Toronto Funds Residential Building Efficiency Retrofit Projects

Through two loan programs, the city of Toronto is funding residential building efficiency retrofit projects, reducing GHGs and saving residents money.

Toronto is incentivizing residential building efficiency to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through low-interest loans to land holders -- with no upfront costs and fixed installments at low-interest rates, according to

The city’s residential buildings account for 44 percent of total GHG emissions. The Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) and High-Rise Retrofit Improvement Support Program (Hi-RIS) funds both energy efficiency and water conservation retrofit projects, targeting older housing stock.

HELP offers loans up to $75,000 CAD (at between 2-3.5 percent) for detached, semi-detached and row houses. Homeowners are offered energy incentives and energy consultants, but they can choose whatever contractors they want for their projects. This program has been allocated for annually.

According to a presentation by the city given December 5, 2017 (available for review, below), 500,000 people in Toronto live in older high-rise buildings.

Hi-RIS (also known as Tower Renewal) is a $10 million program that offers Toronto building owners of three stories and greater in good standing (property taxes, utility bills, etc. paid for the last five years) loan funding for building envelope, mechanical system, water fixture, renewable energy, lighting projects and more. Up 10 percent of a building’s assessed value is available for financing at interest rates between 2-3.75 percent with repayment terms up to 20 years. Half of the funding is still available through December 31, 2018.

The Hi-RIS program has affordable housing restrictions. Property owners must agree not to apply any rent increases above the guideline as identified in the city’s Residential Tenancies Act, according to the city’s website.

Seed Funding for Residential Building Efficiency Grows Long-Term Savings & Slashes GHGs

The future energy cost savings for housing retrofit projects are projected to be greater than the upfront costs of doing them. Since 2014, HELP and Hi-RIS contributed $5.4 million in loans and the programs generated between 25 and 28 percent in estimated energy savings costs.

HELP and Hi-RIS (the Programs) were designed to address key barriers that prevent residential property owners from investing in energy efficiency -- high, upfront capital cost and lack of information. Through a ‘one-window’ service delivery model, property owners gain access to financing, utility rebates and incentives and support services including energy assessment and project development support. This model has created a pathway for property owners to successfully complete energy efficiency retrofits,” according to a report last year by Toronto’s chief corporate officer.

After Hi-RIS is fully rolled out, GHG emissions could be reduced by 3.2k metric tons per year.

HELP and Hi-RIS were awarded the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Sustainable Communities Award in 2016.

Learn more about HELP in this short promotional video:

Review a presentation about HELP & Tower Renewal with case studies:

Day2 5 Torontos Home Energy Loan High Rise Retrofit Improvement Husain by Ed Praetorian on Scribd

Andrea Fox is Editor of and Senior Editor at Lexipol. She is based in Massachusetts.