Home retrofits feature in Canada's roadmap for carbon emissions reductions

The federal government has released its detailed roadmap to a 40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 - and home retrofits play a big role.


Canada has a miserable habit of making commitments to reduce carbon emissions (at Kyoto, Copenhagen, etc) and then blowing right past them.

In an effort to be more accountable for these international commitments, Ottawa now has to publish five year plans with specific targets that can be tracked. It's no guarantee that we'll meet our obligations, but it's at the very least a detailed plan to do so.

The first roadmap to 2030 (a date by which Canada has committed to reduce its emissions by 40%) was made public this week and the Pocket Change Project was pleased to see specific commitments (and funding) around home retrofits. 

We feel this underlines the importance of retrofitting Canada's existing housing stock and we hope our community initiative can help develop a retrofit roadmap for neighbourhoods across the country to get their houses off natural gas.

Check out the specific language around home retrofits in the government's plan below:


In the 2030 plan, the Government of Canada is taking action by:

Helping to reduce energy costs for our homes and buildings, while driving down emissions to net zero by 2050 and boosting climate resiliency through the development of the $150-million Canada Green Buildings Strategy. Working with provinces, territories, and other partners, the strategy will build off existing initiatives and set out new policy, programs, incentives, and standards needed to drive a massive retrofit of the existing building stock, and construction to the highest zero-carbon standards. Under the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, the Canada Greener Homes Loan program will receive an additional investment of $458.5 million. Together, these measures and others outlined in the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, will help Canadians reduce emissions, save money on renovations and heating and cooling costs, and stimulate well-paying jobs in the economy.

Empowering communities to take climate action by expanding the Low Carbon Economy Fund through a $2.2‑billion renewal. The funding aims to leverage further climate actions from provinces and territories, municipalities, universities, colleges, schools, hospitals, businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and Indigenous communities and organizations. The renewed Low Carbon Economy Fund will also support climate action by Indigenous Peoples with a new $180-million Indigenous Leadership Fund. This will support clean energy and energy efficiency projects led by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities and organizations. In addition, the Government of Canada will support regional growth opportunities and energy systems transformation through a $25-million investment in Regional Strategic Initiatives that will drive economic prosperity and the creation of sustainable jobs in a net-zero economy.

Making it easier for Canadians to switch to electric vehicles through additional funding of $400 million for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) charging stations, in support of the Government’s objective of adding 50,000 ZEV chargers to Canada’s network. In addition, the Canada Infrastructure Bank will also invest $500 million in ZEV charging and refueling infrastructure. The Government of Canada will provide $1.7 billion to extend the Incentives for Zero-Emission Vehicles (iZEV) program will make it more affordable and easier for Canadians to buy and drive new electric light-duty vehicles. The Government will also put in place a sales mandate to ensure at least 20 percent of new light-duty vehicle sales will be zero-emission vehicles by 2026, at least 60 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2035. To reduce emissions from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs), the Government of Canada will aim to achieve 35 percent of total MHDV sales being ZEVs by 2030. In addition, the Government will develop a MHDV ZEV regulation to require 100 percent MHDV sales to be ZEVs by 2040 for a subset of vehicle types based on feasibility, with interim 2030 regulated sales requirements that would vary for different vehicle categories based on feasibility, and explore interim targets for the mid-2020s.

Find out more about the federal government's 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan here.


UPDATE: The federal government has now released its budget, which includes details on several home retrofit measures:

Greener Buildings and Homes

Buildings and homes are the third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, accounting for approximately 12 per cent of Canada’s emissions. Since 2016, the federal government has dedicated more than $10 billion towards decarbonizing homes and buildings, and incenting energy efficient retrofits. To achieve Canada’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, the scale and pace of retrofitting buildings in Canada must increase. To this end, the federal government will develop a national net-zero by 2050 buildings strategy, working with provinces, territories, and other partners to accelerate both retrofits of existing buildings, and the construction of buildings to the highest zero carbon standards.

  • Budget 2022 proposes to provide $150 million over five years, starting 2022-23, to Natural Resources Canada to develop the Canada Green Buildings Strategy. The strategy will include initiatives to further drive building code reform; to accelerate the adoption and implementation of performance-based national building codes; to promote the use of lower carbon construction materials; and to increase the climate resilience of existing buildings.
  • Budget 2022 proposes to provide $200 million over five years, starting in 2022-23, to Natural Resources Canada to create the Deep Retrofit Accelerator Initiative, which will provide support for retrofit audits and project management for large projects to accelerate the pace of deep retrofits in Canada, including a focus on low-income affordable housing.

Establishing a Greener Neighbourhood Pilot Program

More than two thirds of buildings that will be standing in Canada in 2050 have already been built today, and many of them need to be retrofitted to make them more sustainable.

The Energiesprong model, adopted by Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the United States, accelerates the pace and scale of retrofits by aggregating homes and buildings in an entire neighbourhood and retrofitting them all at the same time. This support for community-level home retrofits aligns with the Net-Zero Advisory Body’s recommendation to seek out opportunities to decarbonize multiple buildings at once.

  • Budget 2022 proposes to provide $33.2 million over five years, starting 2022-23, to Natural Resources Canada, including $6 million from the Green Infrastructure – Energy Efficient Buildings Program to implement a Greener Neighbourhoods Pilot Program in up to six community housing neighbourhoods to pilot “Energiesprong” model in Canada.

Greener Construction in Housing and Buildings

Guidance, standards, and research are all needed to support innovations like the development of lower-carbon building materials and more energy efficient processes for retrofitting homes.

  • Budget 2022 proposes to provide $183.2 million over seven years, starting in 2022-23, with $8.5 million in remaining amortization, and $7.1 million ongoing to the National Research Council to conduct research and development on innovative construction materials and to revitalize national housing and building standards to encourage low-carbon construction solutions.

Greener Affordable Housing

Budget 2021 announced $4.4 billion on a cash basis to create the Canada Greener Homes Loan program, of which a portion will be used to make existing affordable housing more energy efficient, which will also help to lower energy bills.

  • Budget 2022 proposes to provide an additional $458.5 million over the program duration, starting in 2022-23, to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to provide low-interest loans and grants to low- income housing providers as part of the low-income stream of the Canada Greener Homes Loan program.

Read the full budget chapter on housing initiatives here.

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