LC3 Case Studies
In 2021-22 TAF continued its support to municipalities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) to set Green Building Standards to ensure new construction is socially, economically and environmentally responsible.
Cities and towns in the GTHA are growing fast and buildings are the number one source of carbon pollution. Requiring new buildings to meet stringent energy performance standards means they will not be increasing the challenge of meeting local emission reduction targets. As a result, Green Development Standards are one of the most powerful climate actions municipalities can take.
Supporting both climate and social solutions
Buildings built to green standards feature quality doors and windows, water efficient fixtures, good insulation, high-efficiency heating and cooling, and airtightness with good ventilation. These technologies and techniques are readily available now in the marketplace. While cost varies depending on the building type and community-specific Green Development Standards, there is typically no more than a 3% incremental cost for the development to implement these measures.
In addition to reducing energy waste and carbon emissions, responsible, future-focused development creates vibrant communities and healthier, more comfortable indoor environments. Local economies also get a boost from green job creation. Smart, responsible development creates thriving and connected communities built for the future, with easy to access greenspaces, and healthier homes with better air quality and comfort. Local economies get a boost from developing green job skills for green construction and creating savings that generally stay in the community. These buildings are also more resilient – they resist flooding, perform better in extreme temperatures and weather. Further, buildings with high-performing energy systems cost less to operate, especially as energy and carbon prices increase. Building energy efficient new homes from the outset is far more cost-effective than retrofitting them down the road.
Enabling regional scale-out of effective Green Development Standards
Based on more than a decade of work in partnership with the City of Toronto to help design and support adoption of Green Development Standards for new buildings, TAF recognized that assisting the scale out of this powerful policy across the region represented a high-impact opportunity. In response, TAF set a target to cultivate and support champions in cities across the region and assist them in establishing their own local policies.
TAF attracted and supported five separate grant initiatives in 2020 and 2021: Youth Organizing for Green Development Standards in Mississauga, Whitby Green Standard Demonstration Project, Green Development Standard for the Town of Caledon, Integrated Sustainable Building And Development Standards for the City of Pickering, and Halton Hills Green Development Standards Training Workshops.
TAF undertook multiple actions to support Green Development Standard adoption, based on the needs of each municipality. Actions ranged from supporting demonstration projects or activating community champions through grant support, to direct outreach to municipal committees, staff, councillors, mayors and industry stakeholders, to public advocacy through blogs, presentations and deputations. TAF also collaborated with the Clean Air Partnership on municipal capacity building and advocacy work related to adoption and implementation of Green Standards.
To ensure the new policies were informed by best practices in other jurisdictions, TAF developed and promoted key recommendations to help cities ensure that the design of their local Green Development Standards were as high-impact as possible. These included:
- Setting a net-zero vision to give developers regulatory certainty needed to cost-effectively construct high-performance buildings
- Rewarding leadership by providing meaningful incentives to go beyond minimum standards
- Making it mandatory instead of relying on developers’ willingness to comply with voluntary standards
- Designing for health, comfort and convenience while creating buildings for the contemporary homeowner, ready to charge their electric cars, and incorporating ecologically sustainable building materials
Outcomes to date
The initiatives of local champions in GTHA cities have borne fruit. To date, the City of Toronto, Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Whitby, and the Town of Ajax are the only municipalities in Ontario with tiered, mandatory standards. The cities of Brampton, Markham, and Vaughan use a points-based approach to green standards, with a menu of compliance options but no mandatory requirements. Many other municipalities are actively pursuing new or better Green Development Standards after declaring climate emergencies.