Toronto launches green initiatives designed to build a more sustainable city

On January 31, the City of Toronto introduced two initiatives designed to “green” Toronto’s new building stock: the Toronto Green Standard and Green Roof Bylaw.

The Toronto Green Standard is a two-tiered set of performance measures that promote sustainable development. To be compliant, as of January 31, 2010, all planning applications for new development are required to meet Tier 1 performance measures and targets, which address environmental issues such as air and water quality, greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency, solid waste and the natural environment. 

Developers may also chose to meet Tier 2, a voluntary higher level of environmental performance, and be eligible for a development charge refund of 20 per cent.

January 31 also marks the start to Toronto’s Green Roof Bylaw, the first bylaw in North America to require and govern the construction of green roofs on new developments. The bylaw will apply to permit applications for residential, commercial and institutional developments, while industrial buildings have until January 31, 2011 to include provisions for a green roof in new construction.

It is estimated that widespread implementation of green roofs in Toronto could save the City between $40 million and $120 million in stormwater infrastructure costs, and reduce the impacts of urban heat island effect by lowering local ambient temperatures by up to two degrees Celsius.

“I am proud of the work we have done to raise the bar for sustainable development in this city,” said Toronto Mayor David Miller. “If you consider that buildings currently account for close to 63 per cent of Toronto’s greenhouse gas emissions, it is clear that we need to take action today if we want to build a clean, prosperous and vibrant city for tomorrow.” 

The Toronto Green Standard and Green Roof Bylaw are key elements of the City’s Climate Change Action Plan, an aggressive environmental framework aimed at reducing Toronto’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. 

To further encourage the business community to take action on climate change, the City also offers grants to help owners retrofit existing industrial, commercial and institutional properties with a cool or green roof. Known as the Eco-Roof Incentive Program, owners who install a green roof can apply for $50 per square metre up to a maximum of $100,000. Cool roofs, which feature a membrane or coating that reflects the sun’s rays, are eligible for $5 per square metre to a maximum of $50,000.

Applications for the spring round of Eco-Roof funding will be accepted, online, starting March 1, 2010.

Building owners and managers in Toronto can also work with the City’s Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) to determine additional strategies to reduce their energy demand. The BBP provides financial incentives and other resources to support the design and construction of new energy efficient buildings. The BBP also offers assistance for energy retrofits in existing buildings across the institutional and multifamily sectors.

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