More than 500,000 people live in the hundreds of apartment complexes that spread across Toronto 630 square kilometres. On average, these  apartment residents use less water, energy, and generate less waste than persons living in single-detached dwellings. High-density neighbourhoods also use fewer materials during construction and consume less land. Though the latest high-density buildings are generally understood as the more environmentally conscious way of living, there is a growing desire to ensure that Toronto’s old post-war apartment buildings, often designed in "tower in the park" style, and prior to today's more efficient technologies, are updated to reflect modern society’s environmental priorities. To adapt to this reality, the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO) has introduced new Environmental Operating Standards as part of its Certified Rental Building Program (CRBP).

The CRBP banner hangs outside 7 St. Dennis Drive in North York. Image by Marcus Mitanis.

Developed in 2008, the CRBP is the only multi-residential certification program in North America. Certification means that the building is well-run, well-managed and follows over 50 standards of practice in building management and customer service. The current standards include requirements for regular building cleaning and inspections, suite inspections, communication with residents when repairs are made, pest management practices, and education programs for building staff. Maintenance requests and other inquiries are also required to be responded to within two business days. To ensure compliance with the standards included in the CRBP, J.D. Power & Associates conducts regular audits.

Each of these standards will now be accompanied by new environmental requirements for apartments accepted into the program. Buildings must have an Environmental Management Policy, outlining the dedication to environmentally friendly operating procedures and practices.  This will be accompanied by an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy to establish a commitment to use products and services that minimize environmental and human health impacts. Energy, water and waste usage will also be monitored, ensuring that irregularities and excessive use will be mitigated as much as possible. Energy and water conservation will be heavily promoted, partially through the installation of energy efficient electrical fixtures and water efficient plumbing fixtures in common areas. Other mandatory standards encourage the use of recycling and implementation of air quality benchmarks, demonstrating the wide range of environmental concerns that the program addresses.

Director of Certification at the CRBP, Ted Whitehead, discusses the Environmental Operating Standards. Image by Marcus Mitanis.

The official Toronto launch of the new standards took place at 7 St. Dennis Drive in the Flemingdon Park area. The manager of the address, WJ Properties, has become the first in Toronto to assume the new environmental standards. Representatives from WJ Properties and FRPO were joined by Elanor McAteer, Project Director of the City of Toronto’s Tower Renewal Program and Ward 26 (Don Valley West) Councillor John Parker to mark the occasion on Thursday.

Depicted below, from left to right are: Eleanor McAteer, President and CEO of FRPO Scott Andison, Councillor John Parker, Vice President of Operations at WJ Properties Carol Weinbaum, President of WJ Properties Allan Weinbaum, Chair of FRPO's Board Bill Zigomanis and Chief Financial Officer at WJ Properties Perry Fryers. 

The CRBP sign is unveiled by representatives from WJ Properties, the City of Toronto and FRPO. Image by Marcus Mitanis.

“I am very impressed with the Certified Rental Building Program,” Councillor Parker said. “Certification helps renters in a community have confidence in the buildings in which they live. I am very pleased that the CRB Program has now come to our Flemingdon Park community.”

President of WJ Properties, Allan Weinbaum, also expressed his support for the initiative. “We have long been proud supporters of the CRB Program,” he said. “As it has now grown to include new environmental standards, we are delighted to be the first property manager in the City of Toronto to be in compliance with them.”

The CRBP banner is officially unveiled at 7 St. Dennis Drive. Image by Marcus Mitanis.

Implementation started in Ottawa when the Minto Group adopted the new environmental standards in October. Osgoode Properties’ then adopted the new standards in Kingston and now the program has launched in Toronto. Over 225,000 residents in more than 950 buildings in Ontario are covered under the CRB Program and will soon enjoy the newly introduced environmental standards. 

About one-third, or 365, of Toronto's apartment buildings are currently enrolled in the CRB Program. That is quite a feat for the six-year-old initiative that is bound to see more enrollments as awareness about the Program and environmental issues continue to increase. 

“It’s like the Good Housekeeping seal of approval, said Ted Whitehead of the CRBP. I always say, why would you rent anywhere but a certified rental building?”

For more information about the Certified Rental Building Program and the related Standards of Practice, visit the CRBP website