Comparing grey water versus tap water and coal ash versus perlite on growth of two plant species on green roofs

Har'el Agra, Ariel Solodar, Omar Bawab, Shay Levy, Gyongyver J. Kadas, Leon Blaustein, Noam Greenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Green roofs provide important ecosystem services in urban areas. In Mediterranean and other semi-arid climate regions, most perennial plants on green roofs need to be irrigated during the dry season. However, the use of freshwater in such regions is scarce. Therefore, the possibility of using grey water should be examined. Coal ash, produced primarily from the burning of coal in power plants, constitutes an environmental contaminant that should be disposed. One option is to use ash as a growing substrate for plants. Here, we compare the effects of irrigating with grey- versus tap-water and using ash versus perlite as growing substrates in green roofs. The study was conducted in northern Israel in a Mediterranean climate. The design was full factorial with three factors: water-type (grey or tap-water) × substrate-type (coal ash vs perlite) × plant species (Phyla nodiflora, Convolvulus mauritanicus or no-plant). The development of plants and the quality of drainage water along the season, as well as quality of the used substrates were monitored. Both plant species developed well under all the experimental conditions with no effect of water type or substrate type. Under all treatments, both plant species enhanced electrical conductivity (EC) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) of the drainage water. In the summer, EC and COD reached levels that are unacceptable in water and are intended to be reused for irrigation. We conclude that irrigating with grey water and using coal ash as a growth substrate can both be implemented in green roofs. The drainage from tap water as well as from grey water can be further used for irrigating the roof, but for that, COD and EC levels must be lowered by adding a sufficient amount of tap water before reusing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1272-1279
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • COD
  • Convolvulus mauritanicus
  • Electric conductivity
  • Phyla nodiflora

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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