ALERT (Affordable & Low-income Environmental Renewal in Toronto) is a city-building initiative that has emerged through the DiverseCity Fellow program at the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance and the Emerging Leaders Network (ELN). ALERT is a toolkit to support continuous improvement cycle in Toronto’s old residential high-rises that represent Toronto’s most viable affordable housing for our most vulnerable citizens. On March 31, ALERT received the top prize from a panel of civic leaders at CivicAction’s dragon den event based on its potential impact, plan development and momentum.


The Toronto region has 1,925 residential towers that one million of our most vulnerable citizens call home. Meanwhile, the equivalent of an entire coal-fired power plant is needed to heat and energize these buildings. These towers are 30 to 70 years old, and the investments we make now will define life in these communities for decades.

Project ALERT is a toolkit to support continuous life-cycle environmental improvement in Toronto’s residential high-rises.

ALERT’s continuous improvement cycle has three main components:

  • Measure & Benchmark – ALERT’s web portal will allow building owners to visually compare their building’s performance with those of other buildings. Initially, electricity, gas, water and waste will be measured and benchmarked.
  • Help Taking Action – ALERT is also a hub that connects building owners with existing energy efficiency programs, incentives and financing tools. Programs offered will be dependent on a building owner’s stage in the “spiral of success.”
  • Celebrate Achievement – ALERT will create an environment of positive peer pressure to empower the building owner community, leading to healthy competition and community empowerment.

ALERT takes building owners through a Spiral of Success: repeated iterations of the continuous improvement cycle, building on past successes and aiming for larger gains in both financial and environmental performance.


ALERT’s positive impact will be felt along economic, environmental, and social lines.

  • Economic – A participating building owner pursuing deep retrofits will see his or her energy bills drop by 62% -- an annual savings of almost $300,000. The region’s 1,925 buildings could unlock over half a billion dollars in savings per year. Imagine all the productive uses this money could go towards, simply by being smarter about how we use energy.
  • Environmental – Every building that participates would absorb the carbon of a forest twice the size of Toronto’s Centre Islands. Regionally, it would be as if we took all the cars that travel on the busiest section of the 401 off the roads.
  • Social – Tenants would experience better indoor air quality, especially those who suffer from asthma. And regionally, we would be protecting the long-term viability of our affordable housing stock.


February 2, 2015

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Partners for Change Workshop!

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November 6, 2014

Imagine My City to run Partners for Change Workshop (Tenant Engagement).

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September 10, 2014

The hackathon was a great success. Thanks to all those came out!

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July 7, 2014

Hackers generate new ideas to conserve energy in Toronto’s apartment buildings.

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See event details

April 7, 2014

Project ALERT mentioned at the Mississauga News.

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April 2, 2014

ALERT city-building project rises above the rest at ELNshowcase

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March 10, 2014

ALERT's advisory team of experts and key influencers gathered to discuss and evaluate opportunities and barriers.

Advisory Team