News Release
April 27, 2022

Today, the City of Toronto announced the launch of the Deep Retrofit Challenge aimed at accelerating the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing buildings in Toronto.

Through the Challenge, the City will provide funding to support deeper-than-planned energy retrofits in 10 to 16 privately-owned buildings in Toronto, 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.

Projects will be selected through a competition-style process. A design charrette organized by the City will bring together a variety of building specialists to identify energy and environmental improvements that may be achieved, and opportunities to advance the design to maximize emissions reductions. Net zero buildings typically eliminate the use of fossil fuels.

Selected projects 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 maximum emissions reductions.

Participants may also apply to the City’s Energy Retrofit Loan program and High-Rise Retrofit Improvement Support program to assist in funding their projects, as well as incentives available from other sources.

Eligible buildings include:

  • Multi-unit residential (more than six units or three storeys)
  • Residential condominiums (more than six units or three storeys)
  • Commercial office buildings
  • Mixed-use buildings
  • Residential over commercial (more than six units)

Eligible projects must:

  • Involve a deep retrofit of an existing, occupied building located in Toronto
  • Be aligned with the objectives of the City’s Net Zero Existing Buildings Strategy
  • Reduce GHG emissions by at least 50 per cent
  • Reduce energy costs by at least 50 per cent
  • Use an approach that is replicable to similar building types across the City and across similar climates in Canada
  • Provide a whole-building energy model for pre- and post-retrofit case studies
  • Meet a 20 year payback period or better
  • Be complete 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, and may include measures such as:

  • 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 and water heating
  • Renewable electricity generation
  • Building controls.

The Challenge will spur early, voluntary compliance with the City’s Net Zero Existing Buildings Strategy, advance the goals and targets of the TransformTO Net Zero Climate Action Strategy, and support the City’s net zero by 2040 emissions reduction target.

Buildings are the largest source of GHG emissions in Toronto today, generating approximately 57 per cent of total community-wide emissions, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels (natural gas) for heating and hot water. To achieve the emissions reduction trajectory needed to reach net zero emissions by 2040, community-wide GHG emissions from all sources must be cut in half in the next eight years. The City controls only about five per cent of community-wide GHG emissions directly, through its own buildings and operations.

The retrofits funded through the Challenge are expected to result in approximately 1,750 tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) per year in emissions reductions starting in 2025 when the retrofits are complete, and will demonstrate deep retrofit pathways that building owners across Toronto can undertake to reduce emissions from their buildings. Information from the projects, including designs, budgets and performance data will be open-sourced to drive case studies, technical reports and academic research that will help promote community knowledge of deep retrofits and facilitate the uptake of deep retrofits needed to reach the City’s net zero by 2040 target.

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

More information about the Deep Retrofit Challenge and next steps for interested building owners is available on the City’s Better Buildings Partnership webpage.

More information on the actions needed to bring buildings to net zero is available in the City’s Getting to Net Zero: Existing Buildings in Toronto webpage.


“Our city has a goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2040 – 10 years earlier than anticipated. In order to do that, we must accelerate and introduce programs and initiatives that aim to help reduce our carbon footprint and work to make Toronto cleaner and greener. We know buildings omit some of the highest emissions and we need to work together along with the other governments and the private sector to address this issue.  The retrofits funded through this Challenge will go a long way to proving that we can reduce building emissions using existing technologies. I encourage building owners across Toronto to take up the Challenge and help lead the way to cleaner, greener, more sustainable buildings. Thank you to the federal government for their support of this important initiative.”

– Mayor John Tory

“Our government supports energy-efficient practices as they play a key role in creating a clean energy future for our country. Today’s investments in energy efficiency in Toronto will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase comfort and save money, while contributing to the fight against climate change.”

– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources

“Today’s investments are an example of how our government stands as a partner with our city for housing and the fight against climate change. As a longtime advocate for sustainability in my hometown, I am glad to see our government supporting local innovation through the City’s Deep Retrofit Challenge, which will benefit residents of Toronto, and contribute to Canada’s Emissions Reductions Plan.”

– Julie Dabrusin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Member of Parliament for Toronto-Danforth

“The Deep Retrofit Challenge emphasizes the City’s role as a leader in promoting a reduction in GHG emissions across sectors. In partnering with Natural Resources Canada for this challenge, we can assist building owners in greening their buildings, while stimulating the economy and creating jobs.”

– Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough–Rouge Park), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee

Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

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