We think the government and utilities should reward and fund Energy Reduction Renovators (ERRs) for homes or buildings, as they’re missing from the economy and are a key contributor to achieving Canada’s emissions reductions targets.
Canada’s Housing Reality in 2023
Let’s set the stage for our position
- #1. Canada has a housing shortage. Canada’s population is forecast to increase to up to 52.5M people by the year 2043 (Statistics Canada, 2022). There is a shortage of at least 3.5M affordable homes than are projected to be built by 2030, with a shortage of least 1.8 million of those homes being in Ontario alone (CMHC, 2022). To meet our housing demands we need to keep our current housing stock as well as to build more homes so people have a place to live and can aspire to afford a home.
- #2. As part of the G8 nations (reference) Canada has committed to net zero emissions which means we take out as much GHG from the air as we emit, by 2050 (Environment and Climate Change Canada, 2021). Since ~ 30% of Canada’s emissions come from buildings and homes, we need to lower our overall GHG emissions, which means that new and existing buildings and homes need to produce less GHG emissions (Environment and Climate Change Canada, 2021).
- #3. As part of COP15 Canada has committed to protecting 30% of land and water by 2030 from any changes, including development (Government of Canada, 2022).
- #4. Low income earners can only afford the least expensive homes, which typically are older homes, originally constructed with little to no insulation, have leaky materials in their building envelopes, and inefficient mechanical equipment. These homes are expensive to operate, and emit outsized ratios of GHGs when compared with current building standards. Low income earners represent ~24% of the Canadian population (Statistics Canada, 2016).
- #5. Low income earners don’t have the budget to renovate energy inefficient homes (Energy Efficiency Canada, 2022).
- #6. Many homeowners won’t complete energy improvements due to lack of awareness, time or experience for complicated and highly disruptive energy improvements.
- #7. The federal and provincial governments’ approach to homeowner and business energy use reduction is reactive. Homeowners and businesses complete energy improvements they can afford or feel are worthwhile. They benefit from improved comfort and lowered operating costs, however here’s no housing emissions reduction national timeline (Environment and Climate Change Canada, 2021), no targets, and no way to get to targets (Climate Action Tracker 2022) because the government can’t force the population to make energy improvements.
Where does this leave us as a country? With ~9.5M older homes (Statistics Canada, 2021) and buildings emitting greenhouse gases that most people can’t afford and don’t know how to renovate.
While the federal government and some provincial utilities have started to offer funding in the form of energy improvement rebates, there’s a specific segment of the population or businesses that can implement energy improvements because they have budget or acceptable debt to income ratios to qualify for government backed loans, while up to 4.5M people are unable to afford home energy improvements (Energy Efficiency Canada, 2022).
The Energy Reduction Renovator Solution
With millions of home requiring a reduction in energy consumption, not enough homeowners completing improvements, and only partial energy improvements being performed by homeowners, the Government can get more home energy reductions by including renovation businesses as part of the energy reduction solution.
What It Could Look Like
Standardize a list of required and optional energy renovations for home and businesses. Differentiate between Energy Renovators and House Flippers that make no energy improvements.
Add more money and widen the eligibility criteria so renovators can access incentives in for energy renovations. Standardize the process to require energy reduction renovators to have a baseline Natural Resources Canada EnerGuide report, complete energy efficiency improvements and have a Natural Resources Canada post-renovation energy use report and receipts for improvements made.
- Option 1: A house is being upgraded by a single renovator, including energy upgrades and high end finishes. The renovator would be eligible for rebates following the standard process mentioned above.
- Option 2: A house is being upgraded by 2 renovators, including energy upgrades and high end finishes. The energy renovator would be eligible for the rebates following the standard process mentioned above.
There will be a lowering of emissions from Canada’s building stock if all businesses that are working towards energy reductions rewarded for their activities.
Energy Reduction Renovators can be part of Canada’s solution to get us more quickly, and with greater impact than individuals, in Canada’s transition to lower energy use.