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City of Ottawa Sustainable Debenture Framework

Building on the Green Debenture Framework first published in 2017, the City has developed an updated Sustainable Debenture Framework in December 2023.

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Green bonds

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City of Ottawa green debenture framework

Vision statement

City of Ottawa green debentures are used to finance capital works that promote environmentally sustainable development across the City to mitigate or adapt to the effects of climate change and/or contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases. 

1. Use of proceeds

The net proceeds of a Green Debenture issuance will be used to fund capital projects identified as eligible projects under the City of Ottawa Green Debenture Framework.

 Eligible projects

“Eligible projects” means identified transactions (mainly infrastructure) funded by the City in support of capital projects that are beneficial to the environment, as determined by the City.

Eligible transactions will include those that align with the Plan for Sustainability and Resilience in Canada’s Capital Region and the City of Ottawa’s Strategic Plan.

Without limitation, capital projects in the following sectors will generally be considered eligible:

  1. renewable energy, including but not limited to:
    1. biofuels and bioenergy (except feedstock and viable forest based biomass)
    2. solar, wind and hydropower (limited to projects under 25MW capacity) facilities and related
  2. infrastructure energy efficiency, including but not limited to:
    1. refurbishing existing buildings to increase energy efficiency
    2. energy storage
    3. district heating
    4. smart grids
    5. equipment
  3. pollution prevention and control, including but not limited to:
    1. enhancing or updating existing waste water treatment infrastructure
    2. greenhouse gas (GHG) control
    3. soil remediation and treatment such as, the removal of harmful substances in soils
    4. the prevention and recycling of waste, and waste to energy
    5. value added products from waste and remanufacturing
    6. associated environmental monitoring analysis
  4. clean transportation, including but not limited to:
    1. Fleet, and both core and supporting infrastructure for electric, hybrid public transit, public, rail, non-motorized, multi-modal transportation
    2. cycling and walking infrastructure
    3. infrastructure for clean energy vehicles and reduction of harmful emissions
  5. ​sustainable water management, including but not limited to:
    1. sustainable infrastructure for clean water and water efficiency
    2. sustainable urban drainage systems and other forms of flooding mitigation
  6. sustainable management of natural resources, including but not limited to:
    1. protection or restoration of forests, wetlands, watercourses (stream bank stabilization or naturalization) and other natural assets
    2. green roofs, bio-retention, or natural storm water management projects;
  7. climate change adaptation and resilience, including but not limited to:
    1. redesigning, retrofitting and upgrading of buildings and infrastructure to mitigate the negative impact of climate change and build resilience for extreme weather events such as high wind, rain or extreme temperatures;
  8. green buildings, including but  not limited to:
    1. the construction of new buildings that meet regional, national or international third-party certifications, such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology), or any other similar recognized standards. 

2. Project evaluation and selection

The selection of Eligible Transactions is the responsibility of the Finance Services Department (FSD) in consultation with internal and external expert stakeholders, this may include the combined effort of Planning Infrastructure and Economic Development, Legal and other departments, as required.  The Finance Servies Department will select the eligible capital project(s) that meet the guidelines set out above. Projects must also comply with all applicable laws and regulations, and policies of the City of Ottawa, including on assessing social and environmental risks of projects.  The Finance Servies Department  will verify the suitability and eligibility with the Planning Infrastructure and Economic Development Department.  The internal or external legal representative(s) will draft a debenture by-law clearly outlining the use of proceeds, amongst other items, that includes a Schedule to the by-law listing the eligible capital projects to be financed by the debenture, and the list of eligible capital projects will be shared on the City’s website. A confirming by-law shall be passed by City Council authenticating the debenture by-law.

3. Management of proceeds

The majority of capital projects to be funded by a debenture issued by the City have been developed and substantial completion criteria met.  In these common instances the proceeds of the debenture will be applied directly to the project to repay the bridge financing position of the City.

Where substantial completion has not been met on a project, the funds will be held in account of the City and invested in holdings with maturities aligned with substantial completion of the projects identified in the schedule to the by-law. 

In the rare case where substantial completion has been achieved and excess funds exist, the funds will be applied to other project classified as eligible projects under this Green Debenture Framework.

4. Reporting

The Finance Services Department will coordinate the collective reporting requirements and provide an annual information report on its website addressing both allocation and impact reporting:

  • Debenture By-laws with accompanying schedule A outlining the specific projects funded by the debenture
  • a summary of the City’s green debenture developments including existing and future projects
  • updates with respect to distribution of unspent debenture proceeds
  • project updates and status reports for Eligible Projects; when possible
  • key performance indicators (KPI) such as
Eligibility criteria Potential KPI
Renewable energy kWh of power generated from renewable energy GHG emissions reduced/avoided (tCO2e)
Energy efficiency Energy saved per year (kWh/year) GHG emissions reduced/avoided (tCO2e)
Pollution prevention and control Amount of emissions or pollutants reduced/avoided Amount of waste diverted from landfill Increase in cubic meter of water (m3) treated
Clean transportation Estimate of annual GHG emissions reduced/avoided (tCO2e) Number of passenger journeys using green transportation
Sustainable water management Cubic meter of water (m3) saved/reduced
Sustainable management of natural resources Area of natural assets that is conserved, protected or restored
Green buildings List of eligible buildings that received third party-verified green building certification

5. Compliance review

Prior to the first anniversary of a green debenture issuance, The Finance Services Department will review the lending financed by the City’s green debenture in order to assess the compliance of the lending with the Green Debenture Framework. This review will be conducted annually until full allocation of the net proceeds from the City’s green debenture. The Treasurer will provide a report of the review, which the City will publish on its website. In an unlikely event that the annual review identifies allocations made to activities that do not comply with the Green Debenture Framework, the City will allocate the corresponding amounts to different lending activities that are compliant with the Green Debenture Framework.

The issuance of debentures pursuant to this Framework will be implemented in accordance with the Municipal Act, 2001 and directives issued by City Council as applicable.