Green Development Standards

What are Green Development Standards (GDS)?

  • Standards created by municipalities to encourage environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable design
  • GDS help municipalities alleviate pressures from population growth and urbanization by using infrastructure and resources efficiently, advancing uptake to sustainability metrics, and reducing energy use and GHG emissions
  • GDS generally apply to new private and municipally-owned buildings and developments

By using GDS, municipalities can create healthy, well-designed communities that have better integrated greenspace, pedestrian and transit networks, and that offer a variety of housing, transportation, human services, and employment options.

Top Level Questions:

1. What are you trying to achieve with this action?

  • Help new communities: Increase the uptake of sustainability metrics within new communities (e.g., energy efficiency, active transportation, permeable surfaces, green space, access to amenities, etc.)
  • Increase resilience: Buildings that include efficiency and resilience measures improve comfort and resilience to extreme weather events (e.g., helps residents shelter in place)
  • Create diverse communities: GDS aim to meet the needs of seniors and an aging population and improve safety for vulnerable transportation users
  • Support local economic opportunities: GDS can help expand the green economy locally and regionally
  • Improve health and wellness for residents: Neighbourhoods with a compact, walkable form and integrated green spaces can improve physical and mental health by reducing air pollution
  • Cost savings: Green buildings have lower operating costs compared to traditional buildings, helping to reduce energy poverty; lower energy demands will help achieve short and long-term fiscal sustainability and GHG reduction targets, lower risk to energy and carbon costs into the future, and reduce retrofit costs

2. Who has traditionally participated in/benefitted from this action?

  • Property owners and residents of new developments

3. What groups are most in need of this action? Why?

  • Vulnerable communities, including those experiencing energy poverty

4. What has prevented these groups from participating in the past?

  • Up-front capital costs if uptake to GDS metrics causes housing construction costs to increase; it is important to consider not only up-front capital costs but longer term operational costs as well

5. What design can address barriers from those most in need of action or to increase participation? Barriers can be physical or perceived (perceptual/psychological)

6. Can you identify any negative impacts that this action may cause?

  • Up-front capital costs of housing may increase, impacting housing affordability re: purchase costs and mortgage eligibility/risk for purchasers at the edge of moving into a high-risk mortgage
  • Limited ability for this policy to address housing affordability for those priced out of housing market
    • However, GDS do not cause the housing affordability issue; housing affordability is a bigger problem
    • It is important to consider up-front capital costs in particular for purchasers close to their mortgage eligibility maximum; this can impact their mortgage eligibility because mortgage lenders do not take lower operational costs into consideration in mortgage eligibility
    • Those purchasers are also more likely to be first-time purchasers over people who already own property

Are there any measures that can help to proactively prevent that harm?

  • Mortgage lenders should consider lower operational costs for purchasers of more efficient homes
  • Up-front capital cost increases may be addressed via green loans, LICs, etc. which may increase the uptake of higher tiers of the GDS
  • Municipalities can play a bridge role with developers at the neighbourhood scale (not only at the building level) to reduce up-front capital costs and improve the business case for lower carbon developments

7. Who hasn't yet been engaged that would be good to engage? Why would they be good to engage? What may limit their engagement interest/ability

  • Consultation with LMI residents to better understand their barriers

Do you have additional suggestions for climate and equity synergies related to Green Development Standards? Add them here.