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Performance measures to optimize energy efficiency, reduce GHG emissions and enhance building resilience to extreme weather.

TIER 1, 2 & 3

GHG 1.1 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Limits

(Refer to Specifications & Resources 1 to 7)

  1. Using whole-building energy modelling, demonstrate an annual greenhouse gas intensity (GHGI) that meets the performance limits provided in the table below:
  2. Projects pursuing net zero emissions follow the CaGBC Zero Carbon Buildings (ZCB) Design or Performance Standard or Passive House Standards acceptable pathways. Projects must demonstrate a GHGI target of 0.
    Building Type:
    GHGI(kg CO2e/m2/yr)
    Tier 1 Mandatory Tier 2 Voluntary

    High performance

    Tier 3 Voluntary

    Near Zero Emissions

    Net Zero Emissions

    Mandatory for City-Owned Facilities

    All Residential 15 10 5 0
    Commercial Office 15 8 4 0
    Commercial Retail 10 5 3 0
    Mixed use (calculated using a weighted average of the above)

    City of Toronto Zero Emissions Buildings Framework, 2017

For all other building types: consult the Environment & Energy Division for direction on establishing targets for mixed use and non-archetype buildings.

Note: A net zero emissions building is one that is highly energy-efficient and produces on-site, or procures, carbon-free and or renewable energy in an amount sufficient to offset the annual carbon emissions associated with its operations or simply eliminates carbon emissions altogether. Net zero emissions is determined following the CaGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard methodology.

TIER 1, 2 & 3

GHG 1.2 Building Energy Performance

(Refer to Specifications & Resources 1 to 6)

Projects must target the minimum Total Energy Use Intensity (TEUI) and Thermal Energy Demand Intensity (TEDI) requirements outlined in table below or better. Refer also to TGS requirement GHG 1.1 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Limits.

Building Type (kWh/m2) Tier 1 (mandatory) Tier 2 Tier 3
Energy Performance Measure kWh/m2/yr TEUI TEDI TEUI TEDI TEUI TEDI
Multi-unit Residential (> 6 storeys) 135 50 100 30 75 15
Multi-unit Residential (≤ 6 storeys) 130 40 100 25 70 15
Commercial Office 130 30 100 22 65 15
Commercial Retail 120 40 90 25 70 15
Mixed use (calculated using a weighted average of the above)

City of Toronto Zero Emissions Buildings Framework, 2017.

For all other building types: Discuss with the Environment & Energy Division to determine requirements that are consistent with the intent of the performance measures.

Note: Energy Modelling guidance for the absolute targets or reference building pathways is provided in the City of Toronto’s Energy Report Terms of Reference and Guideline. This includes references to the full set of requirements for each building type with submittals which must be included for a complete Energy Modelling Report (EMR) submission. Reports are reviewed for compliance by the Environment and Energy Division (EED).

Specifications & Resources

  1. These performance targets can be applied to new buildings or 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.Exemptions may include: Industrial Buildings as described in the Ontario Building Code. Heritage Buildings while not exempt will be assessed on a case by case basis.
  2. Follow the Energy Report Terms of Reference and Guideline (2022) 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 m2 GFA and for City-owned buildings greater than 100 m2 GFA. Tier 1 requires the submission of a “Design Development Stage Energy Report” prior to Site Plan Approval. Tier 2 or 3 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, Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) (accepted for Tier 3 projects) or other software approved by the EED. Contact the EED team to discuss your project specifics and requirements
  3. City-owned buildings may apply either this standard or the City ACD Facilities v4 Standard. All City facilities that are part of the Toronto Real Estate portfolio, new buildings and additions greater than 100 m2 GFA, are required to be net zero emissions starting in 2023 as per Council Direction. Follow the Net Zero Emissions Study Terms of Reference and submit the report to the EED for review at Site Plan Application stage. See the City of Toronto Real Estate Portfolio Zero Carbon Plan, 2021 for more about the portfolio decarbonisation plan.
  4. 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.
  5. A net zero emissions building is one that is highly energy-efficient and produces on-site, or procures, carbon-free and or renewable energy in an amount sufficient to offset the annual carbon emissions associated with its operations or simply eliminates carbon emissions altogether. Net zero emissions is determined following the CaGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard methodology.
  6. Alternative compliance options acceptable to meet GHG 1.1 and GHG 1.2 include the CaGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard (Version 2) or Passive House standard certification. Design or performance certification will be accepted for either standard. Other equivalent net zero energy and emissions standards may be considered. 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.
  7. 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 2.1 Material Emissions Assessment

Conduct a Material Emissions Assessment for the structure and envelope in accordance with the CaGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard v2 methodology for the Upfront Carbon lifecycle stage (A1-5). Identify low-carbon sustainable material alternatives to the proposed structure or envelope for use in the building project. 1,2


GHG 2.2 Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment

Conduct a whole building life cycle assessment (LCA) of the building’s structure and envelope in accordance with the CaGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard v2 methodology that demonstrates a minimum of 20% embodied carbon reduction, compared with a baseline building. 1,2,3

Note: The City of Toronto is involved in two studies to benchmark embodied carbon in new construction. The results of the studies will be used to update the requirements above in 2023, to ensure these Performance Measures can best be implemented in the Toronto context.

Specifications and Resources
  1. Following the CaGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard v2 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 either the cradle-to-substantial completion (upfront emissions) lifecycle stage (A1-A5) for Tier 2, OR, conduct a full life cycle assessment for stages A1-A5, B1-B5, C1-C4 for Tier 3, and for either Tier complete a contribution analysis by building assembly or material type for the proposed building. Compare to TGS Embodied Carbon benchmark studies for similar building types.Follow the CaGBC standard’s object of assessment as follows:
    1. INCLUDE: 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.
    2. 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. The baseline and proposed buildings must be of comparable size, function, orientation, and operating energy performance. The service life of the baseline and proposed buildings must be the same and at least 60 years to fully account for maintenance and replacement. Baseline assumptions must be based on standard design and material selection for the project location and building type. Use the same life-cycle assessment software tools and data sets to evaluate both the baseline building and the proposed building, and report all listed impact categories. Data sets must be compliant with ISO 14044.


GHG 3.1 Refuge Area and Back-Up Power Generation

(Refer to Specifications & Resources 1,2)

  1. Residential Uses: Provide a refuge area with heating, cooling, lighting, potable water, and power available; and
  2. Provide 72 hours of back-up power to the refuge area and to essential building systems required during an extended power outage.
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, 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 4.1 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. 506/18 for private buildings.1

GHG 4.2 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 4.3 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 private buildings annual energy consumption is required in accordance with Ontario Regulation 397/11. 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. 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 on accounting for uncontrolled air leakage in energy modelling reportsThe 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.