Toronto Becomes First City To Mandate Green Roofs

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Summer is just around the corner, and for those who live in big cities, that means spring warmth will soon give way to searing heat. Green roofs can help regulate city temperatures, giving people, and the electrical grid, a much needed break.

On April 30th, Toronto will become the first city in North America with a bylaw that requires roofs to be green. And we’re not talking about paint. A green roof, also known as a living roof, uses various hardy plants to create a barrier between the sun’s rays and the tiles or shingles of the roof. The plants love the sun, and the building (and its inhabitants) enjoy more comfortable indoor temperatures as a result.

Toronto’s new legislation will require all residential, commercial and institutional buildings over 2,000 square meters to have between 20 and 60 percent living roofs. While this is the first city-wide mandate involving green roofs, Toronto’s decision follows in the footsteps of other cities, like Chicago and New York.

Under the direction of Mayor Richard Daley the city of Chicago put a 38,800 square foot green roof on a 12 story skyscraper in 2000. Twelve years later, that building now saves $5000 annually on utility bills, and Chicago boasts 7 million square feet of green roof space. New York has followed suit, and since planting a green roof on the Con Edison Learning Centre in Queens, the buildings managers have seen a 34 percent reduction of heat loss in winter, and reduced summer heat gain by 84 percent.

But lower utility bills aren’t the only benefit of planting a living roof. In addition to cooling down the city, green roofs create cleaner air, cleaner water, and provide a peaceful oasis for people, birds and insects in an otherwise polluted, concrete and asphalt-covered environment.

Article by Beth Buczynski, appearing courtesy Crisp Green.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

3 Comments

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  2. As a green roofing professional I would like to point out a few more things which I believe would interest your readers. As of November 2011 Toronto’s industrial sector successfully lobbied for an alternative to installing a green roof or paying cash-in-lieu of a green roof, they can install a white roof. Here’s a link to the change in city policy:

    Amendment to the Green Roof Bylaw for School Board Buildings

    The institutional sector is currently lobbying for a similar exception; Toronto’s planning and growth management committee was supposed to debate this on March 22, but the decision was deferred until April 19.

    The bottom line is New York and Chicago have taken concrete steps to encourage more green roofs; Toronto may go in the opposite direction. We’ll see.

    -Kelven

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