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Posted by on Oct 2017 in All Stories, Features, Slider | 0 comments

Real member experiences with the Social Housing Apartment Retrofit Program (SHARP)

Crane lifting materials over an apartment building

Photo courtesy of NLH

As part of their Five-Year Climate Change Action Plan, Ontario has invested in energy efficiency retrofits within the social housing sector. In 2016, approximately $82 million was allocated to providers through the Social Housing Apartment Retrofit Program (SHARP) which was targeted to buildings with 150 or more units. ONPHA recently talked to two SHARP recipients about their experiences.

Who: Neighbourhood Link Homes (NLH) in Toronto

Funding received: After applying for SHARP funding for multiple projects at their Cecelia Murphy Building, a 174-unit supportive housing program, they received just over $300,000 for work on lighting, make-up air units, and boiler replacements.

ONPHA recently spoke with Executive Director, Liz Forestell, and Senior Manager of Housing, Jenny Lewis, about their experience.

What went well?
• They reported that the application process was straightforward and easy. The City of Toronto’s Social Housing Consultants were readily available to answer questions and help with budgeting, and housing providers also had access to an energy efficiency consultant as they completed applications.

Outside of an apartment building

Photo courtesy of NLH

What was challenging?
• Extremely tight application timelines did present a challenge, but NLH had positioned itself to act quickly by having up-to-date Building Condition Audits (BCAs), and detailed plans and budgets that allowed them to fit priorities and projects into their application.

What was the outcome?
Since receiving funding, NLH has completed more than 25% of the work and expects to be finished by the end of 2017. Throughout this process, they have been working closely with the Housing Services Corporation’s (HSC) Technical Services team, and speak highly of the services and support they have received.

Building with crane overhead

Photo courtesy of NLH

A unique aspect of NLH’s experience has been their ongoing interaction with other housing providers who received SHARP funding. Over the past several months, seven Toronto-based providers have met regularly to talk about their projects. Along with gaining expertise from engineers, contractors, and representatives from HSC or the City that often attend, these meetings have also given housing providers an opportunity to support and learn from one another as they navigate challenges and different stages of the process.

NLH described their overall experience with SHARP as extremely positive, and they expect their projects will result in significantly reduced energy consumption and savings.

Advice from NLH:
1. Be up-to-date with BCAs
2. Know your upcoming expenses so you can identify what to apply for and act quickly when programs are announced
3. Focus on communication and surround yourself with a team


Who: Ottawa Community Housing Corporation. As Ontario’s second largest housing provider, OCH owns and operates approximately 15,000 units and serves approximately 32,000 tenants including seniors, parents, children, couples, singles and persons with special needs.

Funding received: $12,224,483

ONPHA recently spoke with OCH’s Director of Project Implementation, Diana Carr, and Vice-President of Asset Management, Cliff Youdale about their experiences.

What went well?
• As the only provider that qualified for SHARP in their area, OCH was in a unique position. They knew their funding amount ahead of time, and were able to work closely with their Service Manager to determine which projects would have the best cost savings and feedback in terms of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
• OCH had the benefit of having an Energy and Sustainability Officer on their team to provide internal expertise.

lightbulb on grassUltimately, most of the funding received went towards projects OCH was already planning for. This included replacing or installing heating boilers, water boilers, and make-up air units, as well as roof assembly work throughout their portfolio. Where possible, OCH also layered other projects, such as the installation of LED lighting or heating management systems, on top of work being completed through SHARP funding.

Along with positive environmental impacts and operational savings, OCH stressed that the ultimate benefit will be for tenants. These retrofits will improve comfort, sustainability, and quality of living spaces. OCH made significant efforts to engage their tenants throughout the process, as it coincided with the roll-out of a new tenant engagement program. Updates about what work was happening and the impacts for residents were provided regularly through notices and community meetings.

As of today, 75% of the funding has been committed and OCH is on track to finish work by March 2018.

Advice from OCH:
1. Have up-to-date capital plans so applications can be completed quickly
2. Know your stock and it’s condition
3. Be organized, and have information ahead of time
4. Funding like this is an opportunity to marry operational savings with projects targeted at deferred maintenance, and the more you can leverage these two things within other projects the better

ONPHA thanks both NLH and OCH for sharing their stories, and we wish them the best as they complete their projects!

Looking Ahead
Ontario recently announced a new social housing energy efficiency program. We understand it will be called the Social Housing Apartment Improvement Program (SHAIP) and that it will build on the successes of SHARP. More details are expected soon, and ONPHA will provide updates as we have them.

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