This roof will grow on subway riders

Project's $860,000 cost is money well spent says TTC's Giambrone

Eglinton West subway station roof is teeming with life.

What was once an 880-square-metre asphalt roof has been upgraded to one of Toronto’s largest green roofs.

The station roof is now home to eight varieties of drought-resistant plants known as sedums, which will reduce heat in the atmosphere and in the building during the summer and become a new habitat for insects and birds.

The station roof was changed as a part of the city’s policy for green roofs, said TTC chair Adam Giambrone, who added it needed maintenance anyway.

The project cost the TTC about $863,000, which Giambrone said is well worth it.

“They make financial sense in the long run because green roofs last a lot longer,” he said.

The Eglinton West station roof is different in many ways, says Terry McGlade, president of Gardens in the Sky, the company that built the roof.

“This roof is unique in that it’s highly visible to the public and it’s on two expressways, a high-traffic area (where there is) lots of pollution,” McGlade said.

The green addition took 10 days for eight workers to build and uses a live roof system which has plants grown onto a module that are installed on the roof. If any service or maintenance is needed, the modules can be removed to fix it.

McGlade’s company will visit twice a month during growing season to weed and examine the plant life. Despite the surrounding pollution, he said he thinks the current soil will be fine without organic fertilizer for the next four to five years.

The green addition also eliminates a problem with the freeze-thaw cycle in the winter, a process that wears down the roofing material over time.

The roof will last for 30 years, but McGlade said he expects it to last longer.

“Right now I think 30 years because I’ve seen roofs in Germany that are 30 years old and they look exactly as they did when they were planted,” he said.

“It’s going to be wonderful as I turn older to be able to come down this road and see this green roof and say, ‘You know, I built that in 2009.’ I look forward to a long-term legacy.”

He hasn’t had much feedback yet, but he said people have been calling and saying that the roof is wonderful.

Gardens in the Sky is working on a green roof for city hall, which will be 4,600 square metres. Victoria Park subway station will also get one.

With more and more green roofs going up, McGlade remains hopeful about the future.

“It’s one step for that long fight for environmental renewal.”

About this article:

By: Josephine Lim
Posted: Jul 30 2009 2:59 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto