Municipality: Toronto Implementation: 2010-01-31
Policy Name: City of Toronto Green Roof Bylaw Contact: Shayna Stott
Department: City Planning Title: Planner
Focus:
Community profile:

Toronto is Canada's largest city with a population of 2.6 million and a geographic area of 632 square kilometres. It is the fifth largest city in North America with the second largest transit system and is the financial, banking and legal centre of Canada. There are over 100 languages spoken and between 2001 and 2005 there were 69,000 immigrants each year. Toronto’s population continues to grow – projected to reach 3 million by 2031.

As of January 2012, Toronto had 178 tall buildings under construction, more than Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston combined. In the last 5 years 107,000 residential units and 5 million square metres of commercial institutional and industrial space have been approved. 

Short Description:

A bylaw which requires a green roof to be provided on new development over 2,000 sq.m and provides construction standard that all green roofs must be built in accordance with.

Background:

Toronto is the first City in North America to have a bylaw to require and govern the construction of green roofs on new development. It was adopted by Toronto City Council in May 2009, under the authority of Section 108 of the City of Toronto Act.

The Bylaw requires a green roof to be provided on new development over 2,000 sq.m and provides construction standard that all green roofs must be built in accordance with. The Bylaw applies to new building permit applications for residential, commercial and institutional buildings made after January 31, 2010. It applies to industrial buildings as of April 30, 2012.

Support for green roofs is found in the recommendations of the Environmental Plan, which called for a strategy to encourage green roofs and rooftop gardens.The Toronto Green Roof Bylaw assists in the implementation of the environmental policies of the City's Official Plan to manage stormwater, reduce the urban heat island effect, improve air quality, reduce energy consumption and add to green spaces and biodiversity of the city and to encourage green roofs. The Bylaw also aids in the implementation of the Climate Change, Clean Air and Sustainable Energy Action Plan, and the recommendations in the Power to Live Green: Toronto’s Sustainable Energy Strategy (adopted by Council Nov 30, 2009) in regards to reducing green house gas emissions and enabling renewable energy.

 

Step by Step Process:

The City's interest

The City of Toronto has had an interest in encouraging green roofs for some time, starting with its participation in the construction of two demonstration green roofs on the podium of City Hall and the roof of the Eastview Community Centre. 

Toronto's Green Roof Strategy

There were a number of steps in preparing Toronto's green roof strategy. 

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 associated energy use for cooling. 

The City held a set of consultation workshops with green roof stakeholders to receive input on its proposed strategies to encourage green roofs resulting in a discussion paper, called Making Green Roofs Happen, which proposed options for encouraging implementation of green roofs. 

On February 1, 2006, Toronto City Council approved a set of recommendations to encourage green roofs. The initiatives in this strategy included: installation of green roofs on City buildings; a pilot grant program; use of the development approval process to encourage green roofs; and publicity and education. 

The City of Toronto Act (COTA) of 2006 provided Toronto City Council with the authority to pass a bylaw requiring and governing the construction of green roofs. This is an "exception" to the Building Code Act, 1992 which generally prohibits municipal bylaws from exceeding the requirements of the Ontario Building Code.

In a joint report in October 2008, City Planning and Toronto Building provided a draft framework and draft construction standard for a Green Roof Bylaw. The City conducted two rounds of stakeholder consultations in 2008 and early 2009 on the draft proposal to require green roofs in Toronto with over 150 building owners, architects, landscape architects, developers, green roof designers, installers and manufacturers, roofing contractors and manufacturers, industry associations, City ABCDs and interested members of the public and business community. Also, a Green Roof Technical Advisory Group (TAG), comprised of stakeholders with expertise in green roofs and building regulation, was convened and tasked with providing technical comments on the draft Toronto Green Roof Construction Standard.

Toronto City Council adopted the Green Roof Bylaw in May 2009

Training and capacity building on the Toronto Green Roof Bylaw  was undertaken for the City’s development review staff and capital project managers in conjunction with the training on the Toronto Green Standard. 

 

Primary Drivers:

Policies of the Official Plan that state "... green building design and construction practices will be supported and encouraged in building renovation and redevelopment through... the development of innovative green spaces such as green roofs, and designs that will reduce the urban heat island effect".

Secondary Drivers:

Support for green roofs is also found in the recommendations of the Environmental Plan, which called for a strategy to encourage green roofs and rooftop gardens.

Enablers:

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Green Municipal Fund and the Ontario Centers of Excellence provided funding for the Report on the Environmental Benefits and Costs of Green Roof Technology in the City of Toronto.

Champions:

The Mayor and  Council, and in particular the Deputy Mayor were champions of the Green Roof Strategy and development and implementation of the Green Roof Bylaw. 

Obstacles:

-Balancing multiple land use policy objectives, for example, objective to secure  green roofs on industrial buildings and need to attract and retain industrial uses for employment.

Opportunities:

-asked Province to revise City of Toronto Act allow for an alternative option to a green roof.

Obstacles:

- Awareness of the opportunities for green roofs.

-Engaging the industrial building sector in discussions on green infrastructure.

-Addressing cost barriers for the industrial building sector. 

Opportunities:

-Resulted in increased awareness of potential for rooftops to deliver environmental benefits through green roofs cool roofs and renewable energy installations.

-'Supplementary Green Roof Construction Guidelines resulted   from work of Technical Advisory Committee on Construction Standard.

Outcome:

The newly adopted Bylaw went into effect starting January 31, 2010. Detailed tracking of number of green roofs constructed as a result of the Bylaw will be undertaken as part all of the Building Permit applications. Tracking of the size, location and type of green roofs provided will feed into the next review and update of the Green Roof Bylaw scheduled for 2012.

Anticipated benefits include: stormwater management, reduction of heat island effect; improvements to air quality; more green space, biodiversity, reduction of energy consumption.

Lessons Learned:

The City of Toronto engaged in considerable research and consultation in developing the strategy that led to the Bylaw. 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. 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 associated energy use for cooling.

 

The development of the City’s green roof strategy laid the foundation for the development of the Green Roof Bylaw by providing a solid policy framework on which the Bylaw was based.  

Toronto’s Green Roof Bylaw is the first of its kind in North America. As a result, the City relied on extensive input from stakeholders to develop and refine the content of the Toronto Green Roof Construction Standard and the requirements for green roofs on new development.

Applicability Across Ontario:

The City of Toronto has special powers under the City of Toronto Act which enable the City to require green roofs under the Green Roof Bylaw. However all municipalities in Ontario have the same legislative authority to require sustainable performance measures such as found in the Toronto Green Standard. Under section 41 of the Planning Act a municipality has powers to approve drawings that contain: matters relating to the exterior sustainable design of buildings (including roofs) and the sustainable design elements on any adjoining highway. These new powers can only be implemented if both the Official Plan and a Site Plan Control Bylaw contain provisions related to such matters. OPA #66 enables the TGS through Section 41 Site Applications under the Planning Act. 

 

Similar Tools Used by Other Municipalities:

Port Coquitlam: Green Roof Regulation (Zoning Bylaw amendment)  for large format buildings (over 5,000 square metres).

 

Further Information:

http://www.toronto.ca/planning/environment/index.htm

http://www.toronto.ca/greenroofs/index.htm

http://www.toronto.ca/greenroofs/overview.htm

sustainablecity@toronto.ca.

Policy Document: ecoroof_application.pdf