Toronto launches Deep Retrofit Challenge to fund energy efficiency in existing buildings


Ontario Construction News staff writer

The City of Toronto has launched a Deep Retrofit Challenge aimed at accelerating the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing buildings in Toronto.

During the challenge, the city will provide funding to support “deeper-than-planned” energy retrofits for 10 to 16 privately-owned buildings. The goal is to accelerate emissions reductions and identify strategies that can be replicated in other buildings. A total of $5 million is available through Natural Resources Canada’s Green Infrastructure – Energy Efficient Buildings Program.

“We know buildings emit some of the highest emissions and we need to work together along with the other governments and the private sector to address this issue,” said Mayor John Tory.

“I encourage building owners across Toronto to take up the Challenge and help lead the way to cleaner, greener, more sustainable buildings. Thank you to the federal government for their support of this important initiative.”

Eligible buildings:

  • multi-unit residential (more than six units or three storeys)
  • residential condominiums (more than six units or three storeys)
  • commercial office buildings
  • mixed-use buildings
  • residential over commercial (more than six units)

To be considered projects must be complete and operational by Jan. 1, 2025 and meet the following criteria:

  • involve a deep retrofit of an existing, occupied building located in Toronto
  • be aligned with the objectives of the City’s Net Zero Existing Buildings Strategy
  • reduce GHG emissions by at least 50 per cent
  • reduce energy costs by at least 50 per cent
  • use an approach that is replicable to similar building types across the City and across similar climates in Canada
  • provide a whole-building energy model for pre- and post-retrofit case studies
  • meet a 20-year payback period or better

A competition process will include building specialists to identify energy and environmental improvements that may be achieved, and opportunities to advance the design to maximize emissions reductions.

Each will receive a grant equal to 25 per cent of their total project costs up to a maximum of up to $500,000 (depending on gross floor area) to offset the incremental design and construction costs required to achieve maximum emissions reductions.

Participants 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.

Projects must use a comprehensive whole-building approach, considering how components of the building work together as an integrated system, and may include measures such as:

  • 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 and water heating
  • Renewable electricity generation
  • Building controls.

Retrofits funded through the challenge are expected to result in approximately 1,750 tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) per year in emissions reductions starting in 2025 and will demonstrate deep retrofit pathways that building owners across Toronto can follow to reduce emissions from their buildings

More information about the Deep Retrofit Challenge and next steps for interested building owners is available on the City’s Better Buildings Partnership webpage.

“The Deep Retrofit Challenge emphasizes the city’s role as a leader in promoting a reduction in GHG emissions across sectors. In partnering with Natural Resources Canada for this challenge, we can assist building owners in greening their buildings, while stimulating the economy and creating jobs,” said councillor Jennifer McKelvie.



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