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
  • Enable self-recovery during an emergency power disruption

Tier 1

GHG 1.1 Buildings Energy Performance

Design the buildings to meet or exceed one of the following:

a) Tier 1 TEUI, TEDI and GHGI targets by building type, as provided in Table 1.1,2,3,4,5,6,7

b) 15 per cent energy efficiency improvement above the Ontario Building Code, SB-10, Division 3 (2017) for all other building types.

Table 1: Building Energy Performance Requirements Tier 1 and 2

Building Type Total Energy Use Intensity (KWh/m²) Thermal Energy Demand Intensity (KWh/m²) Greenhouse Gas Intensity (kg/m²)


Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 1 Tier 2
Multi-unit Residential
Buildings (>6 Storeys)
170 135 70 50 20 15
Multi-unit Residential
Buildings (≤ 6 Storeys)
165 130 65 40 20 15
Commercial Office
175 130 70 30 20 15
Commercial Retail
170 120 60 40 20 10
Mixed Use Buildings
(90% residential, 5% retail, 5% commercial)
170 134 70 49 20 15
All Other Building
Tier 1: ≥15 per cent improvement above SB-10, 2017

Tier 2: ≥25 per cent improvement above SB-10, 2017

Tier 2

GHG 1.2 Buildings Energy Performance (Core)

Design the buildings to meet or exceed the Tier 2 TEUI, TEDI and GHGI targets by building type, as provided in Table 1.,2,3,4,5,6,7

Note: Tier 3 or 4 high-performance buildings targets (near zero emissions), may also be applied and substituted for Tier 2 levels of performance. Alternative compliance options may be accepted for Tier 3 or Tier 4 TGS including the CaGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard or Passive House standards certification.8

Note: Follow the Energy Report Guideline for definitions and modelling guidelines for all targets including Tier 3 and 4 near zero emissions buildings targets.

For specific mixed-use buildings, specific targets can be derived using an area weighted average of the performance targets from the other building types.

Tier 3 or 4

GHG 1.3 High Performance, Low Carbon Pathway

Design the buildings to meet or exceed the Tier 3 or Tier 4 targets by building type as provided in Table 2

Note: Alternative compliance options may be accepted for Tier 3 or Tier 4 TGS including the CaGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard or Passive House standard certification.8

Table 2: High Performance, Near Zero Emissions Requirements Tier 3 and 4

Building Type Total Energy Use Intensity (KWh/m²) Thermal Energy Demand Intensity (KWh/m²) Greenhouse Gas Intensity (kg/m²)


Tier 3 Tier 4 Tier 3 Tier 4 Tier 3 Tier 4
Multi-unit Residential
Buildings (≥4 Storeys)
100 75 30 15 10 5
Multi-unit Residential
Buildings (≤ 6 Storey wood frame construction)
100 70 25 15 10 5
Commercial Office
100 65 22 15 8 4
Commercial Retail
90 70 25 15 5 3
Mixed Use Buildings
(90% residential, 5% retail, 5% commercial)
100 74 29 15 10 5

Note: Follow the Energy Report Guideline for definitions and modelling guidelines for all targets.

For specific mixed-use buildings, specific targets can be derived using an area weighted average of the performance targets from the other building types. 

Specifications and Resources

  1. On Dec. 5, 2017, Toronto City Council directed that commencing January 1, 2020 buildings are required to meet or exceed the Tier 1 TEUI, TEDI and GHGI targets by building type as provided in Table 1. See Bulletins 1 & 2 for details of changes. All other building types and Site Plan Control applications received before January 1, 2020 may follow the reference building approach option b) and meet or exceed 15 per cent energy efficiency improvement above the Ontario Building Code, SD-10, Division 3 (2017). See City Council Decision December 5, 2017: PG23.9.
  2. These performance targets apply to new buildings and 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.
  3. Exemptions include Small Buildings < 2000 m2, Industrial Buildings as described in the Ontario Building Code. Heritage Buildings while not exempt will be assessed on a case by case basis.
  4. Energy Modelling guidance for the absolute targets or reference building pathways is provided in the Energy Report Terms of Reference and Guideline  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).
  5. For buildings greater than 2000 m2 GFA, Tier 1 requires the submission of a “Design Development Stage Energy Report” prior to Site Plan Approval. Tier 2, 3 OR 4 requires 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.
  6. Energy modeling reports for Tier 1 and Tier 2 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.
  7. Ontario Building Code, SB-10 (2017), Division 3.
  8. 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.

Tier 2

GHG 2.1 Solar Readiness (Core)

Ensure that buildings are designed to accommodate connections to solar PV or solar thermal technologies.1,2,3

GHG 2.2 On-Site Renewable Energy (Optional)

Design on-site renewable energy systems to supply one of the following:

  1. Minimum of 5 per cent of the building’s annual energy consumption from one or a combination of acceptable renewable energy sources; 4,5  OR
  2. Minimum of 20 per cent of the building’s annual energy consumption from geoexchange.4,5

Specifications and Resources

  1. Assume a solar photovoltaic (PV) or solar thermal systems size that supplies at least 1per cent of the buildings’ annual energy consumption. GHG 2.1 requirements are addressed if solar PV and/or solar thermal are pursued for the project.
  2. Solar ready requirements may include the following:
    • Designate an area of the roof for future solar PV and/or solar thermal
    • Provide adequate structural capacity of the roof structure
    • Install one or two conduits from the roof to the main electrical or mechanical room (size of conduit to be determined based on maximum potential solar PV or 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
  3. Developments are strongly encouraged to meet minimum Tier 2, solar ready requirements if at all possible. Certain site characteristics may prohibit the potential for solar PV if approved by the Environment & Climate Division (ECD). See definition of Solar PV in specification 4.
  4. 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
  5. 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 ECD.

Tier 2

GHG 3.1 District Energy Connection (Core)

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

Specifications and 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 (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)
  2. For the full set of DES connection requirements, see the City of Toronto’s Design Guideline for District Energy-Ready Buildings.
  1. Connection to a low carbon DES is reflected in the Greenhouse Gas Intensity Targets in Tables 1 and 2 to comply with GHG 1.1, 1.2, 1.3. 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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 for advice on your project and hook-up requirements.

Tier 2

GHG 4.1 Benchmarking and Reporting (Core)

Register the building on ENERGYSTAR® Portfolio Manager.1

GHG 4.2 Best Practice Commissioning (Core)

Commission the project using best practice commissioning.2

GHG 4.3 Air Tightness Testing (Core)

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

GHG 4.4 Submetering (Optional)

Install thermal energy meters for each heating/cooling appliance in all residential units.


Install thermal energy meters for each individual tenant in multi-tenant commercial/retail buildings.4

Specifications and Resources

  1. Benchmarking of private buildings annual energy consumption is required in accordance with Ontario Regulation 506/18. Building energy and water benchmarking is a process through which building owners and/or managers can track and report their building’s operational energy and water use over time. Go to the ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager website for information on how the energy management tool can support building operations. Provide the City of Toronto’s account (CotEnergy) with read-only access to the project.
  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 and Verification Plan, including requirements for designing a sub-metering system. For strategies to implement, see the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol Volume I.

Tier 2

GHG 5.1 Resilience Planning (Core)

Complete the Resilience Checklist.1

GHG 5.2 Refuge Area and Back-Up Power Generation (Optional)

Residential: Provide a refuge area with heating, cooling, lighting, potable water, and power available;2


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

Specifications and 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 residential buildings that contain central amenity/lobby space. 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, 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 for MURBs, Voluntary Performance Standards for Existing and New Buildings.