Toronto’s Green Roofs Keep Growing

Back in 2006 we first looked at how green roofs were becoming a development issue in Toronto, in 2009 Toronto implemented that green roof bylaw. Then in 2014 we took a look at how North America’s green roof industry is growing.

This year, Toronto has become the hub for green roofs! Torontist took a look into what made this happen and why green roofs are perfect for cities.

There are approximately 500 green roofs, big and small, in Toronto. This is thanks to a 2010 bylaw [PDF] requiring all new developers to cover between 20 and 60 per cent of their buildings with vegetation. It’s the first (and, for now, only) regulation of its kind in North America, making Toronto uniquely positioned for environmental design.

The bylaw is why the 41-story RBC WaterPark Place [PDF] at Bay Street and Queens Quay has three green roofs that together could fill a NFL football field.

Developers can opt out of installing anything remotely grassy for a fee. But Jane Welsh, City Hall’s project manager for environmental planning, told Torontoist only five per cent of buildings choose to go sans-green roof.

Welsh also says municipally-owned buildings install a green roof anytime there’s a repair or replacement to the top of the building, when feasible.

Read more.
Thanks Delaney!

UK Bans Fising in a Million Square Kilometres

The UK will be banning commercial fishing in approximately one million kilometres of their ocean waters. The country is expanding their marine protection areas in the Atlantic and Pacific around the British Overseas Territories. This is good news as overfishing is contributing part to the global mass extinction of marine wildlife, anything countries can do to curtail the current fishing levels will help the environment and at risk species.

A 840,000 sq km (320,000 sq mile) area around Pitcairn, where the mutineers of the Bounty settled, becomes a no-take zone for any fishing from this week. St Helena, around 445,000 sq km of the south Atlantic ocean and home to whale sharks and humpbacks, is now also designated as a protected area.

The foreign office said it would designate two further marine protection zones, one each around two south Altantic islands – Ascension by 2019 and Tristan da Cunha by 2020.

Sir Alan Duncan, minister of state for Europe and the Americas, said: “Protecting 4m sq km of ocean is a fantastic achievement, converting our historic legacy into modern environmental success.”

Read more.
Thanks to Delaney!

Atmospheric Acidity Levels Return to Preindustrial Levels

Repairing the damage humans have done to the environment is a slow process but it can be done!

Thanks to policies put in place by leading economies (the article sites the American Clean Air Act from the 1970s) the acidity levels in the atmosphere has returned to a balanced level. This proves that we can combat climate change using existing political tools – we just need the political will!

“We can see that the acid pollution in the atmosphere from industry has fallen dramatically since manmade acid pollution took off in the 1930s and peaked in the 1960s and 70s. In the 1970s, both Europe and the United States adopted the ‘The clean air act amendments’, which required filters in factories, thus reducing acid emissions and this is what we can now see the results of. The pollution of acid in the atmosphere is now almost down to the level it was before the pollution really took off in the 1930s, explains Helle Astrid Kjær.

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The Best Way to Understand Earth’s Temperature Changes Through History

2016 has been the hottest year ever recorded on Earth, and every month this year has broken records for being so dang hot. It’s hard to put these records into context since they seem so abstract since it’s just what we’re used to. You might even be sick of hearing about how hot it’s getting and brush all those recent articles about the heat aside.

Despite all of this climate changed induced temperature escalation there are too many people who think that temperature changes like this are natural. They are, but not at the rate of change we’re seeing. Randal Moore of XKCD fame put together a fantastic infographic/cartoon/image of why we should care about climate change and how fast the temperature is increasing.

It’s worth scrolling through and sharing with anybody who thinks that we don’t need to act on climate change. Spreading knowledge in a fun way about a serious topic is a good thing.

Visualization of the history of Earth's climate temperature. XKCD is amazing!

Walkable Streets Solve Nearly Every Problem

Anybody who lives in a city knows that walkability of neighbourhoods is a key reason they live where they do. The attraction to mobility options, safe places, cultural and economic diversity is what keeps cities growing. Walkable spaces makes all of that happen and more!

What smoking was to the 20th century car driving is to the 21st, and people are starting to realize we need to kick the car addiction. Car culture kills people through increased obesity, awful urban planning, and pollution (not to mention collisions). Over at Fast Co. Exist they put together a list of 50 reasons why everyone should want more walkable streets.

“The benefits of walkability are all interconnected,” says James Francisco, an urban designer and planner at Arup, the global engineering firm that created the report. “Maybe you want your local business to be enhanced by more foot traffic. But by having that benefit, other benefits are integrated. Not only do you get the economic vitality, but you get the social benefits—so people are out and having conversations and connecting—and then you get the health benefits.” A single intervention can also lead to environmental and political benefits.

Here’s numbers 25 & 26 from the list:

25. It shrinks the cost of traffic congestion
The more people walk and the fewer people are stuck in traffic on roads, the more that benefits the economy. In the Bay Area, for example, businesses lose $2 billion a year because employees are stuck in gridlock.

26. It saves money on construction and maintenance
While building and maintaining roads is expensive—the U.S. needs an estimated $3.6 trillion by 2020 to repair existing infrastructure—sidewalks are more affordable. Investing in sidewalks also brings health and air quality benefits worth twice as much as the cost of construction.

Read all 50.