Question: We have been considering a green roof for our building in downtown Toronto to help us achieve our environmental initiatives. Are there any rules we should know about?

Answer: Toronto is, in fact, the first city in North America to have a bylaw that requires green roofs on new buildings of the industrial, commercial and residential variety. Your green effort is certain encouraged by this city!

Since 2012, the new industrial development buildings have had to comply with the city’s Green Roof Bylaw — and it applies to new building permits for industrial, commercial and residential buildings.

While all new buildings require the green roof — if your pre-existing building is opting for one of these, a permit will still be required for the construction.

What are the benefits of a green roof in the city?

Providing insulation for buildings, improving air quality, promoting biodiversity, cutting down the urban heat-island effect and even bettering the quality of water runoff — a green roof does a city good.

A green roof contributes to improving the quality of life in a city — and Toronto recognizes that.

“Toronto introduced the bylaw to reduce costs associated with process storm water runoff, and to gain energy savings from the cooling potential of vegetation cover and improve air quality from the reduction in carbon dioxide and increased production of ozone,” reported the Globe and Mail.

Aside from making buildings more energy-efficient and more environmentally friendly, a green roof is aesthetically pleasing as well. They’re healthy and pretty.

How does my business get started on a green roof?

While new commercial, institutional, industrial or even residential buildings with a minimum of 2,000m2 in Toronto require a portion of their roofs to be green because of the bylaw — there is an eco-roof incentive program that encourages existing buildings to also get green.

Live Green Toronto offers a sweet eco-roof incentive program that actually provides funding for eligible green and cool roof projects. Folks receive the funding upon completion of the project and the applications are reviewed by an independent Review Committee, comprised of staff from the Environmental and Energy Office, City Planning, Toronto Building and Toronto Water, according to Live Green Toronto.

For those curious about the Toronto Green Roof Construction standard, we’ve provided a link (the roof must me the requirements of it for the incentive program.)

Fun fact: Toronto City Hall does, indeed, have a green roof.


Image credit: Dylan Pask