|Green roofs are just one of the ways North Americans are trying to naturalize our urban landscapes (Architect: Busby Perkins + Will)
Photo: Jim Burns, Stantec.
Toronto’s green rooftops
By Melanie Sharpe
Toronto's rooftops are officially going green. A council
decision on February 1, 2006 approved the city's 'Green
Roof Strategy,' making Toronto the first municipality to
formally endorse a comprehensive set of green roof policies in
North America and a world leader in using the eco-friendly installations.
"Toronto's new strategy is the most comprehensive
in the world," says Steven Peck, founder of Green Roofs for
Healthy Cities, a Toronto-based non-profit organization that promotes
green roof technologies across North America
Green roofs have been growing in many urban landscapes for decades.
They are man-made green spaces with trees, shrubs, flowers or other
vegetation on the rooftops of city buildings.
Green roofs were first built in Toronto 30 years ago, but little
was known about their impact on the city until recently.
On October 31, 2005, a Ryerson University research team published
their study of the municipal costs and benefits of green rooftops.
The researchers concluded that greening Toronto's 5,000 hectares
of available roof space would have significant environmental and
Local temperatures would decrease by 0.5 to 2 degrees Celsius,
storm water runoff would decline, Toronto would have three more 'beach
open days' every summer, carbon dioxide levels would drop
and rooftop gardens would save energy cooling costs. And Toronto
would save over $37 million a year.
"No other city has done as good of a job understanding the
benefits of green roofs and composing policy," says Peck. " Toronto's
whole strategy is based on the best research in the world."
The new strategy sets a target of greening 50 to 75 percent of
all newly built city-owned rooftops. Councillors also recommended
a pilot project to offer developers green roof incentives.
"I'm really hoping Toronto's urban development
looks into this and provides incentives for businesses to do the
right thing," says Peck.
Currently, Toronto has 59 green roofs and there are 17 new ones