February 3, 2006
City roofs to take root and grow
Toronto public buildings will only have green tops
A new spot for city workers to enjoy their lunch may be just one of the benefits of the city’s new Green Roof strategy.
The policy, “Making Green Roofs Happen,” which calls for a commitment to install green roofs on new and existing buildings owned by the City whenever practical, was approved by Toronto City Council this week.
But city workers aren’t the only ones who might benefit from this new strategy. Green roofs can help to mitigate the effects of storm water in the city, improve buildings’ energy efficiency, reduce the urban heat island effect and improve air quality.
Council’s decision “sets the stage for a public-private partnership that will result in significant improvements to the quality of life in Toronto, reduce energy consumption and smog,” said Steven W. Peck, founder and president of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, a Toronto-based, non-profit, green roof industry association.
For new city-owned buildings, the green roofs strategy sets a target of covering 50 to 75 per cent of a building’s footprint with a green roof. When a roof on an existing municipal building needs to be replaced, the city will also consider the green option.
From a planning perspective, green roofs will be achieved through zoning bylaw amendments and site plan controls.
Council also recommended initiating a pilot program of financial incentives to encourage the construction of green roofs.
City officials will work with Toronto Hydro and the Toronto Atmospheric Fund on possible financial incentives to building owners for retrofits.
“This is a perfect example of how we expect the new City of Toronto Act will help us govern in the best interests of Torontonians,” said Mayor David Miller.
“Given the power to regulate green roofs in our city, we can work with residents to implement major initiatives that will make our city cleaner, healthier and more beautiful.”
The City recently commissioned a multi-disciplinary green roof benefits study by Ryerson University. Researchers found that 8 per cent coverage of existing rooftops with extensive green roofs, would generate over $300 million in initial cost savings in areas such as stormwater management, combined sewer overflow reduction, building energy savings, and the urban heat island reductions.
Operational cost savings for the City from this level of coverage were calculated at approximately $40 million per year.
DCN News Services
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