Neighbourhood Sustainability

View of Torontos waterfrontWhile high performing LEED-certified buildings are important for advancing sustainable development, there is growing recognition that the planning, design, construction, and operation of sustainable communities requires a more comprehensive neighbourhood-wide perspective. Acknowledging this transition in green building philosophy from a single-building perspective to a more integrated community-wide strategy, the U.S. Green Building Council launched the pilot version of LEED for Neighbourhood Development (LEED ND) in 2007.

Waterfront Toronto participated in the LEED ND pilot program in order to assess its plans for sustainability by a third party and to inform improvements to our neighbourhood strategies. Waterfront Toronto was one of 23 Canadian projects that participated in the pilot program. Beyond high performing and efficient buildings, the LEED ND Rating System addresses community-scale and social issues such as brownfield development, high-density urban form, proximity to local amenities, walkable streets, affordability, community involvement, sustainable transportation, and waste management.

Acknowledging the long construction period involved in developing on a neighbourhood scale, LEED ND has created a three stage certification process:

  • Stage 1 certification occurs before planning approvals are secured.
  • Stage 2 is for projects that have received all planning approvals.
  • Stage 3 is for completed neighbourhoods.

In 2009, Waterfront Toronto's East Bayfront, West Don Lands, and North Keating communities collectively achieved Stage 1 LEED for Neighbourhood Development Gold level certification under the pilot program. We intent to achieve Stage 3 certification as our waterfront neighbourhoods are built out.

Waterfront Toronto is currently exploring a complementary sustainability certification and rating system for infrastructure projects, called Envision. The Envision program provides a framework for evaluating the community, environmental and economic benefits of infrastructure projects. The intent is to improve the performance, resiliency and efficiency of infrastructure by identifying sustainability approaches during the planning and design phases. The process can also be applied post-mortem to assess sustainability performance by a third party and learn lessons. We have informally applied the rating system to the East Bayfront and West Don Lands stormwater management project and are investigating opportunities to pursue certification for future infrastructure projects.