Toronto downtown

Toronto 2030 District aims to cut energy use

New program aims to meet the reduction targets outlined in Architecture 2030
Thursday, March 27, 2014
By Leah Wong

Toronto is following the lead of cities including Seattle, Cleveland, Denver, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh with the launch its own Toronto 2030 District, an urban building initiative that sets targets for energy reduction within a specified area of the city.

The 2030 District programs, which are now being implemented in cities across North America, were formed to meet the challenges outlined by Architecture 2030, a community program that aims to cut greenhouse gas levels in buildings around the world.

The three founding partners of the Toronto 2030 District — Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Toronto, the Ontario Association of Architects and Sustainable Building Canada — signed a memorandum of understanding at the Green Building Conference in Toronto on March 25, 2014, marking the launch of the district.

The primary goal for the Toronto 2030 district is to “give buildings a mission to bring down intensity level by 2030,” says Jeff Ranson, the interim executive director of Toronto 2030.

The district sets targets for energy, water and transportation emission reductions within a specified area that will help reduce the effects of climate change, under the wider scope of the Architecture 2030 program.

Architecture 2030 was established as a response to climate change. It aims to reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions produced by the built environment, and to foster regional development of an adaptive and resilient built environment by the year 2030. The target year was selected as it gives enough time to implement the programs, but it is close enough to bring relief to some climate change effects before they become major issues.

This movement acknowledges that buildings consume more energy than any other sector and are the largest contributor to climate change. As such, it lays out sets of incremental energy reduction targets over the next 20 years for the building industry.

When it launched in 2010, Architecture 2030 asked the building industry to design new buildings to meet a “fossil fuel, GHG-emitting, energy consumption performance standard” of 60 per cent less than the regional average for the building type. By 2015, the goal is to have new construction strive for a 70 per cent reduction, and by 2030 the goal is to have new construction be carbon-neutral.

For existing buildings, Architecture 2030 asks for an initial 10 per cent energy reduction from the regional or national average, with incremental targets leading to a 50 per cent reduction by 2030.

The Toronto 2030 District is still in the development stage. Following the signing of the memorandum of understanding, the group is looking for a board of directors to guide the direction of the district and create a district charter.

Taking a district approach to climate change is a key part of Architecture 2030, Ranson says, because not all buildings owners and property managers have the same capacity to meet the targets outlined in the program. He says that looking at how the district as a whole can reduce energy use is a more effective approach compared to focusing on each property on a building-by-building basis.

“This is a program to support builders in achieving as much as they are able to toward the district-wide target,” Ranson says.

Participating buildings must share data with Toronto 2030, which the group will use to track progress of the district of a whole, rather than comparing the results of individual buildings.

“The point of tracking the whole district is that we acknowledge that different buildings will have different abilities and strong/weak performers will balance out,” Ranson says.

As long as overall trend is in the right direction, the group is not concerned about having every building hitting the reduction target.

Compared to other cities, Toronto is relatively far ahead on achieving the goals of Architecture 2030. As a result of benchmarking programs, energy modelling and industry certifications such as BOMA BESt (Building Environment Standards), data concerning the progress in energy efficiency and emissions is already available. Ranson also credits the Ontario Building Code, which has progressive energy-efficiency requirements, with reducing emissions and saving energy across the city.

Leah Wong is the online editor of Canadian Property Management. 

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