In December of 2013, an ice storm ravaged Toronto, leaving thousands of people in the cold, and without power, for several days. For city councillors and safety advisors, it was a necessary wakeup call, flagging the importance of backup power within a community.

In 2013, the building code only required that landlords have backup power for two hours to allow for emergency evacuations; this includes power safety systems such as fire alarms, emergency lighting, sprinkler systems, and a single elevator. But there were absolutely no requirements to provide continued power in the event of a long-term outage.

Obviously, this lack of regulation posed a significant risk to ill and elderly citizens in high-rise buildings: In the event that one such individual managed to remain warm and fed during a long-term outage (which could prove to be very difficult during a Canadian winter!), challenges associated to healthcare emergencies remain. How can they contact emergency services? And how could they be expediently reached by paramedics when there is no elevator access?

New Guidelines for Backup Power

It’s for this reason that a panel of experts was employed to review the guidelines, which had been created some 30 years prior. Their investigation found that current regulations were falling embarrassingly short. This resulted in the development of the new guidelines, released in October of 2016, which now specify that in the event of a power outage, Multi-Unit Residential Buildings (MURBs) must provide enough backup power to account for:

  • At least one elevator for residents, in addition to the firefighter’s elevator
  • Sump Pumps, so that water entering below grade can be pumped out
  • Water Booster Pumps for water supply to units, including water for drinking, washing, and flushing toilets
  • Hot Water Boilers and Pumps to keep pipes in working order and residents living in comfort
  • Space Heating for units
  • Common Refuge Areas where residents can gather to stay warm, charge electronics, and prepare meals

While these guidelines are a vast improvement, they are still entirely voluntary; there are no fines or penalties associated with not following the city’s recommendations. This leaves residents without any guarantees for their wellbeing in the event of largescale blackout.

How can businesses assist the community during power outages?

Today, grid power storage is becoming an increasingly attractive option for businesses spanning several industries- whether within industrial, commercial, or MUSH sectors. The ability to store energy during low demand periods for use during times when the prices are the highest is a compelling solution to the challenges of skyrocketing energy prices in the Ontario market.

Another big benefit to grid battery storage is the ability to extend a helping hand to the community in the event of an emergency. Being able to provide warmth, shelter, and access to clean water for the citizens living nearby is an excellent way to give back and make a difference.

Constant Power’s Energy Storage as a Service (ESaaS) is a unique combination of advanced battery storage and an energy management system, delivered through a service contract. Not only does ESaaS store power for the purpose of energy arbitrage, it also manages the quality of the power being delivered at all times, even when the grid storage system is not in storage mode, or the grid is experiencing interruptions.

Make the Community-Minded Decision

Begin creating an emergency preparedness plan today that can help your community in the future. Contact the team at Constant Power to learn more about ESaaS.


[1] Toronto Star, “Ice Storm Review Calls for Better Backup Power Supply in Highrise Buildings”, https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/06/18/ice_storm_review_calls_for_better_backup_power_supply_in_highrise_buildings.html

[2] City of Toronto, “Minimum Backup Power Guidelines for MURBs”, http://www1.toronto.ca/City Of Toronto/Environment and Energy/Programs for Businesses/BBP/PDFs/Minimum Backup Power Guideline_October 2016.pdf