Using Green Roofs to Enhance Biodiversity in the City of Toronto
Green roofs offer the potential to enhance biodiversity in urban areas such as Toronto. This report (file size 7.2 MB) reviews literature on green roofs and biodiversity and examines opportunities to use green roof design templates, location and design strategies to enhance local biodiversity over time. This study expands on the 2004 study of green roof benefits by providing addition information on other citywide benefits of green roofs.
The Environmental Benefits and Costs of Green Roof Technology
- Study of benefits
- Study assumptions
- Study findings: stormwater runoff, energy consumption, urban heat island effect, air quality and emissions, other citywide benefits, building level benefits
Study of benefits
In 2004, the City commissioned a team from Ryerson University to prepare a study on the potential environmental benefits of widespread implementation of green roofs to the City of Toronto, given the local environment and climate. The Study, titled The Environmental Benefits and Costs of Green Roof Technology, was undertaken with a grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' Green Municipal Funds, and in partnership with Earth and Environmental Technologies, one of five Ontario Centres for Excellence, supported by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade. This Study indicated that widespread implementation of green roofs in Toronto would provide significant economic benefits to the City, particularly in the areas of stormwater management and reducing the urban heat island (and the energy use associated therewith).
The Report on the Environmental Benefits and Costs of Green Roof Technology for the City of Toronto, prepared by Ryerson University,can be downloaded here.
The report is in PDF format version 5.0, so you need a free version of Adobe Acrobat Viewer to view and print the PDF files.
Full report - 88 pages (2.1 mb)
Executive Summary (113 kb)
Table of contents (97 kb)
1.0 About the study (112 kb)
2.0 Survey of research related to green roofs (347 kb)
3.0 Survey of types of green roofs and their standards (408 kb)
4.1 Description of approach (97 kb)
4.2.1 Use of geographic information system (GIS) (98 kb)
4.2.2 Costs of Green Roof Technology (65 kb)
4.2.3 Stormwater (99 kb)
4.2.4 Combined sewers (108 kb)
4.2.5 Air quality (97 kb)
4.2.6 Building energy and the urban heat island (106 kb)
5.0 Summary and recommendations (121 kb)
Appendices (520 kb)
To determine the citywide benefits the study team calculated that approximately 5,000 hectares or 50 million m2 of roof area is available for green roofs in the City of Toronto. The study team also had to make some assumptions about the characteristics of the green roofs to be installed to calculate the citywide benefits.
The study assumed that green roofs:
- would be installed on roofs greater than 350 m2 in size
- would cover at least 75% of the roof area
- would be installed over heated spaces
- would be installed above grade (i.e. grade level roofs were excluded)
Although these assumptions exclude some conditions in which it is possible and beneficial to install green roofs, some basic assumptions were needed to find the total green roof area, in order to calculate the benefits. It is important to note that the conditions in the study are not the same conditions applying to the City's green roof strategy.
Urban Heat Island effect
Air quality and emissions
Other citywide benefits
Building level benefits
The environmental benefits of green roofs are well documented, but have not been calculated on a citywide basis. Environmental benefits of green roofs in an urban setting include:
- Reduction in stormwater runoff that affects quality of local water resources which supply drinking water, are used for swimming, and serve as fish and wildlife habitat
- Reduction in energy consumption
- Reduction in the urban heat island effect and associated cooling costs
- Beautification of the City
- Creation of more natural green spaces
- Opportunities for local food production
- Reduction in stormwater flow of 12 million m3 per year
- Infrastructure savings worth between $2.8 and $79 million
- Erosion control measures savings worth $25 million
- Pollution control cost avoidance worth $14 million
- 3 additional "beach open" days per year worth $750,000
See the stormwater runoff (98 kb) results in the benefits study
|Urban Heat Island effect|
|Other citywide benefits|
Lettuce grown on 401 Richmond St.