance support. Our team provides analytical support such as ​stormwater calculations specific to location ​and building/roof type. As a Purple-Roof partner, Next Level Stormwater Management has access to the latest green roof stormwater test data and related innovative hydrologic modeling tool.

Email or call (416) 637-5772 Ext 1 to transform your roof.Urbanscape Detention logo by Knauf Insulation

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Unbiased, scientific research for the green infrastructure industry.