Photo Essay: The Green Roofs of Toronto

Toronto Life, Toronto Real Estate News

Seven years ago, the city of Toronto committed to transforming its urban area by passing the 'Green Roof Bylaw' thus becoming the first city in North America to do so. It requires every new commercial, residential and institutional development with a minimum of Gross Floor Area of 2,000m2 to vegetate at least 20 per cent of its rooftop. Basically, the bigger the GFA the more of the rooftop has to be vegetated. 

From February 1, 2010 - March 1, 2015, 260 green roofs have been created in Toronto, consisting of 196,000 sq m of green roof area. A total of 444 green roofs exist in the City of Toronto.

The reason behind Toronto's decision to implement the bylaw resulted from the 2004 study done by the Ryerson University. Among the environmental benefits they found out about are:

  • Reduction in stormwater runoff that affects quality of local water resources which supply drinking water, are used for swimming, and serve as fish and wildlife habitat
  • Reduction in energy consumption
  • Reduction in the urban heat island effect and associated cooling costs
  • Beautification of the City
  • Creation of more natural green spaces
  • Opportunities for local food production

Our photographer Vivian set out on a tour of some of these eco-friendly green rooftops. Enjoy the views and let us know if we missed your favorite place!

The Big Carrot/Carrot Common

348 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K 1N8, Canada

We are Toronto's first certified organic health food store specializing in organically grown, non-GMO and environmentally safe products since 1983.

Atop the Carrot Common mall, which consists of 17 stores, is situated the Carrot Green Roof garden. Its aim is to bring together, build and maintain a community of eco-conscious people. 

Come and relax after shopping. Rent this unique downtown space for your private event. Just come and walk through and admire what can be done when people work together. You'll be amazed to find ample seating, gardens, water fountains, and if you give it long enough.... yourself.

Big Carrot 4
The Big Carrot
Big Carrot 3
The Big Carrot 
Big Carrot 2
The Big Carrot 
Big Carrot 1
The Big Carrot 

City Hall

The podium underlying city hall's twin tower structure was one of the first roofs in Toronto to undergo vegetation. It's deemed the largest green rooftop area in the city with more than 3,000 m2.

This roof has one of the best views of the Downtown Toronto. See for yourself:

city hall 4
City Hall
2 city hall
City Hall
1 city hall
City Hall

The Green Roof Innovation Testing Laboratory (GRIT LAB)

230 College St, Toronto, ON M5T 1R2, Canada

The Green Roof Innovation Testing Laboratory, or GRIT Lab, is located at the University of Toronto, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.

3 grit lab
2 grit lab
1 grit lab

Native Child and Family Services of Toronto


30 College St, Toronto, ON M5G 1K2, Canada

Before NCFST purchased the building in 2007 it was in terrible conditions which included roof leaks. The green roof developed during the renovation process. Nowadays, it is used for outside classes and meeting point for the community. 

4 native child
Native Child
3 native child
Native Child
2 native child
Native Child

The Robertson Building

215 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2C7, Canada

The 5th floor of The Robertson Building, also known as 215 Spadina, sports a 4,000 sf extensive greenroof, which is enjoyed by the 40 tenants and visitors to the Robertson Building.

How about those views? 

robertson 4
robertson 3
robertson 2
robertson 1

YMCA of Greater Toronto

15 Breadalbane Street, Toronto, ON M4Y 2C4, Canada

The YMCA of Greater Toronto at 20 Grosvenor Street is a charity focused on community support and development. It aims to provide every individual in our community with opportunities for personal growth, community involvement, and leadership. To utilize their space and provide an environmentally friendly change to the Toronto Metro Central YMCA Health, Fitness and Recreation Centre, the YMCA of Greater Toronto created a green roof that incorporates the former rooftop running track. 


The Hugh Garner Housing

550 Ontario St, Toronto, ON M4X 1X3, Canada

The Hugh Garner Housing Co-operative, built in 1983, is located in the historic Cabbagetown/St. James Town area of downtown Toronto. The 181 unit non-profit housing co-operative is home to a vibrant community of varied economic and cultural backgrounds. As is typical for co-ops, the members participate in its operation.

4 Hugh Garner
Hugh Garner
3 Hugh Garner
Hugh Garner
2 Hugh Garner
Hugh Garner
1 Hugh Garner
Hugh Garner
For more information visit


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.