Blue sky thinking at its finest

Kevin Taylor, Head of Technical Services at the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) explains how blue roofs provide valuable sustainable drainage solutions.

While most of us working in construction are familiar with green roofs, it’s fair to say blue roofs are less well-known. To address this gap in our collective knowledge and promote the benefits blue roofs can bring to contractors, the NFRC has created new technical guidance for specifiers, designers and installers.


A blue roof is designed to manage water during periods of heavy rain fall. Rather than allowing water to drain off the roof immediately, it deliberately retains some or all of the water.
Water is then treated and released at a controlled rate directly into sewers, waterways and river systems, replicating the natural environment.

Blue roofs are attractive to contractors because they provide:

• A Sustainable Urban Drainage System, which is a prerequisite in most new developments due to urban flooding caused by storm water runoff
• Storm water management to temporarily reduce the impact of rainwater runoff, both on water volume and quality
• Ground level solutions and space savers which provide an attractive opportunity for developers

Blue roofing is not a new concept and has been used in many cities across America for the last 50 years. However, until now there has been no British or European Standards to cover this type of application.

This is why the NFRC has brought together a specially formed group of experts – the NFRC Joint Flat Roofing Technical Committee – which includes membrane and system manufacturers, insulation producers, Standards and certification bodies, drainage consultants and representatives from flat roofing trade associations.

Together they have created regulation advice similar to the Green Roof Code of Practice (GRO).


The Government’s Water Strategy for England acknowledged that the pre-existing below-ground pipe systems do not cope adequately with extreme rainfall events. As a result, there has been an increase in pressure on the construction industry to incorporate water management and climate change mitigation.
Both blue and green roofs provide excellent systems with sustainable roof drainage solutions for the roofing sector and therefore we will continue to see an increase in their requirement. The NFRC wants to help its members to look to the future and be ahead of the curve. The new technical guidance will help contractors do just that and will support upskilling across our sector.

To find out more about how blue roofs can benefit you and your customers visit the NFRC’s website here.