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Kimberly Powell

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If green roofs were mandatory in cities would there be less development and building?

William McDonough knows the benefits that come from designing and implementing green roofs. McDonough has helped design living roofs for big companies such as Nike and Ford Motors. But many companies and homeowners overlook the benefits of green roofs. One benefit of green roofs is that they keep the internal temperature of a building steady throughout the year. The National Research Council of Canada found that having a green roof reduced the daily energy demand for air conditioning in the summer by 75%. Toronto is the first North American city to pass a law mandating green rooftops for all new residential, commercial and industrial developments. Any new construction with floor space of more than 2,000 square meters must devote between 20 and 60 percent of its roof to vegetation. But with green roofs comes an unwanted financial upfront cost. Will developers decide that the benefits outweigh the costs for installing green roofs?

If green roofs were mandatory in cities would there be less development and building?

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    May 30 2012: As many commenters have posted, this ultimately boils down to money. The upfront costs of doing a green roof is prohibitive for some builders, even if the roof pays for itself down the road. I think a better alternative would be to provide some sort of reward for including a green roof in building plans. For instance, a tax holiday for a certain period to help offset the cost. The monetary benefit would be realized sooner and may entice more green roofs. Though it may cost the government some money in lost tax revenue, it may ultimately save money in the long run when accumulated environmental costs are realized.
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      May 31 2012: I think a small tax break for including a green roof is a good idea. The major difficulty is deciding on an amount that will entice businesses without significantly reducing tax revenue. Regardless, it could be a great transition point, allowing people to see the benefit of green roofs as a typical building component without initiating a mandate just yet.
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      May 31 2012: This is a very good point and great idea. There are usually multiple ways of implementing things like this and the options are usually the stick or the carrot. Offering something motivational seems like a more likable change, rather than something that will make businesses comply but simultaneously piss them off.
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      May 31 2012: As you stated, it does all boil down to money. But one aspect that I think it's important for businesses in particular to consider is that they gain positive publicity by going green. Because taking steps toward helping the environment and "going green" is becoming more and more popular in today's culture, I think businesses that decide to put up the extra money up front will see a return on their investment from customers that support their decision and choose to associate with that business rather than a competitor.
      • May 31 2012: To put it simply, it is incredible that going green is becoming a trend in the social and political world. Therefore, pushing the more influential people to make more environmentally conscious decisions. The more those in power do it, the more the masses will follow. Do we think it would be a good idea to demand the companies or individuals with a large enough income be required to install green roofs? Or is that too farfetched?
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          May 31 2012: I think that companies would really fight back if they were made to install green roofs using their own money. However, as time goes on and more and more companies start to install them in response to consumer requests, I think that most companies will follow.

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