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2008 Buildings

City of Toronto, Ontario

Arenas Energy Retrofit Project

Population: 2,480,000

Reduced building operating costs, increased energy and water efficiencies, and the accompanying environmental benefits were the goals when the City of Toronto implemented the Arenas Energy Retrofit Project in December 2004. Nearly 90 arenas were outfitted with new building automation systems; lighting, ventilation, heating, and cooling systems; and other technologies chosen to deliver the desired results. In addition, a complementary Energy Awareness Program was implemented to promote the importance of energy efficiency to operations staff at the arenas. This hugely successful project is saving the city an estimated $1,255,000 annually in energy costs and reducing electricity consumption by more than 10 million kilowatt hours, natural gas consumption by more than 1 million cubic metres, and CO2 emissions by 4,660 tonnes.


With a population of 2.48 million people, Toronto is Canada's largest city and one of the world's most culturally diverse cities. The infrastructure used to deliver services to that population represents many millions of dollars in annual operating costs.

The City of Toronto has always been at the forefront of environmental initiatives. The Arenas Energy Retrofit Project — the first project financed through the municipality's newly established Energy Retrofit Program — was approved by Toronto city council in 2004 when it saw an opportunity to start with a project that would have a big impact, both environmentally and financially, in a relatively short period of time. Arenas were chosen for the first retrofits because these buildings are known for their high energy consumption.


To date, 89 arenas (some with more than one ice pad) have been retrofitted with these energy-efficiency measures:

  • BAS for the refrigeration plants of indoor and outdoor rinks alike
  • more efficient and brighter lighting systems (replacement of existing T12 with T8 technologies)
  • lighting and ventilation control systems
  • upgraded heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems
  • solar heating and heat recovery systems for pool water at selected sites
  • sealing and insulation of the building envelope

The energy retrofits have saved approximately $1,255,000 in annual energy costs and reduced electricity use by more than 10 million kilowatt-hours, natural gas use by more than 1 million cubic metres, and CO2 emissions by 4,660 tonnes.

Up to 200 local jobs were generated for the duration of the project, and approximately 200 employees received training.

Comfort, safety and productivity were also improved in the workplace and the community facilities.

Lessons Learned

  • GET COUNCIL SUPPORT. Project manager Elena Gruia says that city council approval is a key element in the success of all energy retrofit programs. "If anything, the support of the senior management, starting with the city council and the senior staff ... makes it happen, because without them, as much as I or the project team would push for results, you need to have a committed council and senior management."

  •  COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION. Maintaining open communication with both the staff operating the facilities and the patrons using the facilities is critical, says Gruia. "Communication, communication, communication with all stakeholders."

  •  HIRE AN EXPERT ENERGY MANAGEMENT FIRM. Hire "an expert energy management firm with proven experience in similar types of projects," says Gruia. "That's what makes a successful project."

  •  HIRE AN ENERGY MANAGER. Creating a position dedicated to monitoring the results of the installations and to supporting building operators when the implementation is complete is extremely beneficial. Choose an energy manager with a relevant background — in this case, someone with experience in arena operations.

Partners and Collaboration

  • Enbridge Gas 
  • Energy Retrofit Program 
  • FCM's Green Municipal Fund
  • Natural Resources Canada 
  • Optimira Energy 
  • Toronto Atmospheric Fund 
  • Toronto Hydro 
Page Updated: 21/12/2015