The feds invest in greening your home By: greening homes

March 2, 2021
Green Materials, Resource Efficiency

The Prime Minister made a big announcement in December that will have far reaching impacts on home renovations.

Buildings account for 17 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions – 22 percent in Ontario and a whopping 55 percent in Toronto. 

This sector also generates a lot of jobs, which are urgently needed to help rev up an economy stalled by the pandemic. The Canadian Green Building Council projects that “a COVID-19 pandemic recovery plan centred on green buildings could create almost 1.5 million jobs all across Canada by 2030.”

One announcement of note is changes to the federal government’s carbon pricing system. Its carbon fee will rise annually at $15 per tonne after 2022, reaching $170 in 2030. This gradual rising fee is intended to send a market signal for businesses and households to reduce emissions as much as possible. A home renovation is the perfect opportunity to improve your home’s energy performance to help reduce energy bills as the carbon price increases this decade.

Ontarians will continue to receive carbon pollution pricing rebate payments, which will become quarterly as early as 2022. The more you reduce your carbon footprint, the more you will get out of your rebate installments.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks of building energy retrofits is upfront capital. To help with this, the Prime Minister announced that the government will provide homeowner grants of up to $5,000 to offset these costs. The government will also offer up to one million free EnerGuide assessments and will finance the recruitment and training of EnerGuide auditors to help you determine the best course of action to improve your home’s energy performance.

The government also announced a low-cost loan program that “integrates and builds on energy audits and grants to finance deeper home energy retrofits for homeowners.”

The government’s Our Action Starts at Home – Home Energy Retrofit Initiative is now available to homeowners, retroactive to December 1, 2020. It complements provincial energy efficiency programs.

Speaking of the provinces, the government plans to work with them to develop a new model retrofit code for existing buildings by 2022 to be put in place by 2025.

And, near and dear to my heart, the federal government announced that it will work with the building materials sector “to develop a robust, low-emission building materials supply chain to ensure Canadian, locally-sourced products are available, including low-carbon cement, energy-efficient windows and insulation.”

There are two roads to carbon reduction in buildings. One of course is improving energy efficiencies. The other is reducing embodied carbon within the building material and its manufacturing process itself. There has been much discussion on this in the green building world, and I am very happy to see that the federal government is taking low carbon-embedded building materials to heart!

Retrofitting existing homes is a wise investment for both the government and homeowner. It fuels local jobs while helping homeowners reduce their carbon footprint and energy bills.

This article appears in the April 2021 issue of Neighbours of High Park Magazine.

Photo: Greening Homes’ renovation of a post-World War II bungalow, which received the Canadian Green Building Award in the residential project category. The project was a deep energy retrofit.