Toronto’s Initiatives in Addressing Climate Change (Economy & Climate: Part 2)


 |  Sustainability

The Starfish

Photo by faylestar |

In my previous article, I brought to you a representation of how environmental processes link intricately with the health of a city’s economy. This was based on an insightful speech by former mayor of Toronto, David Miller, who also presented an intriguing summary of green initiatives that Toronto has mapped out for its future.

As a starting point, looking up to cities who have formerly implemented successful environmental technologies is a good way to inspire your own city to adapt a greener way of living. One of the key developments which caught Miller’s eye was Copenhagen’s structure for generating power. Denmark’s capital provides a well-respected model of how sustainability is integrated with society through a power station offshore of the city, which contains 80 wind turbines, all pumping 60MW of electricity into the city to supply energy to 150,000 homes.

Not to be outdone by this achievement, all of the power used by Calgary will be generated by wind by the end of 2012 as well. Moving south, Sao Paulo, Brazil is regarded highly for their success in diverting methane gas from landfills, to be burned for fuelling their electricity.

These types of changes are indeed favoured by Torontonians as well, as proven by Toronto’s climate change action plan, Change is in the Air, which was permitted unanimously in 2007. This reveals plans to encourage more environmentally friendly lifestyles, by reducing the energy required to heat, cool and light our homes. Individuals investing in the construction of green roofs, wherever possible across the city, could save $270 million in water infrastructure alone, as a result of water absorption by soil. The Ricoh Coliseum in downtown Toronto has done their part by installing solar cells across the roof of the arena.

Another major enhancement has been in the attention given to the (roughly) 1000 concrete-slab high-rise apartment buildings dispersed across Toronto’s core. Their initial fault was that they provide next to no insulation ability, but can persist forever because they’ve been built with highly-durable, poured concrete.

A lot of architectural and engineering focus has come into play to add insulation to the outside of these energy-sucking structures, in an attempt to decrease energy consumption—a direct solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This energy-conserving concept, known as ‘Tower Renewal’, has rapidly gained popularity in Toronto’s response to climate change, creating an estimated 30,000 jobs and acting as a strategic economic approach to uplift lower-income families.