Buildings are currently the largest source of GHG emissions in the City of Toronto, generating approximately 58 per cent of community-wide emissions, primarily from the burning of natural gas for heating and hot water.

With this in mind, the City recently announced the eight buildings participating in the Deep Retrofit Challenge (DRC), a competition-style program with up to $5 million in investment from Natural Resources Canada provided through its Green Infrastructure – Energy Efficient Buildings Program.

Through the DRC, grants of up to $500,000 will be awarded to each of the buildings, seven of which are privately-owned, to support deeper-than-planned energy retrofits. The grants will offset the incremental design and construction costs required to achieve maximum greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions.

“Reducing emissions from buildings across Toronto is a critical piece of the City’s TransformTO Net Zero Strategy and something we must do quickly to address the climate crisis. Through the Deep Retrofit Challenge, we are accelerating emissions reductions and creating pathways for other buildings to follow. Reducing emissions to net zero will require significant community-wide action and investments by other levels of government,” says Toronto Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park) and chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee.

Participating buildings are the following:

•       350 Bay St. (Dream Office REIT)
•       723 Bloor St. W. (Dream Unlimited)
•       88 College St. (The Governing Council of the University of Toronto)
•       1-15 Field Sparroway and 2-10 Tree Sparroway (Toronto Community Housing)
•       633 Northcliffe Blvd. (Northcliffe Inc.)
•       177 St. George St. (Dream Unlimited)
•       145 Woodward Ave. (145 Woodward Ave. Inc.)
•       61 Yorkville Ave. (Minto Apartment Limited Partnership)

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Launched in 2022, the DRC aims to accelerate emissions reductions from buildings in Toronto and identify pathways to net zero that can be replicated in other buildings across the city. The retrofits will advance the goals of the TransformTO Net Zero Climate Action Strategy, including the City’s ambitious target to reduce community-wide emissions to net zero by 2040, and serve as a catalyst to accelerate deep energy retrofits in support of the City’s Net Zero Existing Buildings Strategy.

Toronto’s community-wide emissions must be cut in half in the next seven years – by 2030 – to reach the trajectory needed to reach net zero by 2040.  The City controls only about five per cent of community-wide emissions directly through its own buildings and operations, making a community-wide effort essential to reaching net zero emissions.

DRC participants are currently finalizing their designs. The process includes an integrated design workshop, energy modelling, the final selection of energy conservation measures and payback calculations. To remain eligible for funding, participants must deliver a final design to the City that verifies that their proposed projects will meet all DRC program requirements, including:

•       Minimum 50 per cent reduction in the building’s GHG emissions
•       Minimum 50 per cent reduction in total energy use intensity
•       Payback period of 20 years or less

Retrofits will be completed by early 2025. Once complete, the City will develop and publicly release comprehensive case studies on completion of the retrofits, including the retrofit designs, utility savings, project costs and lessons learned.

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Applications for the DRC were accepted from August 26 to October 31, 2022.The City received 14 applications and accepted 11 conditionally, with eight building owners now fully committed.

More information about participants and their projects is available on the City’s Deep Retrofit Challenge webpage:

Featured image credit: Unsplash/Mwangi Gathaca


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