Sustainability Update

Exploring voluntary benchmarking to inspire action

July 21, 2017

Written in collaboration by Holly Jordan, Chair of the Greater Toronto Chapter’s Advocacy Committee and Senior Associate, B+H Architects; and Sundeep Virdi, Manager, Advocacy & Policy, Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC).

This article was originally published in the CaGBC’s Toronto Focus supplement for Spring 2015. Toronto FOCUS is a joint publishing project of the Greater Toronto Chapter of the Canada Green Building Council and SABMag.

Last spring, the CaGBC’s Greater Toronto Chapter’s (GTC) Advocacy Committee began discussions on building energy benchmarking. Ian Theaker’s article in the spring 2014 issue of Toronto Focus, Building Energy & GHG Benchmarking: Labeling and Transparency, provided a comprehensive overview of the issue and its context across Canada and in Toronto. Over the past year, the committee has pursued the initiative in a number of ways. Firstly, the Chapter provided a letter of support for the motion presented by City Councillors to the Parks and Environment Committee for a staff report on a new bylaw and implementation plan to establish a mandatory ‘Annual Energy & Water Utilization Reporting Requirement’ for large buildings in Toronto for their March agenda . Based on the committee’s recommendation, the motion was further ratified by City Council. The subsequent July 31, 2014 City Staff Report provided an update on the energy reporting requirement for large buildings. In preparation for the June 22nd committee meeting, The Chapter will be working towards providing additional letters of support for the final recommendation to be brought to council in July 2015.

Secondly, the Chapter is working to maintain open communication with Mayor John Tory. Tory’s campaign platform supported voluntary building energy benchmarking, such as CivicAction’s Race to Reduce, a subtle yet significant difference from a mandatory program. The Chapter looks forward to ongoing discussions with the City and major stakeholders to further development of the City’s proposed by-law and implementation plan, to be proposed this year. To complement the City’s efforts, the Province has also identified benchmarking as a means towards inspiring action in its Conservation First publication, paving the way for potential labelling for commercial buildings and aligning efforts noted in the Province’s discussion paper, Ontario’s Climate Change 2015.

Additionally, the Province and the City of Toronto are jointly consulting on options for a mandatory energy reporting and benchmarking (ERB) initiative for large commercial and multi-unit residential buildings. Their Best Practices Summit, held on March 24 at the MaRS Discovery District brought together industry leaders who shared their stories, experiences and best practices with voluntary and mandatory ERB initiatives. You can also have your say at one of the upcoming Policy Workshops in April. To find out more about these events, please visit We look forward to providing future updates on this important initiative.