Building and energy leaders urge shift to net-zero energy

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Leading building and energy professionals across ten organizations released a letter to Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna in light of the Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference in New Brunswick last week. The letter urges quick and complete implementation of the building-sector commitments set out in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, which was adopted eight months ago.

“Moving to an ultra energy-efficient, low-carbon building sector is a win-win for Canadians: when energy efficiency in our homes and buildings goes up, our carbon pollution and utility bills will go down,” said Karen Tam Wu, director of the Buildings and Urban Solutions Program, Pembina Institute.

Energy use in homes and buildings accounts for nearly a quarter of Canada’s carbon pollution. A net-zero energy ready building is so efficient it could generate the amount of energy it uses on an annual basis with on-site renewable energy. It’s also estimated that an energy-efficient home can lower energy bills by up to 50 per cent.

The group is pressing for improved energy efficiency, reduced energy costs and more green jobs with these key federal actions:

  • Drive momentum toward “net-zero energy ready” new construction;
  • Accelerate retrofits and emissions reductions in existing buildings;
  • Improve energy-efficiency standards for appliances;
  • Catalyze private investment in energy efficiency through strategic use of public funds;
  • Lead by example with public buildings.

Specific recommendations include: setting a clear expectation for provinces that all new construction should be net-zero energy ready by 2030, supporting provinces in requiring mandatory home energy labelling at time of listing, developing a comprehensive strategy for existing buildings, and requiring new publicly owned buildings to be built to net-zero energy ready standards as of this year.

The Pembina Institute, The Atmospheric Fund, and Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance initiated the letter. Its signatories include Architecture Canada, Équiterre, and MaRS Advanced Energy Centre.

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