What are Green Development Standards?

Last updated on April 16, 2022

Green Development Standards (GDS) can be implemented by municipalities to address local concerns such as:

Terra View Homes – Guelph On
  • Maintaining the existing tree canopy
  • Enhancing stormwater quantity and quality
  • Energy efficiency requirements for buildings
  • Water conservation requirements for buildings
  • Waste minimization
  • Protecting and integrating green space
  • Promoting compact, mixeduse development
  • Integrating access to active and public transportation
  • Renewable energy generation and storage
  • Access to public parks
  • Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure
  • Building resilience
  • Birdfriendly design
  • Pedestrian Infrastructure
  • Conserving cultural heritage
  • Material reuse and recycling
  • Soil quantity and quality
  • Connectivity

Clean Air Partnership: Municipal Green Development Standards [1]https://www.cleanairpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Municipal-Green-Development-Standards-Final.pdf

Building Codes

The National Building Code of Canada is the recommendation made by the National Research Council and sets the minimum building standards. The National Research Council is in the process of updating the National Building Standard so that all new construction will be Net-Zero by 2030 [2]nrc.canada.ca/en/certifications-evaluations-standards/codes-canada/construction-innovation/laying-foundation-net-zero-energy-ready-building-codes-2030.  Although, the National Building Code has no legal status, it is used to form the provincial building codes.

The Ontario Building Code aligns with about 60% of the National Building Code. Currently it is being updated since the Canada Free Trade Agreement (2017) requires that the Province harmonize with more of the National Building Code [3]www.ontario.ca/page/building-code-updates. Unfortunately, aligning energy efficiency standards is not required by the Free Trade Agreement and there is no guarantee that Ontario will accept the Net-Zero standard. Indeed, the proposed changes to the Ontario Building Code (2022) make no mention of Net-Zero buildings.


Local municipalities are allowed to set their own standards that go beyond the Ontario Building Code.

“The Planning Act provides for municipalities to mandate sustainable urban design through site plan approvals. Municipalities must also consider matters of provincial interest, such as conservation of natural resources, energy and water efficiency, waste minimization, healthy communities, and promoting transit-accessible and pedestrian-friendly development.”

“The Municipal Act allows municipalities to pass environmental protection and conservation by-laws. It also allows municipalities to participate in long-term energy planning for energy use in their community.”

Clean Air Partnership: Municipal Green Development Standards [4]www.cleanairpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Municipal-Green-Development-Standards-Final.pdf



Learn about Toronto’s Green Development Standards here: www.toronto.ca/city-government/planning-development/official-plan-guidelines/toronto-green-standard/

Toronto implemented a voluntary GDS in 2006 and in 2010 brought in a tiered system with Tier 1 being mandatory and Tier 2 being voluntary. In subsequent years, a third tier was added and the GDS became mandatory for all Tiers in 2022.



Learn about green buildings and communities in Edmonton here. www.edmonton.ca/city_government/environmental_stewardship/green-buildings-communities





For More Information

    Please see: Green Development Standards.pdf

    For the complete documentation package, please see the Documentation.pdf

Additional Resources

For additional resources, please see the Clean Air Partnership Resource page at https://www.cleanairpartnership.org/resources/

Resources include:

  • EV Ready Requirements for Municipalities
  • Integrating Climate Change into Municipal Official Plans
  • Carbon Budgeting
  • Flood Impact Maps
  • Municipal Green Fleets
  • Net Zero Emission Green Developments
  •  and much more.