City of Toronto invites applications for its Deep Retrofit Challenge

Toronto Deep Retrofit Challenge

The City of Toronto opened applications for its Deep Retrofit Challenge, which aims to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from buildings in Toronto, in support of the City’s TransformTO Net Zero climate action strategy (

Through the Challenge, the City will provide funding to support deeper-than-planned energy retrofits in 10 to 16 privately-owned buildings, with the goal of accelerating emissions reductions and identifying pathways to net zero that can be replicated in other buildings. The Challenge is funded through a $5 million investment provided through Natural Resources Canada’s Green Infrastructure – Energy Efficient Buildings Program.

Selected projects will receive a grant equal to 25 per cent of their total project costs up to a maximum of $500,000 (depending on gross floor area and building performance) to offset the incremental design and construction costs required to achieve maximum emissions reductions.

Buildings must be located within Toronto and be an Ontario Building Code Part 3 building (i.e. greater than 600 square metres or greater than three storeys). Eligible buildings include:
•       Multi-unit residential buildings (including condominiums, apartments, etc.)
•       Commercial office buildings
•       Mixed-use buildings (residential and commercial, including residential over commercial).

Eligible projects must:
•       Involve a deep retrofit that reduces both GHG emissions and energy usage by at least 50 per cent
•       Meet a 20-year payback period or better
•       Be completed and operational by January 1, 2025.

Projects must use a comprehensive whole-building approach, considering how components of the building work together as an integrated system. Eligible measures include:
•       Building enclosure improvements such as insulation, high-performance windows and air sealing
•       Energy recovery (ventilation, drain or equipment)
•       Electric heat pumps (ground or air-source) for space hating and hot water
•       Renewable electricity generation
•       Building controls.

Projects will be selected through a competition-style process. A design charrette organized by the City will bring together a variety of specialists to identify energy and environmental improvements that may be achieved by the selected projects, and opportunities to advance the design to maximize emissions reductions. Net zero buildings typically eliminate the use of fossil fuels.

Building owners may also apply to the City’s Energy Retrofit Loan program and High-Rise Retrofit Improvement Support program to assist in funding their projects, as well as incentives available from other sources.

The Challenge will spur early, voluntary compliance with the City’s Net Zero Existing Buildings Strategy and advance the goals and targets of the TransformTO Net Zero Climate Action Strategy (, including the City’s net zero by 2040 emissions reduction target. The projects will serve to demonstrate the deep energy retrofits needed to move buildings towards net zero emissions, with the goal of accelerating market adoption.

Buildings are the largest source of GHG emissions in Toronto today, generating approximately 57 per cent of total community-wide emissions, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels (natural gas) for heating and hot water. To achieve the emissions reduction trajectory needed to reach net zero by 2040, community-wide GHG emissions from all sources must be cut in half in the next eight years. The City controls only about five per cent of community-wide GHG emissions directly through its own buildings and operations.

Information from the projects, including designs, budgets and performance data will be open-sourced to drive case studies, technical reports and academic research that will help promote community knowledge of deep retrofits and facilitate the uptake of deep retrofits needed to reach the City’s net zero by 2040 target.

City programs already in place to support building owners include the Green Will Initiative and the Better Buildings Partnership, which offers low-interest financing, expertise and support to navigate the retrofit process. Programs to support single-family homeowners include the Home Energy Loan Program and BetterHomesTO.

Applications for the Challenge will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Monday, October 31.

More information about the Challenge, upcoming webinars for interested building owners, and how to apply is available on the City’s Better Buildings Partnership webpage:

More information on actions needed to bring building emissions to net zero is available on the City’s Getting to Net Zero webpage:

SOURCE City of Toronto

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