By JEFFREY RYANAPAPAPALOTCENIC, CBC Toronto TORONTO – There’s been a lot of talk lately about how Toronto is turning its back on its old-school, green-building image.
The wood and steel ceilings of the old brick buildings in the city are coming out of the wood.
But the wood-ceiling houses of old are returning, thanks in part to the province’s Green Buildings Program.
“We’re talking about 150,000 of these wood ceilings in the coming months, maybe more,” says Greg Pascarella, spokesperson for the Ontario Green Building Council, a provincial government agency that promotes green building.
“So it’s an opportunity to really bring some of the iconic buildings in Toronto back into the green-housing mix.”
The program, launched in the early 2000s, was supposed to bring more green-friendly buildings to Toronto.
But since the recession, it’s seen some success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting the construction of green spaces.
Toronto’s new green building program started in April 2017, and it’s now seeing more than 20,000 new green buildings built annually, according to the organization.
That’s an increase of more than 80 per cent from just a few years ago.
In recent years, the city has also been adding more green space to its buildings, particularly on the ground floor.
It started with a big upgrade to the main laneway for the new Millennium Centre, and plans are on the horizon for a green walkway on the street to connect to the CN Tower.
But in addition to building more green spaces, the program also offers the homes and businesses it serves an incentive to reuse.
“A lot of our new green space is just on the side of the street, so it’s not a huge footprint,” says Pascarias.
“And a lot, of the older buildings are in really hard to reach places.
So we offer them opportunities to do that,” he adds.
The program has a number of different incentives, such as building up to 1,000 square feet of green space for free, and offering free utilities, such an electricity meter and a water meter.
There are also incentive programs for residents to purchase green space or green roofing.
And some projects are more ambitious than others.
“There are a lot more green roofs on the waterfront, and there’s more green ground than the rest of the city,” says Kevin Woyarski, president of the Toronto Green Roof Association.
Woyarsik says the program aims to help homeowners, especially in the downtown core, purchase and install green roofs and roofs that are up to 40 per cent more efficient than the ones on the city average.
“It’s not only about saving money, it also means we’re getting a lot less CO2 into our atmosphere,” he says.
Wozeski says the project will take a lot longer than a year, but the province has already started sending out incentives to homeowners.
The Toronto Housing Corporation has already set aside $10 million for green roofs in the core.
“This is an investment that the city is making,” says Mike McQuarrie, spokesperson at the Toronto Housing Commission.
“The government is investing $5 million in the project.
The City of Toronto has invested $1.5 million.
We’re making sure that we’re going to be there for years to come,” says McQuarrrie.
And there’s another incentive: the $1,000 rebate.
McQuarries says the rebate will cover the cost of the installation of the green roofs, and the rebate applies to all new green roofs that come into the city by 2021.