Canada’s largest city has instituted a two-tiered suite of voluntary and mandatory programs to enforce sustainability standards in all new developments.

The Challenge

Toronto has experienced unprecedented levels of new development in recent years. But positive economic growth can often result in detrimental environmental consequences. TGS ensures that sustainable building standards are part of the city’s growth and development, making Toronto a regional leader in sustainability.

The Solution

Toronto Green Standard (TGS) is a two-tier package of environmental performance measures designed to address Toronto’s five major environmental challenges: air quality, climate change, water quality and efficiency, urban ecology, and solid waste. TGS ensures that all new developments in the city achieve high energy performance targets. Tier 1 compliance is required for all new construction in Toronto, while Tier 2 is a higher, voluntary level of performance, and compliant projects may be eligible for a partial refund of development expenses

To promote water use efficiency, Tier 1 requires buildings to retain at least the first five mm from each rainfall event, while Tier 2 requires the retention of at least 25 mm. Tier 1 requirements have been applied to more than 850 new construction projects, including 75 high-rise buildings, since the program launched, and 15% of new buildings are targeted for Tier 2 level compliance. This program has made Toronto a regional leader in energy efficiency measures. Currently, three municipalities outside of the City of Toronto have adopted the performance measures in their jurisdictions, and other municipalities are looking to do the same.

Environmental Benefits – Over 2 million liters of water have been saved each day from high efficiency fixtures required by TGS Tier 2, a potable water use reduction of 30%.

Social Benefits – In order to promote cycling and a more pleasant urban environment, TGS requires the construction of nearly 200,000 new secure bicycle parking spaces.

Economic Benefits – A 2008 cost-benefit study indicated that implementing Tier 1 would result in savings of more than $1.2 billion in avoided hard infrastructure expansion costs to the city over the next 25 years.

About Cities100

Presented by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), Sustainia and Realdania – Cities100 showcases leading solutions to urban climate challenges in ten sectors, ranging from solid waste management to transportation.

Available online and in print, Cities100 provides stakeholders an accessible format to explore achievable solutions for climate action in cities, and will be a useful tool for relevant groups ranging from impact investors and development organizations, to mayors and city governments.  You can access the full Cities100 2015 publication online here.

  • Economic
  • Environmental
  • Social
Key Impact
Toronto’s TGS program encourages all types of building retrofits, from full building energy renovations for social housing to rooftop garden installations
Emissions Reduction
115,000 tons of CO2 reduced through TGS each year
Share article

More Case Studies