The Atmospheric Fund provides grants to community groups, charities, non-profit organizations, and municipalities for projects that have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gases and/or air pollution in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). We offer this support because we understand that solutions to climate change and air pollution require action at the community level. Please visit our section on climate to discover more about the key opportunities to reduce local carbon and air pollution emissions. Our grants program has three priority granting streams: energy-efficient buildings, social innovation, and knowledge transfer.
The built environment produces approximately half of the City’s greenhouse gas emissions in the GTHA. With this in mind, our granting program prioritizes projects that help improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings, especially large, commercial, industrial and multi-unit residential buildings. Because we would like to see energy-efficient retrofits implemented across the region, we are especially interested in projects that have the potential to be scaled up through, for example, policy change, as well as projects that could attract large public or private investments in energy efficiency. We are also interested in initiatives that explore how new buildings can be designed and built to maximize energy efficiency.
Energy use trends in Toronto buildings – University of Toronto – $25,000
Researchers at the University of Toronto analyzed the energy performance of more than 100 Toronto buildings. The data they collected provided important preliminary insights into the types of buildings that should be prioritized for energy retrofits and helped underscore the importance of gathering real data on energy use. This effort contributed to the City of Toronto’s decision to study the feasibility of a city-wide energy reporting requirement for Toronto’s larger buildings.
Increased efficiency standards for new buildings – Sustainable Buildings Canada – $30,000
Sustainable Buildings Canada researched the business and environmental case for improving energy efficiency standards for newly constructed buildings. Their findings were integrated into a new City bylaw called the Toronto Green Standard. Energy efficiency standards for new buildings in Toronto are now 15% better than the Ontario Building Code, with incentives for projects that outperform it by 25%. This will result in a reduction of 750,000 tonnes of GHG over 10 years.
Long-term financing home energy retrofits – City of Toronto – $200,000
The City of Toronto created a financing program that helps Toronto homeowners undertake “deep” energy retrofits. The program offers lower interest rates and longer repayment terms (up to 15 years) than residents could secure from a bank. The loan is transferred to subsequent owners if the original owner moves before the loan is paid off. The program is offered to large multi-unit residential building owners as well so that retrofits can be implemented in a fair and cost-effective way.
Through this granting stream, we are looking for creative, high-impact approaches to addressing climate change and/or air pollution in the GTHA. These could be new innovations or existing ideas that are under-utilized, and we are open to ideas that may need lead time to have impact. We can fund emerging ideas so that the recipient can address research gaps, analyze stakeholder interest, test technologies, undertake business case development, or any other activity needed to solidify the feasibility of the opportunity. Regardless of the type of project you would like to explore, it must demonstrate the potential for emissions reduction in the GTHA.
Challenging Commuters to drive better and drive less – Summerhill Impact – $150,000
Summerhill Impact ran a pilot project called the Shuttle Challenge which which showed participants how to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by driving better and driving less. More than half of the participants succeeded in reducing their total kilometres driven and total fuel consumption by 10% or more. The pilot took place over two-week periods in Fall 2012 and Spring 2013. Please read the final report and blog post for more information on the project’s findings.
Building support for investment in public transit – Evergreen CityWorks – $90,000
Evergreen is supporting Move the GTHA, a collaborative of health, civic leadership, research, business, and environmental groups. The group promotes provincial investment in public transit and active transportation across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Group participants develop and co-promote common messages and engage their respective constituencies on this issue. The goal is to see the Province commit $2 billion in annual funding to regional transit and active transportation.
Ontario's clean economy – Environmental Defence – $300,000
Environmental Defence is leveraging TAF’s multi-year grant to amplify the voice of the Clean Economy Alliance, a multi-sectoral collaboration calling for strong provincial climate action, including a price on carbon. The Alliance convenes businesses, industry associations, labour unions, agricultural groups, health charities and environmental groups to agree on key solutions that should factor into Ontario’s climate plan. See the Alliance’s recommendations for cap-and-trade and complementary climate policies.
We recognize that even the most brilliant report or pilot study is of little value if it isn’t clearly communicated to the right audiences. TAF will consider providing top-up funding and advisory support to grantees producing new knowledge that has broad relevance, to help them promote their findings to key audiences in an engaging way. TAF will look for opportunities to support the transfer of knowledge between different groups and sectors, supporting multi-sectoral convening, scholarships, internships and mentoring. In some cases, TAF will direct funding to promote new ideas developed by groups not previously funded by a TAF grant, but that have a strong relevance to TAF’s mandate.
Training youth to work in the renewable energy sector – First Work – $48,000
First Work’s Green Skills Network pilot project created a training and engagement program to prepare young people for job opportunities in the renewable energy sector. The project sought to take advantage of meaningful employment possibilities while also addressing the shortage of skilled workers in Ontario’s growing renewable energy generation industry.
Building community with Community Bonds Centre for Social Innovation – $57,000
The Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) was the first organization to use community bonds to partially finance building purchases and energy-efficiency retrofits at its Bathurst Street location. TAF supported CSI in documenting the experience and sharing it in a how-to manual to help other groups explore the potential of this alternative financing tool to acquire and improve their buildings.
Strengthening ventures through mentoring – ClimateSpark – $40,000
Working with the Toronto Foundation and the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), TAF created an online community to share and refine ideas to address climate change and make a profit. The online community connected thousands of participants with local experts. A second phase designed by CSI brought entrepreneurs together with expert mentors to further refine the best ideas. Toronto Foundation awarded the top contenders a cash prize. Outcomes contributed to a how-to manual and a short film.
What you need to know
TAF funds projects that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and air pollution in the GTHA. Please take a look at initiatives TAF has recently funded.
TAF currently prioritizes projects that can significantly improve the energy performance of the region’s built environment. However, we’re also interested in initiatives that advance other local GHG and air pollution reduction opportunities. Here you can learn more about the main sources of local air and climate pollution.
TAF is open to funding a variety of activities and approaches, including research, capacity-building, multi-sector collaborations, social ventures, policy advocacy, and pilot tests. We also fund initiatives at different stages of the project cycle, from concept development to implementation to reporting on and distributing project results.
Please note that TAF will not fund the following:
- partisan political activities
- projects where the primary activity is an event such as a conference, workshop, or training session
- a project that builds on, or is another phase of, a currently funded project from the same proponent
However, TAF can provide concurrent funding to the same recipient for different projects.
TAF provides grants to registered charities and not-for-profit organizations. Individuals and for-profit organizations are not eligible for grant funding.
Charities seeking to undertake policy advocacy activities should familiarize themselves with the rules governing their participation in political activities. The Canada Revenue Agency provides an overview of these rules on its website. For further information, grantseekers are encouraged to contact TAF’s Grants Manager (see contact details below).
We schedule four submission deadlines a year that are coordinated with our Board meetings. The granting schedule* for 2017 is:
*Note: Meeting dates of the TAF Board of Directors are subject to change.
TAF’s annual community grants budget is approximately $800,000.
Current grant recipients have received $10,000 to $300,000 and include both single-year and multi-year projects. Monetary requests should be in line with the project’s scope and timeframe.
While we remain flexible in our granting approach, in general we now focus on a relatively small number of large, multi-year grants.
Grants can be used to fund all project-related costs, including project evaluation and third-party advisory services. Where appropriate, we will allocate up to an additional 15% of TAF’s contribution to support knowledge transfer aimed at converting key findings into replicable actions. Funding can also be used to offset operating costs and portions of administrative costs directly linked to a TAF-funded project.
Once you have discussed your idea with our Grants Manager, you can complete and submit TAF’s online application form.
You will be asked to submit the following information along with your application form:
- Completed budget spreadsheet
- Evidence of legal status as a registered charity or not-for-profit organization
- Most recent financial statements (audited where possible)
- Names and affiliations of board directors
We may request additional materials to support your grant proposal. These could include references, confirmation of other sources of funding, CVs/LinkedIn profiles of project team members, etc.
Please use our standard application form for proposals that are fully-developed.
Our concept development application form is for applicants who are seeking support to refine early-stage ideas and demonstrate their feasibility. These tend to be smaller grant requests (e.g., $10,000 to $20,000) over a shorter time period (e.g., 6 months). If you’re not sure which form is best suited to your project, please contact our Grants Manager (see contact details below).
As an alternative to our online application forms, you can also submit your form by mail or in person. TAF’s address is:
The Atmospheric Fund
75 Elizabeth Street
Toronto, ON M5G 1P4
TAF analyzes each project’s emissions reduction potential. Our analysis is based on the details you provide in your application form about how your project will be designed and the anticipated scale-up opportunities.
As part of our technical analysis, we may get in touch with you to clarify your key assumptions or to request further research to support our calculations.
TAF staff assesses each application against the pre-set evaluation criteria outlined on our application forms.
Our Grants and Programs Committee reviews each application and makes a funding recommendation to our Board of Directors. The Board then makes a final decision on each grant proposal. Grant proponents may request an opportunity to address the TAF Board directly concerning their grant, should they wish to dispute the Committee’s recommendation. All decisions of the TAF Board of Directors are final.
Here is a list of leading Canadian funders that support projects related to climate change and air pollution:
George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation
The Metcalf Foundation’s Environment Program has three areas of focus:
- Cycle City
- Electrifying Movement
- Enabling Solutions
More information available here
Independent Electricity System Operator
The IESO offers several funding programs that support the design and delivery of renewable energy and conservation initiatives in Ontario.
More information available here
Ontario Trillium Foundation
The Trillium Foundation has a Green People action area with two priority outcomes:
- More ecosystems are protected and restored
- People reduce their impact on the environment
More information available here
TD Friends of the Environment Foundation
The TD Friends of the Environment Foundation supports a wide range of environmental initiatives, with a primary funding focus on:
- Environmental education
- Urban greening and enhancing biodiversity
- Energy conservation
More information available here
To discuss your project proposal, or if you have questions not answered in this section, please contact Ian Klesmer, Grants Manager, at 416-393-6371 or firstname.lastname@example.org.