August 2, 2006


T.O. sets new green standards

Voluntary to start with educational component

Toronto city council has approved a new standard for green development.

The new set of development and building practices address air and water quality, energy efficiency, light pollution, solid waste and other environmental issues.

The standard applies to new construction projects and existing building retrofits, with integrated targets, objectives and principles to guide the green development of city-owned facilities and promote the same in the private-sector.

The new voluntary standard adopts ideas and guidelines already expressed through private rating systems such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and Green Globes.

The standard also draws on existing city policies, such as the Official Plan and the Wet Weather Flow Management Master Plan, as well as prior municipal experience.

“This is kind of like LEED adapted to Toronto’s realities,” said city councillor Joe Pantalone who chairs the city’s Roundtable on the Environment.

Measures include stormwater retention, rainwater harvesting, salvaging demolition waste for recycling and reuse, and dedicating parking spaces for high-efficiency and hybrid vehicles and for carpooling. Proper lighting of walkways is encouraged, to motivate pedestrians.

Green roof policy

“If you’re a condo developer, and the subway’s next door, make sure there’s a direct connection so people don’t have to go outside and then back inside,” Pantalone said.

The standard also incorporates a green roof policy council passed this spring.

Where a green, or living, roof isn’t possible or appropriate, the standard recommends light-coloured materials.

The Ontario Building Code and other existing standards and legislation are considered baselines and the development standard sets higher targets.

“It’s like LEED adapted to Toronto’s realities”

Joe Pantalone, City Councillor

For example, the minimum requirement for outdoor ventilation would be ASHRAE 62-2004, but the “preferred” level exceeds it by 30 per cent.

The standard also recommends a 10 per cent minimum for sourcing local construction materials – defined as within 800 kilometres.

While it will be reviewed next year, Pantalone says the new standard isn’t necessarily bound for enforcement.

“We’re trying to change mindsets. If we try to enforce things harshly, people will resent it and try to figure out ways to get around it. There’s generally a consensus in this community that we have to do something, and this standard basically moves it forward.”

Business case strong

Toronto Construction Association president John Mollenhauer said he welcomes city plans to offer pamphlets and training sessions for city staff and the public.

“It’s a learning curve. Our members know a little about it, but only a few understand the nuances, how it’s going to impact them.”

The TCA runs workshops and seminars about green construction, and this “will be very much a part of what members will be looking for in the early part of the year,” Mollenhauer said,.

He added that he sees the development of a standard as more of a process than an event. “We’re breaking new ground, so I don’t expect it to stay carved in stone. There’s new information all the time that impacts on what is the most environmentally friendly. My guess is the standard will evolve over time.”

“Only a few know how it’s going to impact them”

John Mollenhauer, A President

Thomas Mueller, president of the Canada Green Building Council, which administers LEED Canada, says he supports voluntary rather than mandatory green standards. “The business case for green buildings is very strong, both on the financial side and on the environmental side, so it can stand on its own. You don’t need to regulate it to get people to adopt it.”

He added that incentives don’t have to be financial. “There could be incentives of a regulatory, building permit nature, as well as financial incentives, to get developers and builders to build their high-rise and commercial spaces to a high level of performance.”

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