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Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency - Current Issue

Volume 6, Issue 3

COVID-19 ENERGY STAR program impacts

Find out about changes to ENERGY STAR Certification requirements and site visit rules.

Summer newsletter

We are pleased to share with you the summer edition of our Buildings Energy Efficiency newsletter. The last few months have been somewhat difficult with all of the precautions that have been put in place due to COVID-19. It is important now more than ever for us to maintain a certain level of normalcy in the work we do. Like us, we hope that you are looking forward to the new season and the new beginnings that it brings. Enjoy this latest edition!

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We want to hear from you! Send us your story or any suggested topics you’d like to see covered in one of this year’s newsletters.

Stay strong

During these trying times, we want to express our thanks for your continued support and commitment to energy efficiency.

To help us continue to grow as a community, we would be grateful if you are able to share our newsletters with your networks.

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We are committed to providing our subscribers with the latest news and updates on energy efficiency and want to continue to improve. We invite you to send your feedback to

Green Municipal Fund bridges the financing gap for residential energy programs

Deadline to Apply: June 30, 2020

A $300 million initiative will help local governments deliver energy efficient financing programs for low-rise residential properties.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Community Energy Financing program is open to all Canadian municipal governments and their partners to fund municipal programs that finance energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy in existing low-rise residential housing. The program is delivered through FCM’s Green Municipal Fund and funded by the Government of Canada.

The fund is meant specifically for property assessed clean energy (PACE) programs and third-party lending programs that have municipal support, such as utility on-bill financing and non-secured loan products, and will support energy efficiency, health and safety improvements, and renewable energy installations.

Successful recipients will exchange with peers on best practices and lessons learned, and will receive financial support to participate in targeted capacity building activities designed to build skills and improve program success.

Find out if your community is eligible for community efficiency financing programs.

BOMA Canada launches third annual Net Zero Challenge

Deadline to Apply: August 21, 2020 (extended from July 15, 2020)

Buildings are a significant source of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, which is why Natural Resources Canada continues to invest in innovative projects and programs that are helping to achieve the country’s climate change goals.

In May, the Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada (BOMA Canada) announced the third annual Net Zero Challenge. Despite the evolving challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, partners remained determined to move forward with this year’s national awards in an effort to showcase both the industry’s resilience and its ability to work together to promote sustainability even during times of uncertainty.

The 2020 Net Zero Challenge, which will allow participants to submit applications online and receive remote adjudication, recognizes the leadership of owners, developers, designers, and/or managers of buildings which demonstrate significant progress along the path towards net zero energy and/or carbon.

“Energy Efficiency is key to building our clean energy future. As we work to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and protect Canadians, our government remains committed to achieving net zero by 2050,” says the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources.

Through this tough economic time, the federal government continues to work with its partners to stimulate the economy, create good jobs and support the natural resource sectors. This includes making buildings more energy-efficient and sustainable. 

The deadline for applications to the challenge is July 15, 2020. Participants may submit an application for all three awards categories: Best in Class, Most Improved and Innovation. Winners will be announced at this year’s National Awards Winners Gala during BOMEX 2020. 

For more information, visit

Deep energy retrofits for MURBs

Multi-unit residential buildings, or MURBs, are home to millions of Canadians, owners and renters alike. In many Canadian cities, residential buildings represent a significant portion of local emissions; in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA), for example, all buildings, which includes MURBs, account for almost half (44%) of local emissions.

The Atmospheric Fund tackled a tough business case to bring deep energy retrofits to two low-income multi-unit residential buildings in Toronto and Hamilton. All stakeholders had input into an integrated retrofit design model, and the work was an opportunity to demonstrate new technologies and techniques, and carry out several micro-pilots.

TAF was created in 1991 by the City of Toronto with an endowment of $23 million. The Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada have also provided endowments of $17 million and $40 million respectively.

Many of the approximately 2,000 residential high-rise towers built between 1950 and 1980 in the GTHA are old and inefficient, but are still expected to be in use in 2050. If they aren’t upgraded they will continue to waste money and energy.

MURBs, however, can be difficult to upgrade. Building owners want verifiable proof that the measures will pay off before they take action. Residents may not want the disruptions or, if utility bills are included in their rent, may see no benefit in participating. Industry trades may not fully understand all of the factors involved or the benefits to be had.

“It’s hard to justify deep energy retrofits on the basis of a simple economic payback,” said Devon Calder, TowerWise Coordinator with Toronto-based The Atmospheric Fund (TAF).  For this project, TAF defined a deep energy retrofit as one that produced savings of 40 per cent or more compared to the building’s baseline consumption.

Deep energy retrofits of MURBs can achieve multiple economic, social, and environmental goals. They can reduce overall costs by renewing near-end-of-life systems and extending building lifespan, lower carbon emissions and operational costs, and provide lower energy bills and better health and comfort for residents.

Working with utilities, two community housing organizations in the GTHA, and residents, TAF led a project to retrofit two low-income apartments. Although challenges delayed full-scale implementation of both retrofits, they were able to conduct several micro-pilots that helped reduce technology uncertainty and pointed to solutions to help overcome common barriers.

Project Highlights:

  • Electric air source heat pump (ASHP) pilot retrofits at both MURB sites, and a dozen micro-pilots to test wireless control systems in certain units.
  • Deep energy retrofits of 120 units at the Toronto site. Measures included replacing baseboard heaters and air conditioning units with ASHPs, some window retrofits, selective domestic hot water heat pumps, and high efficiency toilets. Full window replacements are planned within the next two years.
  • An acrylic storm window pilot project at the Hamilton site tested air leakage and thermal resistance without having to do a full window replacement.
  • Other monitoring systems, including residential energy use data, provide ongoing, real-time indoor air quality and retrofit performance data to inform future projects.

TAF’s deep energy retrofits of multi-use residential buildings is one of eight multi-sectoral projects, funded in part by Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency, to drive demand for energy efficiency and energy conservation in Canadian housing.

1. MURBs are defined as low (at least 2 floors above ground), medium (4-9 floors) or high rise (10+ floors).

2. The Atmospheric Fund, 2015 Carbon Emissions Inventory, published July 2018.

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