Through the City’s Deep Retrofit Challenge, a competition-style program with up to a $5 million investment from the Federal Government, select buildings in Toronto will undergo a deeper-than-planned retrofit to significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The goal of the DRC is to accelerate deep energy retrofits in support of the City’s Net Zero Existing Buildings Strategy, which, together with the City’s TransformTO Net Zero Strategy, aims to reduce emissions from buildings and all other sectors in Toronto to net zero by 2040 to address the climate crisis. Buildings are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Toronto today, generated primarily by burning fossil fuels for heating and hot water.

Each of the participating buildings (the Participants) will receive a grant equal to $200 per square metre of gross floor area up to a maximum of $500,000, or 25 per cent of the total project cost, whichever is less. This grant will offset the incremental design and construction costs required to achieve maximum emissions reductions.

These projects will serve to demonstrate the types of deep retrofits needed to move buildings toward net zero emissions, with the goal of accelerating market adoption. Projects will be completed by early 2025, followed by a one-year post-retrofit performance evaluation. Details of the projects will be shared as they progress, and upon completion, the City will develop and publicly release comprehensive case studies, which include retrofit designs, utility savings, project costs, lessons learned and more.

Applications for the DRC were accepted from August 26 to October 31, 2022.

To receive updates about this program, such as updates on the Participants’ projects, future webinars, and other news, please contact us at drc@toronto.ca and ask to be added to the mailing list.

 

The participating buildings below have been selected by the City to enter into a Participant Agreement. These participants have commenced the ‘design finalization’ stage, which includes an integrated design workshop, energy modelling, the final selection of energy conservation measures and payback calculations. To remain eligible for funding, participants must deliver a final design to the City that verifies that their proposed projects will meet all DRC program requirements.

Participating buildings:

  • 350 Bay Street (Dream Office REIT)
  • 723 Bloor Street West (Dream Unlimited)
  • 88 College Street (The Governing Council of the University of Toronto)
  • 1-15 Field Sparroway and 2-10 Tree Sparroway (Toronto Community Housing)
  • 633 Northcliffe Boulevard (Northcliffe Inc.)
  • 177 St. George Street (Dream Unlimited)
  • 145 Woodward Avenue (145 Woodward Ave Inc.)
  • 61 Yorkville Avenue (Minto Apartment Limited Partnership)

Learn more about each building and the proposed emissions reductions below. The City will build more comprehensive case studies once the Participants finalize their designs and move forward with their retrofit work.

350 Bay Street (Dream Office REIT)

Building type: Commercial Office
Year built: 1928
Number of storeys: 13
Number of units: 12
Gross Floor Area (m2): 5,406
Estimated greenhouse gas emissions reduction: 53%
Estimated total energy use intensity reduction: 73%
Total DRC incentive: $500,000

723 Bloor Street West (Dream Unlimited)

Building type: Multi-unit residential
Year built: 1920
Number of storeys: 4
Number of units: 16
Gross Floor Area (m2): 1,604
Estimated greenhouse gas emissions reduction: 72%
Estimated total energy use intensity reduction: 53%
Total DRC incentive: $229,384.75

88 College Street (The Governing Council of the University of Toronto)

Building type: Commercial office
Year built: 1882
Number of storeys: 2
Number of units: N/A
Gross Floor Area (m2): 1,748
Estimated greenhouse gas emissions reduction: 95%
Estimated total energy use intensity reduction: 72%
Total DRC incentive: $285,326

1-15 Field Sparroway; 2-10 Tree Sparroway (Toronto Community Housing)

Building type: Multi-unit residential
Year built: 1973
Number of storeys: 3
Number of units: 175
Gross Floor Area (m2): 17,414
Estimated greenhouse gas emissions reduction: 82%
Estimated total energy use intensity reduction: 50%
Total DRC incentive: $500,000

633 Northcliffe Boulevard (Northcliffe Inc.)

Building type: Multi-unit residential
Year built: 1968
Number of storeys: 11
Number of units: 86
Gross Floor Area (m2): 6,973
Estimated greenhouse gas emissions reduction: 76.5%
Estimated total energy use intensity reduction: 52%
Total DRC incentive: $500,000

177 St. George Street (Dream Unlimited)

Building type: Multi-unit residential
Year built: 1963
Number of storeys 8
Number of units: 65
Gross Floor Area (m2): 3,902
Estimated greenhouse gas emissions reduction: 54%
Estimated total energy use intensity reduction: 74%
Total DRC incentive: $500,000

145 Woodward Avenue (145 Woodward Ave Inc.)

Building type: Multi-unit residential
Year built: 1955
Number of storeys: 3
Number of units: 11
Gross Floor Area (m2): 870
Estimated greenhouse gas emissions reduction: 80%
Estimated total energy use intensity reduction: 57%
Total DRC incentive: $151,750

61 Yorkville Avenue (Minto Apartment Limited Partnership)

Building type: Mixed-use (multi-unit residential and retail commercial)
Year built: 2003
Number of storeys: 18
Number of units: 181
Gross Floor Area (m2): 19,490
Estimated greenhouse gas emissions reduction: 82%
Estimated total energy use intensity reduction: 51%
Total DRC incentive: $383,750

 

A deep retrofit is an extensive, holistic overhaul of a building’s systems, utilizing best practices with the goal of significantly reducing 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 from switching building heating systems away from fossil fuels to electric heat pumps alone is significant; 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 large emissions reductions.

To achieve the City’s net zero greenhouse gas emissions 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 only plan to undertake a single retrofit measure are not the target of the Deep Retrofit Challenge).

Deep Retrofit Design Requirements

Deep Retrofit Projects must meet all of the following mandatory requirements:

  • Minimum greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 50%
  • Minimum energy use intensity reduction of 50%
  • Maximum payback of 20 years.

Additional Project Requirements

  • Use a comprehensive whole-building analysis approach to deep retrofits.
  • Complete the Deep Retrofit Project on or before January 31, 2025.
  • Be a retrofit of an existing building that has been occupied (not vacant) within the 12 months prior to the Application submission.
  • Must not have commenced the retrofit and/or construction phase of their Deep Retrofit Project prior to acceptance into the program.
  • Must be able to demonstrate ability to fund the project.

Building Eligibility

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).

Participant Obligations

  • Enter into the Deep Retrofit Challenge Participant Agreement
  • Provide a calibrated pre- and post- retrofit energy model using EnergyPlus, EQuest, or similar software.
  • Participate in a design charrette and other workshops or training organized by the City to identify various energy and environmental improvements that may be achieved with their deep retrofit including opportunities to advance the design.
  • Agree that the City can make the details of the Deep Retrofit Project publicly available, including utility energy use and costs, designs, and project costs, to help drive uptake of similar retrofits. Deep Retrofit Projects will be featured in case studies and recognized for early transformative action.
  • Calculate and report on projected embodied carbon for major construction materials during the design phase (embodied carbon will not be factored into the performance incentive calculation) and prepare a plan to minimize embodied carbon during the retrofit.
  • Not 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 Challenge.
  • Allow the City to make all decisions respecting the disposition of the emission reduction credits attributable to the Deep Retrofit Project.
  • Submit quarterly Progress Reports throughout the Project Term.
  • Grant the City of Toronto access to the Building to verify progress status, support creation of knowledge sharing products, or similar activities.
  • Provide a minimum of one year of pre-retrofit utility data for the Building (with preference given to additional provided data).
  • Provide a minimum of five years post-retrofit utility data for the Building.
  • Design and implement the retrofit using an approach that is replicable to similar building types across the city of Toronto and across similar climates within Canada.
  • Participate in City media event(s) and/or advertising campaigns promoting the Deep Retrofit Challenge and the Participant’s Deep Retrofit Project, including the building, technologies, etc.
  • Participate in the initial cohort of volunteers for the Net Zero Existing Buildings Strategy Actions 1 to 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)

The City does not intend to run another competition for this program.

Applications for the Deep Retrofit Challenge were accepted from August 26 to October 31, 2022 at 5 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time).

The following application materials were made available during that period: