Building on Toronto Community Housing’s Green Plan, Public Interest and Toronto Environmental Alliance united on an innovative pilot project to educate tenants of two social housing high-rise apartment buildings on Brahms Avenue about the need to conserve energy. This program, Brahms Energy Saving Team (BEST), has used approaches such as incentives, reinforcing energy-efficient behaviour, and installing energy-saving equipment to reduce energy consumption within the buildings.
BEST employed and trained several community outreach workers from within the tenant community to raise awareness among residents, distribute educational materials, and tap into local knowledge. We helped coach the outreach workers on how energy issues and community-based social marketing, which they combined with their knowledge of how to reach the multilingual residents culturally appropriate ways. Some 75% of the residents are now signed up for this highly successful program.
This pilot is the first of its kind in Canada to address the unique barriers faced by apartment-dwelling tenants who do not pay their own electricity bills. The Brahms Energy Saving Team won the Green Toronto award for community projects in 2006 and was featured on the CBC National program in March 2007 as a cutting-edge project to combat climate change. It is also featured as a best-practice program on the provincial Ministry of Energy’s website.