The green roof of the future

Canadian Geographic - - INFOGRAPHI­C - By Alexan­dra Pope

Greg Yuristy is used to peo­ple say­ing, “You can’t grow that there.” His re­sponse? “Chal­lenge ac­cepted.” Yuristy, a for­mer con­trac­tor turned plant sci­en­tist and gen­eral man­ager of Welling­ton, Ont.-based Smart Green Tech­nolo­gies, is one of a new wave of en­trepreneur­s com­bin­ing tech and hor­ti­cul­ture to de­velop liv­ing roofs that will meet the de­mands of the future. Liv­ing roofs or “green roofs” have been used in Europe since the 1970s to help build­ings man­age storm wa­ter, im­prove air qual­ity and re­duce en­ergy con­sump­tion, but it wasn’t un­til 2009, when the City of Toronto passed a by­law man­dat­ing new con­struc­tion to in­cor­po­rate green roofs, that Canadian cities be­gan to se­ri­ously con­sider the long-term eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits of ur­ban veg­e­ta­tion. Yuristy sees broad-based chal­lenges such as cli­mate change and ur­ban­iza­tion as an op­por­tu­nity for green roofs to evolve and en­ter the main­stream. “The in­dus­try is so young and there are so many things we can do to im­prove it,” he says. “We hope that by ap­proach­ing ev­ery­thing with a sci­en­tific attitude, we’ll be able to re­fine many of the pa­ram­e­ters that go into a green roof to re­ally max­i­mize their ben­e­fits.”

A pi­o­neer­ing green tech­nol­ogy en­ters the st cen­tury

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