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OCH Eco² Plan

Leading the social housing sector towards sustainability

Read the ECO² Plan

Leading the Social Housing Sector Towards Sustainability

In a challenging economy, Ottawa Community Housing (OCH) has successfully matched a desire to make the world a better place with the need for more financially sustainable operations. The outcome is a more comfortable living environment for tenants, significant savings to the bottom line and a remarkable reduction in our carbon footprint. Pioneering environmental initiatives has placed OCH on the national stage to share our successes to benefit the social housing sector as a whole.

OCH Pillars of Sustainability

Taking a holistic approach to greening OCH has meant focusing sustainability efforts on three pillars.

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Our buildings

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Our people

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Our culture

Benefits

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Lower utility costs

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Diverting waste

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Conserving energy

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Reduced emissions

Did you know?

OCH has saved $36M

due to solar panels, home weatherization program, water, windows and door retrofits.

  • Peer Presland

    Date

    Construction on the retrofit was completed in 2021.

    Highlights/Savings

    PEER uses 24, nine-foot by 20-foot panels to create new outer walls for the four townhomes. The homes will also receive a new roof, new windows and a bank of 34-kilowatt solar panels that will produce more energy than the homes use each year. The project will reduce the Presland Avenue townhomes’ energy consumption for heating by 90%. The project is a partnership with Natural Resources Canada. 

    Click here to read all about the PEER project.

  • Maintenance Vehicle Fleet

    Date

    2012

    Highlights/Savings

    Introduction of smart cars in the fleet is helping to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

  • New Developments

    Date

    Ongoing since 2014

    Highlights/Savings

    Green building technologies and approaches in all new construction are building higher performance homes.

    Examples of new builds include:

    Use of heated floor systems, regionally sourced building materials selection, LED lighting, EnergyStar appliances, waste diversion systems, all promoting sustainable and resilient buildings, equal lower costs on maintenance and utilities in the long term.

  • Waste Diversion Program

    Date

    Launched in the fall of 2016 in partnership with the City of Ottawa

    Highlights/Savings

    OCH is encouraging tenants to participate in the green bin program throughout the communities in order to reduce waste to landfill sites.  We are setting up infrastructure in communities to provide ease of access to facilitate waste diversion.

    If you are interested in bringing the Waste Diversion Program in your community, contact us at info@och.ca

  • Race to Zero Pledge

    Ottawa Community Housing Corporation is proud to announce we are joining the City of Ottawa’s Race to Zero Pledge amongst organizations such as Carleton University, Minto and the National Arts Centre. Along with our partners at the City, we have joined a United Nations-led coalition of cities, businesses and institutions to enact climate action. 

    The pledge aligns with OCHC’s own Energy and Conservation Strategy, which aims to reduce our carbon footprint by using the highest standards of sustainable design practices for new buildings and retrofits. As part of that plan, we also added green infrastructures – such as 36 solar arrays in communities across the city and solar walls.  

    Much of the work to move towards a more sustainable and greener portfolio depends on funding commitments from partners at all levels of government. One example is the recent $200 million commitment from the CMHC and Co-Investment Fund, which will allow us to complete deep-energy retrofits on several buildings. This will allow us to reduce our carbon emissions by 7,000 tonnes per year – the equivalent of taking 1,512 cars off the road every year.  

Green Corner

Read about our latest sustainability initiatives

Case Studies

Results of Completed ECO² Initatives

HEATING ENERGY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM PILOT PROJECT

Date

2013

Highlights/Savings

Designed to reduce energy waste, the system was installed in two high-rise buildings. After one year, there was a 31% reduction in the energy consumption while maintaining tenant comfort. This system was deployed in an additional eight buildings and will likely be rolled out to all electricity-heated buildings.

This system is capable of regulating the heating energy allocated to each apartment unit based on several criteria including local outdoor temperature, floor level and orientation.

Read full case study

PLUMBING RETROFIT

Date

2011 – 2013

Highlights/Savings

Award-winning retrofit of 15,000 homes with new high-efficiency toilets, showerheads, and basin aerators has reduced water consumption by 1.6M cubic meters of water annually. Old fixtures were crushed and distributed for road aggregate; metal and plastic parts were completely recycled.

Ottawa Community Housing (OCH) saw an opportunity to save water and money by retrofitting plumbing fixtures throughout its portfolio. Early analysis suggested that new water-efficient fixtures would use less water, reduce undiagnosed leaks and offer significant cost savings. OCH was also motivated to lower its water consumption to reduce its impact on the environment.

Read full case study

SOLAR WALL

Date

2011 – 2012

Highlights/Savings

Over 1,500 solar photovoltaic panels have been installed in 32 OCH communities. These installations represent over $250,000 of clean electricity or energy conservation annually.

The replacement of 8,500 sq. ft. of brick cladding on the exterior wall at one 17-storey apartment, with a solar wall that preheats air supplied to the building’s corridor ventilation, has netted a 21% reduction in natural consumption annually at that property.

The brick cladding at Clementine Towers (1455 Clementine Ave) required replacement to address deficiencies and deterioration. This offered an opportunity for Ottawa Community Housing (OCH) to install an innovative “solar wall” to preheat air supplied to the building’s corridor ventilation system. The project reduced energy consumption and operating costs while showcasing green building practices.

Read full case study

WEATHERIZATION AND AIR SEALING

Date

Ongoing since 2012

Highlights/Savings

Participating in Enbridge’s ‘Home Winterproofing Program’, OCH has worked with the EnviroCentre to retrofit uninsulated basements of hundreds of townhomes. In the four largest communities where insulation and sealing were completed in 611 homes, collectively tenants are seeing an estimated annual natural gas savings of $91,000.

Ottawa Community Housing (OCH) had an opportunity to save energy, improve the building conditions and enhance tenant comfort in its townhouse communities by retrofitting uninsulated and poorly sealed basement walls.

Read full case study

Partners

Our success in sustainability is thanks to many important contributors and sustainability-focused organizations such as:

EnviroCentre

Enbridge

EnergyOttawa

Hydro Ottawa

City of Ottawa, through its Climate Action Plan

Federal and provincial programs

The original greening efforts 2010 and the GRen Plan of 2011 enabled OCH to begin a sustainable transformation through various pilot projects. The plan also prepared OCH to access generous incentives to make additional pilot projects even more feasible.

In April 2016, OCH was awarded $12.2M in SHARP funding from Ontario’s Green Investment Fund to refurbish aging buildings in the portfolio with retrofits such as energy-efficient boilers, insulation and windows. This funding allowed us to better meet the modern challenges of climate change despite our housing being constructed in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Awards

2020

Association of Energy Engineers Young Energy Professional of the Year for Dan Dicaire
Greater Ottawa Home Builders Association Innovation Award – Green Building of the Year for 1290 Coldrey 

2016

CLEAN50 Emerging Green Leader Award
Canadian Housing Renewal Association (CHRA) National Sustainability Award

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At OCH, our employees come from all different backgrounds, represent all genders, age groups, sexual orientations, speak a multitude of languages, and share different experiences and perspectives. We would not have it any other way.

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OCH has a Development Strategy, which outlines plans for building more affordable housing​. The City of Ottawa’s 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan targets OCH to add an average of 300 affordable homes per year.​

Read the Plan
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