Campbell River Gets a Green Roof

Campbell River City staff arranged for the old roof on City Hall to be replaced with a longer-lasting, cost effective roof with a vegetation layer.


Success Story Snapshot

Energy Savings: Reduced heating and cooling needs by up to 25% per year which equals  a 2 tonne reduction of CO2 emissions per year.
Business case: Energy savings over the life of the roof estimated at $106,000 and life-cycle cost savings estimated at $196,000.
Additional benefits: Lifespan of the underlying conventional roof doubled from 25 to 50 years.
Total project cost: $489,039.83 (Grant from Gas Tax Fund)* 


Project Summary

In 2008 the City of Campbell River developed the Green City Strategy. To realize this strategy, in 2009 a green roof was installed on top of City Hall when the old roof was due for replacement.  The City was  the first local government in BC to install a green roof on an existing civic building. The project was the winner in the ‘Buildings’ category of the 2010 FCM Sustainable Community Awards


The project resulted in numerous environmental benefits. Primarily, insulation from the vegetation layer reduced heating and cooling needs by up to 25 per cent, resulting in a reduction of 2 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. The vegetation layer also annually filters 500 kg of fine airborne particulate matter, increases storm water runoff retention, and reduces urban heat island effect. The City also plans to use the green roof as an educational tool (e.g. compost and vegetable gardening demonstrations).

Economic Advantages

In addition to the energy savings, the green roof has both long and short term economic advantages. Energy savings are estimated at $106,000 over the life of the roof and total life-cycle cost savings are estimated at $196,000. Additionally, the lifespan of the underlying conventional roof is projected to double from 25 to 50 years, as the roofing membrane is protected from UV radiation, temperature variations, and physical damage. Operating costs are minimal, at $500 per year.


Installation of the roof cost a total of $489,039.83, with capital costs covered entirely by a grant received from the Community Works Fund (Federal Gas Tax Fund)*. Gas Tax funding may only be used for eligible costs of eligible projects as set out in the Canada-BC-UBCM Gas Tax Agreement.  The agreement and other information about the program is available here.


Lessons Learned

Two important lessons were learned  other local governments looking into installing green roofs may wish to consider. First, installing a meter on an electric furnace prior to putting in the green roof provides baseline data on the building’s heat demands and costs. With this baseline data staff may then track the exact energy savings in HVAC costs as a result of the Green Roof. Similarly, installing a water meter as part of a green roof project enables the tracking of storm water runoff retention.
Second, developing a comprehensive education and communications package about the green roof retrofit prior to project inception can support a positive public perception of the benefits and financial costs of the project. The earlier this information is prepared and communicated to the public, the more opportunities for community engagement.
Other Examples: 
* Most grant funding is subject to eligibility or other requirements, and readers should consult 
Amber Zirnhelt Sustainability Manager, City of Campbell River 250-286-5742