The City of Toronto has identified the need to update guidance related to thermal comfort in the public realm, through City guidelines, standards and policies. Thermal comfort refers to people’s satisfaction level in not feeling too hot or too cold. The public realm is comprised of all public and private spaces to which the public has access. It is a network that includes, but is not limited to, streets, lanes, parks and open spaces.

It is becoming increasingly important to protect the quality and comfort of public realm that serves and is enjoyed by all populations in the city. Climate change is placing further pressure on Toronto’s public spaces to provide respite during extreme heat days, which are increasing in frequency and intensity. The design of public realm with thermal comfort is key in designing a resilient city.

The Thermal Comfort Study is intended to address thermal comfort in the public realm and shared outdoor amenity spaces, taking into consideration future climate projections and the impacts of surrounding built form.

 

The Study will include a review of the City’s sun and shadow policies to ensure they achieve adequate opportunities for access to sunlight in the public realm. This study will also combine the wind, sunlight and other parameters together to assess the quality of the public realm and shared outdoor amenity spaces.

Thermal comfort recommendations will be developed through the Study and will provide design direction for thermal comfort in the public realm to be implemented through new and/or updated guidelines, standards and/or policies. This study will also provide guidance on evaluating sunlight conditions on public realm.

 

A consultant team led by Dialog and Buro Happold were retained in early 2022 to work with City Planning on this study.

City Planning has engaged a Core Team of professionals from across various City Divisions, Agencies and other groups in recognition that we all share an interest in achieving a comfortable, high-quality public realm. To-date, the Core Team has included members from the following City Divisions, agencies and groups:

  • City Planning (Urban Design, Community Planning, and Strategic Initiatives & Policy Analysis)
  • Environment & Energy
  • Parks, Forestry and Recreation
  • Transportation Services

Study materials will be posted online once they are available.