Retrofit program will cut energy use in Toronto city buildingsAt the fifth annual Smog Summit, held June 21 at Metro Hall in Toronto, Mayor David Miller announced the city's latest commitments to reducing energy use, and thereby reducing smog. As a signatory to the Toronto and Region 2004 Inter-governmental Declaration on Clean Air, the city has launched its Energy Retrofit Program, which will increase to $25 million the funding available to retrofit city buildings and facilities.
The energy and water efficiency retrofit project is a comprehensive approach to maximize energy savings. In February 2003, Toronto city council adopted a plan which included reducing the energy used in city buildings and facilities 15% by 2005. This would result in carbon dioxide (CO2) reductions of 8,600 tonnes annually, representing 62% of the city's overall CO2 emission reduction target. The retrofit project is co-ordinated by Toronto's energy and waste management office.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has provided an $8.75 million low-interest loan to help finance these retrofit initiatives. The funding is coming from the Green Municipal Investment Fund (GMIF), a component of the Green Municipal Funds (GMF), which the FCM administers. To date, the GMIF has leveraged over $1 billion in investment through an outlay of $118 million in loans and $20 million in grants in 47 capital projects. Along with setting a new precedent in maximizing the environmental, social and economic benefits of sustainability, through its development of innovative project financing, GMIF is spurring the market for new environmental technologies in Canada.
The city also announced a $10.2-million retrofit of 100 municipal arenas; this work will be partly financed by $2.52 million of the FCM loan. These retrofits are expected to pay for themselves over approximately eight years as energy use declines.
"This is a major step for the city, but with so many old structures, the city has a lot more retrofit work ahead of it," Miller said.
The FCM is also providing $40,000 from the GMF's Green Municipal Enabling Fund (GMEF) for a study to recommend appropriate policies and programs in relation to green roofs. The green roofs study, led by Toronto's planning department, will develop a business case detailing the environmental and social benefits of green roofs, including reduced use of fossil fuels, reduction of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, reduction in quantity and improved quality of storm water runoff, mitigation of urban heat island effect and restoration of displaced green spaces. Following extensive stakeholder consultations, the conclusions of the study and recommendations will help develop potential policies and programs relating to green roofs in Toronto.
"These projects will move us forward in our endeavour to make Toronto a truly sustainable community," Miller stated, adding that, "their results will help Toronto take its rightful place as one of the most vibrant, successful and environmentally-responsible cities in North America."
In another initiative announced at the Smog Summit, Toronto Community Housing has joined the Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF) and not-for-profit organization Green$aver to deliver Canada's largest energy efficiency program of its kind for affordable housing. The program, consisting of audits and energy efficiency retrofits, is being implemented for all of Toronto Community Housing's 800 scattered houses, with the goal of expanding to another 5,000 row houses.
"The Energy Efficiency Program is part of Toronto Community Housing's commitment to green our operations and revitalize our living spaces," said CEO Derek Ballantyne. "Our overall goal is to provide quality affordable housing while delivering substantial cost savings and benefits to the environment."
Results of the Energy Efficiency Program continue to mirror the success of the original 2002 pilot program which focused on approximately 60 audited Toronto Community Housing properties and resulted in:
*an average 35% reduction in space heating requirements per property;
*a reduction of more than three tonnes of CO2 emissions per house per year; and
*improvements in quality of life: tenant complaints relating to issues of comfort, air quality and other minor deficiencies were effectively addressed.
"By delivering both audits and extensive energy efficiency retrofits, this program will serve as a model for affordable housing across the country," said Green$aver general manager Keir Brownstone. "We're also demonstrating
how governments and housing providers can partner to benefit the individual and protect the environment."
Green$aver provides a thorough Energuide for Houses audit, developed and licensed by Natural Resources Canada. The audit examines all facets of energy use, including heating and cooling systems, insulation levels, air leakage, windows and hot water use. Green$aver then facilitates retrofits to properties which stand to gain the most in energy savings. Since 2001, the Toronto Atmospheric Fund has sponsored energy upgrade incentives to Toronto Community Housing through the Green$aver Home Rewards Program.
Toronto Community Housing is the largest social housing provider in Canada and the second largest in North America. It serves some 164,000 low and moderate-income tenants in 58,500 households, including seniors, families, singles, refugees, recent immigrants to Canada and people with special needs.
The Smog Summit began in 2000 as a meeting of federal, provincial and Toronto officials to explore best practices for reducing smog, air pollution and greenhouse gases. It has now grown to a meeting of governments in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) committing to specific actions that reduce smog, seeking out mutually beneficial opportunities and sharing best practices.
More information on the green roofs study is available from Joe D'Abramo, manager of policy and research in the city's planning department, 416/397-0251. Details on the energy retrofits project are available from Martin Herzog, 416/392-5491. Information on the Green$aver program is available from Keir Brownstone, 416/203-3106, ext 225. Information on the Green Municipal Funds, including details of other approved projects and studies, is available on the FCM's Knowledge Network, www.kn.fcm.ca.