Municipality: York Region Implementation: 0000-00-00
Policy Name: Sustainable Development through LEED Contact: Karen Whitney
Department: Transportation and Community Planning Title: Manager, Planning and Infrastructure Integration
Community profile:

York Region is a thriving, dynamic region centrally located within the vibrant Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and covers 1,776 square kilometres from Lake Simcoe in the north to Steeles Avenue in the south. It borders Simcoe County and Peel Region in the west and Durham Region in the east. York Region contains some of the most significant and environmentally sensitive natural heritage and hydrologic features in Ontario, from the shores of Lake Simcoe to the major valleys of the Humber, Don, Rouge, Black, Holland and Maskinonge to the extensive wetlands and woodlands. The Oak Ridges Moraine and Greenbelt are key defining features of the Region’s land structure, comprising 69% of its land base.


By year end 2011, York Region was home to 1,085,588 residents. By 2031, the Region anticipates a population of 1.5 million, with 780,000 jobs and 510,000 households.


Business services holds the largest share of the Region’s employment base with 15.9%, while personal


services and manufacturing follow closely behind, each accounting for 15.5% of total employment. Overall, these industries are once again the three largest sectoral groupings in the Region. The total value of construction for York Region in 2011 was approximately $3.18 billion, $1.04 billion (32.6 per cent) of which was attributed to industrial / commercial / institutional (ICI) sectors. York Region posted the fifth largest total construction value among all Canadian municipalities in 2011.


Residential building activity continues to be the dominant construction type, accounting for 67 per cent of the Region’s total value of construction. A total of 9,273 units were started and 7,450 houses completed in 2011.


Short Description:

Program aims to encourage construction of energy & water efficient residential projects.


This is a sustainable development voluntary incentive program aiming to encourage the construction of more energy and water efficient residential developments throughout York Region; and further reduce water consumption across the Region beyond what is achieved through existing water conservation programs. By offering incentives, in the form of servicing allocation credits, this program encourages the development industry to implement innovative green building practices in their new residential projects.


There are three incentive levels in this Program, each with its own set of water conservation requirements and similar sustainability criteria. Eligible development applications must commit to the following measures in new high-rise residential development construction:


Level One: 20 per cent Servicing Allocation Incentive


  • Minimum LEED Silver Certification (minimum of 52 points - LEED Canada NC, 2009)
  • Indoor Water Use Reduced by 30%
  • Outdoor Water Use Reduced by 50%
  • Implementation of Regional Transit Oriented Design Guidelines
  • Implementation of Three Stream Waste Reduction


Level Two: 35 per cent Servicing Allocation Incentive


  • Minimum LEED Silver Certification (minimum of 52 points (LEED Canada NC, 2009)
  • Indoor Water Use Reduced by 35%
  • No Outdoor Potable Water Use
  • Implementation of Regional Transit Oriented Design Guidelines
  • Implementation of Three Stream Waste Reduction

Level Three: 40 per cent Servicing Allocation Incentive


  • Minimum LEED Gold Certification (minimum of 75 points (LEED Canada NC, 2009)
  • Indoor Water Use Reduced by 40%
  • No Outdoor Potable Water Use
  • Implementation of Regional Transit Oriented Design Guidelines
  • Implementation of Three Stream Waste Reduction


The Sustainable Development through LEED Program helps to implement the sustainable and complete communities policies in the Regional Official Plan, the Region’s Sustainability Strategy, and Long Term Water Conservation Strategy. This program also complements local municipal environmental, sustainability and climate change initiatives.

Step by Step Process:

Regional Council identified opportunities to develop an incentive program, providing servicing allocation credits for high density residential projects meeting a set of sustainability criteria Regional Planning, Water and Wastewater, Solid Waste staff collaboratively researched, assessed appropriate sustainability program criteria, and proposed principles to guide program development In June 2007, York Regional Council approved principles for guiding program development, and directed staff to consult with stakeholders and bring back a program implementation strategy Staff consulted with internal departments and local municipal stakeholders in September 2007 and with the building industry in February 2008 for feedback on the draft program The Region hired Enermodal Engineering to peer review the program’s implementation strategy, identifying issues and potential impracticalities with the draft program, and providing recommendations. In March 2008, the program and implementation guide was presented to Planning and Economic Development Committee and endorsed by Regional Council Regional staff promoted this Program at Local Municipal Council meetings. Local municipalities must endorse the Region’s Sustainable Development through LEED program in order to apply the Program’s requirement their local development proposals The Program’s requirements are integrated into the local site plan and plans of condominium approval processes

Primary Drivers:

The key driver for this Regional “green” building incentive programs is the shortage of water and wastewater servicing capacity, making servicing allocation a rare commodity and delaying development timelines.

  • York Region faces a shortage of water and wastewater servicing capacity, primarily attributed to growth demands and delayed infrastructure delivery to service that growth. Servicing constraints can delay the approval and construction of development projects. This program promotes water saving practices in new developments allowing the developer to build sooner with less allocation. Unused allocation can be assigned to another development project to facilitate continued growth in the municipality.

Secondary Drivers:

Another impetus for the Region’s “green” building program was to promote efficient use of water resources in our region, a goal echoed by the Region’s long-term water conservation strategy and Water for Tomorrow program. Achieving water savings in new developments can reduce overall water demand and defer the need for expensive water and wastewater infrastructure expansions.


  • Canada Green Building Council’s (CaGBC) adoption of the LEED NC program

  • York Region Council’s commitment to building regional facilities to LEED Silver standard

  • Rapid population growth


The Regional Chair gave directions for staff to develop and implement a “green” building incentive program, at the request of a developer looking for ways to accelerate the approval of a development project. Regional Council fully supported this program from its development to implementation.


  • Bringing local municipalities, with different visions, goals and initiatives for sustainable community planning, on board to support a regional program.


  • One of the local municipality now requires all new high-rise residential developments to comply with the Region’s program requirement for approval



  • Establishing incentive levels matching anticipated water savings achieved, with appropriate and reasonable measures that don’t bring significant cost implications to the builders.

  • Determining the most effective third party certification system that embraces “sustainability” holistically and widely accepted by the development industry.


  • York Region was able to leverage servicing allocation as a program incentive because of a unique constraint in our service delivery capability.

  • Knowledge exchange via the Clean Air Partnership’s webinar to share lessons learned.


As of April 2012:

  • 532 units have been built under this Program

  • 336 units have committed to program requirements and will proceed to construction

  • 600 units have entered the program but not yet committed to its requirements

Lessons Learned:

  • Incentives can attract the building industry’s interest and participation in the program; it also demonstrates municipal leadership and commitment in fostering sustainable built form

  • Third party verification and inspection provides certainty that required measures are going to be implemented creating acceptable levels or risk for municipal councils

  • Flexibility in program requirements makes for a more achievable program

  • Getting local municipal buy-in and making the program a local requirement ensures more sustainable housing products are built

Applicability Across Ontario:

  • use constraints in servicing as a municipal advantage.

  • consider other incentives such as fast-tracking application or fee reductions to achieve similar outcomes.

Similar Tools Used by Other Municipalities:

  • LEED Canada for New Construction and Major Renovations (NC) Version 1.0 and 2009

Further Information:

Sustainable Development through LEED Implementation Guide

Staff Report – Program Principles

Staff Report – Program Implementation Guidelines