The idea of blanketing buildings with living plants as a way to mitigate their environmental impact isn’t new, but Vegetal i.D. is adding a couple twists on the so-called green roof concept that company leaders think could shake up the industry. Chief among them: a cloud-based system that could allow the roof to work in concert with the storm sewer system to prevent backups during heavy rainstorms.

Vegetal is the U.S. branch of Le Prieuré, a French company with about 25 full-time staff. Owned by farmer Raphael Lamé, Le Prieuré installed its first green roof in 1989. In 2000 it patented the Hydropack system, which it says marked the first modular green roof in Europe. Since then, the Hydropack—fully grown vegetation and thin water reservoirs packed into stackable trays that can be easily transported and installed—has been put on more than 1,500 rooftops, the company said.

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