Insurance companies don’t like green roofs

There’s an article in the sun about insurance companies not wanting to insure buildings with rooftop gardens, also known as ‘green roofs’.

The plans of dozens of developers poised to put green roofs on their condo buildings — the Olympic village being the most prominent among them — are now in limbo after the province’s Homeowner Protection Office sent out a letter to all municipalities warning that local insurance companies are mostly unwilling to insure green roofs on multi-unit residential buildings that will be sold as condos.

So are there extra risks posed to building integrity from rooftop gardens? Probably not:

No one who works in the green-roof industry had heard of any other jurisdiction in North America or Europe where insurers were refusing to insure green roofs.

But in B.C., where problems with leaky building envelopes in condo buildings provoked a major crisis among consumers and the construction industry, anything involving water in proximity to residential building walls provokes nervousness.

What a shame to have the leaky condo crisis prevent us from creating rooftop greenspace. Hopefully this is something that developers and insurance companies can work out, particularly since it doesn’t seem to be a problem in any other city.

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The silence from the powers that be aboutDihydrogen Monoxide is deafening.

the pope

Insurance companies are rightin trying to stop them from happening.I think we should go one step further and remove potentially hazardous 'wet matter' from the rest of the city – Have you seen what those tree lined streets do to the sidewalks? Just think how safe and clean this city would be if it were entirely made out of concrete! Why then we'd be world-class for sure!For the ultimate in safety we should remove all glass and potentially dangerous electrical lines and plumbing from condo's as well, a friend of mine just had a pipe burst in the wall of his condo, what a mess!


I think a rooftop garden available to the eliteclass of owners goes a step too far into Sci-filand and the Insurance companies are rightin trying to stop them from happening.It is the thin edge of a wedge for a dangerousfuture world filled with jet pack commuting,hover cars and robotic killer spacebabes that will all test all insuranceproviders ability to offer qualitycoverage to their customers.


Regarding the leaky condo crisis, I think the government didn't crack down hard enough on delinquent developers. My mother was involved with one of the worst cases in the lower mainland and it was simply thrown out of court… unbelievable.Anyway, my point is that neither consumers nor insurers should be paying for crappy building quality, but they are.And why do we need lawns on top of buildings anyway, how about a few trees in well contained buckets or planters?


mold said… So other cities can somehow magically make buildings that dont rot and fall down, but here in BC we just don't have the capability?Wow, think how expensive real estate would be in Vancouver if the builders built buildings that don't rot and fall down. See, i told you real estate can only go up…;)


So other cities can somehow magically make buildings that dont rot and fall down, but here in BC we just don't have the capability?Isn't there anyway they can regulate construction in BC better so that insurance risk is based on building quality rather than whether or not there's a garden on top?


To be done properly, the cost would be prohibitive. Judging by most construction lately, it would done cheaply and poorly (though buyers would still pay a huge premium) and the result would be a nightmare of leaks and structural damage. Agree with vanguy – the insurance companies are merely assessing risk correctly.


Given how much trouble Vancouver buildings have had simply keeping rain out, I'd agree green roofs don't sound good on the face of it. When we're told that insurance companies in other cities are okay with this, are they perhaps talking about cities where construction habits are very different from ours?Ever seen a cardboard box filled with sand after it's spent a week in the rain? Not pretty.Or would this only apply to concrete/steel structures?


Does putting a few tons of soil on top of a roof then drenching it in fertilizer (which damages the roof membrane-the water proof part) to keep the plants alive sound like a good idea to you. I attended an open house at BCIT's green roof research facility and I can tell you the people advocating these things are clueless. The insurance industry is completely correct on this one.