Rainbrain: The smart Blue-Green Roof

Challenges addressed

Green roofs are an important climate adaptation tool for cities. They manage rainwater, reduce flood chances, increase biodiversity, reduce the urban heat island effect and can even clean the air. However, extreme weather conditions give green roofs a hard time: extreme temperatures and long periods of drought can have a devastating impact on the vegetation. This limits the variety of plants than can survive, and leads to high maintenance costs.

RainBrain tackles this problem by optimizing the water availability in and around green roofs. The system constantly monitors the vegetation health, watering needs and available water. Hereto, RainBrain combines sensors, actuators and IoT with predictive models and open data. For instance, RainBrain detects when plants have too little water, and can automatically water the green roof. On the other hand, if a heavy rainfall event is predicted that could lead to floods throughout the city, RainBrain empties water buffers proactively to create more storage capacity.

Through Synchronicity, RainBrain is developed and rolled out in the cities of Antwerp (Belgium) and Eindhoven (Netherlands). RainBrain is connected to the cities’ open data platforms. The system is installed at 10 sites to monitor green roof health and watering needs, and accompanied by a new mobile app.

Cities involved

Antwerp, Eindhoven


Sumaqua (Belgium, lead partner)

Agilis (Norway)

GreenBeat (Norway)