Initiatives Supporting Energy Efficiency

Building with Solar PanelsBuildings

Energy use in buildings is a key contributor to carbon emissions and global climate change. As a result, Waterfront Toronto has prioritized energy efficiency and renewable energy generation for our buildings and park projects. This priority was set out in our Sustainability Framework in 2005 and implemented through our Minimum Green Building Requirements (MGBR).

Since its launch in 2006, the MGBR have been updated to better reflect market leading practices and regulatory changes. We add new requirements when measures can reasonably be expected to be adopted by the real estate development and construction industries. Key updates include LEED credits for indoor and outdoor water use reduction, higher energy performance, and smart building design features such as electric vehicle infrastructure, waste management and long term flexibility. New Waterfront Toronto projects are required to achieve at least 50% cost savings relative to the Model National Energy Code for Buildings (MNECB)1 under LEED 2009 and 12 LEED points (or 30% cost savings relative to National Energy Code for Buildings2 or ASHRAE3) under LEED Version 4. This makes our projects among the most energy efficient in the city. 

infographic showing various green building features

Waterfront Toronto received the 2012 Award for Excellence in Urban Sustainability from the GLOBE Foundation for the updated Minimum Green Building Requirements. The GLOBE Awards are Canada's most high profile annual national environmental awards for outstanding achievement in environmental stewardship.

Check out current and archived versions of the Minimum Green Building Requirements on Waterfront Toronto's website.

Energy Efficiency

Developers in Toronto have shown that a 40% energy cost savings can be achieved with current design practices and equipment. This requirement was increased to 50% in MGBR Version 2.0 to challenge design teams and establish Waterfront Toronto as a national leader in energy efficient building design.

In addition, a 65% reduction in peak heating demand and a 30% reduction in peak cooling demand are also required. This helps to reduce the peak demand imposed on the utilities and contributes to reduced infrastructure costs and related energy demand charges.

As of June 2015, buildings in the designated waterfront area that are complete, under construction, and in the design phase have achieved the following energy cost reduction and Energy Use Intensity4 based on energy modelling5

Average energy efficiency and energy use intensity

On-site Renewable Energy

Waterfront Toronto's updated MGBR requires that 3% of a building's annual energy cost come from on-site renewable energy systems. This may include technologies designed to capture solar, wind, or biofuel-based energy. Through Ontario's Feed-in-Tariff program, implementing on-site renewable energy systems is more financially viable since electricity generated can be sold back to the grid at a premium. However, for buildings that do not have appropriate characteristics to make renewable energy a viable option (such as poor solar access), there is an alternative compliance path. For each 1% of on-site renewable energy not provided, an additional 2% increase in energy cost savings must be demonstrated beyond the minimum cost savings.

In addition to buildings, Waterfront Toronto has also incorporated renewable energy initiatives into its parks. In Corktown Common, nine solar panels have been placed on the pavilion to supplement the park's electricity needs, producing 1.6 kW of power. In Sherbourne Common, as part of LEED Gold certification for the pavilion, 100% of the power will come from a renewable energy provider. A two year contract was signed with Bullfrog Power for over 9,000 kWh/year.

Net Zero Energy Suite in Aqualina at Bayside

A net zero energy suite is being created by Tower Labs in Aqualina, a building currently under construction in the East Bayfront community of Bayside. Tower Labs is an organization that facilitates the adoption of green building products, technologies and practices through pilot and demonstration projects in high-rise buildings.

The net zero energy suite will contain its own mechanical and electrical systems, along with unique building materials to reduce heating and cooling loads. All of the home's energy will be supplied by a privately owned photovoltaic and solar thermal system installed on the roof of the building.

net zero energy suite infographic


District energy refers to the generation and distribution of thermal energy for heating and/or cooling at a community scale. The infrastructure includes a localized centre where energy is generated, and a network of buried insulated pipes that distribute energy to buildings within a defined geographic area. District energy can provide a more energy efficient and adaptable system, which could lead to significant greenhouse gas reductions through an integrated energy system.

Waterfront Toronto's district energy strategy in East Bayfront focuses on developing a distribution network that can be phased in over a number of years as commercial and residential developments are built. A provider has engaged with the Corus Quay building as a first customer and has plans to expand into the precinct. The provider will introduce a district energy heating (hot water) distribution system, using local heating sources, and eventually cooling.


Waterfront Toronto has an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) that identifies processes and procedures to mitigate environmental effects that could result from construction-related activities. The EMP specifies the minimum standards to which all Waterfront Toronto consultants and contractors are expected to adhere. 

The emphasis of the EMP is to achieve overall best management practices, beyond regulation, to support environmentally progressive practices in construction. Future revisions of the EMP may require reductions in carbon emissions from construction processes and associated transport, the use of products that are locally sourced and sustainable, and the use of energy-efficient equipment.

Visit Waterfront Toronto's website to download the Environmental Management Plan

End-User Management

Waterfront Toronto requires that owners and occupants of buildings receive information and tools to help them maintain the environmental performance of the building. Developers must create an operating manual that includes items such as the green building features, maintenance requirements and operating instructions for all in-suite equipment, and a list of products that should be considered, such as low VOC (volatile organic compound) paint and energy efficient light bulbs. This requirement recognizes that occupants and operators greatly impact how buildings actually perform and that tenants, owners, and building managers must be involved in maximizing efficient building operations. 

Waterfront Toronto also requires in-suite sub-metering for electricity, natural gas, and water (hot and cold) and the infrastructure for remote access to these meters. This allows suites to be independently billed for their utilities, encouraging conservation among building residents and occupants by providing them with a means to track and control their usage and pay for utilities based on consumption.

Energy Data Analysis Project

Waterfront Toronto is currently conducting a study to help improve the electricity, gas and water efficiency in buildings. The study will track actual electricity, gas and water consumption in recently occupied residential and commercial buildings and compare the results to modelled data.

The lessons learned from this comparison will:

  1. help to inform future energy and water requirements for new waterfront buildings to ensure conservation is achieved and consumption is reduced;
  2. allow condominium corporations and building owners and managers to understand whether buildings are performing as expected, and if not why; and
  3. offer strategies to help improve building and suite-level electricity, gas and water efficiency and create cost savings.

This site will be updated when the results and analysis of the study are complete. 


1The Model National Energy Code for Buildings is a Canadian building standard that provides minimum energy efficiency requirements for buildings.

2 The National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings 2011 establishes an overall 25 percent improvement in energy efficiency over the previous model energy code - the Model National Energy Code for Buildings.

3 Stands for American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. ASHRAE publishes a series of standards and guidelines relating to heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems and issues.

4 Energy Use Intensity represents energy consumed by a building relative to its size.

5 Note: only building with signed Development Agreements after July 1, 2012 have been subject to MGBR version 2 (and the more stringent 50% energy efficiency requirement).