Planning Green Roofs in Toronto: Overcoming Obstacles to Private Investment
The objective of my research was to gain an understanding of the practical implications of using green roofs in the city of Toronto. The City is a leader in green roof use in North America and is actively encouraging green roofs through a strategy that combines incentives and standards. Currently, green roof literature does not contain the opinions and experiences of developers and building owners who are installing green roofs in Toronto. I focused on understanding the impact of Toronto's strategy on its development community, and determining whether the private interests involved have opportunities for gaining a competitive advantage. In order to establish my research objective, I began with a literature review of various secondary research sources on green roofs. Following this, I interviewed representatives of four Toronto development firms regarding their perceptions and attitudes towards the use of green roofs in their projects. My primary research was structured as an exploratory study to get a general impression, rather than reach an absolute conclusion about Toronto development firms and green roofs. The results of my research revealed that many of the benefits of green roofs attributed to building owners and developers (private benefits) that are identified in academic and industry literature are generally not recognized or considered by development firms. Firms committed to the concept of sustainability as a central component of their corporate philosophy have a stronger interest in some the features of green roofs. The urban agriculture potential, which is currently being explored by these firms, appears to be the best means to establish a competitive advantage with the use of green roofs. My research suggests that there is a division of opinion between the authors of green roof literature and private developers as to which features of green roofs are actually beneficial. It also provides insight into the current strategies being used to incorporate green roofs into projects. This information is useful in understanding the implications of Toronto's green roof strategy and indicating the direction private interests may be pursuing with green roofs.