MaRS and partners launch Climate Action Accelerator to Net Zero (CAANZero)

The program will help small and medium-sized municipalities access the investment and expertise they need to achieve deep climate action.

TORONTO, July 7, 2023 – MaRS Discovery District today launched the Climate Action Accelerator to Net Zero (CAANZero), a program designed to help Canadian cities meet their climate goals.

CAANZero was created to amplify municipalities’ ability to identify, invest in, implement and evaluate climate projects that can drive deeper and faster reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions. The program will help municipalities tackle funding constraints for climate projects, as well as shore up the capacity required to achieve net-zero targets.

“Canada will need to spend about $400 billion over the next 20 years to retrofit infrastructure to meet its climate goals and more than half of that infrastructure falls within cities. It’s a huge burden,” said Tyler Hamilton, senior director of climate at MaRS. “Through CAANZero, municipalities can access the expertise and financial support they currently lack to quickly identify achievable high-impact projects and get them done.”

Initially, CAANZero will facilitate infrastructure retrofit projects that could include updates to commercial, industrial and multi-family buildings, as well as wastewater pumping stations, treatment plants and public lighting.

A core innovation of the CAANZero model is the engagement of a third-party fund manager that aggregates individual municipal climate mitigation projects across multiple cities, into investment-ready portfolios that will appeal to new and larger sources of capital.

MaRS created the model in partnership with Social Venture Connexion (SVX), a non-profit financial services firm focused on driving positive social impact. Partner cities include Barrie, Peterborough, Victoria and the Town of Halton Hills. Work to date would not have been possible without the generous support of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), the Trottier Family Foundation and the McConnell Foundation.

“Whether it be reducing greenhouse gas emissions or retrofitting a variety of buildings, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is proud to continue supporting projects like the one being announced here today through the Green Municipal Fund, “said Scott Pearce, president of FCM. “The MaRS’ initiative will help small and mid-sized municipalities achieve their net-zero goals. Together in partnership with the federal government, local communities are on the path to greater sustainability and affordability.”

“MaRS is uniquely positioned to convene the cleantech expertise, capital providers, and public sector advisors required to create an achievable and repeatable model for small and medium-sized municipalities to get to net zero,” said Eric St-Pierre, executive director of the Trottier Foundation.

The design and feasibility stage of CAANZero is now complete. To learn more about the program, please read our Phase II report. Beginning this spring, a two-year pilot implementation phase will launch with two regional cohorts of municipalities. Testing and validating the CAANZero model will be a vital step toward scaling this approach in communities across Canada.

For municipalities and capital providers looking to get involved, please visit the CAANZero website at


“The Government of Canada is pleased to support the MaRS’ Climate Action Accelerator to Net Zero through the Green Municipal Fund. This important initiative will support Canadian municipalities to accelerate job-creating retrofit projects, while reducing emissions and delivering clean air across the country.”
– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources

“Municipalities are on the front lines of climate change. The partnership of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Government of Canada through the Green Municipal Fund is helping communities transition to a healthy, net-zero emissions future. With smart investments, and active collaboration, our communities can aspire to a more sustainable and prosperous way of living. I applaud efforts by the MaRS Discovery District as they help lead the way to a sustainable future.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

About MaRS

MaRS is North America’s largest urban innovation hub. A registered non-profit, MaRS supports high-growth startups and scale-ups tackling key issues in health, cleantech, fintech and other sectors. In addition, MaRS convenes all members of the tech ecosystem to drive breakthrough discoveries, grow the economy and make an impact by solving real problems for real people — in Canada and around the world.

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