Biodiversity on green roofs – Resources

Green roofs provide numerous economic, social and environmental benefits including habitat for urban biodiversity. In 2012, Scott Torrance was asked to conduct research on the best practices for promoting biodiversity on green roofs by the City of Toronto. Scott assembled a team that included Terry McGlade, a green roof designer, J. Scott MacIvor, an urban ecologist and Dr. Brad Bass, a geographer/climatologist and a green roof leading researcher. The team prepared the Guidelines for Biodiverse Green Roofs, a report that aims to inspire green roof specifiers to design for all of the city’s inhabitants.

Guidelines for Biodiverse Green Roofs

Green roofs offer the potential to enhance biodiversity in urban areas by creating habitat where it would not otherwise exist and by connecting and supporting existing habitat . The purpose of this research was to  identify and illustrate the best practices for designing, constructing and maintaining green roofs in Toronto to promote biodiversity.

Below are links to some of the resources that we refer to in the Guidelines. We will update this list as more resources become available online.

The Green Roof Innovation Testing Lab at the University of Toronto

The Green Roof Innovation Testing Laboratory, or gritlab, is located at the University of Toronto, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. A platform for multidisciplinary collaboration, gritlab’s goal is to investigate the environmental performance associated with ‘green’ & ‘clean’ technologies such as green roofs, green walls and photovoltaic arrays. Scott Torrance Landscape Architect Inc. is an industry sponsor of the gritlab

Using Green Roofs to enhance Biodiversity in the City of Toronto – A Discussion Paper  by Beth Anne Currie, M.A.Sc & Brad Bass, PhD

This Discussion Paper was prepared for Toronto City Planning in 2010.

The report reviews the literature on green roofs and biodiversity and examines opportunities for the City of Toronto to use green roof design templates as well as location and design strategies to help promote local biodiversity over time. The study includes  a literature review, case studies, opportunities based on analysis of the literature and case studies  and recommendations for using green roofs to enhance biodiversity in the City of Toronto.

Space for Urban Wildlife: Designing Green Roofs as Habitats in Switzerland  by Stephan Brenneisan

This paper appeared in Urban Habitats in December 2006.

Abstract: Research focusing on the biodiversity potential of green roofs has led to an amendment in building and construction law in Basel, Switzerland. As part of the city’s biodiversity strategy, green roofs are now mandatory on new buildings with flat roofs, and guidance is provided for the creation of different plant and animal habitats on the green roofs. Design criteria for the creation of these habitats include varying the substrate thickness and using natural soils from nearby areas. (Studies of green roofs in Zurich, Switzerland, have shown that natural soils can benefit biodiversity through their suitability for locally and regionally endangered species.) The design and construction of green roofs to re-create habitats require close cooperation among all specialists involved. Research and comprehensive planning are also important for creating space on roofs for urban wildlife.