The federal government says it will invest $300 million over four years to promote smarter energy use and reduce the amount of harmful emissions that affect the health of Canadians.
The new ecoENERGY initiative announced by Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn on January 21 represents a partial reinstatement of the EnerGuide for Houses program cancelled by the Conservative government in May 2006.
Launched in 1998, the $900-million EnerGuide for Houses program encouraged Canadians to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, especially when undertaking home renovation and maintenance projects.
About 249,000 EnerGuide energy evaluations were conducted in homes across the country between 1998 and 2006.
CREA president Alan Tennant wrote to Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn last May and called on the federal government to immediately reinstate the cancelled programs.
“Given the popularity of this program among REALTORS® and, particularly, among the home buying public, we would like to request that you revisit this decision and give serious consideration to reinstating this program,” said Tennant.
The new initiative includes $220 million for an ecoENERGY Retrofit program that will offer homeowners, smaller businesses and organizations support and information to help them retrofit their homes, buildings and industrial processes.
The government said the program will promote smart energy use in more than 140,000 homes. The average grant is expected to be more than $1,000 and will yield an average 30 per cent reduction in energy use and costs.
A further $60 million was announced for the ecoENERGY for Buildings and Houses program, which the government hopes will lead to the construction and retrofitting of more energy efficient buildings and houses.
Program details, including information about how to apply for ecoENERGY grants, will be available when the program officially starts in April 2007.
“There are more than 13-million homes and 380,000 buildings in this country,” said Lunn. “They use 30 per cent of our energy and are responsible for almost 30 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Canada’s industries account for 38 per cent of energy demand and are responsible for 34 per cent of our greenhouse gases. These are challenges that we must address.”
The new program does not include elements of the EnerGuide for Low-Income Households program, which was also cancelled last May.
“Although re-launching the EnerGuide program is a step in the right direction, I am concerned that the changes that the government has made will lead to a significant reduction in the number of Canadians who use the program, especially low-income Canadians," said Liberal Environment Critic David McGuinty.
— Canadian Real Estate Association.