With the federal government promising to hold a first ministers conference 90 days after COP21 to develop a national climate strategy, it is now more imperative than ever to critically assess major sources of GHG emissions and opportunities for substantial emissions reductions. To better understand how the Trudeau government can make the most of energy efficiency policy, TAF’s Building Value team conducted a high level survey on federal policy options for advancing energy efficiency and distributed it to a wide range of stakeholders working in the field of energy efficiency.
Based on the responses collected, TAF identified three top policy areas and some key recommendations in each area:
Regulations & Standards
- Make new homes and buildings more efficient by strengthening the National Energy Code for Buildings.
- Strengthen Canada’s Energy Efficiency Regulations for new equipment and appliances
- Restore and strengthen federal financial incentives for energy efficiency upgrades to homes and buildings (e.g. ecoENERGY for Homes and Existing Buildings programs)
- Create federal tax incentives for energy efficiency upgrades (e.g. accelerated capital cost depreciation)
Capacity Building/ Education
- Provide funding for research and commercialization related to energy efficiency technology and policy
- Extend and expand support for energy management and benchmarking support programs like ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager
Increasing energy efficiency efforts in the buildings sector presents an opportunity to tackle one of the largest sources of GHG emissions in cities. In Toronto, energy use in buildings accounts for over 40% of Toronto’s GHG emissions. This trend is not exclusive to Toronto – national energy-use in the buildings sector has grown by 19% since 1990, and currently accounts for about 120 million tonnes of CO2eq emissions annually. Growing energy consumption also places greater pressure on Canada’s energy supply management infrastructure and makes individuals and businesses more vulnerable to rising energy prices.
Energy efficiency as a policy tool holds much potential
A recent national study by the Acadia Centre demonstrated that a high energy efficiency scenario could reduce Canada’s annual emissions by 92 Mt CO2eq by 2040 compared to business as usual – a reduction equivalent to 13% of Canada’s total emissions today. In addition to GHG emissions reductions and energy savings, numerous studies have found that energy efficiency provides a wide range of benefits, including economic growth, job creation, government revenue, improved health and wellbeing, poverty alleviation, and improved business competitiveness.
Unlocking the potential
Natural Resources Canada has identified three primary barriers that continue to prevent the adoption and implementation of energy efficiency: (1) limited knowledge and information tools; (2) lack of financial resources; and (3) lack of motivation. Governments have the capacity to lower these barriers through capacity building/education, introducing financial incentives, and updating regulations and standards. While action is being taken in cities to accelerate energy efficiency, federal leadership is needed to realize the full potential of energy efficiency nationwide.
To read more about TAF’s recommendations, see the full report.
Image credit: Pembina Institute