Other City Policies to Advance Sustainable Design

The High Performance Development Standard is the City’s tool to advance sustainable resilient design as part of planning applications. There are a number of other tools the City has in place or under development that advance sustainable and resilient design for buildings that are out of scope or authority of the standard.

Building Types Outside of the High Performance Development Standard Scope

Existing Buildings

  • Earlier this year the City of Ottawa launched Better Homes Ottawa. This program is a one stop site for Ottawa residents to help make their homes more energy efficient and climate friendly. It includes financing and advice to help residents get started.
  • The City of Ottawa is also working on the launch of the Better Buildings Ottawa Program. This program will aim to support commercial, industrial, institutional, as well as multi-unit residential buildings in reducing their energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. The Program will seek to share industry learnings, undertake energy benchmarking, and provide financing strategies that help support building owners to realize deep energy retrofits.

Municipal Buildings

The City of Ottawa has an existing Green Building Policy and an internal building energy efficiency department working to help make municipal buildings more efficient. The City has set ambitious climate mitigation targets and is undergoing a risks and vulnerabilities assessment to respond to future climate conditions. In relation to these the following projects are in the works to improve municipal buildings.

  • Green Building Policy update
  • Municipal Building Retrofit Program

Low rise infill

Small low rise infill building projects largely fall outside of the planning requirements the City has in place. These building types currently make up a relatively small portion of development in Ottawa although this may increase over time as a result of the New Official Plan’s growth targets. These building types in general are more energy efficient and are helping to increase density around established public transit networks which have positive implications to the City’s sustainability targets. These development types are subject to a number of existing policies aimed at managing the environmental impacts resulting from their development including the Tree Bylaw and zoning. As part of the High Performance Development Standard, incentive options will be reviewed which may play a role in further advancing sustainability of these building types.

Other Policy Areas

There are a number of other regulatory policies that address related and connected areas. Stormwater programs and zoning have been described in more detail below. More information can be found on the provinces website on land-use planning regulations and building regulation.


  • Rain Ready Ottawa is a pilot program that encourages and supports residents to take action on their property to reduce harmful impacts of rainwater runoff.
  • Stormwater Management Retrofit Plans for Pinecrest/Westboro (ACS2011-ICS-PGM-0114) and Eastern Subwatersheds (ACS2019-PIE-IS-0002) contain a combination of measures designed to minimize the negative impact of uncontrolled runoff.
  • Two engineered rain garden sites have been constructed within the road right-of-way in Ottawa, one on Sunnyside Avenue in Old Ottawa South and one on Stewart Street in Sandy Hill.
  • Two additional rain gardens have been installed at the Manordale-Woodvale Community Building and the Cornerstone Residence in the Pinecrest Creek watershed.
  • The Site Alteration By-law protects agricultural resources and natural heritage features from negative impacts caused by site alteration within Ottawa and prevents drainage issues and public nuisances resulting from site alteration activities.


The High Performance Development Standard References Zoning in a number of places where zoning is the more appropriate tool to advance objectives than the standard. The zoning by-law controls the use of land. It implements the objectives and policies of the official plan by regulating and controlling specific land uses (and as such, must conform with the plan). A zoning by-law achieves this by stating exactly:

  • what land uses may be permitted (for example, residential or commercial)
  • where buildings and other structures can be located
  • which types of buildings are permitted (for example, detached houses, semi-detached houses, duplexes, apartment buildings, office buildings, etc.) and how they may be used
  • lot sizes and dimensions, parking requirements, building heights and densities, and setbacks from a street or lot boundary

The Zoning by-law will be undergoing a consistency update to align with the new official plan. Stay tuned to City communications for more information coming on this update.

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