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Environmental Sustainability Programme

As a community organization committed to the city, its residents and visitors, Harbourfront Centre has made a firm obligation to keeping our environment healthy. It can certainly be difficult to make responsible choices as a charity on a tight budget, but by challenging ourselves, we have consistently found unique and creative ways of caring for our planet.


We truly are a one-of-a-kind organization running like a mini-city, entrepreneurial business and community-based charity all rolled into one. Through research we discovered that many organizations were lacking an understanding of how to sincerely and effectively reduce environmental impact. We committed ourselves to building a comprehensive strategy. The goal: to implement thoughtful and intelligent improvements to Harbourfront Centre and – from our experience – build a model that other organizations, struggling with similar challenges, could apply.

We believe that the progress we have made clearly demonstrates that a sincere and meaningful commitment to the environment can actually make an organization stronger. With the support of our partners, we plan to publish a methodology based on our experience, sharing it with organizations across the GTA and beyond. Stay tuned.

We welcome you to explore this website and discover some of the great strides we have made.


Before investing time and money into a project, we believe that it’s most important to first understand our environmental impact. We were amazed to discover that approximately 95% of our footprint comes from the travel of our visitors to and from Harbourfront Centre.

We were aware that there was the opportunity to reduce the impact that we have on the environment through the work we do each day. Learning that visitor travel accounts for such a large portion of our footprint reminded us that we are a community organization – first and foremost – and if we were to be sincere about commitment, we needed to look beyond our day-to-day operations.


We have undertaken a broad spectrum of impact-reducing projects, from simple technology improvements to new and innovative solutions invented through our programme:

  • Technological retrofits

    • Adoption of energy-efficient lighting (i.e. office lights, exit signs, gallery display, parking lot)
    • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning system improvements
    • Hot water tank replacements

    Controls and automation

    • Utility management system
    • Boiler economizers
    • Programmable thermostats
    • Carbon dioxide sensors
    • Lighting photosensors

    Special projects

    • Replacement of Enwave Theatre building envelope
    • Paper-use reduction programme
    • Adoption of 100% recycled paper
    • Joining Smart Commute Toronto
    • Installation of four charge station
    • Replacement of parking lot with forested public squares
    • Installation of light well
    • Transition from using print marketing materials to e-marketing and social media

    Office improvements

    • Replacement of CRT monitors with LCDs
    • Expanded recycling programme
    • Adjustment of computer sleep settings
    • Replacement of multifunction printers
    • Addition of LCD screens into meeting rooms
    • Addition of an electronic document design and approval system

    Research and industry studies

    • Researched potential for adopting an electric vehicle with the EV300 programme
    • Study examining the potential for using site-wide LED lighting
    • Study on the potential for using building-integrated photovoltaic power in Ontario
    • Potential for solar photovoltaic installations across the site


Art, Culture & The Environment

As a creative organization we recognize the influence that art and culture have on our social behaviour and how we experience the world around us. As the most visited destination in Canada, Harbourfront Centre is in a unique position to make a notable difference while engaging directly with the community. Our goal is to inject fun and inspiration back into discussions about our planet. The “environment” has always been naturally represented within the diverse range of programming and events we host annually. In order to grow our capacity and to reach visitors in a meaningful way, we have focused on building collaborative relationships with environmental organizations who engage with the public. With all of the doom and gloom messaging out there, this can be a tough conversation to lead. We have found creativity and inspiration to be an effective remedy and are now helping to develop new and exciting artistic programme partnerships.

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