Toronto Catholic School board lobbies to be exempt from green roof requirement

The Catholic School Board of Toronto has been lobbying councillors and staff to exempt them from the green roof requirement of the By-law for nine new projects, arguing instead that they be allowed to install white or reflective roofs and hold 5mm of rain rather than a green roof. This is the same argument used by the industrial sector to exempt them from the Green Roof By-Law, for the second time since the By-Law was introduced.

While the green roof By-law remained relatively unscathed so far under the current Mayor Ford’s ideologically-conservative cost-cutting measures, the political climate has been tense and divisive and has focused on trying to preserve existing social services and environmental measures from cuts, rather than city-building and looking forward. This means that it is unlikely that there will be any expansion of the green roof By-law, or any environmental initiative, under the current political leadership.

New City Hall Green Roof- Toronto

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Developers unsure about new green roof legislation in Toronto

Developers are concerned about the new green roof requirements just passed by the City of Toronto in May 2009. Part of their concern is that the green roof requirement will force them to forgo other green options. They are also concerned about the increasing height of many Toronto office and residential towers and the fact that green roofs have not been tried on structures that high. What is interesting is that Toronto, unlike Chicago, is the first city to mandate green roofs for ALL new large project buildings (though Chicago was able to mandate green roofs for buildings which they contributed funds towards or which needed public approval). For the full story, click here.

New green roof on subway station in Toronto

In May 2009 Toronto became the first city in North America to require green roofs on all major new developments.  Though in the works for three years, the new green roof being constructed at the Eglinton West subway station will be the first green roof on top of a subway. Constructed by Gardens in the Sky Inc, the green roof is visible from the Allen road expressway, which is a heavily-used north-south artery from the 401 highway. The green roof will be a 9,000 square foot garden constructed from sedum plants in removable trays. In addition to improving the aesthetic value of the area, the green roof will encourage bird and insect life and reduce heat in this heavily-used traffic corridor, according to Terry McGlade, president of Gardens in the Sky, Inc. The roof will cost about $25-$30 more per square foot than a traditional roof.

NYC leads on innovative urban greenspace with the Highline

Design of Highline
Design of Highline

New York City has garnered international attention with its recent opening of the Highline park, which is a new public greenspace on an abandoned elevated rail line. The ‘park’ has a long history and is a testament to community organization and new, innovative visions for urban revitatalization and urban greening. The park has used a naturalized aesthetic to replicate the abandoned character of the line and encourage native habitat. For more information and pictures, click here.

View along the Highline
View along the Highline

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.

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 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.