Toronto - Sustainable Neighbourhood Retrofit Action Plan (SNAP)

Challenges

The SNAP is strategically designed to overcome barriers to implementation of climate mitigation and adaptation actions. The plan aims to address a range of future climate risks, including rising temperatures; urban heat island effect; high volumes of storm water runoff and flooding due to more frequent extreme rain events; water shortages from droughts and community resilience for emergency preparedness. In designing an urban retrofit plan, the city had to account for common retrofit challenges including competing demands for land, a disengaged public, perceived high costs, funding shortfalls and reservations about trying new practices and technology.

 

Actions

To date, 31 of a sample of 163 programme homes have installed energy retrofits, increasing gas efficiency by 20%, saving 1.1 tonnes of CO2 per home (35.5 tonnes annually). This resulted in a 0.35% reduction in CO2 in the neighbourhood annually and estimated potential savings of 2,000 tonnes CO2 over 1,750 homes.
The project has seen 179 trees planted, sequestering 0.5 tonnes of CO2 in 2015 and a projected 260 tonnes of CO2 over the next 40 years. A demonstration home saved tap water by capturing 398,310 L of rainwater (2013-2015), averaging a CO2 reduction of 0.03 tonnes annually. Extrapolated to the 358 rain barrels distributed as part of the project it is estimated that 0.3 tonnes of CO2 have been reduced annually (since 2012) as a result of just rainwater collection barrels.
68/163 (42%) project homes have implemented at least one targeted basement flooding protection measure. Food production and redistribution within neighbourhoods creates community cohesion which in turn lays the groundwork for emergency preparedness. The home retrofit programme distributed 293.5kgs of donated food to local programmes, while SNAP’s balcony gardens produced 243kgs of food. Combined, this equals 0.7 tonnes of CO2 reduced annually, with food production and distribution contained to within 3km.
Both citizens and the city have benefited financially from decreased energy and water consumption and improved health outcomes from tree planting, active-living and production of more nutritious local food. Furthermore, the SNAP has provided employment opportunities to 23 residents in a low income community. Intergenerational horticultural skills training has been provided to over 170 residents and 27 workshops and 3 community celebration events connected hundreds of residents, further contributing to community resiliency and reduced social isolation.

 

Projected Outcomes

SNAP activities will assist Toronto in achieving its wider energy targets by reducing electricity use in the neighborhood by 10% and reducing natural gas use by 17% by 2020 (versus 2007). The programme will also support the city’s urban forest targets by expanding the overall tree canopy cover from 26% to 34% of the area. By retaining 30% of stormwater runoff via diversion and rainwater harvesting, SNAP works towards city efforts for stormwater runoff reduction and improved water quality. The project aims to facilitate production of 20% of the community’s vegetable needs by creating vegetable gardens on 20% of the area’s potential arable ground. Further job creation will improve economic conditions and reduce the transport requirements of the neighbourhood.
The SNAP was piloted in 1,750 homes but a 125,000 homes across Toronto are expected to posses the same profile and be receptive to the retrofit programme. New sites for tower revitalisation have also been identified and the city has started work to expand the projects. SNAP’s flexibility means that it could also potentially be applied to neighbourhoods anywhere.