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Energy Matters: January 2023

Energy Matters: January 2023

We hope that you had a wonderful holiday season. In this issue of Energy Matters, we’re kicking off the New Year by sharing a recently released guide on net zero energy for multifamily buildings, an upcoming webinar on funding and project support from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and a green roof plan being proposed to municipalities.

We look forward to continuing to work with you throughout 2023!

In this issue:

Guidelines for Zero Energy Design of Multifamily Buildings

Source: ASHRAE

When considering targeting net-zero energy for an existing building or new construction, it’s hard to know where to begin and what resources are available. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recently released a free guide on achieving zero energy in multifamily housing. The guide is informed in part by work done on affordable housing buildings in the U.S.

To download the guide, visit the ASHRAE website. You will be asked to register for the free download and can then select the Multifamily version.

You may also like to view a recent webinar that highlights the guide’s key findings and includes an affordable housing case study. The webinar is presented by the U.S. Department of Energy as part of a series on net zero buildings.

Tools & Funding Available for a Successful Energy Project

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Sustainable Affordable Housing (SAH) initiative offers both funding and tools to support social housing providers in undertaking energy saving retrofits and new construction. HSC is hosting a webinar about this initiative on January 25, 2023, from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm EST.

The webinar will cover:

  • How to make the case for energy efficiency in affordable housing
  • Key energy concepts to make an energy project accessible to everyone, regardless of organizational capacity and experience
  • Examples of energy efficient affordable housing projects in Ontario
  • Strategies to get started and lessons learned along the way

In addition to our January webinar, FCM also has two new resources that can help you in your energy project journey:

Source: Federation of Canadian Municipalities

New E-Course – Energy Efficiency for Building Operators

Are you a building operator, maintenance personnel or custodian tasked with looking for energy saving opportunities in your building? Sign up for the new Building Operators Training course to learn more about energy efficiency, new technologies, and facility retrofits that will save energy and money. This free online course will help you: 

  • Learn how to confidently implement energy efficiency projects in your affordable housing building
  • Identify opportunities to save on costs by reducing energy use while maintaining the health and comfort of residents
  • Discover best practices in water conservation and energy efficiency in the sector, and more

New Guide – Understanding energy efficiency: a guide for affordable housing providers

This guide provides step-by-step guidance on energy conservation measures to increase energy efficiency in affordable housing. Click here to check out the guide.

We look forward to seeing you at our HSC SHARE webinar later this month where you can hear about FCM’s programs and supports.

Have Your Say: Proposed Requirement for Green Roofs

The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) is proposing that Ontario municipalities adopt a by-law to require green roofs on new and existing buildings with a minimum gross floor area of 2,000 m². At HSC, we are keeping an eye on this recommendation, specifically how it might apply to social housing providers.

About CELA & the Recommendation

CELA is a specialty legal aid clinic focused on environmental justice and health. CELA is currently conducting a Climate Change and Vulnerable Communities Project, which focuses on widespread implementation of green roofs through municipal by-laws.

Source: Canadian Environmental Law Association

Green roofs are a key climate mitigation and adaptation measure to help communities fight climate change. For example:

  • One of the worst expected climate impacts in our communities is flooding. Green roofs are beneficial for stormwater management. Impermeable surfaces in urban areas such as concrete sidewalks, paved roads, and parking lots decrease water absorption into land. A green roof would take up rainwater and reduce runoff and flooding.
  • Many multifamily housing buildings are energy inefficient, causing climate impacts but also issues with the comfort of tenants. Green roofs can help in many cases to reduce energy usage as they are insulators in both summer and winter.
  • Green roofs help to address the urban heat island effect which makes extreme heat events worse, especially in low-income communities. They do this by helping to reduce ambient temperature through evapotranspiration.
  • Vegetation on green roofs can also improve local air quality by sequestering pollutants including carbon dioxide.

CELA is recommending that municipalities adopt a by-law requiring green roofs on new and existing buildings that meet the minimum floor area. If a building cannot reasonably hold the weight of a green roof, CELA proposes the operator be required to make a payment of cash-in-lieu to a City Eco-Roof Incentive Program. You can read CELA’s full recommendation here.

CELA’s recommendation also includes reference to the technical requirements of building a green roof, as outlined in the Toronto Green Roof Construction Standard, and recommendations regarding composition of substrate, species of vegetation on the green roof, and protection of green roofs.

Share Your Feedback to CELA

Last year, HSC shared initial feedback with CELA highlighting the potential financial and operational impacts that a green roof requirement would have on Ontario social housing providers and ways to improve uptake of a green roof requirement by multifamily housing providers.

HSC outlined some areas of concern with the implementation of green roofs, specifically regarding financial and operational impacts to social housing providers due to:

  • the costs of installation, equipment, and ongoing maintenance;
  • the need for trained staff or contractors to maintain the roofs; and
  • structural, regional, and knowledge barriers.

We also highlighted that social housing providers face special challenges in terms of how you are funded, how you can spend your capital dollars, and your overall capacity to meet requirements of this nature.

CELA is keen to hear your feedback on the green roof proposal, barriers you would face to comply, and any supports or programs that would assist with compliance. We encourage you to share your input directly with CELA on the potential impact and considerations of installing a green roof on your property. You can submit your input to CELA via this survey or directly by emailing

Log-in to Check Your Buildings’ Energy Performance

Reviewing your buildings’ utility use is a critical piece of your capital planning activities. HSC’s Utility Management Program (UMP) helps you see how your buildings are using energy and water from season to season and from one year to the next. You can use UMP to spot issues such as leaks or excessive consumption, and to identify poor performers in your portfolio.

Log in to UMP to view your latest dashboards and Gas, Electricity, and Water reports. If you have questions on your UMP results, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Other Topics? If you’d like to suggest a topic or want a one-on-one review with HSC staff, please contact us!

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