Biotope Area Factor

Improving air quality and increasing access to cooler spaces in the city. 

Policy resource type : Urban form, Design Resources
Type : Internal

The Biotope Area Factor (BAF) is a tool used to measure the absorbent properties of a surface. To calculate this indicator, one need to only determine the relationship between the ecologically effective surface area and the total surface area of a lot. Over the last three decades, this factor has been incorporated into the urban planning practices of several cities so that under-used spaces such as walls and roofs can be better integrated into greening policies.

What makes this tool valuable?

The BAF is particularly valued because it offers a flexible approach to reconciling densification and greening policies. Given the problem of heat islands, which affect the health of the most vulnerable, this innovative measure provides a way to improve air quality and increase access to cooler spaces in the city. With regard to the built environment, it helps solve the problem of urban flooding by lowering the degree of soil sealing.

Image of large planters on an urban sidewalk with a cyclist next to it.
  1. The City of Berlin cited by the Agence de l’environnement et de la maitrise de l’énergie. (n.d.) “Le coefficient de biotope par surface (CBS)”.
  2. The City of Berlin cited by the Agence de l’environnement et de la maitrise de l’énergie. (n.d.) “Le coefficient de biotope par surface (CBS)”.
  3. City of Seattle (2007). Seattle Green Factor: Improving livability and ecological function through landscaping standards. retrieved on April 1, 2019.
  4. Emmanuel Rondia, (2015), “Pratique innovante dans la lutte aux îlots de chaleur,” retrieved on April 1, 2019
  5. Imagine Lachine-Est and Montreal Climate Coalition (2017) “Technopôle Angus: un éco-quartier exemplaire,” White paper submitted to the OCPM, retrieved on April 1, 2019.
  6. Cavayas, F., Baudoin, Y. (2008) étude des biotopes urbains et périurbains de la CMM, Volets 1 et 2: Évolution des occupations du sol, du couvert végétal et des îlots de chaleur sur le territoire de la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (1984-2005). Report intended for the CRE Laval
  7. Climate Adapt. (2014) “Berlin Biotope Area Factor – Implementation of Guidelines helping to control temperature and runoff,” retrieved April1, 2019.
  8. Bourgogne France Comte. (2014) “Le coefficient biotope de surface,” Plan local d’urbanisme, retrieved on April 7, 2019.
  9. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). (2006) “Green Roofs,” retrieved on April 1, 2019.
  10. Lakes, Tobias & Kim Hyun-Ok (2012) “The urban environmental indicator ‘Biotope Area Ratio’—An enhanced approach to assess and manage the urban ecosystem services using high resolution remote-sensing,” Ecological Indicators 13, no. 1 (February 1, 2012): 93-103. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  11. Anne-Marie Bernier and the Centre d’écologie urbaine de Montréal (CEUM) “Les plantes grimpantes, une solution rafraichissante.”
  12. Brussels. (2016) “Évaluation du projet via le CBS (Coefficient de biotope par surface),” Guide Bâtiment Durable, retrieved on April 7, 2019.

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