The Toronto Green Standard is Toronto’s sustainable design requirements for new private and City-owned developments. The Standard consists of tiers of performance measures with supporting guidelines that promote sustainable site and building design. Tier 1 of the Toronto Green Standard is required through the planning approval process. Tiers 2 to 4 are higher level voluntary standards associated with financial incentives and verified post construction. The Standard addresses the City of Toronto’s environmental priorities to:

  • Improve air quality and reduce the urban heat island effect
  • Reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from new buildings while making buildings more resilient to power disruptions, and encourage the use of renewable and district energy
  • Reduce storm water runoff and potable water consumption while improving the quality of storm water draining to Lake Ontario
  • Protect and enhance ecological functions, integrate landscapes and habitats  and decrease building-related bird collisions and mortalities
  • Divert household and construction waste from going to landfill sites.

The Toronto Green Standard implements the environmental policies of the City of Toronto Official Plan and the requirements of multiple City divisions through the community planning and development approvals process administered by the City Planning Division.

Toronto Green Standard History

  • 2006  The Toronto Green Standard was first introduced as a voluntary standard for new development.
  • 2010  The Standard was structured into two tiers or levels of performance with Tier 1 mandatory and Tier 2 voluntary stretch targets with financial incentives.
  • 2014  Version 2 update of the Toronto Green Standard came into effect.
  • 2018  Version 3 update came into effect for all new planning applications submitted on or after May 1st, including Tier 1 to Tier 4 tiers of performance, including buildings energy and greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets to 2030.
  • 2022 Version 4 update came into effect for all new planning applications submitted on or after May 1st, including three performance tiers that accelerate action on climate change.

Projects that demonstrate Tier 2 levels of performance or above may be eligible for refund on development charges paid to the city. This financial incentive is awarded to third party certified projects that reduce pressure on city services and infrastructure through resource efficiencies.

Greenhouse Gas Emission Targets

The Toronto Green Standard has proven to be an effective tool to help to achieve the City’s TransformTO Climate Action Plan and Net Zero Strategy adopted by Toronto City Council on December 15, 2021. As of 2021, over 2,500 developments were required to meet Tier 1 and 150 projects have participated in the Toronto Green Standard Development Charges Refund incentive program offered to certified high performance developments.

The Toronto Green Standard Version 3 Zero Emissions Buildings Framework, stepped targets will result in greenhouse gas reductions of 30.6 Megatonnes by 2050, contributing to Transform TO’s city-wide emissions reduction target of Net Zero by 2040.That is the equivalent to taking more than 250,000 cars off the road each year!