3 min read
30 March 2022

WoodGreen receives funding from the CMHC for a research project examining measurement and financing of energy retrofits in social housing

Toronto, Ont. – WoodGreen Community Services has received $100,000 in funding from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to undertake a two-year research project to gather new data and information on the performance of energy retrofits and ways to self-finance these types of projects.

The focus of the research is a 10-year, $3-million energy-savings retrofit project already underway at eight of WoodGreen’s social housing buildings in Toronto. The project is the first in Canada to achieve the internationally recognized Investor Ready Energy Efficiency (IREE) certification, awarded by the Green Business Certification Inc. Canada.

The WoodGreen research funded by the CHMC will document the retrofit project’s energy efficiency measures, their costs and benefits, and the overall performance improvements at the building portfolio level. It will also provide an opportunity to document the unique financing arrangement that will permit WoodGreen to leverage energy savings to achieve higher performance and financial viability.

“WoodGreen is excited to be partnering with the CMHC to do this important research project,” said Mwarigha, WoodGreen’s Vice President of Housing and Homelessness Services. “We have a model that shows it’s possible for non-profits to modernize their social housing buildings, make them more energy-efficient, and use the savings to pay back financial loans for building upgrades. It’s a triple win.”

The research project features WoodGreen’s innovative use of energy savings to improve close to 1,000 housing units for a vulnerable client population and to increase the sustainability of its aging housing stock. For the retrofits at its social housing buildings, WoodGreen commissioned Efficiency Capital, which brought in engineering firms Finn Projects and SensorSuite Inc., to help develop and commission this unique model. The project’s loan funding was provided by Efficiency Capital/The Atmospheric Fund, the City of Toronto’s Better Building Partnerships loans, and WoodGreen’s capital reserves.

The retrofits are providing much-needed improvements — such as replacing the boilers, chillers, and make-up air units — increasing the value of WoodGreen’s aging buildings and improving the air quality and comfort of tenants’ homes. Even more, they will reduce WoodGreen’s building portfolio carbon footprint by 250 tonnes per year. Finally, in addition to saving WoodGreen hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in utility costs, the unique real-time measurement and monetization of the savings will be used to pay back the financial loans associated with the building retrofits. This means that WoodGreen clients won’t face service level reductions to pay for the buildings’ energy savings and modernization costs.

“CMHC is pleased to partner with WoodGreen on research that will help preserve the stock of affordable housing in Canada and contribute to our climate goals,” said Nadine Leblanc, Vice President, Policy, CMHC. “The knowledge gained from this research will help provide Canadians with quality housing that they can afford and better meets their needs.”

The results from the research will be shared with other stakeholders across the affordable housing sector to help inform decisions on how to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and how to monetize energy savings as a way to finance building improvements and provide other quality of life benefits to tenants.

The final WoodGreen research report will be completed by December 2023.

WoodGreen Community Housing is one of the largest non-municipal providers of affordable housing in Toronto and provides the opportunity for youth, seniors, newcomers, people with disabilities, psychiatric survivors, and people with a long history of homelessness to thrive in safe, affordable housing. Since 2008, WoodGreen has contributed more than 200 units of new affordable housing to Toronto’s stock.

To learn more about WoodGreen’s housing programs and services, please visit woodgreen.org.

ABOUT WOODGREEN COMMUNITY SERVICES (woodgreen.org): WoodGreen is one of the largest social service agencies in Toronto, serving 37,000 people each year. We offer over 75 programs and services tackling the social determinants that affect the health and well-being of individuals in our community.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Jen Mayville, Marketing & Communications Manager; jmayville@woodgreen.org; (437) 226-8091 (cell)