What's in Our Report

Sustainability reporting allows organizations to collect data, analyze performance, identify and communicate strengths and challenges, and, most importantly, improve performance. Sustainability reporting also promotes transparency and accountability.

This is our first update to the Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report, initially released in 2013. It covers the period from the establishment of Waterfront Toronto in 2001 to March 2015. The report provides information to stakeholders about how we are working to deliver a revitalized waterfront. A balanced triple bottom line approach is taken, quantifying success by environmental, social, and economic performance. Waterfront Toronto's Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report signals a significant move from project planning to implementation for many of our projects.

We report using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Guidelines; a widely adopted and internationally accepted independent guideline for reporting on sustainability. We used the GRI G3.1 Guidelines for our initial report in 2013. Our 2015 report is in accordance with the latest version, the GRI G4 (Core) Guidelines, as well as the Construction and Real Estate Sector Disclosure, which covers key sector-specific sustainability issues. 

Boundary of the Report

This report covers three core boundaries, which represent functions over which Waterfront Toronto exercises control or influence and which generate significant impacts, as displayed below.

Boundary of our report

Corporate Operations refers to activities related to Waterfront Toronto's internal operations and includes office sustainability efforts and staff development.

Project Implementation refers to project-related activities and makes up the core of our performance. This includes performance on our Minimum Green Building Requirements, contaminated soil management, flood protection, and habitat creation and restoration. Some of these items are designed and implemented by our development partners who undertake work in accordance with our policy direction. For example, our developer partners are contractually obligated to meet our Minimum Green Building Requirements and apply our Environmental Management Plan.

We have improved and expanded data collection requirements in contracts with all of our developer partners and contractors. This ensures we have relevant, comprehensive, and reliable data on which to base our continued sustainability reporting. As new developments are completed and become operational, we will work with condominium corporations and property managers to obtain information on actual performance data such as energy and water use.

Local community refers to the impacts of Waterfront Toronto on citizens, such as employment generated, community investments made and parks and open spaces created.

The majority of reporting relates to the East Bayfront, West Don Lands, and the Central Waterfront.  However, we have also included some data from projects outside of this area, namely Mimico and Port Union, where we have created parks and aquatic habitat.

Defining Performance Measures

The process for defining report content followed the GRI methodology as described in the "Guidance on Defining Report Content" and the technical protocol "Applying the Report Content Principles".

To identify relevant topics, Waterfront Toronto developed a Sustainability Framework that identified 11 key themes. To prioritize the topics, Waterfront Toronto undertook a corporate Performance Management Program that examined an expanded list of priority topics based on alignment with corporate objectives. These corporate objectives were identified as both significant to Waterfront Toronto and to its stakeholders. For the 2015 update, Waterfront Toronto also solicited feedback from internal and external stakeholders to refine priority topic areas. Finally, the validation process condensed the number of performance measures based on stakeholder feedback, report scope, boundary, and availability of data to produce the material set of sustainability indicators that informed the focus of this report. 

Developing our Sustainability Framework

Since its inception, sustainability has been central to Waterfront Toronto's mandate. In 2005, we formalized our Sustainability Framework in collaboration with stakeholders from the three orders of government, consultants, university experts, and agencies, such as the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. Input from global authorities and resources such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED), City of Vancouver, Beddington Zero Energy Development in England also helped establish our direction and priority focus areas.

The Sustainability Framework identifies Waterfront Toronto's sustainability vision and outlines the steps we aim to take to achieve that vision. It includes clear goals with specific actions and targets, and supports the integration of sustainability principles into all facets of Waterfront Toronto's operations and decision-making.

The Sustainability Framework is divided into eleven themes, which were deemed to be the most material to Waterfront Toronto:

  1. Energy
  2. Land Use
  3. Transportation
  4. Sustainable Buildings
  5. Air Quality
  6. Human Communities
  7. Cultural Resources
  8. Natural Heritage
  9. Water
  10. Materials and Waste
  11. Innovation

The Sustainability Framework was peer reviewed by a team of Swedish experts coordinated by the Swedish Trade Council, comprised of university researchers, municipal officials, and sustainability practitioners, which provided a balanced and objective review. They confirmed that the Sustainability Framework embraces leading goals and implementation strategies.

As a result, Waterfront Toronto developed a variety of implementation tools that have set a policy framework to embed sustainability into everything we do, including our Environmental Management Plan, Minimum Green Building Requirements, Parks and Open Space Guidelines, and our Carbon Tool.

Selecting Performance Measures

In 2007, Waterfront Toronto developed a corporate Performance Management Program to align the Sustainability Framework with Waterfront Toronto's strategic business plan and six corporate objectives. It assigned relative weightings to themes, set targets, and identified priorities that addressed performance over time; from short-term development activities to longer term resident and end-user actions. For example, 100% of Waterfront Toronto buildings must achieve LEED Gold certification; building energy efficiency must be at least 50% better than the Model National Energy Code for Buildings, and 50% of construction and demolition waste must be diverted away from landfills. As other performance measures become more material, we will continue to add targets in future reports.

Waterfront Toronto's Six Corporate Objectives:

  1. Sustainable Development;
  2. Design Excellence;
  3. Public Accessibility;
  4. Economic Prosperity;
  5. Fiscal Sustainability; and
  6. Operational Effectiveness.

For details on our corporate objectives, see the "Who We Are" section of this report.

Performance Measures and Current Activities

We condensed the priority performance measures based on their significance to our stakeholders - business, governments, and residents - and to our organization, the status of development and data availability.

For the 2015 report update, Waterfront Toronto engaged with internal and external stakeholders to solicit feedback on what they see as the key priorities and material issues. Three activities were undertaken to receive this feedback.

  1. Waterfront Toronto hosted a town hall meeting to provide members of the public with an update on waterfront revitalization, as well as an opportunity to share their thoughts and ask questions about our accomplishments and priorities.
  2. Waterfront Toronto created a short online survey for external stakeholders to provide their feedback on the report, as well as their satisfaction with the content and metrics in the environment, social, and economic sections.
  3. An internal workshop was held with representatives from each Waterfront Toronto department to review our corporate reporting and metrics and rank topics to determine their materiality.  

 The outcomes of these activities are illustrated in the Materiality Matrix.

Materiality Matrix

materiality matrix

The Materiality Matrix represents performance measures that were evaluated during the process for defining content. Waterfront Toronto reviewed its internal performance measures generated through the identification and prioritization stages, as well as performance indicators from GRI that were applicable to Waterfront Toronto's operations. Based on this methodology, performance measures are divided into three categories:

  • Performance measures reported on in this report;
  • Performance measures not reported on in this report;
  • Significant performance measures not included in this report, but to be included in the next report.

Through this process, four performance measures were added: Affordable Housing, Transportation, Intelligent Communities and Public Art. In addition, we updated existing performance measures with new content and data.

Summary of Process

summary of progress

Organization of Content

The performance measures describe Waterfront Toronto's progress along the three pillars of sustainability: Environment, Social, and Economic. While each performance measure belongs to one primary category there are inherent overlaps with others. In the table below we have outlined the relationships.

Performance Measures

performance measures by triple bottom line category