Toronto Moving Ahead on Building Performance Standards: What You Need to Know

Sharane Simon

Sharane Simon

Research Associate, Efficiency Canada

Updated: December 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. In October 2023, Canada’s largest city amended and adopted the Updated Net Zero Buildings Strategy. In December, the City went a step further, adopting an emissions performance reporting by-law that builds on provincial requirements. These critical new measures enhance the City’s ability to address emissions from existing buildings, setting a national example worth noting.

Building on Ontario’s mandatory reporting

Ontario already has mandatory energy and water reporting and benchmarking, but not all buildings comply. Toronto has built on these regulations by implementing a by-law mandating owners of commercial, multi-residential, institutional, and industrial buildings ≥ 929 square meters to report energy and water data to the City annually.

The by-law comes into effect on January 1, 2024. It requires buildings ≥ 4,645 square meters (~50,000 square feet) to report as of July 2, 2024. Buildings ≥ 929 square meters (~10,000 square feet) will be mandated to report the following year, July 2, 2025. The data will be used to calculate building emissions by the City.

Supporting Compliance

For buildings ≥ 4,645 square meters, the process has been streamlined. After creating a single profile in the Energy Star Portfolio Manager, owners can send separate reports to the province and City with the click of a button.

To encourage compliance with these mandatory requirements, Toronto continues to invest in several programs to support building owners and workforce development, including the Green Will Initiative – Strategic Carbon Management, Navigation & Support Services, Deep Retrofit Challenge, Energy Retrofit Loan Program, and Enhanced Home Energy Loan Program.

Mandatory Building Performance Standards

This reporting by-law paves the way for the design and implementation of mandatory building performance standards (MBPS). Building Performance Standards 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.

It is expected an MBPS by-law 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.

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.

  • Metro Vancouver indicated its intention to regulate the performance of large commercial and multi-unit residential buildings, including adopting mandatory carbon reporting and disclosure.

  • The City of Toronto will require mandatory emissions, energy, and water reporting, and mandatory building performance standards for large commercial buildings to low-rise residential homes.

 

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?  

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