YWCA Toronto’s Elm Centre is one of Canada's largest and most innovative green housing projects.  

Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, the YWCA Elm Centre is an $80 million green, affordable and supportive housing development. The complex, which takes up a city block, has three towers of 17-storeys, 10-storeys and 5-storeys.

Providing homes for women

With partners Wigwamen Incorporated, The Jean Tweed Centre and St. Michael’s Hospital, YWCA’s ambitious new development provides permanent homes for single women and women with children and ensures that tenants have the staff support they need to stay housed and build healthy lives.

The complex offers 150 affordable apartments to single women and women with children, 100 apartments to women and women-led families living with mental health and/or addiction issues, 50 apartments to families of Aboriginal ancestry with 10 apartments specifically for Aboriginal women fleeing violence. Fifteen percent of the apartments are designated for women over 50 years of age. With plenty of amenity spaces, the Centre is close to community services, hospitals, schools, transit, jobs and shopping.

Heating and cooling from the Earth

Sustainability is a key part of the blueprints for the YWCA Elm Centre. Built to a LEED Silver standard, the Centre incorporates geo-thermal in-slab radiant heating and cooling and is one of the largest residential applications of geothermal technology in North America. The system works by taking advantage of the Earth’s abundant, free, clean, thermal energy to heat and cool the residential buildings. This system is three to five times more efficient than conventional systems.  It will also provide long-term savings in energy costs.

Green spaces

Research demonstrates that access to green spaces has a powerful and positive impact on the individual lives of residents, as well as the health of the communities as a whole. The YWCA Elm Centre features green spaces including five green roofs, two rooftop gardens and an outdoor play area for children. These spaces offer environmental benefits and provide relaxing spaces for residents. Each apartment contains EnergyStar-rated appliances. The buildings are outfitted with a tri-sorter waste system; residents are able to dispose of their garbage, recyclables and organics using one single chute from their own floor.