North York Women’s Shelter to save thousands of dollars in annual operations costs

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In 2017, the North York Women’s Shelter was planning a new building and considering options. They wanted the best shelter possible – a fully-accessible building that would provide exemplary shelter space for 30 to 40 women and their children, but which would also be affordable to operate. Recognizing the challenge posed by rising energy costs, North York Women’s Shelter (NYWS) partnered with Enbridge Gas to en- sure that the building would be as energy efficient as possible.

Enbridge provided its Affordable Housing New Construction Program (AHNC), designed to help housing providers looking for ways to cost effectively increase the energy performance of buildings, at up-front costs they can manage.

Through participating in the AHNC program, NYWS was able to receive assistance from sustainable building experts and energy modellers in a design charrette focused specifically on their new shelter. The sustainable design experts provided advice on building features, equipment and materials that could improve the energy performance of the existing building design, and the energy modellers were able to show how various design choices would save energy and money. Enbridge paid for the charrette’s costs, and provided a financial incentive to help offset any cost to the shelter from bringing members of its own design team to attend the charrette.

“It was such a wonderful and educational day,” said Mohini Datta-Ray, executive director of the North York Women’s Shelter. “It brought forward critical information for us to consider in the design to actualize our vision for a healing, therapeutic and sustainable space.”

Cam Black, an energy solutions consultant with Enbridge, says that AHNC design charrettes are both comprehensive and project-specific.

The charrette for NYWS included sessions on building envelope and fenestration, mechanical systems, indoor environmental quality, and stormwater management and low- impact development.

“But charrettes can also have break-out sessions on topics like accessibility, green roofs or even renewable energy options,” says Black. “It all depends on what the housing provider identifies in its pre-charrette meeting as being most relevant.”

The NYWS learned from the ANHC design charette how to increase their new shelter’s designed energy efficiency to 19.3 per cent better than required by the Ontario Building Code. This will result in more than $9,500 in energy savings annually, which will help to keep the shelter’s operating costs manageable.

Once the shelter’s construction is complete, the project will also be eligible for financial incentives tied to the number of units built and the level of energy efficiency achieved. “Depending on the final building’s energy efficiency, program participants are eligible to receive up to $1,000 per unit, to a maximum of $120,000 per project,” says Black. Participants can also earn an additional incentive of up to $15,000 for completing building commissioning.

“These incentives help offset the costs of investing in better efficiency options up-front, and ensuring that the equipment installed in the newly constructed building is functioning as it should.”

North York Women’s Shelter is still working towards those post-construction incentives, with construction expected to be completed some time in the spring of 2019. But so far, participating in Enbridge’s Affordable Housing New Construction program has been worth it. In the words of NYWS executive director Mohini Datta-Ray, “I’m beyond impressed at the calibre of work and that this program is even available!”

For more information about the North York Women’s Shelter, and to follow the new shelter buidling construction progress, visit nyws.ca.

To learn more about Enbridge’s Af- fordable Housing New Construction program and how you can participate, visit EnergyEfficientConstruction.ca , or contact Cam Black at (416) 758-4748 or cam.black@enbridge.com.

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