In 2009, the City of Toronto took a leadership position when it adopted the Toronto Green Standard (TGS) for new construction. The TGS reversed a 30-year trend of worsening energy performance in new buildings, and influenced energy efficiency standards across Ontario. Since this policy is now matched by the Ontario building code and the TGS is scheduled for an update for 2014, we have an opportunity for Toronto to enhance its position as a green building leader by improving the energy performance standards. Unfortunately, the proposed update would do just the opposite.
In preparation for the update, Toronto Atmospheric Fund and the City of Toronto Planning Division undertook a joint two-year research and consultation project, led by Sustainable Buildings Canada, to develop recommendations for increased energy performance standards. The findings were clear: there is significant room for improvement in Toronto’s energy standards. What’s more, these changes can be implemented at marginal costs by using off-the-shelf technology and standard design practices.
The study recommends that, effective January 2014, Toronto’s Tier 1 standard should be raised to 15% better than Ontario Building Code (OBC), and the Tier 2 standard (optional with incentive) should be raised to 25% better than OBC, for mid-to-high-rise residential buildings and all non-residential buildings. In November 2012, a group of architects, engineers, and developers vetted this recommendation. In a follow-up survey of the participants in December 2012, 100% of respondents said that the proposed Tier 1 standard was achievable for their firm and/or clients.
That’s why I’m so disappointed that these recommendations are not included in the proposed TGS update that’s under consideration at the Planning and Growth Management Committee this week. The proposed update does not include any improvement to the energy efficiency requirements and would actually weaken the standards for low-rise residential buildings. New buildings built under these standards will be locked into a high-carbon, high-energy-cost pathway for the next generation and beyond. Not only will this jeopardize efforts to achieve the Council-approved target of reducing Toronto’s GHG emissions 30% by 2020, it will saddle Toronto citizens and businesses with unnecessarily high energy costs for years to come.
We need to move forward on energy efficiency, not backwards. Improving Toronto’s energy efficiency standards now will save Toronto’s citizens and businesses an estimated $114M by 2025, ensure that all new residential units qualify for Green Home Mortgage Insurance Rebates from CMHC, and avoid over 750,000 tonnes of climate-damaging GHG emissions by 2025. The estimated cost of taking action is less than 1% of design and construction costs, and would be largely offset by rebates and utility incentives for efficient construction.
The City of Toronto Planning and Growth Management Committee is meeting on Thursday, June 20, to discuss the TGS update. The Committee is looking for public input on this important matter. If you agree that Toronto should take a leadership position by improving energy efficiency standards for new buildings, let them know.
Comments or recommendations, short or detailed, can be directed to the City Clerk via . Make sure to quote “2013.PG25.10 on June 20, 2013 Planning & Growth Management Committee” in the subject line and request your comments be added to the agenda.
Let’s make sure the future of Toronto’s new buildings is green.