The Toronto Green Standard is Toronto’s sustainable design requirements for new private and public developments. The Toronto Green Standard consists of stepped levels 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 standards address the City of Toronto’s environmental pressures including:

  • Improve air quality and reduce 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 on site and decrease bird collisions and mortalities, and
  • Reduce household and construction waste going to landfill.

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.

The Toronto Green Standard was first introduced as a voluntary standard for new development in 2006 and then became a two-tier set of performance standards with Tier 1 mandatory and Tier 2 voluntary stretch targets in 2010. The Toronto Green Standard is revised and updated every four years.Toronto Green Standard Version 2 came into effect in 2014 and Version 3 is in effect for all new planning applications beginning May 1, 2018 including Tier 1 to Tier 4 near zero emissions buildings targets.

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.

The Toronto Green Standard has proven to be an effective tool to achieve the City’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. As of 2017, over 1,500 developments were required to meet Tier 1 and 15 per cent of residential projects participated in the Toronto Green Standard Development Charges Refund program. The Toronto Green Standard Version 3 new Zero Emissions Buildings Framework, stepped energy efficiency targets will result in greenhouse gas reductions of 30.6 Megatonnes by 2050, contributing to Transform TO’s city-wide emissions reduction target of 80 per cent by 2050.That is the equivalent to taking more than 250,000 cars off the road each year!