Community housing building

To meet greenhouse-gas reduction targets and cut utility costs, the City of Toronto considered solar, wind, geothermal and waste-to-energy options for heating, cooling and lighting its 2,215 community housing buildings.

The study assessed a range of emission-reduction options and concluded that it was technically and financially feasible to use renewable energy to cut yearly emissions of 293,638 tonnes by 18 per cent by 2020.

An estimated $95-million reduction in utility bills and $174-million in green energy incentives would lower the projected $242-million cost of converting buildings to a manageable $68 million. The net cost would fall to $19.5 million if savings were re-invested and could be lower yet if community housing rooftops were leased to solar power companies.

Results

Environmental Economic Social
  • Reduces Toronto's annual GHG emissions by 18% by 2020
  • Leasing 150,000 square metres of community housing rooftops to solar power companies would offset conversion costs and add renewable capacity.
  • Offsets the $242 million cost of converting buildings with $174 million in green energy incentives and a $95 million reduction in utility bills
  • Requires training programs for building employees to ensure proper use and  maintenance of renewable energy equipment
  • Creates healthier, environmentally friendly, community housing
  • Raises tenant awareness of the benefits of energy conservation

Challenges

  • Finding affordable ways to finance renewable-energy conversions in community housing buildings.
  • Training the necessary pool of installers for renewable-energy conversions.
  • Training building managers and maintenance workers to operate green building systems.

Lessons learned

  • Inform renewable-energy companies of expected work so they can train installers.
  • Consider community housing tenants as a potential source of green-collar trainees.
  • Act strategically. Revenues from leasing rooftops to solar power companies can finance geothermal and solar hot water installations that reduce emissions substantially, even if the electricity generated from solar rooftops does little in itself to cut greenhouse gas.

Partners and Collaborators

Project Contact

Philip Jeung, Director,
Smart Buildings and Energy Management
Toronto Community Housing
Toronto, ON
T. 416-981-4374  

2019 Federation of Canadian Municipalities