Interested in participating? Please contact bbp@toronto.ca to express your interest and register for the introductory webinar.

 

The Deep Retrofit Challenge (the Challenge) is a competition style program that will support deep energy retrofit projects that deliver significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions in approximately 10 to 16 buildings. Eligible buildings include existing multi-unit residential and commercial buildings. Participating buildings will serve to demonstrate the deep energy retrofits needed to move buildings towards net zero emissions, with the goal of accelerating market adoption. Learn more below.

The Deep Retrofit Challenge (the Challenge) is a competition style program that will support deep energy retrofit projects that deliver significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions in approximately 10 to 16 buildings. Eligible buildings include existing multi-unit residential and commercial buildings. Participating buildings will serve to demonstrate the deep energy retrofits needed to move buildings towards net zero emissions, with the goal of accelerating market adoption.

The Challenge will serve as a catalyst to accelerate deep energy retrofits in support of the City’s Net Zero Existing Buildings Strategy, which aims to reduce emissions from existing buildings in Toronto to net zero by 2040.  Buildings are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Toronto today. The Challenge is funded by the federal government.

Participating buildings/owners will collaborate and compete to retrofit to the highest performance standards. Grants will be awarded to selected participants to help offset the cost of performing a deep retrofit of their buildings, with portions allocated for design, construction and confirmed emissions performance. The final funding award will be based on measured emissions reductions once the project is complete.

Retrofits should aim to reach an 80 per cent emissions reduction or greater over current building emissions, in alignment with the City’s target to reduce emissions to net zero by 2040. Retrofits must follow a comprehensive whole-building approach that considers the building as a single, integrated system and how components of the building work together.

Participants will be required to make details of their deep retrofits publicly available, including utility energy use and costs, designs, and project costs, to help drive uptake of similar retrofits. Projects will be featured in case studies and recognized for early transformative action.

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

Participants may also apply to the City’s Energy Retrofit Loan (ERL) and High-Rise Retrofit Improvement Support (Hi-RIS) programs to assist in funding the projects, as well as to other incentive programs.

Participating buildings are expected to take part in the initial cohort of volunteers for the Net Zero Existing Buildings Strategy actions 1-3, which include:

  • Annual emissions (and energy) performance reporting, public disclosure and labelling
  • Greenhouse gas emissions performance targets
  • Performing energy and emissions audits and tune-ups (at regular intervals)

Deep Retrofit

A deep retrofit is an extensive, holistic overhaul of a building’s systems, utilizing best practices with the goal of significantly reducing of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. A deep retrofit is either a step or a leap towards net zero emissions. To achieve the City’s net zero greenhouse gas emissions climate target almost all buildings in Toronto will be required to undergo deep energy retrofits.

A deep retrofit can deliver significant savings on energy costs as building energy usage is reduced by 50 per cent or more. Core components of a deep retrofit typically include:

  • improvements to the building envelope
  • fuel switching away from fossil fuel natural gas heating systems to electric heat pumps
  • modification of other parts of the HVAC system, building operations, renewable energy, and more

For example, the holistic upgrade of building systems could include air sealing and extra insulation, high performance triple pane windows, electric heat pumps (ground or air source) for space and water heating, energy recovery (ventilation, drain, or equipment), renewable electricity generation, electric vehicle chargers, building controls and more.

The energy reduction switching building heating systems away from fossil fuels to electric heat pumps alone is enormous; as air-source heat pumps are typically at least three times more efficient than the most efficient gas-fired heating systems. Ontario’s electricity system is relatively low-emissions meaning any fuel conversion from fossil fuels to electricity will result in a large emissions reductions.

To achieve the City’s net zero greenhouse gas emission climate target almost all buildings, old and new, will need to switch away from fossil fuels to clean electricity. Most buildings will need envelope upgrades, although some of the newest, highest performance buildings may already have high-performance envelopes and will only require fuel switching (buildings that currently have high-performance envelopes are not the target of the Deep Retrofit Challenge).

Net Zero Building

A net zero building is a highly energy-efficient building that does not use fossil fuels under normal operation, and is constructed with materials with low embodied carbon. Carbon emissions are either eliminated entirely or are minimal with low-carbon electricity used to meet the building’s energy needs. Carbon-free and/or renewable electricity is either produced on-site or purchased, with any remaining carbon emissions associated with the building’s operations reduced to net zero through a carbon offset.

Net zero buildings typically:

  • have an air-tight, highly insulated roof and walls with high-performance windows
  • have reduced occupant energy loads as much as possible through measures such as efficient Energy Star-rated appliances and LED lighting
  • use electric heat pumps for heating and hot water
  • have heat recovery systems, where suitable
  • include electric vehicle charging infrastructure
  • have integrated renewable electricity generation, such as solar or wind, where possible

Please note final program rules will be available soon but key eligibility information can be found below. Information below is subject to change in final program rules

Eligible building types:

  • multi-unit residential buildings greater than six units or three storeys.
  • residential condominiums with greater than six units or three storeys.
  • commercial office buildings.
  • mixed use buildings.
  • residential over commercial (greater than six units).

Note: Single family homes and residential buildings six units or less/three storeys or less are not eligible to participate. For clarity, this is based on the buildings’ current state, not the proposed renovation.

Projects:

  • Projects must be deep emissions retrofits aligned with the City of Toronto’s Net Zero Existing Buildings Strategy.
  • Buildings must be located within the city of Toronto.
  • Projects must be sufficiently far along to provide preliminary design information during the application process.
  • Project must be a renovation of an existing building and the building must have been occupied within the 12 months prior to the application.
  • Priority will be given to buildings constructed prior to 2004.
  • Projects may include the expansion of an existing building, however the Challenge grant amount will only apply to retrofit costs incurred for the current existing building.
  • Property owners must agree not to apply for any rent increases above the guideline as identified in the Residential Tenancies Act in connection with any portion of improvements funded through the Program.
  • Projects must have an achievable project schedule and be able to meet an operational date allowing for IPMVP-compliant Measurement & Verification to be complete and evaluated before March 31, 2026. For most projects, this likely requires an operational date on or before January 1, 2025.
  • Projects must meet a 20 year payback period or better.
  • A minimum 50 per cent emissions reduction is required for projects to be eligible for consideration.
  • All projects must meet a minimum of 50 per cent energy savings to be eligible.
  • Projects must be holistic and not be based on implementing a single measure. A comprehensive whole-building approach should consider the building as a single, integrated system with components working together. For example, retrofits may including components such as building envelope, HVAC system, renewable energy system, building operations, etc.
  • Examples of measures include but are not limited to: adding insulation, high performance windows, energy recovery (ventilation, drain, or equipment), electric heat pumps (ground or air source) for space and water heating, renewable electricity generation, and building controls.
  • Calculation of savings will be based on operational energy and emissions. Embodied carbon will not be factored into the performance incentive calculation, however may be used as a criteria for project selection.
  • Projects are expected to provide an approach that is replicable to similar building types across the City and across similar climates within Canada.

 Terms and Conditions

Challenge participants will be required to:

  • participate in a design charrette organized by the City, which will bring together a variety of building specialists to identify various energy and environmental improvements that may be achieved with this project and opportunities to advance the design.
  • create a whole-building energy model for pre- and post-retrofit cases using EnergyPlus, EQuest, or similar software. Any design models will be calibrated based on the utility data analysis.
  • provide lists of quantities of major construction materials as used in the pre- and post-retrofit case energy models.
  • calculate projected embodied carbon for major construction materials during the design phase.
  • make details of the deep retrofit publicly available, including utility energy use and costs, designs, and project costs, to help drive uptake of similar retrofits by other building owners.

In addition, participating buildings are expected to take part in the initial cohort of volunteers for the Net Zero Existing Buildings Strategy actions 1-3, which include:

  1. Annual emissions (and energy) performance reporting, public disclosure and labelling
  2. Greenhouse gas emissions performance targets
  3. Performing energy and emissions audits and tune-ups (at regular intervals)

Interested in participating? Please contact bbp@toronto.ca to express your interest and register for the introductory webinar.