Green Renovation For Condos: Canadian Trends And Innovations

As the world becomes more “green,” Canadians are staying on top of the trends in housing to make their condos as energy-efficient as possible. This goes especially for condos, where builders are able to create systems that affect multiple owners simultaneously.

In places where condos already exist, there are ways to upgrade existing buildings to more effectively meet green building criteria. Indeed, the trends in condominium renovation have been impressive, and they will only continue to grow.

In this article, we will provide an overview of green building standards in the country and what the criteria are for reaching them. We will then look at what one area is doing as a trendsetter in large-scale green renovations.

Building Design Standards

Canada now has a formal department known as The Canadian Green Build Council. This Council follows an international certification process called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which provides different rating levels for energy consumption. Buildings can be rated platinum, gold, silver, or “certified,” depending on the amount of energy that they conserve vis-a-vis traditional buildings. Buildings are rated on a points system, with platinum buildings being those that receive over 80 points, and a minimum of 40 points required for basic certification.

The LEED certification looks at six different factors in its rating mechanism:

  • Location and access to transportation. Environmental factors have not only to do with building construction itself, but also how accessible transportation is to any given condo. Also, if the neighborhood in which a condo is located is considered particularly “walkable,” it will gain more points.
  • Sustainable site development. This covers the entire development process, from the treatment of land to the final stages of building.
  • Water savings. This category looks at the mechanisms that builders have incorporated to conserve water within a complex.
  • Energy efficiency. This category takes into consideration a range of factors, which will be explained in greater detail below.
  • Materials selection. Materials used in construction are rated on how many recyclable components are used, and what waste management planning is included.
  • Indoor environmental quality. This includes such factors as air quality, the use of LED and other energy-conserving lights, etc.

Renewable Energy Usage And Recycling

Another trend that is on the rise among condo builders is the use of renewable energy for power generation. This can include:

  • onsite windmills
  • solar panels
  • the use of geothermal heating
  • other alternative energy sources.

By global standards, Canada is doing comparatively well with regard to renewable energy replacement. The country ranks 13th in the world, with approximately 30% of its energy needs being met by renewables.

The inclusion of recycling facilities on condo grounds is also an important component in going green. Condo areas should have dedicated areas for recycling, and materials allotments should be made for different types of recyclable materials.

Toronto Is A Trendsetter In Green Building

Toronto has become a leader in green condo construction overall in recent years. For more than a decade, 90% of new construction in the city has been in condos, and the local government has been incentivizing green building in multiple ways. The Toronto Atmospheric Fund gave the city a generous endowment to encourage green building. And while this didn’t have an immediate impact (builders still prioritized the lower costs of traditional building strategies over the long-term savings of going green), the incentives were gradually multiplied to the point where they started having a much greater effect.

In 2005, the TAF launched what they called the Green Condo Loan Program, which provides financing for energy efficiency upgrades. The goal is to have green condos use 25% less energy than the average Canadian condo.

What Kind Of Upgrades Are Included In Green Renovation?

Upgrades to existing locations include the following components:

  • heat-recovery ventilation
  • improved insulation
  • heating and cooling systems with a greater degree of energy efficiency
  • and appliances that meet Energy Star requirements.

The Energy Star rating is a system that ranks products based upon the amount of energy they use in comparison to traditional products of a similar nature.

Making these renovations not only helps to provide energy security. Using upgraded materials can help to clean out old building parts that might be in disrepair and generally keep buildings in better condition.

Upgrades to existing systems have cost about $3000 per unit, but loans were designed in such a way that the gains from reduced energy bills would be greater than the initial costs. Therefore, future buyers were incentivized to make the investment.


This program has been so successful that green condo building has now become the norm in Toronto. Indeed, the city has taken on a pioneering role in the green movement that other cities should aspire to.

Canadians are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of green building. With cities like Toronto leading the way in upgrading its greening efforts for condos, others are sure to follow and make the country as a whole a more environmentally friendly place to live.