Toronto Green Standard Ecology Icon

Development Features

  • Create landscapes that support tree growth and enhance the urban forest
  • Protect, restore and enhance Ravine and Natural Feature Protected Areas
  • Enhancement of native plant and animal species, habitat and ecosystems
  • Design buildings to reduce bird collisions and mortality
  • Reduce nighttime glare and light trespass to support ecosystem and human health

Tier 1

EC 1.1 Tree Planting and Soil Volume

Create tree planting areas within the site and in the adjacent public boulevard that meet the soil volume and other requirements necessary to provide tree canopy. Determine the total amount of soil required by following the following formula:

40 per cent of the site area ÷ 66 m² x 30 m³ = total soil volume required

Ensure that each separate tree planting area has a minimum of 30 m³ soil.1,2

EC 1.2 Trees Along Street Frontages

Plant large growing shade trees along street frontages that are spaced appropriately having regard to site conditions and have access to a minimum of 30 m³ of soil per tree. 3,4,5

EC 1.3 Parking lots

Parking Lots: If surface parking is permitted and provided, plant large growing shade trees throughout the parking lot interior at a minimum ratio of one tree planted for every five parking spaces supplied.6

EC 1.4 Watering program

Provide a watering program for trees for at least the first 2 years after planting.7

Tier 2

EC 1.5 Enhanced Trees in Parking Lots (Optional)

If surface parking is provided, plant large growing shade trees at a minimum ratio of one tree planted for every three parking spaces supplied.6

EC 1.6 Enhanced Tree Planting and Soil Volume (Optional)

Provide 25 per cent more than the total soil volume required as per EC 1.1. Soil shall be deployed on-site or on adjacent properties as approved by the City of Toronto.1,2,3,4,5

EC 1.7 Enhanced Tree Protection During Construction (Optional)

Provide double the minimum tree protection zones for all existing trees on sites outside of the Ravine Protected Area.8

Specifications and Resources

Tree and Natural Feature Protection Bylaws General Note

Ensure compliance with all applicable City of Toronto Tree Protection Bylaws:

a) Private Tree Protection Bylaw (City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 813, Article III) Injury or removal of trees measuring 30 cm in diameter or larger is prohibited on private property, except where a permit is issued.

b) Ravine and Natural Feature Protection Bylaw (City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 658)

Injury or removal of any tree within a Ravine Protection Bylaw Area property is prohibited, except where a permit is issued.

c) Trees on City Streets (City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 813, Article II) Injury or removal of any tree on City streets and roadways is prohibited, except where a permit is issued.

d) Parks (City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 608, Article VII) Parks. All trees located in a City park are protected.

  1. Trees and soil should be distributed within the site and along the public boulevard. The “site area” is the privately-owned portion of the property affected by the development. The “public boulevard” is the City-owned portion. For these purposes, the site area may exclude areas dedicated for active recreation or local food production, Privately-Owned Publicly Accessible Spaces and dedicated parkland.
  2. Within these planting areas, tree canopy may be achieved by planting individual trees or by planting a variety of appropriate species to create a naturalized planting.
  1. Soil volume of 30m3 is based on a minimum soil depth of 0.8 m and a maximum of 1.6 m of high-quality soil above a well-drained sub-soil or drainage layer. Trees may be planted so that they can share soil volume within planting areas. Where trees are planted within hardscape, soil cells, which are subsurface modular structures designed to provide un-compacted soil for trees and provide stormwater retention, are recommended. The methods used to provide soil volume under hardscape must be approved by Urban Forestry.
  1. Species selection, size and distribution will vary by project. Large growing shade trees are preferred. For suggestions on species selection, refer to the City of Toronto’s Native Plant Lists and the and/or contact Urban Forestry.
  2. A minimum of 8m spacing is required, however where site conditions are appropriate, reduced spacing may be accepted e.g. at the end of a row along a street frontage or to accommodate a driveway. 30m3 of soil per tree will need to be maintained regardless of spacing between trees.
  3. Distribute large growing shade trees so that no parking space is more than 30m from a tree. On small or narrow sites, shade trees provided in non-street facing perimeter planting areas can be counted towards the internal tree requirement, provided that the maximum distance from a parking space (30m) is met.  Refer to the Design Guidelines for ‘Greening’ Surface Parking Lots for details.
  1. Trees need water to survive. Water is used by trees to carry nutrients obtained from the soil throughout the tree. For the first 2 to 3 years after a tree is planted, the area around the base of the tree should be kept moist at all times. Watering programs should include a watering schedule may include the implementation of manual watering, irrigation systems and slow-release watering bags.
  2. Minimum tree protection zones (TPZ) provide minimum protection distances for the anchor and transport roots of a tree. Doubling the minimum TPZ protects feeder roots which are responsible for water and nutrient absorption and gas exchange. Please see Tree Protection Policy and Specifications for Construction Near Trees for more details.

Tier 1

EC 2.1 Ravine and Natural Feature Protected Areas and Natural Heritage System

Plant the landscaped area within the Natural Heritage System and the Ravine Protected Area with 100 per cent native plants (including trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants).1,2,3

EC 2.2 Ravine and Protected Areas Buffers

Where a setback from the toe-of-slope or the top-of-bank is required within the Natural Heritage System or the Ravine Protected Area prepare and implement a stewardship plan for the area.3,4,5,6

Specifications and Resources

  1. Native plant species are defined as plants that live or grow naturally in a region without direct or indirect human intervention. For suggestions on species selection, refer to the City of Toronto’s Native Plant Lists or the Drought Tolerant Landscaping: A Resource for Development document.
  1. Native species may not be suitable for all areas within the Natural Heritage System and Ravine and Natural Feature Protected areas. Non-native species may be considered upon consultation with Urban Forestry.
  1. Ravine protected areas are defined in accordance with the City of Toronto Ravine and Natural Feature Protection Bylaw. The Natural Heritage System is identified on Map 9 of the City of Toronto’s Official Plan.
  1. A development setback is defined in Section 3.4.8a) of the City of Toronto’s Official Plan as 10m from the top-of-bank of a valley, ravine or bluff. Buffer areas are addressed under Section 3.4.12d). Where the top-of-bank is unstable, minimum setbacks may be greater than 10 m. Minimum buffer widths may be greater than 10m for significant features such as Provincially Significant Wetlands, Life Science Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) and Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA).
  1. All stewardship plans must be reviewed and approved by Urban Forestry. Pre-application consultation is recommended to clarify and scope the submission requirements for the particular site.

Tier 1

EC 3.1 Native and Pollinator Supportive Species

Plant the landscaped site area using a minimum of 50 per cent native plants (including trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants).1,2,3

EC 3.2 Invasive Species

Do not plant any invasive species within the site or along street frontages.4

Tier 2

EC 3.3 Restoration of Biodiversity and Pollinator Habitat (Optional)

Restore or protect a minimum of 30 per cent (including the building footprint) of all portions of the site identified as previously disturbed, with native vegetation that includes at least two native flowering species that bloom at all periods over the growing season.5,6,7

EC 3.4 Biodiverse Green Roofs for Pollinators (Optional)

Provide a minimum of 50 per cent of Available Roof Space as biodiverse green roof.7,8


Specifications and Resources

  1. Native plant species are defined as plants that live or grow naturally in a region without direct or indirect human intervention. For suggestions on species selection, refer to the City of Toronto’s Native Plant Lists or the Drought Tolerant Landscaping: A Resource for Development document.
  1. The minimum 50 per cent native plant requirement refers to the total population of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants.
  2. Native species may not be suitable for all areas within the Natural Heritage System and Ravine and Natural Feature Protected areas. Non-native species may be considered upon consultation with Urban Forestry.
  1. Invasive species are species that reproduce aggressively and become established in a natural area by displacing native species. Invasive species may be planted in some areas within the City of Toronto upon agreement by Urban Forestry staff. To learn more about invasive plant species please see the Ontario Invasive Plant Council website.
  1. Refer to LEED® V4 BD+C: SS Credit: Site Development-Protect or Restore Habitat Option 1 for further details on how to achieve this option. Green roof area may be included if the green roof is located on or below the eighth storey of the building and designed to promote biodiversity and provide a habitat function (see below).
  2. These plantings should be maintained by an irrigation system to provide supplemental watering if necessary and be supported by an acceptable maintenance plan for year-round support of native pollinators; and, include details concerning reseeding and replanting as required to ensure a healthy plant diversity.
  1. Biodiverse green roofs require variation in depth, topography and composition of growing medium; vegetation diversity; and structures to create niche spaces for organisms and must include the following:
  • diversity of plant species on the recommended species lists in the Design Guidelines for Biodiverse Green Roofs;
  • 15cm-depth of growing media that is biologically derived with high organic content, low bulk density and high water retention capacity;
  • two or more growing media including one of which is biologically derived and compost-based;
  • allowance for horizontal movement in the substrate and does not include modular tray systems; and
  • irrigation system or mechanisms in place for supplemental watering when necessary.
  1. Biodiverse green roofs located at or below the eighth storey of a building must incorporate plants with at least two species in bloom at all periods over the growing season to support pollinator species. Refer to the Design Guidelines for Biodiverse Green Roofs

Tier 1

EC 4.1 Bird Friendly Glazing

Buildings abutting ravines or natural areas:

Use a combination of the following strategies to treat a minimum of 85 per cent of all exterior glazing within the greater of first 12 m of the building above grade or the height of the mature tree canopy: 1

  • Low reflectance, opaque materials 2
  • Visual markers applied to glass with a maximum spacing of 100 mm x 100 mm 3,4
  • Building-integrated structures to mute reflections on glass surfaces.5

All Buildings:

Balcony railings: Treat all glass balcony railings within the first 12 m of the building above grade.3,4,5,6

Fly-through conditions: Treat glazing at all heights resulting in fly-through conditions with visual markers at a spacing of no greater than 100 mm x 100 mm. Fly through conditions that require treatment include: 7

  • Glass corners
  • Parallel glass
  • Building integrated or free-standing vertical glass
  • At-grade glass guardrails
  • Glass Parapets.

EC 4.2 Grate Porosity
Ensure ground level ventilation grates have a porosity of less than 20 mm X 20 mm (or 40 mm x 10 mm).

Tier 2

EC 4.3 Bird Friendly Glazing (Optional)

Use a combination of the following strategies to treat a minimum of 95 per cent of all exterior glazing within the greater of the first 12 m of the building above grade or the height of the mature tree canopy (including all balcony railings, clear glass corners, parallel glass and glazing surrounding interior courtyards and other glass surfaces):

  • Low reflectance, opaque materials 2
  • Visual markers applied to glass with a maximum spacing of 100 mm x 100 3,4
  • Building-integrated structures to mute reflections on glass surfaces. 5

Specifications and Resources

  1. Bird-friendly design aims to reduce bird collisions and mortalities caused by reflective glazing by making glazed areas visually distinct to birds and by reducing images of trees or sky reflected in glass through shading/muting reflections. The most critical zone for bird collisions is a minimum of the first 12m above grade or to the height of the surrounding mature tree canopy. If the site is adjacent to a natural area feature, including where separated from the natural area by a road, or has mature trees on or adjacent to the site, glass must be treated to the first 12m of the building or to the height of the top of the surrounding tree canopy at maturity, whichever is greater.
  1. Low reflectance, opaque materials may include spandrel glass with one of the following: (i) Solid back-painted frit or silicone backing opaque coatings OR; (ii) Reflective or low-e coatings that have an outside reflectance of 15 per cent or less. Spandrel glass with reflective or low-e coatings that have an outside reflectance of greater than 15 per cent should be used in combination with other strategies.
  1. Visual markers consist of opaque points or patterns on the exterior or interior surfaces of glass. Visual markers must have a minimum width 5mm and a maximum spacing of 100 mm x 100 mm. Ceramic frit patterns must have a strong contrast (e.g. white). Grey frit does not provide a strong contrast and is not permitted. Patterns on the first (exterior) surface are the most effective and in combination with low reflectance glass are the most visible and effective.
  1. When the site is adjacent to a natural area feature including where separated by a road, visual markers must be provided at a maximum spacing of 50mm x 50mm.
  1. Building integrated structures include opaque awnings, sunshades, exterior screens, shutters, grilles and overhangs or balconies that provide shading below a projection (assume 1:1 ratio of treatment below a projection) to mute reflections. Shade cast by the building or adjacent buildings cannot be included as a bird collision deterrence strategy.
  1. Glass behind treated balcony railings is considered to be treated.
  1. Fly-through conditions are created when architectural elements provide a clear line of sight to birds to sky or vegetation on the other side or where clear glass corners meet. Glass corners must be treated for 5m extending on each side away from the corner. Parallel glass is glass installed at any height that is parallel at a distance of 5m or less such as a clear glass corridor or bridge. For more information see  Best Practices for Bird Friendly Glass.

Tier 1

EC 5.1 Exterior Lighting

All exterior fixtures must be Dark Sky compliant. 1


Specifications and Resources

  1. Dark Sky Compliant fixture must have the Dark Sky Fixture Seal of Approval which provides objective, third-party certification for lighting that minimizes glare, reduces light trespass and doesn’t pollute the night sky. If a Dark Sky Fixture Seal of Approval is not available fixtures must be full-cutoff and with a with a colour temperature rating of 3000K or less.
  1. All exterior light fixtures should be efficient while providing minimum illumination levels sufficient for personal safety and security. Efficient exterior lighting is defined as 60 Lumens/Watt minimum system efficiency. Safety and security lighting should minimize glare and/or light trespass. For more information see the Best Practices for Effective Lighting.