Energy-use in Canada’s buildings sector has grown by 19 per cents since 1990, and currently accounts for about 120 million tonnes of CO2eq emissions annually.1 According to the latest Evaluation Report (June 2015) of the Office of Energy Efficiency, building sector energy consumption is expected to continue increasing through 2020 and “there is an ongoing need to improve energy efficiency in Canada for environment and economic competitiveness reasons.” Growing energy consumption places greater pressure on Canada’s energy supply management infrastructure and makes individuals and businesses more vulnerable to rising energy prices. Energy efficiency, on the other hand, can reduce emissions while delivering a variety of other societal benefits. But federal action is crucial in this arena.

As part of our Building Value project, we’ve asked key stakeholders what’s holding back energy efficiency in Canada and what the federal government should do. Here’s what we found:

Despite the benefits of energy efficiency, three primary barriers prevent the adoption and implementation of energy efficiency:

  1. Limited knowledge and information tools;
  2. Lack of financial resources;
  3. Lack of motivation.

As a result, the federal government should use three general mechanisms to mitigate these barriers: capacity building, financial incentives, and regulation.

To understand how the federal government can make the most of these mechanisms, TAF conducted a high level survey on federal support for advancing energy efficiency and distributed it to a wide range of stakeholders (see Appendix). Based on the responses collected, energy efficiency codes and standards were identified as the most important mechanism the federal government could use, followed by financial incentives and capacity building, respectively.

This is consistent with global research on climate change mitigation and energy conservation, which finds that building codes and equipment standards “have been among the most environmentally and cost-effective instruments for emission reductions” (IPCC, 2014). The responses also provided valuable feedback in terms of the specific policies stakeholders believe the federal government should prioritize under each mechanism.

Please check out the full report to see the top policy priority within each mechanism.