A strata-owned condominium, YCC 380 at 301 Prudential Drive in Toronto, 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, according to the CaGBC.
“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.”
The CaGBC states that 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.
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. The CaGBC reports that 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.
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.
“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.”