Toronto is renovating its older building stock via a community-focused program that engages property owners, building managers, and residents in improvements.

With the Tower Renewal Program, Toronto is engaging residents in the renovation of its older apartment building stock through a suite of complementary initiatives that drive energy efficiency, social cohesion, and economic development. A key initiative under the program is Sustainable Towers, Engaging People (STEP), which supports property owners and building managers in benchmarking and incrementally improving the energy, water, waste, safety, operations, and community-building performance of their buildings. So far, the city has benchmarked 230 buildings and created customized action plans for 120, while STEP participants have realized energy savings of 5% to 20%.

1.4M tons of potential greenhouse gas emissions reduced yearly after retrofits are completed at the 1,200 potential buildings

Cities100 – 2016

To date, the Tower Renewal Program has reached a quarter of the 1,200 old buildings in its scope. Taking care to ensure that the Tower Renewal Program is well integrated with other city services, the program is supported by HI-RIS, Toronto’s innovative and low-cost financing tool for energy upgrades. The city expects significant results from the program as the pilot phase demonstrated that buildings’ greenhouse emissions could decrease by up to 74% after retrofits.

The challenge

Toronto’s residential building sector generates approximately 44% of its greenhouse gas emissions, with older buildings as key emissions contributors. Through its Tower Renewal Program, the city is able to encourage property owners and managers to improve the environmental performance of older buildings and accrue social and economic benefits for surrounding communities.


Economic As retrofits are completed on buildings each year, jobs will be created in planning, design, construction, and maintenance.

Environmental Field tests and outreach at 10 Tower Renewal Program sites demonstrated ways to improve waste diversion, rates of which have already doubled since 2007 due in part to the program’s support.

Social The STEP program guides owners to improve lighting and sightlines at the property, allowing residents to feel an increased sense of safety in and around their buildings and reclaim spaces formerly deemed unsafe.

Health The Tower Renewal Program has hosted more than 75 health and nutrition sessions with approximately 750 residents who have learned and shared healthy cooking and nutrition tips.

About Toronto

Toronto is the most populous city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario. With a population in 2016 of 2,731,571, it is the fourth most populous city in North America and is recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world. While the majority of Torontonians speak English as their primary language, there are over 160 different languages spoken in the city. Toronto is a prominent centre for music, theatre, motion picture production, and television production. Toronto is known for its many skyscrapers and high-rise buildings.

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