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Measuring the Sustainability Performance of New Development

image of Sustainability Metrics brochure
The Town of Richmond Hill, in collaboration with the City of Brampton and the City of Vaughan, created the Sustainability Metrics as a tool to achieve healthy, complete sustainable communities. The tool presents users with a sustainability score by using a set of Metrics to quantify the sustainability performance of new development projects.

The Final Sustainability Metrics table breaks down four categories that represent major elements of sustainable community development. Each category contains a set of performance indicators, such as energy conservation, that have corresponding quantitative Sustainability Metrics to calculate the sustainability score. The four categories are:
  • Built environment
  • Mobility
  • Natural environment and open space
  • Infrastructure and buildings
Submission Requirements:
As part of the development application process, applicants submitting applications for Site Plan and Draft Plan approval are required to include a sustainability score and summary letter with their submission. Developments are required to meet at least a “good” score as part of the minimum sustainability requirements.

Performance Achieved Applicant Score
GOOD Draft Plan: 21-35 Points
Site Plan: 32-45 Points
VERY GOOD Draft Plan: 36-55 Points
Site Plan: 46-65 Points
EXCELLENT Draft Plan: +56 Points
Site Plan: +66 Points


How to Calculate Sustainability Score:
Use the resources below to calculate the sustainability score required in your development application.

tool icon Implementation Tool [XLS]
Use the Implementation Tool to determine your application’s sustainability score. The Tool is an excel workbook that calculates the sustainability of a proposed development. Applicants are expected to use the Tool to allocate points for each sustainable element in their development.
tool icon Instructions [PDF]
Use the instructions to get started before completing the Tool. It provides instructions on how to use and fill out the Tool and also provides a brief overview of mandatory metrics, point allocation, and the difference between applicant and community scores.
tool icon Guidebook and Glossary [PDF]
Use the guidebook and glossary to assist you while completing the Tool. It explains the intent of each Metric and provides detailed information on how to allocate points for each sustainable element in your application. It also explains how to demonstrate and document compliance.

The Town's Planning and Regulatory Services Department, along with Brampton's Planning and Infrastructure Services Department and Vaughan's Planning Department, won the 2014 OPPI Excellence in Planning Award the Research/New Directions category for the Sustainability Metrics. The Sustainability Metrics was recognized for its innovation as a tool to measure sustainability and improve the function of the built environment.

For more information on the history of this project, including staff reports on the chosen performance indicators and the implementation and monitoring of the Metrics, see below.


Project Timeline
The development of the SDGs, and later the Sustainability Metrics, was one of a number of projects completed to implement the vision of Richmond Hill's Official Plan. It ensures the sustainability policies of the Official Plan are addressed through individual development applications. The project was carried out in three phases.

Phase 1 - Development of Draft Sustainability Design Guidelines
Phase 1 developed Draft Sustainabile Design Guidelines that focused on qualitative urban design and community development principles. The Draft Comprehensive Report on Measuring the Sustainability Performance of New Development, including the Draft Sustainability Metrics was first received by Council on April 22, 2013.

Phase 2 - Preparation of Sustainability Metrics
Phase 2 focused on the preparation of Sustainability Metrics to quantify the design principles outlined in the SDGs. After a comment and consultation period with the public, the consultant and Town Staff prepared the Final Sustainability Metrics, which were approved by Council on September 23, 2013. The Sustainability Metrics are now used as part of the planning application process to inform Interim Growth Management Strategy (IGMS) Criteria #5 (developments that represent sustainable and innovative community and building design).
Phase 3 - Implementation & Monitoring the Metrics
Phase 3 focuses on implementation and monitoring of the Sustainability Metrics. Phase 3 is currently in the monitoring stage and focuses on the following key components:

1. Establishment of a Sustainability Score
Richmond Hill has been obtaining sustainability measures as part of the planning application review process using IGMS Criteria # 5 since 2008. To ensure that the progress made since that time is not lost, sustainability scores have been established for Draft Plan and Site Plan applications, and are as follows:

Performance Achieved Applicant Score
GOOD Draft Plan: 21-35 Points
Site Plan: 32-45 Points
VERY GOOD Draft Plan: 36-55 Points
Site Plan: 46-65 Points
EXCELLENT Draft Plan: +56 Points
Site Plan: +66 Points


Past planning applications approved for servicing allocation using IGMS criteria have been analyzed to determine what each application would score using the Sustainability Metrics and these findings were used to inform a recommended set of sustainability scores. The recommended sustainability scores were approved by Richmond Hill Council on February 24, 2014. Additional information on the sustainability scores is available in the staff report below:
While the applicant is responsible for completing the Implementation Tool and amending their submission through the planning process, the final sustainability score will be determined by the Town.


2. Implementation Tool
Following testing workshops with Town Staff and the development industry, including BILD, the Excel-based Implementation Tool was finalized. The Implementation Tool is to be utilized as part of the planning application process. The Implementation Tool, an accompanying Glossary and Guidebook, and instructions are available below:

3. Education/Training Workshops
Education and training workshops were held for internal staff, as well as external planning consultants and public commenting agencies to explain any changes to the planning approval process, and how to enter information into the Implementation Tool.

4. Research and Analysis of Incentives
A cost-benefit analysis will be prepared to understand the long-term cost savings that could be realized by obtaining certain “Aspirational” Metrics (e.g. Stormwater Management quality/quantity improvements; energy conservation measures; water conservation measures). Based on this analysis, recommended financial incentive tools the Town could implement to obtain the “Aspirational” Metrics will be assessed.  The creation of an Awards Program to recognize High Achievers will also be evaluated.

5. Evaluation of Town Standards and Specs in relation to the Final Sustainability Metrics
The Richmond Hill Standards and Specs Manual will be reviewed in relation to the Final Sustainability Metrics and recommendations prepared for how the Town’s Engineering standards need to be revised or, where an alternative standard is more appropriate.

6. Creation of a Monitoring Tool
A Monitoring Tool will be created to help the Town track the final sustainability score of planning applications. This tool will be used to monitor the implementation of the Sustainability Metrics and to inform future revisions/reviews of the Metrics.

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