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ROOF3It's the 10th anniversary for Toronto's Eco-Roof Incentive Program, and there's much for Toronto to celebrate. Since launching in 2009, this green initiative has enabled property owners across the city to install over 350 cool roofs and over 70 green roofs, saving a total of 1,593,495 kWh in energy annually.

“We're pleased to see so much interest in the program,” says Annemarie Baynton, Senior Environmental Planner in the City of Toronto's Environment and Energy Division. “From the start, there was a huge response from both the green roof industry and property owners who had been considering adding a green roof of some kind but were waiting for the right moment or motivation.”

The program offers grants of $100 per square metre for green roofs and $5 per square metre for cool roofs. Structural assessment grants of up to $1000 are available to determine if an existing building can support a green roof installation. Over the last decade, these incentives have spurred the creation of over 806,795.70 m2 in eco-friendly roofs. Not only has this produced significant energy savings, but it has helped Toronto reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 298 tonnes annually and divert upwards of 13,000,000 litres of stormwater per year.

8010 years young

The origins of Toronto's Eco-Roof Incentive Program trace back to a 2005 study by Ryerson University that detailed the potential benefits of installing green roofs on new or existing buildings within the City. It inspired the creation of a green roof incentive pilot program and a  Green Roof Bylaw for new construction – a first in North America. 

“Ryerson's study was the leaping off point that led us to introduce two key tools – the Green Roof Bylaw and the Eco-Roof Incentive Program - that continue to transform the city ten years later," recalls Baynton.  

Indeed, the pilot's success motivated the City of Toronto to make the program official. As interest and feedback grew, the City opened the program up to all existing building types and added up to $1,000 in grant money for structural assessments.

“Often, the first step for owners of an existing building is to determine if it's possible to install a green roof," explains Baynton. "The structural assessment grant removes that barrier and it's led to an even larger boost in program participants – especially in the residential sector."

Over the years, she adds, the City has continued refining the program to stay current with its participants: "We've tried to tailor the program to make it easy to participate and open to all building types. That's why we are continually improving the program and removing barriers to participation."

A greener Toronto81

No doubt, Toronto has benefited from the program. The surge in green roof installations has helped reduce urban heat within the city and reduced the amount of stormwater entering its sewer system. Furthermore, says Baynton, adding more green roofs to Toronto's skyline has helped the City move closer to its ambitious climate change goals: "As part of our climate action strategy, TransformTO, we're aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from 1990 levels in Toronto. We're relying on a whole suite of projects and initiatives to help us achieve that goal. Encouraging the creation of green or cool roofs on existing buildings, and making green roofs mandatory for new construction, have absolutely put us on the right path."

As for where the Eco-Roof Incentive Program may go over the next decade, the City has a few ideas. “One area we would love to look at is how we can use green roofs to support urban biodiversity by acting as habitat for bees, butterflies and birds.”

As awareness for the program and climate change initiatives grows, she adds: “It's exciting to see more interest in green roofs and a greater desire to incorporate them into our urban landscape.” 

Learn more about the program, and how to apply at the City of Toronto website or by contacting Annemarie Baynton @ Annemarie.Baynton@toronto.ca or 416-392-1848.

Incentives at a Glance

Green Roof Incentives
$100 / square metre installed
up to $1,000.00 for a structural assessment

Cool Roof Incentives
$2 - $5 / square metre

Eco Roof Incentive Program