Performance measures to enhance the urban forest, increase biodiversity and minimize urban heat islands.Toronto Green Standard Ecology Icon


EC 1.1 Tree Planting Areas and Soil Volume

(Refer to Specifications & Resources 1 to 5)

1) Provide the total amount of soil required on the site and in the adjacent public boulevard to support tree canopy by using the following formula:

  • 40% of the site area ÷ 66 m2 x 30 m3 = total soil volume required.

2) Each separate new or retained tree planting area must have access to a minimum volume of 30m3 of soil. 6,7

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. Ensure that space is provided to accommodate mature trunk and root flare growth of each tree. 4,5,8

EC 1.3 Parking Lots

Plant large growing shade trees throughout the parking lot interior at a minimum ratio of 1:5 (one tree planted for every five surface parking spaces supplied). 9

EC 1.4 Watering Program

Provide a watering and maintenance program for trees for at least the first 4 years after planting. 10

Specifications and Resources
  1. Comply with all City of Toronto Tree Protection By-laws:
    1. Private Tree Protection By-law (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. Trees of any diameter that were planted as a condition of a permit issued under this By-law or a site plan agreement are also protected and permits are required for the removal of these trees.
    2. Trees on City Streets (City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 813, Article II). Injury or removal of any City-owned tree is prohibited, except where a permit is issued.
    3. Ravine and Natural Feature Protection By-law (City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 658). Injury or removal of any tree within a Ravine Protection By-law Area property is prohibited, except where a permit is issued.
    4. Parks (City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 608, Article VII). Injury or removal of any tree within a City park is prohibited, except where written permission is granted by Urban Forestry.
  2. Minimum Tree Protection Zones (TPZ) (Tree Protection Policy and Specifications for Construction Near Trees). 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.
  3. Trees and soil should be distributed within the Site Area 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, local food production, Privately-Owned Publicly Accessible Spaces (POPS), dedicated parkland, land below the stable top of bank, or land above the stable toe of slope within the Ravine and Natural Feature Protected Area and/or within the Natural Heritage System. Areas excluded from the Site Area calculation cannot be used to meet the total soil volume requirement.In Ravine and Natural Feature Protected Areas and/or within the Natural Heritage System, if the proposed buffer is to be converted from hard surface to soft surface with tree planting, this area may be included in the total soil volume required subject to approval by Urban Forestry.
  4. Tree Planting Area is the continuous soil area where trees are planted and where soil is accessible to tree roots. Soil volume must be deployed at grade, including in a planter sitting on grade for tree planting purposes, or in a continuous soil trench. Installing open, large tree planting areas provides the best growing conditions for trees in sidewalks.
  5. Tree planting areas must meet soil volume and composition requirements to support satisfactory tree growth and include:
    1. Growing medium with a depth of no less than 800mm and no more than 1600mm when measured from the surface of the sidewalk;
    2. Minimum tree planting area width of 2.5 m for areas on private property;
    3. Planting in accordance with the City of Toronto Tree Planting Detail for trees planted in paving and in sod;
    4. Soil material provided in compliance with the City of Toronto Construction Specification for Growing Medium. Boulevard mix type 3 is the standard mix for trees in hard surfaces. Soil quality testing may be required in order to determine if existing soil areas are suitable for tree planting;
    5. Soil cells installed on City property in accordance with the City of Toronto General Specification and Key Performance Criteria for Soil Cells.
  6. Species, size and distribution of trees can vary by project. Prioritize the establishment and growth of large growing shade trees to maturity. Trees planted on private property that are not a requirement of tree permit issuance may be planted so that they can share soil volume. The number of trees planted can vary from 1 tree planted per 30 m3 to groupings of trees. Tree canopy may be achieved by planting individual trees, a row of trees or by planting a stand of appropriate species to create a more naturalized landscape.Refer to the Toronto Street Tree Guide and the City of Toronto Green Infrastructure Tree Plant Palette for resources on tree species.
  7. Trees planted on the site as a result of compensation requirements due to tree permit issuance are required to have access to a minimum of 30m3 per tree. Exemptions from this requirement for trees planted as part of naturalization and/or stewardship works may approved by Urban Forestry.
  8. A minimum of 8 m spacing between trees is required. Where site conditions warrant change (e.g. to accommodate a driveway), a reduced spacing may be accepted.
  9. Distribute large growing shade trees so that no parking space is more than 30 m 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 (30 m) is met. Refer to the Design Guidelines for ‘Greening’ Surface Parking Lots for details.
  10. For the first 4 years after a tree is planted on private property, the area around the base of the tree should be kept moist during the growing season.


EC 2.1 Green & Cool Paving

Residential Uses:

Use one or a combination of the following strategies to treat at least 75% of the site’s non-roof hardscape: 1,2,3,4,5

  • High-albedo paving materials with an initial solar reflectance of at least 0.33 or SRI of 29;
  • Open grid pavement with at least 50% perviousness;
  • Shade from existing tree canopy or new tree canopy within 10 years of landscape installation;
  • Shade from architectural structures that are vegetated or have an initial solar reflectance of at least 0.33 at installation or and SRI of 29;
  • Shade from structures with energy generation.
Non-Residential Uses:

Use one or a combination of the strategies above to treat at least 50% of the site’s non-roof hardscape; or

Provide Soft Landscaping that meets or exceed 20% of the Lot Area. 1,2,3,4,5

EC 2.2 On-site Landscaping

Plant the at-grade landscaped site area using a minimum of 50% native plants (including trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants) comprising at least two native flowering species that provide continuous bloom throughout all periods of the growing season. 6,7,8,9

  • Where potable water is used for irrigation, native and non-native plants must also be drought-tolerant;
  • Do not plant any invasive species.

EC 2.3 Green and Cool Roofs

Buildings, where the Green Roof By-law is applied, install a Green Roof to meet the minimum requirements of the Green Roof Bylaw;10,11


Where the Green Roof Bylaw does not apply, provide 100% of the Available Roof Space with one or a combination of the following: 10,11,12

  • Green Roof,
  • Solar PV, or,
  • Cool Roof.

Specifications and Resources

  1. Non-roof hardscape includes driveways, walkways, courtyards, surface parking areas, artificial turf and other on-site hard surfaces. For non-residential uses, the requirement applies to at-grade soft-landscaping only. Refer to City of Toronto Zoning By-law 569-2013 for the definition of Lot Area and Soft Landscaping.
  2. Solar Reflectance Index (SRI) is a measure of a surface’s ability to reflect solar heat. The SRI for a given material is calculated using both the reflectance value and emittance value of the material. Black asphalt has an SRI of 0 and a standard white surface is 100. Pavement types range between these values with a SRI of 35 for gray concrete.
  3. Open grid pavement consists of concrete or hard plastic grid systems with large pore spaces filled with a planted growing medium or light coloured aggregate. Open grid and high-albedo pavement should not be used for driveways and loading areas for commercial and industrial sites.
  4. Shade of 10-year canopy width is measured at solar noon at the summer solstice (approximately June 21). Refer to EC1.1 – 1.4 for the applicable tree planting standards. Shade cast by buildings is not an eligible strategy. Energy generation systems consist of solar photovoltaics (PV), solar thermal collectors that provide shade.
  5. Wherever possible, use high albedo, low carbon concrete mixtures with a minimum of 25% supplementary cementous material (SCM) and biobased materials for decorative stonework, retaining walls, walkways, or other landscape or architectural elements.
  6. Native plant species are defined as plants that are indigenous to Southern Ontario; they are adapted to local conditions and occur naturally in the region. Native species may not be suitable for all sites. For sites within the Ravine and Natural Feature Protected Area and the Natural Heritage System refer to the planting requirements of EC 3.2.For resources on species selection, refer to the following:
    1. Native Plants for Toronto by Habitat Type
    2. Pollinate TO Native Flowers, Trees & Shrubs
    3. Drought Tolerant Landscaping: A Resource for Development
    4. Construction Specifications and Drawings for Green Infrastructure
    5. Credit Valley Conservation Authority Plant lists: Woodland Plants for landscaping; Prairie & Meadow Plants for landscaping; Native Plants for Pollinators; Native Plant List for Migrating Birds and Native Plant List for Breeding Birds.
    6. Forest Gene Conservation Association List of Woody Species in Ecodistrict 7E-4
  7. A minimum 50 per cent of the quantity of plants must be native species in each of the following categories: trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants.
  8. Invasive species are species that reproduce aggressively and become established in a natural area by displacing native species. To learn more about invasive plant species please see the Ontario Invasive Plant Council website.
  9. Pollinator plantings should be maintained by an irrigation system to provide supplemental watering if necessary and are to be sustained by an acceptable maintenance plan for year-round support of native pollinators. Non-potable irrigation is preferred to support plantings and may include, potable water supplies to make up irrigation sources for non-potable systems during drought conditions.
  10. Refer to the Green Roof By-law for definitions of Green Roof and Available Roof Space, details on calculating the green roof area required and the Toronto Green Roof Construction Standard. Where feasible green roofs should be designed to promote biodiversity. For design guidelines and criteria for biodiverse green roofs refer to WQ 1.3 Specifications and Resources and City of Toronto Guidelines for Designing for Biodiversity on Green Roofs.
  11. Cool roofing materials must have a minimum initial reflectance of 0.65 and minimum emittance of 0.90 or a three-year aged SRI value of 64 for a low-sloped roof and a three-year aged SRI of 15 for a steep-sloped roof. Low sloped roofs have a surface slope of less than 1:6 (9.5 degrees) and steeply sloped roofs have a surface slope greater than 1:6 (9.5 degrees). Light coloured ballasted roofs with a minimum stone ballast of 83 kg/m2 (17 lb/ft2) or pavers of 17 kg/m2 (23 lb/ft2) will also be accepted.
  12. Available roof space for cool roof areas consists of the total roof area of the building or building addition excluding private terraces no greater in area than the floor of the abutting residential unit at the roof level.


EC 3.1 Ravine & Natural Feature Protected Area Stewardship

Where development is approved within or adjacent to the Natural Heritage System or Ravine and Natural Feature Protection Area, prepare and implement a Stewardship Plan for the setback, buffer and feature areas located within the property boundary and/or within the lands to be conveyed into public ownership. 1,2,3

EC 3.2 Ravine & Natural Feature Protected Area and Natural Heritage System (NHS)

Plant the landscaped area within the Ravine and Natural Feature Protected area and the Natural Heritage System with 100% native plants, ensuring at least 50% of those come from a regionally appropriate seed source (including trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants). 4,5,6,7,8

Specifications and Resources

  1. The Ravine and Natural Feature Protected Area is defined in accordance with the City of Toronto Ravine and Natural Feature Protection By-law. The Natural Heritage System (NHS) is identified on Map 9 of the City of Toronto’s Official Plan. Both areas can be found on Toronto Maps. A natural feature may include: ravines, valleylands, wetlands, woodlands, physical landforms (Lake Iroquois Shoreline), aquatic habitat, the Lake Ontario shoreline, significant wildlife habitat including habitat of endangered and threatened species.
  2. For practical purposes, the area subject to the Stewardship Plan is defined as the area within the dripline and below the top of bank (or above the toe of slope) plus the approved setback or buffer area (see Official Plan policies 3.4.8 and 3.4.13).
  3. 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.
  4. Native plant species are defined as plants that are indigenous to southern Ontario, are adapted to local conditions and occur naturally in the region. Native species may not be suitable for all areas within the Natural Heritage System and Ravine and Natural Feature Protected areas. Non-native, adaptive species may be approved by Urban Forestry. For suggestions on native species selection, refer to the planting resources found under EC Specifications 6 and 7, EC 2.2 On-site Landscaping.
  5. Cloned cultivars of native species (e.g. ‘Schubert’ choke cherry, ‘Fall Fiesta’ sugar maple) must be avoided to ensure a robust degree of genetic diversity in the City’s Natural Heritage System.
  6. Regionally appropriate seed source is defined as seed sourced within the following Ecodistricts: Toronto (7E-4); Oak Ridges (6E-7); Essex (7E-1); St Thomas (7E-2); Grimsby (7E-3); and Niagara (7E-5). Learn more about Ecodistricts.
  7. A minimum 50%of the quantity of plants must be native species from a regionally appropriate seed source in each of the following categories: trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants.
  8. Plant material must be sourced from a nursery that can identify the seed source. Applicants are encouraged to work with nurseries during the design of stewardship plans to ensure that the quantities, species and seed sourcing of plants specified in stewardship plans will be available.


EC 4.1 Climate Positive Landscape Design

(Refer to Specifications & Resources 1 to 5)

Enroll the project in the Climate Positive Design Challenge and use the Pathfinder tool to calculate the years to carbon positive design. Incorporate low-carbon sustainable material alternatives into the proposed landscape design.


Conduct a lifecycle assessment (LCA) for the landscape design at the Concept Design and Detailed Design stages. Demonstrate a reduction in the carbon impact of the project at Detailed Design milestone. Identify low-carbon sustainable material alternatives to the proposed landscape design.

Specifications and Resources

  1. Register the project for the Climate Positive Design Challenge. Use the Pathfinder tool to calculate the embodied carbon and carbon sequestration of the proposed landscape design. Calculations include on-site landscape features only. Clearly label and identify the low-carbon materials used on the Landscape Plan.
  2. Identify the number of years to carbon positive based on 1) design submitted for site plan approval, and 2) as-constructed design. For reference, the Climate Positive Design Challenge includes a target to achieve carbon positive within 5 years of installation for parks, residential, campus or mixed-use development and 20 years to positive for streetscapes or plazas.
  3. Provide a landscape design narrative during site plan approval that includes the number of years to carbon positive generated by the Pathfinder tool.
  4. Landscape design strategies to reduce embodied carbon and increase carbon sequestration include:
    1. Increase soft landscaping on-site and decrease hard landscaped areas;
    2. Provide adequate soil volume for trees to grow to maturity;
    3. Decrease use of concrete pavement and concrete unit pavers (high embodied carbon); replace with low carbon alternatives such as stabilized gravel, bonded aggregates, wood decking;
    4. Decrease the use of aluminum and steel, and increase use of wood for site furniture and site structures, with an emphasis on long-lasting detailing;
    5. Design and detail for longevity and flexibility to increase project lifespan and thus reduce embodied carbon;
    6. Promote material salvage and reuse, especially of high embodied carbon materials such as brick, reinforced concrete slabs and foundations, and steel;
    7. Reduce lawn areas (low carbon sequestration potential, high maintenance inputs), and expand meadows or perennial/shrub plantings.
  5. Where concrete is used for landscaping, it must consist of low-carbon cement, concrete and aggregates. Concrete Mix: Minimum 25% supplementary cementitious material (SCM).


EC 5.1 Bird-Friendly Glazing

Use a combination of the following strategies to treat a minimum of 85% of all exterior glazing within the first 16 m of the building above grade, or to the height of the mature tree canopy, whichever is greater: 1,2,3,4,5

  • Visual markers applied to the 1st surface of glass with a maximum spacing of 50 mm x 50 mm;
  • Building-integrated structures to mute reflections on glass surfaces; or,
  • Non-reflective glass.

Areas where visual markers are required include: 6,7

  • Balcony railings and fly-through conditions;
  • Elevations facing a High Hazard Area.

EC 5.2 Rooftop Vegetation

Treat the first 4 m of glazing above the feature and a buffer width of at least 2.5 m on either side of the feature using strategies from EC 5.1.

EC 5.3 Grate Porosity

Ensure ground level ventilation grates have a porosity of less than 20 mm X 20 mm (or 10 mm x 50 mm).

EC 5.4 Exterior Lighting

All exterior fixtures must be Dark Sky compliant. Rooftop and exterior facade architectural illumination must be directed downward and turned off between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. 8,9

Specifications and Resources

  1. Bird-friendly design aims to reduce bird collisions and mortalities caused by reflective glazing by making those glazed areas visually distinct to birds and by reducing or eliminating the reflected images of trees or sky through shading or muting reflections. The most critical zone for bird collisions is the first 16 metres above grade or the maximum height of the potential mature tree canopy. For additional information see the Best Practices for Bird-Friendly Glass.
  2. Non-reflective glass includes acid etch, full cover ceramic frit or texture. Spandrel glass with reflective or low-e coatings shall be used in combination with other strategies.
  3. Visual markers consist of points or patterns on the first (1st) surface of glass with a minimum width of 6 mm and a maximum spacing of 50 mm x 50 mm.  Visual markers must have a strong contrast and under a wide range of daylight conditions. Non-linear pattern options and duotones are acceptable. Patterns that are too dense will minimize or eliminate the effectiveness of the markers. Acid Etch, UV, Film Decals and Ceramic frit patterns must have a strong contrast (e.g. white).
  4. Types of glazing that must be treated includes: façade glass, balcony railings, clear glass corners, parallel glass and glazing surrounding interior courtyards and other reflective glass surfaces. Glass directly behind treated balcony railings is considered to be treated.
  5. Building integrated structures include opaque awnings, sunshades, exterior screens, shutters, grilles and overhangs or balconies that provide shading below a projection (assume a 1:1 ratio of treatment below a projection) to mute reflections. Building Integrated Structures shall be permanently fixed to the building and located on the exterior surface of building, in front of the glazing.
  6. Fly-through conditions are created when architectural elements provide a clear line of sight for birds, to sky, vegetation on the other side or where clear glass corners meet creating a potential collision hazard. Parallel glass is glass installed at any height that is parallel at a distance of 5 m or less such as a clear glass corridor or bridge.
  7. High Hazard Area is defined for the purposes of EC 5.1 as the Natural Areas, Parks and Other Open Space Areas identified on Maps 13-23 of the City of Toronto Official Plan. For sites abutting any of these areas or separated from these areas by a road, or where there are mature trees on or adjacent to the site, only visual markers shall be used to treat glass on the façade facing the High Hazard Area.
  8. 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 colour temperature rating of 3000K or less. For more information, see the Best Practices for Effective Lighting. The use of continuous green, blue and white light should be avoided as these colours are more attractive to nocturnal migrating birds.
  9. Architectural illumination including uplighting and event lighting may be permitted through a heritage designation provided lighting turned off year-round between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.