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Toronto raises bar in green building standard

The city of Toronto has updated its green standard to include higher energy conservation targets for mid-to-high-rise buildings. The updates, which the city council approved in July and confirmed this week, will apply to new developments...


The city of Toronto has updated its green standard to include higher energy conservation targets for mid-to-high-rise buildings. The updates, which the city council approved in July and confirmed this week, will apply to new developments starting January 2014. The city is also looking into requiring renewable energy devices on its own buildings.

The new Toronto Green Standard has two tiers. Tier 1, which became mandatory for all new private and public developments in 2010, is now complemented by a voluntary Tier 2.

The Tier 2 performance standards require that mid-to-high rise residential and non-residential buildings be designed and constructed to achieve an improvement of at least 25% energy efficiency compared to a building designed to the current Ontario Building Code.

Building applications that meet both Tier 1 and 2 standards are eligible for a 20% refund of development charges. (This week the city’s executive committee has also endorsed a new bylaw that if approved will raise the amount of development charges to pay for the cost of new infrastructure. The rates, which would start taking effect in February 1, 2014, would increase by 25% for non-residential building and 75% for residential buildings.)

The city council has also told the planning department to develop a comprehensive planning approach to address sustainability issues.

As part of that study the planners are to look at the idea of mandating that that “where technically feasible and financially practical,” all new facilities owned by the city and its agencies with a gross floor area of more than 600 sq.m should have to install on-site renewable energy devices. The renewable energy devices would have to generate at least 5% of the building’s modelled energy use.

The council is also considering raising the bar to ensure buildings are designed to avoid bird collisions. The Ecology section of the Toronto Green Standard already requires buildings to incorporate measures to deter birds from flying into glass walls, but the city is now considering increasing the affected wall heights from 12 to 16 metres above grade, or higher if a mature tree is nearby that grows above 16 metres.

Last month the city increased its incentives under the Eco-Roof Incentive program. Green roofs are eligible to receive $75 per square metre up to a maximum of $100,000. Cool roof membranes are now eligible for $2 per square metre for an existing roof, or $5 per square metre for a new roof membrane, to a maximum of $50,000. Residential eco-roofs are also now eligible for grants.

For information about the Toronto Green Standard report adopted by city council, click here.

For more information on the Eco-Roof Incentive program, click here.