Toronto is renovating its older building stock via a community-focused program that engages property owners, building managers, and residents in improvements.

The Challenge

Toronto’s residential building sector generates approximately 44% of its greenhouse gas emissions, with older buildings as key emissions contributors. Through its Tower Renewal Program, the city is able to encourage property owners and managers to improve the environmental performance of older buildings and accrue social and economic benefits for surrounding communities.

The Solution

With the Tower Renewal Program, Toronto is engaging residents in the renovation of its older apartment building stock through a suite of complementary initiatives that drive energy efficiency, social cohesion, and economic development. A key initiative under the program is Sustainable Towers, Engaging People (STEP), which supports property owners and building managers in benchmarking and incrementally improving the energy, water, waste, safety, operations, and community-building performance of their buildings. So far, the city has benchmarked 230 buildings and created customized action plans for 120, while STEP participants have realized energy savings of 5% to 20%. To date, the Tower Renewal Program has reached a quarter of the 1,200 old buildings in its scope. Taking care to ensure that the program is well integrated with other city services, it is supported by Hi-RIS, Toronto’s innovative and low-cost financing tool for energy upgrades. The city expects significant results from the Tower Renewal Program as the pilot phase demonstrated that buildings’ greenhouse emissions could decrease by up to 74% after retrofits.

Environmental Benefits – Field tests and outreach at 10 Tower Renewal Program sites demonstrated ways to improve waste diversion, rates of which have already doubled since 2007 due in part to the program’s support.

Social Benefits – The STEP program guides owners to improve lighting and sightlines at the property, allowing residents to feel an increased sense of safety in and around their buildings and reclaim spaces formerly deemed unsafe.

Economic Benefits – As retrofits are completed on buildings each year, jobs will be created in planning, design, construction, and maintenance.

Health Benefits – The Tower Renewal Program has hosted more than 75 health and nutrition sessions with approximately 750 residents who have learned and shared healthy cooking and nutrition tips.

About Cities100

In its second year, Cities100 – presented by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), Sustainia and Realdania – showcases leading solutions to urban climate challenges in ten sectors, ranging from solid waste management to transportation. For the first time, this year’s publication features solutions that address the nexus of climate change and social equity.

Available online and in print, Cities100 provides stakeholders an accessible format to explore achievable solutions for climate action in cities, and will be a useful tool for relevant groups ranging from impact investors and development organizations, to mayors and city governments.  You can access the full Cities100 2016 publication online here and read more about how may­ors will de­liver the aims of the Paris Agree­ment in a fore­ward by Anne Hidalgo, C40 Chair and Mayor of Paris, here.

  • Economic
  • Environmental
  • Health
  • Social
Key Impact
1.4 million tons of potential greenhouse gas emissions reduced yearly after retrofits are completed at the 1,200 potential buildings
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