Skysystem: Green-Roof Native Plant Mixes for Hot and Arid Climates

Life Sciences : Agriculture

Available for licensing


  • Mark Simmons, Ph.D. , Ecosystem Design Group, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Background/unmet need

The overall increase in average global temperature, regardless of its root causes, is beginning to drive building design toward improved energy efficiency and enhanced resource management. The idea of growing plant material--grasses, small trees, and shrubs--on the roofs of commercial buildings has demonstrated value across multiple areas of "green energy" concern, such as rainwater flow management, and counter to the heat-island effect of concentrated areas of asphalt and concrete.

Specific geographical areas, like the Southwestern United States, provide unique challenges to green roofing projects due to lower than average rainfall and higher than average temperatures lasting for weeks or months at a time.

Invention Description

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin’s Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center have created a novel plant growth medium composed of readily available, inexpensive materials that have proven to provide a high level of moisture retention along with a lower density than standard soil mixtures. Combining this novel growing medium with drought-tolerant native plants that can tolerate high soil and air temperatures enables the effective green roof concept to be applied in semi-arid, arid, and higher temperature locations.


  • Produces building cooling efficiency
  • Provides storm water runoff control
  • Enables green-roof use in the American Southwest
  • Adaptable for green walls


  • Components of the growing medium are readily available and inexpensive.
  • Plants are tolerant to high soil and air temperatures and native to Southwestern United States.
  • System enables the use of green roofs efficiently in hot and arid climates.

Market potential/applications

Green roof industry; EcoBio walls

Development Stage

Beta product/commercial prototype

IP Status

  • 3 foreign patents application filed
  • 1 U.S. patent application filed