Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2009 - (Page 1)

FROM THE FOUNDER THE CASE FOR MANDATED GREEN ROOFS SOME BELIEVE POLICYMAKERS HAVE NO BUSINESS IN THE OFFICES OF THE WORLD’S INTEGRATED-DESIGN EXPERTS BUT TORONTO’S GROUNDBREAKING NEW GREEN ROOF BYLAW WILL PROVE THE OPPOSITE n May 26, 2009, the City of Toronto became the first major urban center in North America to adopt a bylaw that governs the construction of green roofs and requires a minimum amount of green roof coverage on most new buildings. In 2010, green roofs will be required on all new schools, nonprofit housing, multi-unit residential, commercial and industrial buildings (see On the Roof With, page 8). The green roof construction standard has both performance-related requirements and prescriptive elements. It is designed to improve green roof design and installation practices through, for example, requirements for leak detection prior to installing plants and growing media as well as maintenance planning. During the public consultation process for this bylaw, a number of designers raised concerns; they argued that mandating green roofs would stifle the integrated-design process resulting in fewer benefits at higher cost and even further, that no green building technologies should be mandated by policymakers. Part of their argument stems from the misguided notion that the benefits of a green roof can be fully attained through alternative, less costly means (i.e., that stormwater retention can be accomplished by a cistern or that reducing the urban heat island can be accomplished by cool roofing). To some extent, this is true, but not if you take into consideration the full range of benefits that are available through green roofs including such things as utilizing the wasted roof space, the social benefits of food production and additional recreational spaces, habitat for pollinators, birds and endangered plants, extending the life expectancy of the waterproofing system, aesthetics, improving the efficiency of roof-mounted air conditioners and so on. The strength and uniqueness of green roof technology is that it provides a multitude of options for design professionals that may be tailored to individual circumstances. In essence, the best green roof projects are always the result of integrative-design processes. Green roofs can be used as a catalyst to stimulate, rather than stifle integrated design. When green roofs are mandatory for new buildings, it also creates a level playing field that will allow for discussions between owners and designers about how to optimize the green roof for maximum benefits. In the absence of a mandatory requirement, green roofs often fall victim to the notion that they are too costly and do not deliver a return on investment. The discussion about systems integration as it relates to green roofs and walls, the building, the site and the broader community, in these cases, often never takes place. With a mandatory requirement, the discussion can now shift to how best to derive the maximum public and private benefits from the project; should we grow food, should the roof be accessible, can we reduce our HVAC investment, should it be viewable etc. Another dimension of the argument against mandatory green-building requirements is based on the notion that the building is an entity unto itself, or at least a perspective that diminishes the critical importance of the broader site and community context. Green roofs and walls almost always cross the public-private divide, in ways we are still discovering through research and extraordinary projects. Mandatory requirements and public incentives for green roofs (and eventually green walls) are a tacit form of public recognition that the roofs of buildings, long ignored by many designers, can contribute to the greater well-being of the community – not just the building and its occupants. Without mandatory requirements or public incentive, green roof projects often fall victim to cost overruns during construction. Integrated design, backed by public policy, is a clear remedy for this challenge. The 2009 Green Roof Awards of Excellence winners profiled throughout this issue provide many outstanding examples of the amazing opportunities for innovation, and integration in green roof and wall design. Toronto’s leadership in passing the green roof bylaw will no doubt result in a new mindset about our roofscapes, improving the nature of living architecture’s contribution to the broader community. Sincerely, O Steven W. Peck, Founder and president, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities LIVING ARCHITECTURE MONITOR SUMMER 2009 1

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2009

Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2009
The Case for Mandated Green Roofs
Student Sustainable Design Competition
GIF Road Show
U.S. Green Roof Industry Grew By 35 Percent in 2008
Part 1 of 2: Risk-Reduction Tools
On the Roof With . . .
The World's First Accredited Green Roof Professionals (GRPs)
A Haven for Butterflies
A Green Roof at Sea
A Biophilic Oasis
A Green Roof for Every Angle
Community Focal Point
Nature in the City
Growing Lives
A Green Roof with Wings
A Policy Pioneer
A Dedicated Researcher
Designing a Better Future
Fire & Wind Standards
GHRC Professional Development Calendar
Welcome New Corporate Members
Green Wall Research
Standing the Test of Time

Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2009