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Big Growth in Green Roofs in U.S. and Canada

The growth of the green roof industry in North America has grown by 35% in the last year. Chicago is still in the lead, with over 548,000 square feet installed in 2008, while Toronto has just passed legislation requiring a 50% coverage of the area of all new green roofs to be covered with greenery.  For the full article click here.

Vision for Chicago’s Future ambitious and green: Burnham anniversary plans

Millennium Park (City of Chicago)
One example of Chicago's attitude to urban revitalization: Millennium Park (City of Chicago)

The 100th anniversary of Chicago’s famous Burnham plan is re-kindling debate on the direction and vision of Chicago’s future, and true to the original spirit of the plan, the visions are bold and ambitious.  The Burnham plan, named after the Chicago architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham, is one of the most famous city plans in the western world, and one which cemented Chicago’s reputation for boldness and civic greenspaces.  Central to these discussions is a vision of a regional Chicago that is greener, cleaner, and integrates public transportation with regional goals.  But are these visions realistic or cohesive? Chicago’s Blair Kamin discusses some of these new discussions and exhibitions in his Chicago Tribune article, January 10th, 2009.

Seattle considers greener townhouse and landscaping standards

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Proposed legislation in Seattle aims to make mulitfamily housing more environmentally sensitive in both its built form and landscaping.  Among the highlights of the proposal are better townhouse design, protection of single-family neighbourhoods, green construction and landscaping, and affordable housing. Of particular interest for the green roof industry is the proposed modification to current landscaping requirements, which would increase landscaping by 15-20%, often include green roofs and vegetated walls, and require LEED Silver or Built Green Four Star construction standards for projects where additional development capacity is allowed. For the full story, click here.

Green Roof Tax Incentive Introduced to US Congress

Sherman Plaza green roof, Evanston, IL (American Hydrotech)
Sherman Plaza green roof, Evanston, IL (American Hydrotech)

New proposed legislation would provide financial incentives for commercial and household green roof installationin the US. Senator Maria Cantwell from Washington State introduced the Clean Energy Stimulus and Investment Assurance Act of 2009 (S.320) January 26th.  Section 506 of the bill, which would provide residential and commercial property owners with a 30% tax credit for qualified green roof expenditures, was written in collaboration with Green Roof for Healthy Cities and the American Society of Landscape Architects.  The bill would apply to both new and retrofit projects and would require at least 50% of the roof to be covered with a green roof.  For more information, click here.

New rating system for sustainable landscaping proposed

A new initiative, called Sustainable Sites, has been developed by the United States Botanic Garden, the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. This proposed model addresses the lack of guidelines for sustainable landscaping in building design, and is meant to be a rating system similar to the current top green building guidelines, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).  The report, which is open for comments until January 20th, is hoped to be incorporated into LEED

Prairie grass,
Prairie grass,

2011. To see the full article, click here.

To go directly to the Sustainable Sites Initiative site, click here.

New Research on the role of nature in reducing stress on your brain

The city might be good for business but it may not be good for your thinking skills or stress levels, according to recent research.  Drawing on the work of environmental psychologists and psychologists who study the brain, Johan Lehrer discusses how incorporating nature into our daily urban environment can reduce stress and improve our ability to concentrate and think creatively.   Click here for the full article (published January 2nd in the Globe and Mail).

New York promotes green roofs through tax credits

State legislation passed in June 2008 allows New York City building owners who install vegetation on at least half their buildings’ available rooftop space to offset $4.50 in property taxes for each square foot of green roof they install, for one year. The credit covers about a quarter of the cost of installation and is capped at $100,000. To see the full article in the current GreenSource, please click here: New York Green Roofs.

Green roof on Earthpledge's building, NYC
Green Roof on Earthpledge's offices, NYC

Toronto considering innovative green roof legislation

Toronto debates making green roofs mandatory for some buildings

The last few years have seen Toronto make huge strides in their green roof policy. With 8,300 square metres (83,000 square feet) of green roofs installed in 20o7 alone, Toronto has become the top Canadian city for green roof implementation, and has jumped to seventh place in North America Annual Green Roof Survey.  Traditionally hampered by a lack of power vis-a-vis the province of Ontario (typical of many Canadian cities), the new City of Toronto Act (COTA) is changing this, and the City of Toronto seems to be taking its new power seriously.  Section 108 allows Council to pass a by-law requiring and governing the construction of green roofs as an exception to the Building Code Act of 1992, a power which the City previously did not have.

COTA also potentially will give the City the ability to mandate green roofs through their Toronto Green Standard (2007) and their Climate Change Plan (2007) .  Significantly, Toronto is as of late 2008 considering making green roofs mandatory for some industrial, commercial, and institutional (ICI) buildings as well as governing their construction. Should this pass, they would be the first city in North America to both require green roofs and govern their construction.  Toronto is also considering mandating green roof construction standards. Open houses for public comment for both proposals were held in December 2008 and the proposal is currently under discussion.  Toronto’s Green Roof Policy.