Toronto apartment towers

Ontario invests in social housing retrofits

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Ontario is putting its new Climate Change Strategy into action by investing $92 million from the Green Investment Fund into social housing retrofits to take advantage of economic opportunities from clean technologies, improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Most of Ontario’s social housing towers were constructed in the 1960s and 1970s and can use up to 25 per cent more energy per square metre than a house. To help ensure that these buildings can better meet the challenges of climate change, the province is investing $82 million toward energy retrofits for high-rise social housing towers of 150 units or more. The retrofits will include installing energy-efficient boilers, insulating outer walls and mechanical systems, and installing more energy efficient windows and lighting. At an average cost of $3.5 – $5.5 million for each high-rise project, the funding could help retrofit between 16 and 23 buildings.

“This new program will support needed upgrades to older, energy inefficient buildings to reduce their energy costs and better serve their tenants, while simultaneously helping Ontario meet the climate challenges of today and tomorrow,” said Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Ontario will also invest a further $10 million to help improve electricity efficiency in approximately 1,300 single social housing homes, which are often found in smaller and rural communities.

“This investment will help to grow the economy, lower operating costs for social housing and tackle climate change — a triple win that will help Ontario prepare to transition to a low carbon economy,” added Deb Matthews, Deputy Premier of Ontario and Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Starting this month, eligible social housing service managers and the Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services Corporation may submit expressions of interest for funding to the province. The selected service managers will distribute funds starting this spring to the most appropriate projects in their communities.

Ontario’s new Green Investment Fund is a $325-million down payment on the province’s cap and trade program to strengthen the economy, create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This $92-million investment will help lower greenhouse gas emissions by about 3,600 tonnes over a 20-year period and create approximately 1,650 job years.

Fighting climate change while supporting growth, efficiency and productivity is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history, creating a dynamic, innovative environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.

Ontario social housing quick facts:

  • In Toronto, high-rise social housing buildings account for 23 per cent of all residential greenhouse gas emissions.
  • A 2012 Deutsche Bank study found that every $1 million invested in energy efficiency-related retrofits in multi-family affordable housing buildings generated between $1.3 million and $3.9 million in energy savings and increased Gross Domestic Product.
  • High density social housing that will be eligible for retrofits can be found in many communities, including Toronto, Windsor, London, Hamilton, Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Ottawa.
  • Funded projects will be required to carry out a detailed energy audit before and after the retrofits take place.
  • The province’s new $325 million Green Investment Fund was announced in the 2015 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review.
  • In May 2015, Ontario became the first province in Canada to set a mid-term greenhouse gas pollution reduction target of 37 per cent below the 1990 level by 2030.

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