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Toronto building leads the way with Canada’s first IREE certified strata owned condominium

Ottawa, ON – December 8, 2020 – A strata-owned condominium, YCC 380 at 301 Prudential Drive in Toronto, Ontario, has become the first private multi-unit residential building (MURB) in Canada to achieve Investor Ready Energy Efficiency (IREE) certification for an energy efficiency retrofit project.

Offered through Green Business Certification Inc. Canada (GBCI Canada), Canadian projects that complete the IREE certification follow the Investor Confidence Project (ICP) framework and confirm that best practices in project development were completed in a standardized way. This approach helps reduce risk, accelerate effective building retrofit activity, and supports expanded financing opportunities.

“There is remarkable potential for energy efficiency in Canada’s residential buildings to support the transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Thomas Mueller, President and CEO of GBCI Canada and Canada Green Building Council. “The ICP framework and IREE certification help differentiate the high-quality retrofit projects that are able to achieve energy efficiency improvements, increase housing affordability, and enhance occupant comfort. Achieving an IREE certification shows a project has followed best practices which makes financing building improvement projects easier.”

Completing energy efficiency projects on existing buildings is one of the most affordable ways to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, help owners save money on energy-related costs, and unlock billions of dollars in economic opportunity across the country. MURBs represent a key focus for cities like Toronto because significant reductions and savings in energy, emissions, and water use are attainable, which decreases costs for residents and contributes to achieving overall climate targets.

Canada’s first IREE certified strata-owned MURB

In collaboration with strata owners and property managers, and in alignment with IREE certification requirements, EDESCO Energy Solutions and its Lead Project Engineer, Finn Projects, assessed the Prudential Drive building’s potential energy, water and GHG emissions savings, and developed an implementation and monitoring plan.

The assessment and approved project plans resulted in upgrades to heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems, as well as upgrades of building automation systems, and the installation of more efficient water and lighting fixtures. These planned measures are expected to achieve an 18 per cent savings in annual utility costs or approximately $70,000 per year, and will reduce the building’s annual emissions by 10 per cent or 90 tones of CO2e per year. Based on these anticipated savings and through a guaranteed performance contract, the loan to complete these upgrades will be re-paid by the strata within 12 years using the project cost savings.

Through EDESCO’s turnkey design-build solutions for reducing energy and water costs and its energy performance contracts, the company provides up to 100 per cent of the retrofit capital costs as well as a performance guarantee that is fully insured.

Accessing investment for clean energy projects

The Prudential Drive project was financed by Vancity Community Investment Bank (VCIB), a subsidiary of Vancity Credit Union and Canada’s first values-driven bank. The bank’s clean energy division focuses on financing distributed clean energy and conservation projects, including deep building retrofits, a segment of the market that is underserved by mainstream commercial finance.

As part of their financing approval processes, VCIB is piloting the completion of IREE certification as an alternative to completing an independent engineering review and sees promise in its market-scaling potential.

“Investors and lenders continue to miss out on the energy efficiency retrofit market largely due to the small size of projects or uncertainty around returns, and that’s a problem because getting to net zero will require the financing of small retrofits on a very large number of buildings,” said Jonathan Frank, VCIB’s Director of Clean Energy Business Development. “IREE certification, if adopted on a wide scale, has the potential to bring more lenders into the retrofit market, both because of the confidence the certification provides that energy and cost savings will actually materialize and a streamlined due diligence process that supports financings of this size.”

Through reduced investment risk and increased standardization, the ICP framework strives to support the development of an effective and robust retrofit economy in Canada that will help to create much needed jobs and economic activity, lower energy use, increase affordability, and help jurisdictions attain climate mitigation goals.

This promising venture should inspire similar initiatives across Canada. A case study of this project and others are available on GBCICanada.ca.

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About GBCI Canada
Jointly owned by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) and Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), GBCI Canada (www.gbcicanada.ca) accelerates green building market transformation and impact in Canada. GBCI Canada provides customer service and certification services in Canada with its suite of offerings, which include the LEED green building rating systems, as well as the Investor Confidence Project (ICP) for energy efficiency retrofits, TRUE, a zero waste system, the PEER standard for power systems, the WELL Building Standard, and the Sustainable SITES Initiative (SITES) for land use.

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