The City of Toronto has opened applications for its Deep Retrofit Challenge, which aims to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from buildings in Toronto, in support of the City’s TransformTO Net Zero climate action strategy. 

Through the Challenge, the City will provide funding to support deeper-than-planned energy retrofits in 10 to 16 privately-owned buildings, with the goal of accelerating emissions reductions and identifying pathways to net zero that can be replicated in other buildings. The Challenge is funded through a $5 million investment provided through Natural Resources Canada’s Green Infrastructure – Energy Efficient Buildings Program. 

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

Buildings must be located within Toronto and be an Ontario Building Code Part 3 building (i.e. 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) 

Eligible 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 
  • Be completed and operational by January 1, 2025 

Projects must use a comprehensive whole-building approach, considering how components of the building work together as 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-style process. A design charrette organized by the city will bring together a variety of specialists to identify energy and environmental improvements that may be achieved by the selected projects, and opportunities to advance the design to maximize emissions reductions. Net zero buildings typically eliminate the use of fossil fuels. 

City programs already in place to support building owners include the Green Will Initiative and the Better Buildings Partnership, which offers low-interest financing, expertise and support to navigate the retrofit process. Programs to support single-family homeowners include the Home Energy Loan Program and BetterHomesTO.