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October 2nd, 2014
Growing Green Roofs in Toronto

Q6. What is a "green roof"? (P22)



Growing Green Roofs in Toronto

Green Roofs

Green roofs no longer just mean that the shingles on your home are the colour green. Green roof technology – that is – roofs literally made out of living "green" plants – are becoming de rigueur in the City of Toronto. They also may soon be the law!

What is a green roof?

A green roof is as a system where a vegetated area becomes part of a building’s roof and includes vegetation, a growing medium, a filter layer, a drainage layer, a root resistance layer and a waterproof membrane.

Green roofs are built on top of a human- made structure and can be located below, at, or above grade. There are three main types of green roof systems:

  • complete systems where all the different components including the roof membrane are part of the whole system
  • modular systems that are positioned above the existing roofing system
  • pre-cultivated vegetation blankets that consist of growing medium and plants that are rolled onto the existing roofing system with drainage mats and root barriers

Beaches first green roof

The first green roof in the Beaches is being installed in the Fallingbrook Loft Project where grass will be planted on the top of the six story building. The building, reminiscent of the work of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is using glass and natural stone in its construction. It will be extremely energy efficient and is being submitted for LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). It’s overall concept is a natural for a real "green" roof.

Green Roof Installation Diagram

Why have a roof you have to "mow"?

Green roofs are beneficial for a variety of reasons:

  • Energy savings from better solar reflectivity, evaporation, transpiration, and insulation
  • They last up to twice as long as regular roofs.
  • They are beautiful and add value to buildings by providing scenic views and recreational areas in dense urban areas.

Leading the pack

Toronto is poised to become the first city in North America to make green roofs mandatory on most new buildings and set standards for their construction.

City Council is currently considering a proposed bylaw that would require roofs on new buildings with an area of 5,000 square metres or greater to be 30% to 60% covered by vegetation. The bigger the building, the more planted space it would have to have– otherwise fines could be levied. If passed, this would make Toronto the first city in North America to make green roofs mandatory on most new buildings and set standards for their construction.

Ontario is already is a leader in green roof technology, and this October Toronto will host the World Green Roof Infrastructure Conference Toronto.


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