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31, 2011, when they will have to set aside either 10 per cent of the roof or 2,000 square metres, whichever is less, for sod and other eco-materials.

Deputy mayor Joe Pantalone (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina), who led the charge for tougher rules, called the new requirements for green roofs "an opportunity rather than a handicap." He noted that roofs make up 21 per cent of Toronto's surface area, raising the temperature of the urban environment and pushing up demand for electricity in summer months.

The project team was determined to maintain as much of the manufacturing character as possible.

Many of the building’s industrial elements – such as cable trays and lifting hoists – have remained intact as design features, while other building elements have been repurposed into new staircases.

Constructed in 1963 and extended a number of times over the years, the former Clipsal light manufacturing building had laid empty since 2009.

While a knockdown rebuild may have been easier, the building’s industrial design proved ripe for a green retrofit.

Most affected by the proposals are buildings of 50,000 square feet or more, which will be required to conduct an energy audit every decade, with results triggering proscribed upgrades.

The new bylaw catapults Toronto to the top of the heap in North America in terms of the comprehensiveness of its mandated rules, according to Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.

But the advocacy group said that Toronto does not even rank in the top 10 of North American cities - with Chicago in Number 1 spot - in terms of square footage of green roofs installed in 2008.

Oils, greases, chemicals, and actual bits of old bottles and trash transform street stormwater runoff into a toxic stew.

“Urbanization really equals pollution.” In the past, engineers have used “efficiency engineering,” which creates grey infrastructure that is “out of sight, out of mind.” That approach will no longer work considering a “plastic bottle you throw on the street in New York City now ends up in a huge garbage patch in the middle of the ocean,” said Scott (see an earlier post on the massive garbage patches.) Not only does runoff and trash spoil the maritime environment, they’re also now a public health issue for those in these urban communities.

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