Photo by Jason Paris / CC BY 2.0

Photo by Jason Paris / CC BY 2.0

Toronto is unique among Ontario municipalities in having its own energy and environmental standards for new construction under the Toronto Green Standard (TGS). The TGS first took effect in 2010, and an updated version was adopted by City Council last summer. The new and improved TGS came into force this past January, with the principal change being much stronger energy efficiency requirements. Moving forward, all new buildings applying for site plan approval must be designed to exceed the energy efficiency requirements of the Ontario Building Code (OBC) by 15%. Buildings that exceed the OBC standards by 25% or more can qualify for a substantial development charge refund of up to $31/m2.

In order to help developers meet the new standards as cost effectively as possible, TAF and the City of Toronto established a working group comprised of developers, architects, engineers, and other green building experts. Guided by the working group, TAF and the City of Toronto hired Halsall and Associates, an engineering consulting firm with expertise in green buildings, to design and lead a workshop last November focused on practical strategies for achieving the new TGS energy efficiency standards. Based on previous research sponsored by TAF and the City, as well as case studies of buildings that have exceeded the new requirements, Halsall presented a wide range of cost-effective design strategies. More than 50 professionals in the development field were in attendance, many of whom shared their insights and experiences during the discussion period.

Of course, the workshop participants represented only a small fraction of the hundreds of developers, architects, engineers and other professionals who work in Toronto’s booming construction and development industry. That’s why we asked the team at Halsall to turn the workshop curriculum into a research report and resource guide now available online. While there are certainly more ways to design an energy efficient building than could ever be captured in one report, we hope this one will be a useful resource for the development industry in Toronto and beyond.

The new TGS energy efficiency targets have set the bar high – in fact, they are among the highest standards in North America. But they are achievable using off-the-shelf technologies and proven design approaches. Ultimately, the key is ensuring that the design team is aware of the energy targets at the beginning of the development process, and works together to find the best solutions for the project.