As part of our mandate, we provide information and assistance to municipal, provincial and federal governments to enact and improve policies that have significant emissions reduction potential. At the same time, our policy development efforts also strive to create and unlock co-benefits such as improved public health, lower building operating costs, and local job creation.
Policy changes are crucial in reaching our climate targets. They allow new ideas to scale up effectively, and once implemented can have immediate community-wide impacts. Our policy-related research, outreach and grant-making have resulted in a number of concrete successes:
- Strengthening province-wide building standards: TAF supported the development of the 2017 draft Ontario Building Code, which includes new green building provisions such as increased electrical capacity to support electric vehicle charging as well as stronger energy efficiency requirements.
- Better buildings in Toronto: Improvements to the Ontario Building Code are the result of TAF’s co-development of stronger building standards through the Toronto Green Standard. Based in parts on TAF research and recommendations, the policy establishes high standards for energy efficiency in new buildings.
- Making building energy performance data accessible and comparable: TAF successfully initiated an Energy and Water Reporting and Benchmarking (EWRB) requirement for the City of Toronto, which evolved into a province-wide regulation (see below for more information on EWRB).
- Municipal climate action: The TransformTO initiative, co-chaired by the City of Toronto’s Environment & Energy Division and TAF, resulted in a robust strategy to reach Toronto’s 2050 climate target. The TransformTO plan, which spans policy areas from buildings, transportation and waste to land planning, received unanimous Toronto City Council approval in July 2017.
- Clean energy, clean air: Realizing the dramatic emissions reduction potential and public health benefits, TAF supported the phase-out of coal power in Ontario. In addition to research and policy recommendations, TAF’s activities also included support for the Ontario Clean Air Alliance’s campaign for this important policy step. The successful coal phase-out remains the single largest carbon reduction activity in Canada to date.
- Reducing natural gas consumption: TAF prepared a detailed study and recommendations that contributed to a significant expansion of funding for natural gas conservation under the Ontario Energy Board’s Demand Side Management Framework.
Energy and Water Reporting and Benchmarking (EWRB)
Many U.S. jurisdictions already have energy reporting policies in place, especially for large buildings. Such Energy and Water Reporting and Benchmarking rules can help detect unrealized energy efficiency potential: Building owners and operators can then use operational changes and building retrofits to unlock utility savings – and lower carbon emissions at the same time. The Atmospheric Fund (TAF) realized the immense energy and emissions savings potential from energy reporting policies and has worked on getting similar policies in place in Toronto and Ontario since 2014. TAF initiated the development of this policy with the 2014 Dan Leckie Forum, which brought together stakeholders from the real-estate sector, utilities, academia, and all three levels of government to assess the merits of an energy reporting and benchmarking policy. Later that year, at the request of TAF’s Board of Directors, Toronto City Council approved the development of a municipal benchmarking by-law. TAF also provided the City with a grant over $192,000 to support the development and implementation of this trailblazing policy.
Building on this success, TAF played an integral part in developing Ontario’s Energy and Water Reporting and Benchmarking Regulation over the past years. Passed in 2017, the new rules apply to all commercial, industrial and multi-unit residential buildings larger than 50,000 square feet. Building owners now need to monitor and track their energy and water use as well as their carbon emissions. This benchmarking data is then reported annually to the province, with key performance indicators to be posted in a public registry of the policy.
TAF and the City of Toronto engaged the Ontario government throughout the policy development process, resulting in a province-wide regulation instead of a solitary municipal policy.
TAF also partnered with the Canadian Green Building Council to create a national energy reporting and benchmarking framework guide. We helped to build a coalition of supportive stakeholders across Canada, resulting in the commitment of all levels of government to work together to implement benchmarking policies across Canada under the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.
The Building Value project identified and advanced key tools, policies, and working relationships to cost-effectively reduce the building sector’s national carbon emissions. To this end, the project focused on a number of key areas:
- Demonstrate the business case for energy efficiency through case studies, research and infographics
- Mobilize private capital by sharing lessons and best practices in incubating social ventures and by identifying barriers for capital
- Identify and advance key strategic priorities to inform federal, provincial, and municipal policies, especially the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change
- Engage stakeholders and share knowledge across sectors and provinces
- Employ novel project management tools such as Developmental Evaluation to advance Building Value
- Provide policy makers with tools and resources to understand the policy options and their potential impacts, including the BEE-Cal, a local policy impact calculator
Over the span of two years, the Building Value project created a large number of studies and recommendations that helped inform important policy, for example the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, the updated Ontario Building Code and Ontario’s Energy Reporting & Benchmarking requirement. Outputs by TAF and its allies, including the Clean Economy Alliance and Pembina Institute, included an Excel-based policy calculator, the BEE-Cal, including introduction and tutorial videos.