Ontario large building ("Part 3") embodied carbon benchmarking

Mantle Developments is working with the Ha/f Research Studio at the University of Toronto Daniels Faculty of Architecture and the City of Toronto to develop updated embodied carbon policy recommendations for the Toronto Green Standard. Achieving ‘Tier 1’ of this standard is required to get a building permit in Toronto (the 4th most populous city in North America after Mexico City, New York, and LA, in case you didn’t know).

We are happy to share our initial survey and self-reported benchmarking results for 41 projects.


  • slide 24 (benchmarking by building type)
  • slide 28 (26% reduction in embodied carbon through 3 simple material substitutions on a pilot project)
  • slide 29 (36% whole life carbon reduction to 2050 through the inclusion of solar PV panels on a pilot project).

One interesting key finding is that taller buildings seem to have a higher embodied carbon intensity. We attribute this to stronger materials being required and also greater sub-surface works like foundations and underground parking. However, it is generally known that taller buildings lead to increased urban densification which has carbon benefits including less transportation emissions.

We are interested in reviewing any existing research into the carbon trade-offs of high rise buildings: higher embodied emission intensity vs decreased sprawl. If anyone knows of resources examining this please share. Thank you!

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