We know from experience that it often takes a multi-pronged approach one that mixes and matches policy, finance, technology, and behaviour to make good ideas come to life and achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions. That's why TAF employs three interconnected programs:
Incubating Climate Solutions
TAF excels in identifying new or better approaches and technologies, such as solar water heating or advanced lighting, and working with partners to test them in a real-world setting to assess performance, barriers, and readiness for market. Pilot programs can teach us a lot about what works and what needs further refinement. Because these pilots often have an early stage element, whether it is a new financing approach or a relatively untested technology, we expect to encounter a few bumps along the road. The journey is worth it, however, when we arrive at informed conclusions that help position new concepts for further development and that allow others to avoid costly detours and delays in developing larger scale programs.
TAF Incubation Projects:
- TowerWise: Improving the energy efficiency of high-rise buildings
- FleetWise: Helping fleets plug into electric vehicles
- LightSavers: Best practices for the implementation of advanced outdoor lighting
- SolarCity: Best practices for large urban solar installations
Mobilizing Financial Capital
TAF's investment activity is driven by a double bottom line: We seek to invest in solutions that can deliver emission reductions while generating a healthy revenue stream. But there is another element to our impact investing program: TAF looks for ways to develop new financial tools that help to overcome financial barriers to greater energy efficiency and then we work to interest more conventional lenders in these approaches. Our Green Condo Loan, for example, bridged the divide between builders who wanted to keep unit construction costs competitive and condominium corporations (condo owners) who would have to pay higher than necessary energy bills.
TAF also uses its experience in financial innovation to assist and set an example for others in the foundation and institutional sphere who are growing increasingly interested in mission-based and low-carbon investing.
Past and present finance examples:
- Green Condo Loan: Making energy efficient condominiums the new normal
- Solar water heating utility: Making solar hot water as easy as turning on the tap
- Energy Savings Purchase Agreements: Making upgrading buildings financially simple
Mobilizing Social Capital
Social innovation refers to new ideas that help to address existing social, cultural, economic and environmental challenges for the benefit of both people and the planet. A true social innovation is systems-changing it permanently alters perceptions, behaviour and structures. Increasingly, social innovation is happening through multi-sectoral collaborations where different perspectives collide to spark new ways of thinking. Over the next four years, TAF will be working with Toronto's Centre for Social Innovation, the Toronto Community Foundation and others to engage new audiences and stimulate new "game-changing" ideas that address climate change at the local level. We'll be bringing diverse groups like academics, business representatives, policy-makers, investors and inventors together with community leaders and City staff using some new approaches and tools to shake out new ways to reduce emissions and improve life for Torontonians.
Past and present social mobilization examples:
- 20 years of granting in support of innovative community solutions
- Dan Leckie Forum: Bringing great minds together around key climate issues
- ClimateSpark Social Venture Challenge: using online collaboration to help launch new climate solutions
Subscribe to our e-newsletter, The Atmospheric, to keep in touch with TAF's work in all of these areas.
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