Toronto Atmospheric Fund
Our Impact Why We Exist
Our ultimate goal -- reducing Toronto's greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 -- informs all our actions. This target isn't simply another milestone. It's our vision for a climate-sart city that functions within its environmental means and is a leader among climate-friendly urban centres around the world. By supporting action to achieve this goal, we contribute to a healthy, more livable, prosperous city that embraces the green economy -- a city where people spend less time communting, less money on energy costs, get more active, and breathe cleaner air.
Our Story What We Do
History of Organization
In 1988, Toronto welcomed world leaders and scientists for the first-ever international conference to address the threat posed by climate change. Concerned about how growing greenhouse gas emissions would affect cities, Toronto City Council took far-sighted action and established the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, the world’s very first municipal climate solutions agency. TAF operates as a non-profit corporation, with a Board of Directors appointed by Toronto City Council including five City Council members and seven citizen members. Leveraging an endowment fund provided in 1991, TAF has run a community granting program for over 20 years; has initiated research, testing and development of key local emission reduction strategies like local solar energy, energy efficiency, electric vehicles, public and active transporation expansion, and advanced lighting, and is a leader in the field of impact investing. TAF has a strong focus on mobilizing private investment in energy efficiency retrofits, especially in Toronto's numerouse residential towers. TAF is also working to support multi-sectoral community collaborations focused on emission reduction solutions including investment in expanded public and active transportation.
Accolades and Accomplishments
TAF supported the world’s first industrial-scale urban wind turbine at Exhibition Place, supported concept development for Toronto's world-leading deep lake water cooling system, financed the start-up of AutoShare, was instrumental in supporting Ontario's coal phase-out policy, fostered the community power sector including ZooShare and SolarShare, launched Smart Commute, initiated the ClimateSpark Social Venture Challenge and helped establish, finance and monitor Toronto's first large scale photovoltaic and solar thermal installations. TAF is recognized as a social innovator and has received national and international recognition as a leading impact investor.
Our Programs How We Do It
TowerWise Energy Efficiency Demonstration (TWEED)
Currently, TAF is leading a major retrofit initiative in 10 large buildings, including seven multi-unit residential buildings owned by Toronto Community Housing. These buildings are representative of a very significant portion of the existing buildings in Toronto, so understanding how energy retrofits work in this sector will help advance effective retrofit acitivty and investment city-wide. TAF is financing and monitoring retrofits at all 10 sites as well as overseeing retrofit design. Monitoring will provide detailed technical and business case analysis to help support excellence in the sphere of multi-residential energy retrofitting. As a part of the project, TAF is also partnering with Toronto Community Housing and the University of Toronto to assess ways that energy retrofits can bring indoor comfort improvements for mulit-residential tenants. Please see towerwise.ca
Move the GTHA
TAF initiated funding for a collaboration of a dozen core groups seeking to increase public investment in an integrated public transportation system in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton region. The collaboration, called Move the GTHA, includes groups from the civic engagement, business, transportation, environmental, public health,and labour sectors, who jointly develop policy and communications strategies advocating for long-term dedicated funding for an efficient, accessible, affordable and fully integrated regional transportation system, with accountable and effective regional governance mechanisms for that transportation system. Please see movethegtha.com
TAF's investment activity is driven by a double bottom line: We seek to invest in solutions that can deliver emission reductions while generating a healthy revenue stream. But there is another element to our impact investing program: TAF looks for ways to develop new financial tools that help to overcome financial barriers to greater energy efficiency and then we work to interest more conventional lenders in these approaches. Our Green Condo Loan, for example, bridged the divide between builders who wanted to keep unit construction costs competitive and condominium corporations (condo owners) who would have to pay higher than necessary energy bills. TAF also uses its experience in financial innovation to assist and set an example for others in the foundation and institutional sphere who are growing increasingly interested in mission-based and low-carbon investing.
Funding and Program Partners
TAF is plugged into a diverse network of public and private organizations with mutual interest in advancing solutions to climate change. For instance, TAF worked with Tridel and Bay St. law firms to develop the Green Condo Loan Program and launch it TowerWise program (towerwise.ca); with the City of Toronto to explore an Energy Reporting bylaw; with a private partner to become founding investor in a new retrofit financing company, Efficiency Capital; and with a multi-sectoral collaboration to promote increased investment in an integrated regional public transit system (movethegtha.com) to promote energy efficiency retrofits.
TAF granting and financing has helped various innovative projects get off the ground in Toronto, and have demonstrated the potential for major reductions in local emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants. Our Green Condo Loan has led to the development of a leading-edge "Toronto Green Standard" driving up energy performance requirements for new buildings in Toronto; our grants and investments in the solar energy sector has demonstrated that Toronto’s solar industry has bankable projects; and our support of key community advocactes has helped influence important local and provincial policy change, including Ontario's coal phase-out and the creation of the Green Energy Act.
Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program
“The Toronto Region has yet to meet 2010 standards for Air Quality: On 19 days in 2007, ground-level ozone in the region exceeded threshold levels.”“An estimated 1,700 early deaths and 6,000 hospital visits every year are the resultof air pollution in Toronto.”
Tridel is committed to improving the environmental sustainability of its buildings, but it is also conscious of the need to ensure affordability. With high-rise living becoming one of most popular and affordable forms of habitation in Toronto, TAF worked with Tridel to find a way to make its buildings energy efficient while not increasing unit costs. The answer was the Green Condo Loan, a loan that allowed Tridel to incorporate a number of energy saving features into its construction plans. However, the loan is actually being paid back by the building residents, who enjoy the utility cost savings that result from the building upgrades. Everyone wins, including our environment.
What You Can Do
Mobilizing Financial Capital
The Board of Trade identified “access to capital” as key to advancing Toronto’s prosperity, including our green prosperity. TAF is positioned as an innovator, incubator and advocate for the financial solutions and opportunities in the climate and air quality space, which are urgently needed for Toronto to meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. Contributions to TAF’s Mobilizing Financial Capital program will advance creative, market-transforming approaches and investment models that will demonstrate and leverage effective, fiscally-viable, high-impact solutions to the climate change problem that Toronto faces.