$5 million up for grabs in Toronto’s deep retrofit challenge

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The City of Toronto is accepting applications until Oct. 31 for a Deep Retrofit Challenge to speed the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from buildings.

Funding will support “deeper-than-planned” energy retrofits in 10 to 16 privately-owned buildings to lower emissions and find “pathways to net zero” that can be replicated in other buildings.

For more information, register for a webinar on the Better Buildings Partnership webpage.

Information from the projects including designs, budgets and performance data will be open-sourced to drive case studies, technical reports and academic research that will help promote community knowledge of deep retrofits and facilitate the uptake of deep retrofits needed to reach the City’s net zero by 2040 target.

A $5 million investment from Natural Resources Canada’s Green Infrastructure – Energy Efficient Buildings Program will provide selected projects with grants equal to 25 per cent of the total project costs to a maximum of $500,000 (depending on gross floor area and building performance). Funding will offset incremental design and construction costs.

To be eligible, buildings must be located within Toronto and be an Ontario Building Code Part 3 building – greater than 600 square metres or greater than three storeys.

Eligible buildings include:

  • Multi-unit residential buildings (including condominiums, apartments, etc.)
  • Commercial office buildings
  • Mixed-use buildings (residential and commercial, including residential over commercial)

Successful projects must involve a deep retrofit that reduces both GHG emissions and energy usage by at least 50 per cent, meet a 20-year payback period or better and be completed and operational by January 1, 2025.

Also, construction must use a “comprehensive whole-building approach” that considers how components of the building work together in an integrated system. Eligible measures include:

  • Building enclosure improvements such as insulation, high-performance windows and air sealing
  • Energy recovery (ventilation, drain or equipment)
  • Electric heat pumps (ground or air-source) for space hating and hot water
  • Renewable electricity generation
  • Building controls

Projects will be selected through a competition. A design charrette will bring together a variety of specialists to identify energy and environmental improvements that may be achieved by each entry.

Building owners may also apply to the City’s Energy Retrofit Loan program and High-Rise Retrofit Improvement Support program to assist in funding their projects, as well as incentives available from other sources.

Buildings are the largest source of GHG emissions in Toronto today, generating approximately 57 per cent of total community-wide emissions, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels (natural gas) for heating and hot water.

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