Course:FRST370/Assessing the design and implementation of green roofs in Beijing, China: lessons in multi-stakeholder processes

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This case study will examine both the design and the policy aspects of implementing green roofs in Beijing, China. In the first part, this research will mainly focus on how the green roof is designed and installed on the complex building constructions, especially within a large population of residents. Then in the second part, this study will conduct a review of what are some policies toward green roofs and how the Chinese government implements policy to the huge amount of population. At the end, this paper will briefly discuss the challenging issues of implementation of green roofs in terms of high construction cost, high maintenance cost and opposition from residents.


A bird’s view of the green roof of Beijing University of Chinese Medicine.

As the capital city of China, Beijing is highly urbanized. In 2014, the permanent resident population of Beijing was 21.516 million, with a density of 1311 persons per square kilometer.[1] The city of Beijing is located at latitude and longitude 39.93°N and 116.28°E [2]. And Beijing is characterized by a temperate monsoon climate, so winter is cold and dry, and in the summer it is hot and rainy. It has an average precipitation of 542.6 mm/year[1]. However, with the rapid urbanization spreading across China, living standards inside buildings are improving at a fast rate, more and more buildings are being built, resulting in an increased building density and a decreasing available area of urban greening. Thus, it leads to a lot of environmental issues such as air pollution, sand storms, urban heat island, and rainstorm. According to a long-term study, the urban-to-rural temperature difference can reach as much as 8 °C in the winter at night[3].

Under the circumstances, an increase in green roofs will be the right solution. Green roofs could potentially contribute to reducing outdoor summer temperatures and improve indoor temperatures in a way that heating and cooling energy loads are reduced[2]. Also, green roofs can reduce peak flow and runoff, because the vegetation and substrate layers have abilities to store a large amount of water. [4] Thus, significantly reducing the rainstorm flooding even if only 20% of potential roofs are transformed to green roofs[5].

Therefore, since 2005, the city of Beijing has been paying attention to the development the green roof techniques. Only in 2005, Beijing total created 180000 square meter green roofs. By the end of 2008, hundreds of buildings with green roofs had been built, covering an area of more than 1 million square meters. At present, more than 100,000 square meters of green roofs are being constructed in Beijing every year.

Tenure arrangements

Communal Property

As one of the significant experimental cities, Beijing has implemented thousands of green roof projects across different districts of Beijing, including Chaoyang District, Dongcheng District, Xicheng District, Haidian District, and Huairou District. In Beijing, the tenure of green roofs is shared by multiple stakeholders, including The People's Government of Beijing Municipality (PGBM), local Beijing Forestry and Park Bureau (BFPB), and individual facility owners in 2008. A quick background of 2008, Beijing hosted the Olympics, so the municipal government wanted to build more green projects. Most of the new construction and maintenance fees of implementing green roofs adjacent to the main street or the Olympic facilities were divided into three parts. While the Beijing municipal government, known as PGBM provided 1/3 of cost, local BFPB and building owners paid the rest[6].

Local Governmental Property

In recent years, the local district government, such as Haidian Forestry and Park Bureau, is entirely in charge of the green roofs in the Haidian District. As all the investments are from the Haidian District government, the local government assigns the project to an agent construction company to build the green roofs on local schools, hospitals, and restaurants [7]. Different Beijing district governments hold different property rights over green roofs.

Private Property

Some private owners hold their property right of the green roof, as they invest in the whole project. As an aesthetic way of decorating the roof of the building, luxury hotel owners build green roofs for better quality and aesthetics of the hotel. Moreover, some house property companies retain the right over the green roofs, and some individual residents also have the rights of the green roof as they establish a green roof on their roofs.

Administrative arrangements

The Timeline of Administrative Policies

Due to the limitation of techniques, cost, material, and research on green roofs, the application of green roofs is relatively late in China, compared with other developed countries. After the first establishment of the green roof in Changcheng Restaurant in 1983, the Beijing municipal government has placed effort into establishing the policies and regulations about the development of green roofs.

In 1990, Beijing District Forestry and Beijing Municipal Commission of Planning of Green Space released the Beijing Green Space Regulation, which is not actually related to a green roof. However, this policy is the foundation of the future development of green roofs, as it integrated the concept of greening city into Beijing.

Later in 2002, both administrations published the policy of Beijing Construction of Green Space, and the system considered the space of green roof as one of the standards of green space requirement in Beijing. The purpose of this policy was to require a wide range of public facilities and constructions with a measure of green space not less than a satisfied percent. This policy not only did push the development of green roofs in Beijing but also in China.

In 2005, Beijing District Forestry and Park Bureau published the Standardization of Green Roofs, which set up the standard of specific plants, techniques, design, and cultivation of green roofs in Beijing. This standard has specified groups of administrators to reach the goal of what municipal set.

In 2010, Beijing District Forestry and Park Bureau reinforced the policy of implementing a green roof, and this policy also encouraged Beijing residents to learn the benefits of green roofs as a way of advertising. [8]

Affected Stakeholders

Affected stakeholder is an individual group that has an interest in any decision or activity of an organization[9]. [No, this is NOT a correct meaning]

Beijing Residents

As green roofs are implemented on the roof, Beijing residents are connected with the green roof project. Some of the residents need to pay a small amount of money as the green roof is implemented on their own building. They have the right to visit the roof green space. At the same time, some residents refuse to pay this money because of financial issues, a lack of education on pollution and other factors.

Beijing Rooftop Landscaping Association

As one of the legal social associations of green roofs, Beijing Rooftop Landscaping Association (BRLA) is to advertise the benefits of green roofs and its related new concept to the public. BRLA supports Beijing local government, as they mainly provide theory and research, results of evaluation, technical support and public education.

The People's Government of Beijing Municipality

The People's Government of Beijing Municipality is the highest level government to manage the whole green roof project. Their role is to discuss the basic concept of green roof, including the standard of the planting techniques, certain species for planting, rewarding and punishing system.

Beijing Forestry and Park Bureau

Beijing Forestry and Park Bureau's main role is to release the policies which are related to implementation of green roofs. As the most important components, BFPB provides technical guides and instructions to the construction company.

Agent Company

As BFPB assigns the specific green roof project to the agent, construction company or green space planning company is in charge of building up the green roof. They follow the rules which have previously set up by municipal government, and they also control the construction site when they do the work.

Interested Outside Stakeholders

Interested outside stakeholders can be understood as individuals or user groups outside a business or project, but who can affect or be affected by the company or project[10].


As Beijing is the capital city of China, foreign tourists always choose Beijing as the first stop in China. As the area of green roofs increases, the environment has been improved, and attracts more tourists to visit Beijing. Thus, green roofs not only provide a good impression of Beijing to tourists and also helps the local economy. In 2018, about 4.004 million foreigners visited China, and approximately 306.932 million domestic tourists [to Beijing?] [11]. Therefore, visitors will be one of the interested outside stakeholders.

Green roof practitioners

Interested outside stakeholders can be landscapers, green roof scholars, or other green roof practitioners. Since 2005, the green roof in China is developing rapidly. In China, Beijing is the first city to have taken green roofs seriously and gets support from the government to develop them[12]. However, western developed countries successfully built roof gardens and roof greening projects of various scales, from the end of 1960[13]. Compare with those west developed countries, Chinese green technology started relatively late. Thus, many scholars and engineers set Beijing as the test city to study the green roof technology and relevant policy to develop the green roof in the whole of China.

Nursery business

As the green roof area increased, the demand for seedlings has also risen too. Thus, nursery business gets developed, helps economic growth for those regions as a nursery for the main business.


The rapid development of the city over the past two decades has placed a substantial environmental burden on Beijing. As idle land is scarce in urban areas, Beijing launched urban vertical greening projects from 2011 to 2017, and the total area of green roofs in Beijing has reached 2 million meters. From 2017 to 2020, Beijing plans to convert more than 100,000-120,000 square meters of building roofs to green roofs[3].

  • In Beijing, the green roofs are not perfect yet, still have lots of room for improvement. There are two problems present in existing green roofs. The first problem is most ceilings are not open to the public. At present, there are not many green roofs with leisure functions in Beijing, and most of them are owned by government organs, enterprises, schools, mainly for internal use, and rarely open to the outside world. Most of these schools are closed to students for safety reasons unless they have appropriate guardrails and other safety measures[14].
  • The second problem is the existing green roof may damage existing buildings. Usually, the roof structure was completed before the roof garden designed. How much weight can the roof structure still bear is the prerequisite for our roof design. If the plan exceeds the design load on the top of the building, the roof structure will be in a dangerous state at any time, which is a taboo in roof garden design. Therefore, when designing the roof garden, we should consider the weight range of the design content, the thickness of planting soil, the maximum size of planting trees, etc[14].
  • Policymakers should realize the importance of individual behavior in environmental protection and encourage more researchers to research the relevant behavior. By a more detailed understanding of how people decide, the government can gain insights into traditional policy tools, and design a creative and motivated strategy to enable more Beijing residents to learn the pro-environmental intention[3].


As the highest level of government, the municipal government known as PGBM administers the lower-level government. Beijing Forestry and Park Bureau (BFPB) is a lower-level division of PGBM that has mainly managed the whole Beijing parks, and projects relating to urban forestry planning. Each Beijing district has its forestry and park bureau to assign some specific projects to the agent companies such as construction companies and greening company. The benefit of this level of administration is apparent that each component has its assignment to work on. The PGBM is to bring new concepts or new instructions to the lower level administration so they can focus on one assignment, and the second level BFPB writes these instructions and concepts to the agent company that they can follow the specific guidelines and regulations.

However, on the other hand, this kind of levels of administration has drawbacks. The highest level of government is not able to efficiently communicate with the agent company if the guidelines or the instructions do not fit some specific situations.


Overall, the green roof is a quite big system project; it involves policy, regulation, estate, property management, municipal plan, afforestation, fire protection, technology, and capital sources. Thus, have a good system design, and systematic supporting facilities are the basic requirements for the green roof. Beijing roof greening work to solve the problem is mainly reflected in the following three aspects: national policy, technology implementation, concept promotion. [Who] Should coordinate domestic roof afforestation from these three respects, develop roof afforestation correctly, reasonable science.

The absence of green roof regulations and laws is still a challenging problem in China. Therefore, the municipal government still needs to put more effort into researching literature on the discussion of the green roof policy and legal issues by analyzing the systems from foreign developed countries such as the United States and European countries.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Zhou, D., Liu, Y., Hu, S., Hu, D., Neto, S., & Zhang, Y. (2019). Assessing the hydrological behaviour of large-scale potential green roofs retrofitting scenarios in Beijing. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 40, 105–113. doi: 10.1016/j.ufug.2017.12.010
  2. 2.0 2.1 Kokogiannakis, G., & Darkwa, J. (2014). Support for the integration of green roof constructions within Chinese building energy performance policies. Energy, 65, 71–79. doi: 10.1016/
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Zhang, L., Fukuda, H., & Liu, Z. (2019). Households willingness to pay for green roof for mitigating heat island effects in Beijing (China). Building and Environment, 150, 13–20. doi: 10.1016/j.buildenv.2018.12.048
  4. Shafique, M., Kim, R., & Rafiq, M. (2018). Green roof benefits, opportunities and challenges – A review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 90, 757–773. doi: 10.1016/j.rser.2018.04.006
  5. Zhou, D., Liu, Y., Hu, S., Hu, D., Neto, S., & Zhang, Y. (2019). Assessing the hydrological behaviour of large-scale potential green roofs retrofitting scenarios in Beijing. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 40, 105–113. doi: 10.1016/j.ufug.2017.12.010
  6. Zhang, Y., Xu, P., Wang, H., Feng, C., & Yang, H. (2010). Application of Green Roof Techniques in Beijing, China. 2010 International Conference on Management and Service Science. doi: 10.1109/icmss.2010.5577372
  7. "The 2018 Green Roof Construction in Haidian District". 全国公共资源交易平台(北京市). 2019-05-09.
  8. "Beijing Green Space Regulation". Nov 20, 2009.
  10. Morphy. (2019, June 9). External Stakeholders: Who are External Stakeholders? Retrieved from
  11. China: Beijing: Visitor Arrival: ytd: Economic Indicators: CEIC. (2019, September 1). Retrieved from
  12. 刘 博杰, 王 仕豪, 逯 非 , 王 雪妍 , Jensen, M. B., 郑 善文, … 赵 克贤. (2017). 北京市城区 2005—2015 年屋顶绿化发展趋势、 分布格局及政策推动. Chinese Journal of Ecology, 37(5), 1509–1517. doi: DOI: 10.13292/j.1000-4890.201805.005
  13. Zhou, L., & Di, Y. (2013). Present Research Situation and Prospect Analysis of Green Roofs (绿色屋顶的研究现状及前景分析). 洁净与空调技术CC&AC    , 3, 49–54. Retrieved from
  14. 14.0 14.1 Xiao, M., Lin, Y., Han, J., & Zhang, G. (2014). A review of green roof research and development in China. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 40, 633–648. doi: 10.1016/j.rser.2014.07.147

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This conservation resource was created by Xuan Chen, Yupeng Sun.