Toronto Moving Ahead on Building Performance Standards: What You Need to Know
Research Associate, Efficiency Canada
October 20, 2023
Blogs | Buildings | MBPS | News | Provincial Policy
- Toronto is implementing critical new measures to reduce emissions from existing buildings.
- Building Performance Standards (MBPS) are key to cutting emissions in existing buildings while creating healthier, more comfortable living and working spaces for all.
- With these proposed initiatives, Toronto is joining other major Canadian cities to mandate building policies to decarbonize their existing buildings.
Toronto is joining other major North American cities in mandating building performance standards. Earlier this month, Canada’s largest city amended and adopted the Updated Net Zero Buildings Strategy. It implements critical new measures to reduce emissions from existing buildings, setting a national example worth noting.
Why set building performance standards?
Building Performance Standards (MBPS) are key to cutting emissions in existing buildings while creating healthier, more comfortable living and working spaces for all. They require underperforming buildings to meet specific energy and emissions criteria. Benchmarking programs help to set these standards, where building owners must report energy, water, and emissions data. These policies help accelerate building retrofits, essential to meeting Canada’s climate goals.
Ontario already has mandatory energy and water reporting and benchmarking but not all buildings comply. Toronto plans to build on these regulations by implementing a bylaw mandating commercial buildings over 600 square meters to report emissions, energy, and water data to the City. This extends to all Part 3 buildings, beyond other programs focused on larger commercial buildings. The bylaw is expected to go before the City Council by the end of 2023. Large buildings may also face additional requirements, including emissions auditing, recommissioning, and retrofit roadmap planning.
Toronto is also considering including smaller buildings below 600 square meters to report under the proposed bylaw. This expansion will include commercial, institutional, multi-unit residential, and low-rise residential buildings. An emissions labelling program for low-rise residential buildings is in the works, starting as voluntary by 2023 or early 2024, with plans to make it mandatory by 2025.
Mandatory Building Performance Standards
These initiatives pave the way for the implementation of mandatory emissions performance standards. It is expected a bylaw will be presented to Council in 2024 and will apply to a range of buildings from large commercial towers to low-rise residential buildings. Toronto will solicit feedback from the Emissions Performance Standards Working Group regarding the scope, compliance periods, and performance targets that make up a successful implementation strategy.
To encourage compliance with these mandatory requirements, Toronto is investing in several programs to support building owners and workforce development, including a voluntary benchmarking program, the Green Will Initiative – Strategic Carbon Management, Navigation & Support Services, Deep Retrofit Challenge, Energy Retrofit Loan Program, and Enhanced Home Energy Loan Program.
Ammendments to the Net Zero Buildings Strategy
In its amendments to the Net Zero Buildings Strategy, Council highlighted a need for federal funding support, access to Clean Technology Investment Tax Credits for municipal governments, and guarantees for municipally-sponsored local improvement charge financing programs. They will also collaborate with Toronto Hydro to determine the resources, rebates, and incentives available to building owners.
Toronto is committed to addressing the needs of equity-deserving groups during the design of new or improved program offerings. This will include tenant protection measures to address above-guideline rent increases and renovictions by landlords receiving any financial support from the City.
Growing municipal momentum toward high performance buildings
With these proposed initiatives, Toronto is joining other major Canadian cities to mandate building policies to decarbonize their existing buildings.
The City of Montreal implemented mandatory carbon reporting and disclosure for large commercial and multi-unit residential buildings. The program was created to align with the future establishment of a provincial benchmarking program and signals plans to implement MBPS in upcoming years.
The City of Vancouver became the first Canadian municipality to adopt an MBPS program by implementing mandatory energy and carbon reporting, and carbon pollution limits for commercial and retail buildings, starting in 2026.
With Canada’s largest city moving towards mandatory building performance standards, the country is poised to make significant progress in achieving energy-efficient and zero-emission buildings. The question now is, will your municipality be next?