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May 2015


A recipe for coal phase-out

OCAA Chair Jack Gibbons

Take one dogged professional economist, mix with a talented group of outreach coordinators, add five aging coal plants and a generous dollop of public concern over childhood asthma. Combine well and let sit for 10–15 years, or until done.

As we know, coal-fired electricity generation in Ontario was halted for good last year, in large part due to the tireless efforts of Jack Gibbons and the Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA). Now you can get “the story behind the story” with an excellent overview of how this massive GHG reduction – the largest in Canada – really happened. Ontario’s Coal Phase Out: Lessons learned from a massive climate achievement, written by Brad Cundiff with funding support from the Ivey Foundation and the Metcalf Foundation, provides a detailed chronology of this decade and a half of work and draws out transferable lessons about how to achieve a significant policy change. This report is an interesting read for anyone, but an essential read for those seeking to drive major policy change, emphasizing that this kind of toil is not for the faint of heart. University political science professors, take note – this one should be on your students’ fall reading list.


A temporary goodbye – and a hello

TAF's new Building Science Manager Ekaterina

For the last year, TAF has been fortunate to have Dr. Marianne Touchie as our Building Science Manager to help us advance our work on the TowerWise Energy Efficiency Demonstration project (TWEED). Marianne completed her doctorate in civil engineering with a focus on energy conservation in multi-residential buildings. Over the past year, she has applied her knowledge to specifying energy monitoring equipment and approaches for use at our 10 TWEED sites. She has also developed, in partnership with the University of Toronto, an indoor environmental quality research component for TWEED, which is being rolled out at seven TWEED sites, including in-suite monitoring in over 70 apartment units. Marianne is now on maternity leave, and is being replaced by Ekaterina Tzekova, a Ph.D. Candidate in Civil Engineering whose research has also focused on energy efficiency in buildings. Ekaterina is picking up where Marianne left off, managing the building science elements of our TWEED program and contributing her expertise to all of TAF’s efforts to improve energy efficiency in the built environment. You can reach Ekaterina at etzekova@taf.ca.


TAF-incubated company to invest $100M in energy efficiency

Logo for Efficiency Capital Corp.

TAF has launched Efficiency Capital Corp., a new, for-profit social enterprise dedicated to financing energy efficiency retrofits of large buildings. The company allows building owners to undertake energy retrofits without taking on debt, and then guarantees the energy savings through a specialized insurance product. TAF developed the approach, called the Energy Savings Performance Agreement (ESPA™), to overcome barriers faced by this market. TAF demonstrated the viability and value of the ESPA™ via retrofits of Harbourfront Centre, the YMCA of Greater Toronto and social housing buildings in Toronto, then exclusively licensed the innovative financing tool to Efficiency Capital so the ESPA™ could be offered more broadly. Efficiency Capital aims to invest at least $100 million over the next few years. Stay tuned to see how this new private player will leverage TAF’s investment to mobilize much more private capital to a key urban climate solution.

City Desk

C40 membership backed by City Council

Logo for C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group

City Council has adopted a motion to work in partnership with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group Inc. to help accelerate urban GHG reductions. The approval sets an agreement in motion that will see Toronto sharing information with other global cities engaged in deep carbon emission reduction activities, getting direct access to innovative ideas from around the globe and promoting Toronto’s innovations elsewhere.

Climate Cities

Seoul leverages density to drive the sharing economy

Street scene in Seoul, Korea

As a densely populated modern mega-city, Seoul faces its share of challenges with respect to a high level of local consumption that is generating waste – nearly 9000 tonnes daily – as well as GHG emissions associated with high levels of consumerism. To counteract this, the city is setting the stage for the sharing economy – from tools, to suits, to lending libraries situated inside apartment buildings – reducing consumption while also tackling issues of social isolation. In-dong Cho, director-general of the Seoul Innovation Department says that while it is not the city’s role to intervene in the market, it does need to set the stage through adjusting local laws or otherwise normalizing sharing practices. “The city needs to pave the way and strengthen the ecosystem for the sharing economy to thrive,” says Cho. “This is a creative, private-public partnership model of Seoul’s own.”

Image credits: Jack Gibbons, by Yvonne Bambrick; Ekaterina Tzekova, by Jimmy Lu.