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Social housing cooperative gets a lot greener

Green tech additions to Royal City Housing Co-operative will save residents money and reduce emissions

A $45,400 green energy investment in Wellington County’s Royal City Housing Co-operative in Guelph will save residents lots of money, and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of a social housing community built back when baseboard electric heaters were the thing.

Guelph MPP Liz Sandals was joined by county warden Dennis Lever Friday morning at the co-operative housing townhouses on North Street.

Sandals told a small gathering in the courtyard garden that Ontario’s Cap and Trade auctions have gone well, and about $100 million from it is going into retrofitting, repairing and upgrading public housing high- and low-rises to reduce their emissions.

Lever said two facilities in Wellington Country, the Guelph co-operative and another in Arthur, has received this kind of funding from the province's Green Investment Fund. The county received a total of $115,220.

The North Street series of townhouses, built a few decades ago, have been outfitted with so-called ductless air source pumps, an energy efficient supplement to the baseboard heating system. Lever said the pumps are estimated to reduce energy consumption by 26 per cent, and save residents roughly $800 annually in heating costs.

Sandals said the province’s Climate Change Action Plan took aim at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A lot was achieved by shutting down coal-fired power stations, she said, leaving buildings and transportation as the remaining big emitters.

The province, Sandals said, studied ways to lessen the emissions of buildings. Improvements to social housing residences was one option decided upon. Many of the buildings were built back in the 60s and 70s, when no one was very worried about greenhouse gases, she added. The structures are not very energy efficient.

A decision was made in the spring, 2016 budget to use funds from the Cape and Trade program to pay for the social housing upgrades.

Those upgrades include the installation of energy-efficient boilers, insulation and windows in high-rise apartment buildings, to be completed by early next year. In single-family dwellings, eligible retrofits were completed earlier this year, and included the installation of energy efficient electric heaters, air source heat pumps, as well as insulation, windows and LED lighting.

Seven of the ductless air pump units were installed at Royal City Housing Co-operative.

“I’m sure the residents are going to be really happy about it,” Lever said, adding the project will have a positive impact on the quality of life of residents, and on the environment, while strengthening the Royal City Housing Co-operative’s sense of community.


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Rob O'Flanagan

About the Author: Rob O'Flanagan

Rob O’Flanagan has been a newspaper reporter, photojournalist and columnist for over twenty years. He has won numerous Ontario Newspaper Awards and a National Newspaper Award.
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