High Performance Development Standard Requirements - Site Plan

Site Plan control is a tool that is used by the City to make sure that land development is designed appropriately, safe, functional and minimizes potential impacts on neighbouring properties. It also makes sure that the City’s standards for developing land are respected.

There are 12 Tier 1 High Performance Development Standard requirements or “metrics” that will apply to Site Plan applications. Each requirement is described below.

1.1 Building Energy Efficiency

Building Energy requirement aims to address climate change by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the operations of new buildings. The focus is on exterior measures and early design decisions to enable sustainable design solutions while minimizing incremental cost. Energy priorities evaluated and set early in design enable innovative solutions and design trade-offs that are not available later in the building design. Energy saving features are significantly less expensive to implement when embedded in plans prior to construction, and can lead to significant operational cost savings.


Complex Site Plan Applications are required to submit documentation demonstrating the following:

Using exterior elements, buildings shall be designed to meet or exceed one of the following (Projects may opt to factor in interior measures into the proposed design):

  • Total Energy Use Intensity (TEUI), Thermal Energy Demand Intensity (TEDI) and GHG Emission Intensity (GHGI) targets by building type per Table 1 below. Multi Unit Residential Buildings are referred to as MURB in the table;


  • 25% carbon emission reduction beyond the Ontario Building Code, SB-10, Division 3 (2017)*;


  • Commitment to pursue certification program such as Energy Star for MURBS; LEED, or BOMA Best with a minimum number of energy points, or equivalent.

Table 1 Energy Intensities Buildings

TEDI (kWh/m²/yr)


(kg CO2e/m²/yr)

MURB (≥ 4 Storeys)




MURB ( ≤ 6 Storeys)




Commercial Office




Commercial Retail




All Other Building Types

25% over OBC

Mixed Use Buildings

Mixed-use buildings will use an area-weighted average, by occupancy type

Compliance with this metric is proven through a preliminary energy model report submitted prior to approval. Project proponents are encouraged to engage an energy modeller as early as possible to maximize energy efficiency design opportunities.

Energy Modeling is performed as per the guidelines in the Energy Modelling Report Terms of Reference.

1.2 Site Plan Accessibility

This metric contributes to an inclusive community by ensuring accessibility is considered in the preliminary planning of the site and equivalent access to all users and minimize site accessibility issues for those with mobility devices or challenges. Accessibility requirements also appear in the Ontario Building Code.


All Site Plan Applications must demonstrate the following

Projects to ensure accessibility is addressed through the following requirements:

  1. For public entrances to the site’s building projects must provide the same means of entrance for all users whenever possible, provide equivalent access when access by the same means is not possible, and identify on the site plan accessible building entrance(s).


  1. Projects are encouraged to minimize interruptions along paths of travel through site planning. Design of grates embedded in the ground must meet the following requirements:
  2. Grates along a path of travel must ensure openings do not allow passage of an object that has a diameter greater than 13 mm, ensure that elongated openings are oriented perpendicular to the pedestrian path of travel. (Figure 1)

Grates must have openings that are oriented perpendicular to the pedestrian path of travel with openings no wider than 13 mm

Figure 1 Grate Design Path of travel


Grates that are outside a path of travel must have a maximum porosity of 20 x 20 mm (or 40 x 10 mm) or may be screened.

1.3 Fresh Air Intake

Air pollution from idling cars can pose a significant risk to the health of building occupants, which can’t be easily filtered out through mechanical air filters. Planning safe locations for fresh air intakes will, ensure sufficient distance from pollution or, buffers are incorporated so that pollutants are largely dissipated before ventilation air is brought into the building.


All Site Plan Applications must demonstrate the following

Site plans must demonstrate how on-site outdoor amenities, and fresh air ventilation intakes, are protected from air pollutants resulting from adjacent sources, and how neighbouring outdoor site amenities and fresh air intakes are protected from air pollutant sources generated on site. Adjacent sources of air pollutants include traffic or idling vehicle areas such as drive-throughs, and loading zones, it does not include parking spaces.

Protection from sources of air pollutants can be achieved through setbacks, vegetation, or other technologies, that provide absorbent and protective buffering, or a combination of these measures. Sources of air pollutants are defined as areas within:

  • 150 metres of a road with an average of 50,000 vehicles or more per day,
  • 100 metres of road with an average of 15,000 vehicles or more per day, and
  • 100 metres of idling areas.

Protection options include:

  • Natural air pollutant buffering made up of rows of Red Maple, Red Oak, Little Leaf Linden or Honey Locust trees with a row of shrubs underneath the full length of the exposure zone.


  • Physical buffer either by the building, or other structures such as walls 1.5m high.


3.5 metres, or more, above road level.

1.4 Tree Planting

Trees are an important part of our natural systems supporting natural species, managing heat island impacts, and supporting natural storm water management. To ensure healthy long living trees with large canopies sufficient soil is critical. This metric lays out planting requirements to support long term health and growth of the site’s trees.


Volume of high-quality soil sufficient to support canopy cover on the site, as recommended in the City’s Tree Planting Guidelines.

Projects must demonstrate 30 m3 high quality soil for street trees. Soil calculation can include continuous soil on private or public property. High quality soil excludes compacted soil, further details are provided in the Landscape Plan Terms of Reference.

Trees to be maintained and warrantied for a minimum of 2 years.

1.5 Plant Species

Plant selection is important for maintaining long term health of the landscape design and impacts to the greater natural systems. For this reason, the standard lays out requirements for no invasive plant species and targets for a large proportion of drought tolerant plant species. Climate projections suggest that we can expect more frequent summer drought conditions in the coming decades.


Landscape plan to include no invasive species and target a minimum 50% native plant species. Drought tolerant and pollinator friendly plant species preferred.

Vegetated buffers to be 100% native vegetation.

1.6 Exterior Lighting

Exterior lighting is important to ensure nighttime safety of the site but the light pollution it causes can have negative effects on neighbouring residents, and local natural species. Nocturnal animals and migratory birds are particularly vulnerable to these impacts. Minimizing light pollution through Dark SkyTM compliant fixtures helps to mitigate these impacts.


All exterior lighting fixtures will be Dark Sky compliant (full cut-off). No uplighting.

Dark Sky Compliant fixture(s) must have the Dark Sky Fixture Seal of Approval which provides objective, third-party certification for lighting that minimizes glare, reduces light trespass and doesn’t pollute the night sky. If a Dark Sky Fixture Seal of Approval is not available, fixtures must be full-cutoff and with a colour temperature rating of 3000K or less.

1.7 Bird Safe Design

Thoughtful design of windows particularly in high priority areas can help prevent fatal collisions of birds with buildings.


Mid to high-rise residential and medium to large scale commercial / industrial / institutional:

  • Use specified bird-safe glass or integrated protection measures to treat at least 90% of exterior glazing within the first 16 m of height or to the height of the adjacent mature tree canopy.


  • Use specified bird-safe glass or integrated protection measures to treat any glazing adjacent to a green roof, rooftop garden or garden terrace to a height of 4 m or to the height of the adjacent mature vegetation.


  • Eliminate all fly-through effects (e.g., glass corners, parallel glass) and other traps from building design or use specified bird-safe glass or integrated protection measures.

Ottawa Bird-Safe Design Guidelines

1.8 Sustainable Roofing

As buildings take up more and more of the available space on property, rooftops become increasingly important component of site design. There are lots of opportunities to address sustainable design on the roof top. Including gardens or green roofs, reflective roofing, and solar power generation. This metric directs projects to incorporate one or a combination of these strategies.


For flat roofs (low slope ≤ 2:12) over 500m2 projects must provide:

  1. Green roof for at least 50% of available roof space1;
  • Where possible, green roof area should be incorporated into visible or accessible locations, such as podiums.
  • Where green roof is accessible, the green area may be reduced by 20%
  • Where green roof is edible landscaping, the whole garden area, including pathways and adjacent terraces, may be counted as “green area”.


  1. Cool roof installed for 90% of available roof space1 and if the roof is over 2,500m2 a minimum of 1,000 m2 will be designated solar ready2,3;


  1. A combination of a green roof, and cool roof and solar PV installed for at least 75 per cent of available roof space.

Specification details

1Available roof space is considered roof space that is not otherwise occupied by mechanical and electrical equipment.

2Proponents may seek an exemption from the solar ready component where:

  1. Accommodation of a solar energy system and/or a solar hot water heater would be impractical due to poor solar resources at project site;
  2. A substitute renewable energy system will be installed at the time of construction; or
  3. Where proponent can justify that a solar installation does not make sense such as buildings with low electrical loads making solar net metering an unfeasible option.

3Solar Ready Requirements

At a minimum, the project shall include requirements for:

  1. Static load roof strength, with a requirement that roofing where solar equipment could be placed be capable of supporting a minimum of 29 kg/m2 , where alternate solution for dealing with the loading requirements of solar is recommended by a professional engineer this may be used in lieu of the 29kg/m2 threshold, a letter from engineer stating alternate solution to be submitted.;
  2. Placement of non-solar related rooftop equipment, taking into account positioning that avoids shading of solar equipment (i.e., north of solar ready zone) and maximization of continuous roof space;
  3. Provision of space for a solar energy system DC-AC inverter on an outside wall in the utility room in accordance with ESA requirements (within 4.5m of future array location).
  4. Placement of solar ready area located in a space with high solar potential.

Recommended to also consider:

  1. Sizing and/or provision of extra electrical panels to accommodate addition of an appropriately sized future solar energy system.
  2. A conduit for wiring from roof to electric panel.


1.9 Cool Landscape and Paving

Although Ottawa is a heating dominant climate, summertime impacts to human health are becoming an increasing concern. The urban heat island effect can increase the urban temperature several degrees above the natural rural temperature. This increase in temperature is largely due to greater paved area in the urban environment. Increasing the landscaped area, increasing shade or incorporating reflective paving can all help to reduce the urban heat island.


Soft landscaping area requirements are addressed in the zoning By-law the project is exempt from cool paving requirements where soft landscaping area exceeds the Zoning By-law by 20%,


Use a combination of the following strategies to treat at least 50% of the site’s non-roof hardscape:

  • High-reflectivity paving materials with an initial solar reflectance of at least 0.33 or SRI of 29.
  • Open grid pavement with at least 50 % perviousness.
  • Shade from existing or new tree canopy within 10 years of landscape installation.
  • Shade from architectural structures that are vegetated or have an initial solar. reflectance of at least 0.33 at installation or an SRI of 29.
  • Shade from structures with energy generation.
  • For parking areas projects may plant one tree for every five parking spaces distributed within or along the border of the parking area, in lieu of reflective paving or completing a shade study.

Non-roof hardscape includes driveways, walkways, courtyards, surface parking areas, artificial turf and other on-site hard surfaces.

Industrial work yards or similar areas that limit the available options for shading or reflective surfaces may be excluded from the hard surface area calculation.

1.10 Common Area Waste Storage

For the city to reach its waste diversion targets, individual actions are critical. Multi unit residential buildings rely on common area waste storage to enable residents to correctly sort their waste streams. Good design of the spaces with sufficient area and equal access helps to empower residents to maximize their waste diversion. No new requirements are proposed at this time, however, a reference to the Zoning By-law has been included in the High Performance Development Standard.


Design and construct property with adequate space for City-allocated garbage, recycling, and organic waste containers. As required by Zoning, and the Solid Waste Collection Design Guidelines for Multi-Unit Residential Development.

1.11 Electric Vehicle Parking

Requirements will ensure that infrastructure is available for electric vehicle charging to meet future demands. No new requirements are proposed at this time, however, a reference to the Zoning By-law has been included in the High Performance Development Standard to point to electric vehicle requirements in zoning. This will come into force when requirements are brought into effect as part of the new Zoning By-law Official Plan conformity exercise.


Where parking is provided, projects are to evaluate EV charging readiness and indicate approach and number of EV ready spaces in conjunction with any requirements as referenced in zoning.

EV Readiness Requirements Framework

1.12 Bike Parking

Requirements will ensure that the infrastructure is available for bike parking to meet current and future demands. No new requirements are proposed at this time, however, a reference to the Zoning By-law has been included in the High Performance Development Standard to point to bike parking in zoning.


Provide bike parking infrastructure as required by zoning.

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