The federal government should build on the work of the 2020 Task Force for a Resilient Recovery by investing at least C$27 billion in resilient, energy-efficient buildings and directing the dollars to help build an effective deep retrofit industry, The Atmospheric Fund recommends in its 2021 pre-budget submission.
The TAF submission endorses the original task force recommendations and adds “specific actions on how retrofit programs should be shaped and funded to best support carbon reduction, health, affordability, and fairness,” the Toronto-based organization writes. “These crucial steps are ultimately intended to affect retrofit market transformation.”
TAF calls for $2 billion over five years to maximize carbon reductions and community benefits through deep retrofits, at least $100 million over five years to “help create a well-functioning deep retrofit market”, and at least $30 million over five years to introduce low-carbon equipment for the building sector, writes Bryan Purcell, the organization’s vice president of policy and programs.
“Retrofit funding is widely acknowledged as one of best ways to create jobs, creating an estimated 23 job-years per $1 million invested,” Purcell explains. “But activity today is focused on shallow retrofits—not enough to meet Canada’s net-zero emissions goal.”
That means the country “must rapidly develop and transition the building industry to focus on deep retrofits (targeting greater than 40% carbon reduction) to hit our climate commitments. Based on a decade of experience demonstrating this type of retrofit, from installing electric heat pumps to replacing toilets and smart thermostats, we know building owners and operators need significant support.”
Purcell notes that Ottawa has already committed $6.1 billion to make energy retrofits more affordable for home and building owners. “This, combined with the climate plan’s increase in carbon price, bodes well for enabling more rapid undertaking of retrofits in Canada, but alone it is not enough,” he writes. “Funding must be specifically for deep retrofits, and must include complimentary funding for retrofit market development: activities which ensure we have the work force, market demand, quality of service, and process standardization to yield the economic, social, and environmental outcomes retrofits offer.”
If the government takes TAF’s recommendations onboard, Purcell says it will find willing allies ready to step up. “Signals from our partners in local government, housing providers, construction trades, and private investors tell us that a broad spectrum of the market is ready to roll up their sleeves,” he writes.