Grass on Roof

City Offers Cash Incentives For "Eco-Roofs"

City Hall is set to offer greater subsidies to businesses pursuing green renovations. The latest move will provide cash incentives to commercial, industrial and institutional (ICI) property owners to install an "eco-roof".

What exactly is an eco-roof? According to the city, it's "green roofs (roofs that support vegetation) or cool roofs (roofs that reflect the sun's thermal energy)." Put more simply, it's adding a vegetation system, or installing reflective panels to your roof.

What's on offer? On a one-year pilot basis, the city is willing to provide incentives of $50 per square meter up to $100,000 for building owners who install green roofs. For those owners who don't want to install a full green roof, the city will provide $2-$5 per square meter up to $50,000 to install a cool roof. A cool roof merely provides strong solar reflectance, which helps ease cooling costs during the summer months. The program was launched at the end of February.

The announcement comes after initial funding for Eco-Roofs was approved in 2007 -
totalling $2.4 million over 5 years. Toronto Water has also decided to sign on, offering $200,000 per year to green roof projects.

A number of studies have shown the dollars and sense (cents) behind installing green roofs. According to the non-profit Green Roofs For Health Cities, green roofs can last up to twice as long as conventional roofs. And a recent study by Environment Canada found that a 10cm grass roof can cut cools costs by 25% in the hot, summer months.

Although a 25% reduction in utility costs is enough to grab the attention of any building owner, I can't imagine too many building operators embracing the project, considering the severity of the current credit crisis. Right idea, wrong time.

I don't always support major tax breaks and other incentives to big businesses. But if it results in easing the demand on our energy infrastructure, and possibly sparing us costly upgrades then I'm all for it. Plus, how cool would it be for tourists (and locals) to look down on Toronto from the CN Tower and see grass growing on top of buildings?

Photo by 416style

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