Toronto Green Standard Energy Icon

Development Features

  • Reduce energy loads in buildings, encourage passive design strategies and provide protection during power disruptions
  • Provide low carbon energy sources of supply
  • Support low carbon, thermal energy networks
  • Enable self-recovery during emergency power disruption

GHG 1.1 Building Energy Performance

Design buildings, greater than 100m², to meet or exceed one of the following:

a) 25% energy efficiency improvement above the Ontario Building Code, SB-10 Division 3 (2017); OR
b) TEUI, TEDI, GHGI targets by building type, as provided in the Table 1. 1,2,3,4,5,6

GHG 1.2 High Performance, Low Carbon Pathway (Optional)

Design the buildings to meet or exceed the targets by building type as provided in Table 1 or to meet an acceptable alternative compliance option such as the CaGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard or Passive House standards certification.1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Table 1: Building Energy Performance Requirements for City Buildings

Building Type Total Energy Use Intensity (eKWh/m²) Total Energy Demand Intensity
Greenhouse Gas Intensity (kgCO2e/m²)
Commercial Office Buildings 130 30 15
All Other Building Types ≥25% improvement above SB-10 2017

Note: Refer to Energy Report Guideline for definitions and modelling guidelines.
Additional absolute performance targets developed for City building types will replace the requirements for All Other Building Types.

Specifications & Resources

  1. City Agencies, Corporations and Divisions follow the Terms of Reference to complete a Net Zero Emissions Study to determine what is technically and financially required to achieve a net zero emissions building today. Submit the completed Net Zero Emissions Study to the Environment & Climate Division for review at Site Plan Application stage.
  2. Alternative compliance options acceptable to meet GHG 1.1 or GHG 1.2 include the CaGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard or Passive House standard certification. Other equivalent net zero energy and emissions standards may be considered.
  3. These performance targets apply to new buildings and can be applied to major renovations defined as: buildings that are greater than 2000m2 GFA where the HVAC, envelope or interior alterations are extensive enough that normal building operations cannot be performed while the renovation work is in progress and/or a new Certificate of Occupancy is required by Toronto Building.
  4. Exemptions include: Industrial Buildings as described in the Ontario Building Code. Heritage Buildings while not exempt will be assessed on a case by case basis.
  5. Review and complete the requirements provided in the Energy Report Terms of Reference and Guideline (2018) which includes references to the full set of requirements for each building type with submittals which must be included for a complete Energy Report submission. Reports are reviewed for compliance by the City of Toronto Environment and Climate Division (ECD).
    Unless otherwise deemed appropriate by the ECD, a two stage energy report is required as proof of compliance including the submissions of a “Design Development Stage Energy Report” prior to Site Plan Approval and the submission of an “As-Constructed Energy Report” based on as-built construction drawings.
    Energy Modeling is performed with eQuest v. 3.64 or higher, Energy Plus, IES Virtual Environment, or other software approved by the ECD.  Energy reports should demonstrate that the simulated peak demand is no greater than the simulated peak demand of a building designed to meet the Ontario Building Code.
  6. Ontario Building Code, SB-10 (2017), Division 3.
  7. Tier 3 or 4 buildings pursuing an alternative compliance pathway must discuss the project proposal details with the Environment & Energy Division and seek approvals for the approach in advance ( If approved, submit the Design Development Stage and the As-constructed Stage EMRs following the City’s energy modeling guideline and provide proof of registration in the CaGBC Zero Carbon Building (ZCB) Standard or Passive House Standard. Final verification must include either the ZCB-Design certification and complete ZCB workbook or a Copy of the Passive House Design Documentation Review Report and Design Stage Assurance Letter, and a copy of the final certification to the City once available for either program.

GHG 2.1 Solar Readiness

Ensure that buildings are designed to accomodate connections to solar PV or solar thermal technologies. 1,2

GHG 2.2 On-site Renewable Energy

For new buildings with a gross floor area of greater than 100m² install renewable energy devices to supply one of the

a) minimum of 5% of the building’s total energy load from one or a combination of acceptable energy sources; 2,3,4 OR

b) minimum of 20% of the building’s total energy load from geoexchange.3,4

Specifications & Resources

  1. Assume a solar photovoltaic (PV) or solar thermal systems size that supplies at least 1% of the buildings’ annual energy consumption. GHG 2.1 requirements are addressed if solar PV and/or solar thermal are pursued for the project.
    Solar ready requirements include the following:
  • Designate a maximum available roof area for future solar PV and/or solar thermal;
  • Provide adequate structural capacity of the roof structure;
  • For Solar PV provide a conduit from the roof to the rough-in for the location of the external disconnect (exact location to be determined in discussions with Toronto Hydro), and then to the closest electrical panel (size of conduit to be determined based on maximum potential PV system size).
  • Provide a one inch conduit for communications from the roof to the building electrical connection point or to the network hub (exact location to be determined based on monitoring objectives),
    For solar thermal install one conduit from the roof to the mechanical room (size of conduit to be determined based on maximum solar thermal system size);
  • Designate a 2m by 2m wall area in the electrical and mechanical rooms for future solar electrical/thermal equipment controls and connections (e.g. meters, monitors);
  • Where possible place the HVAC or other rooftop equipment on the north side of the roof to prevent future shading;
  • Consult NREL’s Solar Ready Buildings Planning Guide
  1. City Agencies, Corporations and Divisions follow the Renewable Energy Assessment requirements (Section 2 of the Net Zero Emissions Terms of Reference as referenced under GHG 1.1) to determine where it is technically and financially practical to install on-site renewable energy devices. Submit the completed Net Zero Emissions Study, including the renewable energy assessment, at to the Environment & Climate Division for review at the Site Plan Application stage.
  2. Acceptable renewable energy sources include energy generated by:
  • Solar photovoltaics (PV) – use of building-integrated (including window or wall) or mounted, composite panels to convert solar energy into electricity, to be used within in the building or exported to the grid.
  • Solar thermal – use of solar thermal collectors to directly convert solar energy into heating air or water for use in the building.
  • Biogas systems – Fuel cells that use biogas to convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity.
  • Biofuel systems – Fuels produced directly or indirectly from organic material and combusted for the production of thermal energy or electricity.
  • Wind systems – Building or site-integrated wind turbines that convert wind energy to electricity.
  • Geoexchange – Use of electric ground source heat pumps coupled with horizontal or vertical ground loop piping systems to provide heating and cooling energy; or use or direct ground contact systems.
  1. Savings may be demonstrated by third-party energy modeling tools such as RETScreen, GLD and whole-building modeling software utilized for demonstrating buildings energy performance as approved by the Environment & Climate Division.

GHG 3.1 District Energy Connection

Design buildings to connect to a district energy system where one exists or is slated for development.1,2,3,4,5

Specifications & Resources

  1. District Energy-Ready buildings include:
  • The ability to supply thermal energy from ground level;
  • Adequate space at or below ground for a future energy transfer station;
  • An easement between the mechanical room and the property line to allow for thermal piping;
  • Two-way pipes placed in the building to carry the thermal energy from the thermal energy network to the section in the building where the future energy transfer station will be located;
  • A low temperature hydronic heating system that is compatible e.g. large temperature differential (of Delta-T) with a thermal energy network in order to reduce the pipe sizes and associated valves, fittings and;
  • Appropriate thermal energy metering (see GHG 4.4).
  1. For the full set of DES connection requirements, see the City of Toronto’s Design Guideline for District Energy-Ready Buildings.
  2. Connection to a low carbon DES is reflected in the Greenhouse Gas Intensity Targets in Table 1 (as applicable) to comply with GHG 1.1 or 1.2. Wherever the system uses a low carbon source of energy (e.g. deep lake water cooling, geo-exchange, solar thermal, waste heat recovery, biofuels etc.), the emissions intensity of different energy sources will be incorporated into the modeling of the energy and emissions performance of a building. The emissions intensity of specific sources of energy is outlined in SB-10 2017 (C02 Emissions Factors, Table 1.1, 2.2). The specific emissions intensity of fuel sources included in a district energy system must be obtained directly from the providers or a reputable source.
  3. Check if a Community Energy Plan (CEP) has been developed for your area and/or if an Energy Strategy is required or has been completed. See the Energy Strategy Terms of Reference.
  4. Provide in-building DE Ready infrastructure for future hook up to the planned and approved system. The planned system must demonstrate that it is more efficient than a stand-alone system. Contact the Environment and Climate Division directly for advice on your project and hook-up requirements.

GHG 4.1 Benchmarking & Reporting

Register the building on ENERGYSTAR® Portfolio Manager.1

GHG 4.2 Best Practice Commissioning

Commission the project using best practice commissioning.2

GHG 4.3 Air Tightness Testing

Conduct a whole-building Air Tightness Test to improve the quality and airtightness of the building envelope.3

GHG 4.4 Submetering

Install thermal energy sub-meters at a floor-by-floor scale for non-residential building types.4,5

Specifications and Resources

  1. Benchmarking of public sector buildings annual energy consumption is required in accordance with Ontario Regulation 397/11. Building energy benchmarking is a process through which building owners and/or managers can track and report their building’s energy performance over time. Go to the ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager website for information on how the energy management tool can support your building operations. In addition to energy consumption, ECD will also include water consumption data to better align with Ontario Regulation 20/17, which requires benchmarking of privately owned buildings. For access to the City’s building performance metrics, contact the Energy Management team within the ECD.
  2. Commission the project using best commissioning practices. Commissioning of a building is a systematic process that documents and verifies that all the facility’s energy related systems perform interactively in accordance with the design documentation and intent, and according to the owner’s operational requirements from the design phase through to at least one-year post construction.
    Building commissioning (Cx) should be performed in accordance with ASHRAE Guideline 0-2013. Refer also to The Building Commissioning Guide, LEED BD&C v4 Fundamental Commissioning and Verification or EA Credit 1 Enhanced Commissioning for further resources related to the building commissioning process; both credits are accepted to meet GHG 4.2. The CxA may be a qualified employee of the owner, an independent consultant, or an employee of the design or construction firm who is not part of the project’s design or construction team.
    Standard Cx scope must include the following energy consuming systems: HVAC Systems, pumps, DHW, building automation & lighting. The owner is encouraged to include other systems including plumbing fixtures, electrical distribution and building envelope in order to get the most benefit from the Cx program.
  3. The practice of testing a building’s air-tightness is a way to measure the rate of air leakage from a building envelope. The process is conducted by sealing up all building openings (e.g. operable windows) and pressurizing a building to determine its resistance to air leakage through the envelope.
    Refer to the City of Toronto Tier 2-4 Guidance Document, Air Tightness Testing Protocol and Process. The guidance document applies to large, multizone buildings being constructed in Toronto and should be read and applied in conjunction with ASTM-3158-18 Standard Test Method for Measuring the Air Leakage Rate of a Large or Multizone Buildings. See here for more information on accounting for uncontrolled air leakage in energy modelling reports.
    The Building Enclosure Commissioning Agent (BECxA) may be engaged during the design development phase to provide input into building enclosure systems as they relate to energy, water, indoor environmental quality, durability and air tightness throughout the project. Air tightness is a key attribute and should be part of the BECxA’s scope.  Including BECx in the Owner’s Project Requirements will ensure a successful air tightness test.
  4. For hydronic systems, all thermal energy meters must be “true” energy meters capable of measuring flow rates as well as supply and return temperatures and computing energy consumption. Meters shall conform to CSA (Canadian Standards Association) Standard C 900 Heat Meter Standard or to CEN (European Committee for Standardization) Standard EN 1434. Integrated refrigerant monitoring/allocation systems are acceptable for refrigerant based (VRF) systems. IPMVP (International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol) provides a framework to determine energy and water savings resulting from the implementation of an energy efficiency program and the standards for creating a Measurement & Verification Plan, including requirements for designing a sub-metering system. For strategies to implement, see the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol Volume I.
  5. Submeter electricity in non-primary building areas such as: parking or common areas, kitchens etc. Submeter major heating/cooling appliances and non-City tenant spaces for electricity, water and thermal consumption. Floor-by-floor thermal submetering is suggested for commercial office uses. Determine appropriate metering requirements for your city building types through discussions with the Energy Management team (Environment & Climate Division).

GHG 5.1 Resilience Planning

Complete the Resilience Checklist.1

GHG 5.2 Back-Up Generation

Provide 72 hours of back-up power to the refuge area and essential building systems.2,3,4

Specifications & Resources

  1. Complete the Resilience Planning New Construction Checklist during the design development stage and submit as part of the TGS High Performance Checklist.
  2. This requirement applies to City buildings that contain central amenity, lobby or gym space, and that have been identified or designated as a critical service facility during an emergency by the Toronto Emergency Management. A refuge area should be a minimum size of 93m2 (1000 square feet), and/or 0.5m2/occupant and may act as building amenity space during normal operations. Common refuge areas are temporarily shared, lit spaces where vulnerable residents can gather to stay warm or cool, charge cell phones and access the internet, safely store medicine, refrigerate basic food necessities, access potable water and toilets and perhaps prepare food.
  3. Provide a 72 hour minimum back-up power system, preferably using a non-fossil fuel source, to ensure power is provided to the refuge area, and to the ground floor or the first two floors as applicable to the building use, to supply power to: building security systems, domestic water pumps, sump pumps, at least one elevator, boilers and hot water pumps to enable access and egress and essential building functions during a prolonged power outage. See the City of Toronto (2016) Minimum Backup Power Guidelines, Voluntary Performance Standards for Existing and New Buildings for guidance on critical buildings systems. Discuss the emergency back-up power requirements for your building with the Environment & Energy team (EED).
  4. Children’s Services and libraries that provide day-time only operations are exempt from this requirement.