Mandatory home energy labelling coming to Ontario
Ontario's 57-page Climate Change Action Plan prescribes monumental changes to the way homes are heated and insulated.
By Steve Maxwell
If you haven’t yet heard of Ontario’s 57-page Climate Change Action Plan, you will soon. It includes 80 sweeping new policies aimed at reducing the province’s carbon footprint. The plan will cost $7 billion over the next four years and includes hard-to-believe hot-potato items such as the phasing out of natural gas in new homes by 2030, and the reformulation of gasoline so it contains less carbon. Policies like these will throw entire industries upside down, so things are bound to get noisy. One comparatively small detail that will probably get lost in the ruckus is something that will affect the homebuilding and real estate industries in a big way.
Mandatory home energy labeling is officially part of the Climate Change Action Plan, and it requires that all homes offered for sale undergo an audit that shows how much energy they consume and where. The requirement for an audit will apply to both new homes and resale homes and will be a required condition of sale. The first homes to get audited will appear in 2016 or early 2017. The rest of the action plan will come into force at different times because they’re the responsibility of different ministries.
Whether or not you believe that human sources of carbon are adversely affecting climate, this latest move by the Ontario government is huge. What will home energy labeling mean for you as a contractor? First, a lot more of your work will centre around energy issues. Conservation is no longer just something some people do because they believe it’s the right thing. Even homeowners who are functionally indifferent to conservation will be forced to hire you for energy upgrades that’ll let them keep up their home stats in their resale market.
And second, a lot more government money will be available to make this happen. It’s one of those good news/bad news scenarios. Good for your business, but bad if you believe that Ontario has no business saddling children and those not yet born with the burden of debt that extends way beyond the legitimate tax base. Either way, according to the Action Plan, $3.8 billion of government incentives will be up for grabs, ear-marked for upgrading homes and boosting energy efficiency in various ways.
On May 18, the Climate Change Mitigation and Low-Carbon Economy Act passed as Bill 172. This puts Ontario’s GHG targets into law: 15% reduction by 2020; 37% reduction by 2030; 80% reduction by 2050.
At least as influential as laws and money is the way home energy labeling will bring contractor accountability front and centre. Sooner or later the energy performance of every home in Ontario will become public knowledge, rewarding quality-minded contractors and punishing incompetence accordingly. Like it or not, this is where many Canadian contractors will find themselves in the future.