A dramatic reduction in energy and water use is expected at seven social housing buildings in the city, as well, its residents will see a significant reduction their utility costs.
The Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF) and Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) made that claim at the launch of the “ground breaking” TowerWise Retrofit at two of the buildings located in the Jane Street and Trethewey Drive area, Tuesday, Sept. 22.
“The fact is that buildings in the city are responsible for half of Toronto’s greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change,” said TAF CEO Julia Langer to an an audience who had gathered in the green space between 710 and 720 Trethewey Dr. “So, why is that? We heat them, we cool them, we light them, we ventilate them, we plug our appliances into them. We run elevators, etc. That’s why, reducing energy waste in buildings is a priority for meeting the City of Toronto’s ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets.”
TAF is financing the retrofits at the seven buildings at a cost of approximately $4 million. It is using what Langer called an “innovative” financial strategy, an energy savings performance agreement.
“Basically, we provide the capital on a non-debt basis and we are repaid with a share of the savings,” she said. “We share the savings with Toronto Community Housing Corporation.”
These energy efficiency retrofits include double glazed windows, low-flow faucets and toilets, high efficiency refrigerators, boilers, motors and lighting, that use off-the-shelf technology and can generate multiple benefits, Langer said.
“The electricity and the natural gas and the water saving equipment will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30 per cent. And, there will be measurable improvements in air quality and comfort for the residents,” she said. “According to a recent international energy agency study, every one dollar of savings from a whole building retrofit can generate up to three dollars in health and wellness benefits.”
The TowerWise Retrofit program involves “leading edge” before-and-after measurements of comfort and indoor air quality.
“We’ve got about six million data points right now from equipment installed in residents’ units and that will be used to guide and monitor the impact and the benefits of these retrofits,” Langer said.
The Trethewey buildings are just two examples of the many aging buildings that TCHC has across its portfolio that are in need of significant capital repairs, according to Sheila Penny, vice-president of facilities management at TCHC.
“We face a real challenge in Toronto Community Housing. Most of our buildings are in excess of 50 years old and are aging out at the same time, which creates a lot of pressure on us to move projects like this forward to address those repair needs,” Penny said. “Through partnerships like this one, we have an opportunity to start tackling that challenge. Working with TAF, we are able to accelerate high impact upgrades to these two buildings plus another five others across the city. This will improve these buildings, but more importantly, improve the quality of life for residents that live here.”
Davenport Councillor Ana Bailão, Toronto’s housing advocate, took a moment to thank TCHC residents for their co-operation and enthusiasm.
“This can only be a success if we have the co-operation of the residents. It’s been rewarding to see that they’re looking forward to change at TCHC and to see this change happen right in their homes,” Bailao said. “It’s about bringing better homes to the residents of TCHC and a better climate to the residents of Toronto.”
The City of Toronto and the provincial government have set ambitious climate change targets, Langer pointed out.
“In Toronto, emissions are down about 22 per cent since 1990 levels – even while Toronto has grown over that time,” she said. “To meet our 30 per cent reduction target by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050, much, much more needs to be done. The good news is that energy efficiency is cost effective, has many benefits and there are leaders like Toronto Housing Corporation helping to move that dial.”