Toronto Green Standard Energy IconPerformance measures to optimize energy efficiency, reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and enhance building resilience to extreme weather.

GHG 1.1 Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Limits

Using whole-building energy modelling, design the buildings to demonstrate an annual Greenhouse Gas Intensity (GHGI) of 0, and meeting one of the following minimum energy performance options:

  1. Minimum TEUI of 100 eKWh/m²/yr and TEDI of 30 eKWh/m²/yr;
  2.  Energy efficiency at a minimum 50% better than Ontario Building Code compliant building (Ontario Building Code, SB-10 Division 3 2017);
  3. Passive House levels of energy performance including registration and certification; OR
  4. Follow the current CAGBC Zero Carbon Building Design Standard, including registration and certification.

Note: A net-zero emissions building is one that: (i) is highly energy-efficient; (ii) does not have on-site combustion of fossil fuels; (iii) produces on-site carbon-free energy wherever feasible; and (iv) offsets any residual emissions from building operations in 2040 or later in accordance with the Corporate Offset Credits Policy.

Specifications & Resources

  1. All City facilities that are part of the Toronto Real Estate portfolio, new buildings and additions greater than 100 m2GFA, are required to be net zero emissions effective May 1, 2022 as per Council Direction. Also see the City of Toronto Real Estate Portfolio Zero Carbon Plan, 2021 for more about the portfolio decarbonisation plan and the City Council direction, Transform TO Net Zero Strategy (Dec. 2021), Recommendation 1(f).
  2. Follow the Energy Report Terms of Reference and Guideline (2022) administered by the Environment & Energy Division (EED) which provides the full set of energy and emissions requirements for each building type and documentation submittals to include with a complete Energy Report submission. An Energy Modelling Report (EMR) is required for new private buildings greater than 2000 m2GFA and for City-owned buildings greater than 100 m2 Submit the “Design Development Stage Energy Report” prior to Site Plan Approval. Submit the “As-Constructed Energy Report” based on as-built construction drawings at construction tender stage. Energy Modeling is performed with eQuest v. 3.64 or higher, Energy Plus, IES Virtual Environment, Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) or other software approved by the EED. Contact the EED team to discuss your project specifics and requirements
  3. Incorporation of renewable energy production and/or connecting to an existing low carbon district energy system is strongly encouraged to significantly reduce or avoid carbon emissions and to meet the GHGI limits. Fuel switching to low carbon fuel sources includes: grid-source, geo-exchange, solar thermal, solar PV, low carbon thermal energy, biogas and wind. See the Design Guidelines for Low Carbon Buildings for more information.
  4. Alternative compliance options acceptable to meet GHG 1.1 and GHG 1.2 include the CaGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard (Version 2 or later) or Passive House standard certification. Design or performance certification will be accepted for either standard.  Discuss the project proposal details with the Environment & Energy Division and seek approvals for the approach in advance ( The Zero Carbon Standard includes embodied carbon requirements outlined in GHG 2.1, 2.2, and fulfills that requirement. 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.
  5. Ontario Building Code, SB-10 (2017), Division 3. 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.

GHG 1.2 Refuge Area and Back-Up Power Generation

Provide 72 hours of back-up power to the refuge area and to essential building systems required during an extended power outage. 1,2

Specifications & Resources

  1. This requirement applies to multi-unit residential high rise buildings greater than 12 storeys or to City buildings that contain central amenity, lobby or gym space. New City of Toronto public facilities should be designed to be able to act as a temporary shelter for vulnerable residents. 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.
  2. 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).

GHG 2.1 Low Embodied Emissions Materials

Conduct an Upfront Embodied Emissions Assessment for the structure and envelope in accordance with the CaGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard methodology for the Upfront Carbon lifecycle stages (A1-A5). Identify low-carbon sustainable material alternatives to the proposed structure and/or envelope for use in the building project. The report must demonstrate an emissions intensity of equal to or less than 350 kgCO2e/m2. 1,2,3,5,6


GHG 2.2 Extra Low Embodied Emissions Materials

Conduct an Upfront Embodied Emissions Assessment for the structure and envelope in accordance with the CAGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard methodology for the Upfront Carbon lifecycle stages (A1-A5). Identify and specify low-carbon sustainable material alternatives to the proposed structure and/or envelope for use in the building project. The report must demonstrate an emissions intensity of equal to or less than 250 kgCO2e/m2. 1,2,4,5

Specifications and Resources

  1. Follow the CAGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard Version 3 or later embodied carbon tracking methodology. Calculate the total embodied carbon in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent (kg CO2e) and express the building average in kgCO2e/m2 for the cradle-to-substantial completion (upfront emissions) lifecycle stages (A1-A5) and complete a contribution analysis by building assembly or material type for the proposed building. Calculate gross floor area as defined in Appendix A of the National Research Council’s National guidelines for whole-building life cycle assessment. Note that this area definition includes the area from the external surface of walls/structures and includes attached parking garages. Follow the CAGBC standard’s object of assessment as follows:
    a. INCLUDE: Permanently installed envelope and structural elements including footings and foundations, complete structural wall assemblies (from cladding to interior finishes, including basement), structural floors and ceilings (not including finishes), roof assemblies, stairs, and parking structures.
    b. EXCLUDE: Excavation and other site developments, partitions, building services (electrical, mechanical, fire detection, alarm systems, elevators, etc.), fixtures and fitting, surface parking lots, and associated building site improvements.
  2. Complete the Embodied Carbon Reporting Template and include the LCA software used, input assumptions, and results of the preliminary assessment identifying what changes were made to the proposed buildings in order to minimize the embodied carbon impact and further reductions.
  3. Residential and commercial projects must demonstrate an embodied emissions intensity of less than 350 kgCO2e/m2 to comply with GHG 2.1. Other building types must demonstrate an absolute embodied carbon intensity of 400 kgCO2/m2.
  4. Residential and commercial projects must demonstrate an embodied carbon intensity of less than 250 kgCO2e/m2 to comply with GHG 2.2. Other building types must demonstrate an absolute embodied carbon intensity of 275 kgCO2/m2.
  5. See the City of Toronto Policy Primer and Study (2022) to learn more about embodied emissions sources in typical Ontario buildings and recommendations for the Toronto region.
  6. Only newly procured materials need to be included. Any existing structure reused as part of a renovation/rehabilitation and/or salvaged material incorporated into the project can count as embodied emissions of zero and therefore be excluded from the assessment.

GHG 3.1 Benchmarking & Reporting

Enroll the project in ENERGYSTAR® Portfolio Manager to track energy and water consumption of the new development during operations in accordance with O. Reg. 507/18 for public buildings. 1

GHG 3.2 Enhanced Commissioning

Complete the commissioning process (CxP) activities for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and renewable energy systems and assemblies in accordance with ASHRAE Guideline 0–2013 and ASHRAE Guideline 1.1–2007 for HVAC&R systems, as they relate to energy, water, indoor environmental quality, and durability, to develop the owner’s project requirements and basis of design. 2

GHG 3.3 Whole Building Air Leakage Testing (WBALT)

Conduct a Whole-building Air Leakage Test to improve the quality and air tightness of the building envelope. The project must target equal to or less than 2 L/s/m2 (at 75 Pa) through whole-building air infiltration testing, as conducted in accordance with the City of Toronto Air Tightness Testing Protocol & Process Guideline. 3

Specifications and Resources

  1. Benchmarking of public sector buildings annual energy consumption is required in accordance with Ontario Regulation 507/18. 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 and contact the Energy Management team within the CREM divisions at
  2. 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. Meet all requirements of LEED v4.1 Fundamental Commissioning and Verification and Enhanced Commissioning, Option 1, Path 1. Commissioning Authority Qualifications: The CxA must have documented commissioning process experience on at least two building projects with a similar scope of work. The experience must extend from early design phase through at least 10 months of occupancy AND the CxA may be a qualified employee of the owner, an independent consultant, or a disinterested subcontractor of the design team. Also see the GSA Building Commissioning Guide, 2020 for more information.
  3. The practice of Whole Building Air Leakage Testing (WBALT) involves sealing all building openings (e.g. operable windows) and pressurizing a building to determine its resistance to air leakage through the envelope. Projects are required to conduct an air infiltration test in accordance with the City of Toronto testing protocol and process guideline. The project should develop an air infiltration testing plan which details the timing of construction detail reviews, envelope mock-ups, site inspections and final air infiltration testing and report. Tall buildings may consider using guarded testing in accordance with the TGS air tightness testing requirements and guidance.
    Follow to the City of Toronto 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. Learn more about 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. ASTM E2947-16: Standard Guide for Building Enclosure Commissioning provides additional guidance.