New Guidelines for Best Practices on Green Roofs in Toronto

March 19, 2013

Toronto's City Planning division has produced a new resource called Guidelines for Biodiverse Green Roofs, detailing best practices for promoting biodiversity on green roofs in Toronto.

"It is our intention that the document will make it simple for architects and landscape architects designing green roofs to integrate biodiversity into their designs, greatly enhancing the potential of the city to provide a quality living environment for diverse species," said Councillor Peter Milczyn (Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore), Chair of the Planning and Growth Management Committee. "With more diverse green roofs in the city, we can only improve the quality of the built environment and the quality of life for our residents."

Toronto implemented its Toronto Green Roof Bylaw in 2012. The biodiversity guidelines will work in conjunction with the existing Toronto Green Roof Construction Standard Supplementary Guidelines.

The Guidelines for Biodiverse Green Roofs give designers:

- a comprehensive list of plants suitable for green roofs that encourage biodiversity

- recommended growing medium depths and composition, and

- ideas for creating habitat aimed at specific species.

The new guidelines are based on the premise that green roofs are part of the larger urban ecosystem. The guidelines provide design strategies for creating appropriate ecozones alongside natural heritage features. Primarily intended for use by architects and landscape architects, the guidelines may also be of interest to residents who want to understand how green roofs can support biodiversity in the urban environment.

"I am pleased that these guidelines will enhance the impact of the Toronto Green Roof Bylaw by implementing some of the policies contained in the Official Plan," said Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner for the City of Toronto. "Our Official Plan recognizes the importance of protecting, restoring and enhancing the health and integrity of the natural ecosystem and supporting biodiversity."

"The Green Roof Bylaw and the Guidelines for Biodiverse Green Roofs are both the first of their kind from a government in North America," said Steven Peck, President of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, a not-for-profit association promoting the green roof and wall industry in North America.

The Guidelines for Biodiverse Green Roofs document has been nominated for an Award of Excellence from the Canadian Association of Landscape Architects.

More information about green roofs, and a link to the 35-page guidelines document (PDF), are available at

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. Toronto's government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Media contact: Bruce Hawkins, Senior Communications Coordinator, 416-392-3496, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.