Stormwater Management, Green Roofs. and an Unexpected Media Blitz

For those that don’t know, I’m current the chair of the Saskatoon Environmental Advisory Committee (SEAC) – a 10 person citizen committee appointed by City Council to advise on all things environmental.

One of the roles of SEAC is to study and propose potential policy issues to City Council. The most recent report issued by SEAC to City Council deals with a comprehensive best-practice review of Storm Water Management.  The report outlines the current stormwater management for Saskatoon and compares what cities from across Canada, North America, and Europe are doing above and beyond Saskatoon.  The full report (which was compiled by a summer student hired jointly by the City of Saskatoon, University of Saskatchewan, and SEAC this past summer) is available in the February 2013 SEAC agenda (here).

One of the five main recommendations submitted to City Council focuses on the concept of “Green Roofs” and asks the city to look into developing a pilot project(s):

Green roofs facilitate storage and filtration of stormwater, ultimately reducing the runoff generated by an urban property. According to research conducted in Calgary, Alberta: “in summer, depending on the plants and depth of growing medium, green roofs retain 70-90% of the precipitation that falls on them; in winter they retain between 25-40%. For example, a grass roof with a 4-20 em (1.6 – 7.9 inches) layer of growing medium can hold 10-15 em (3.9 – 5.9 inches) of water.” While they are more expensive to install than a conventional roof, the lifespan of a green roof can be double that of a conventional roof. Furthermore, the energy savings resulting from the green roof exceed the difference in installation prices. As an example, Canadian research indicates that green roofs reduce energy expended on air conditioning in the summer by over 75%. It was found that even a shallow green roof membrane “reduced the heat flow through the roof by 70% to 90% in the summer and 10% to 30% in the winter, lowering the energy demand for space conditioning in the building”.

While I personally think that the recommendations surrounding the disconnection of water downspouts and sump-pumps from the sanitary sewer system and the establishment of a regular water quality monitoring program of stormwater outfalls are the more important recommendations of the SEAC report to City Council, the local news media begged to differ.

Over the past two days I conducted four separate interviews with print, television, and radio media outlets, which I have grouped together below to provide a snapshot of what was discussed:

Metro News Saskatoon (HERE):

Saskatoon’s Environmental Advisory Committee is trying to get the conversation started on green roofs in Saskatoon.

As part of a report on the city’s Stormwater Management Policy the Environmental Advisory Committee (SEAC) will be discussing a number of recommendations for City Council, one of them being the piloting of a green roof concept.

According to the recommendations, the SEAC wants to see Saskatoon pilot the concept “on select civic facilities, and/or with commercial development partners leading to the development of a bylaw mandating green roofs on all commercial buildings over a specified size.”

Chair of the SEAC, Sean Shaw said green roofs are an effective way of redirecting rainwater away from the city’s runoff system and he hopes the recommendation starts a conversation amongst the city’s stakeholders.



The Star Phoenix (HERE):

Saskatoon committee is trying to plant a seed about “green” roofs in the public consciousness, hoping the technology could improve the health of the South Saskatchewan River.

The City of Saskatoon’s environmental advisory committee says the roofs, which are covered with soil and plants rather than conventional roofing material, are just one way to prevent massive amounts of contaminated storm water from making its way into the river.

“It is generally predicted that we will see more rain water and larger rain events on a yearly basis,” said Sean Shaw, the committee chair. “Finding different ways to manage that storm water and that rain water is important and green roofs are potentially one of the solutions.”

A report commissioned by the committee says the city should begin a pilot project with an eye toward creating a bylaw mandating the roofs city wide.

Green roofs are just one of the possible solutions for what to do with an increasing amount of rain water, the committee heard Thursday.



NewsTalk Radio:

Audio file can be found HERE


CBC Radio – Afternoon Edition:

From the Afternoon Edition website HERE


CBC TV Saskatoon:

I couldn’t find the video interview, but there is a website story (HERE)

I really like the comment section on this one, seems lots of negative commenter’s didn’t actually take the time to read the article, let alone the report!