Supporting renovation through government programs

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Demand for home renovation in Canada boomed during the pandemic as homeowners found themselves with changing needs and, for most homeowners, more money in their pockets due to reduced spending elsewhere. Renovation is a big contributor to Canada’s overall economy, accounting for more than 726,000 jobs, $47.3 billion dollars in wages, and $78.2 billion in investment. And renovating existing homes is key to reaching Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions targets. Over the last few years, these facts have helped bolster CHBA’s advocacy for the importance in supporting energy retrofits, and in turn, Canada’s renovators. And CHBA activities, supported by leading members, have resulted in an exciting new initiative for renovators.

In the fall, CHBA officially announced the expansion of its Net Zero Home Labelling Program to include renovations. That process started with a Pilot the year before, which included training courses for members looking to augment their skills and become Qualified Net Zero Renovators, as well as renovators who volunteered to be part of the Pilot by renovating homes within the Labelling Program’s technical requirements for renovations.

Building on the success of the Pilot and subsequent inclusion of renovations in the Labelling Program, CHBA announced in February a new five-year initiative towards cost-effective net zero energy ready residential renovations, with support from Natural Resources Canada. In collaboration with local home builders’ associations, Canadian municipalities, and renovators and industry partners, the initiative will target barriers to achieving net zero ready performance in existing homes. It will support members looking to accelerate the uptake of Net Zero Energy and Net Zero Energy Ready retrofits, and determine the most cost-effective solutions to renovating to these high levels of energy efficiency. The aim is to have the renovation work supported by municipally led programs/initiatives to support local adoption, in addition to the federal grants. This will be complemented by the know-how and programming that will be brought to the table by CHBA and its members.

We know that government incentives for homeowners to do energy efficiency home renovations are important in achieving more widespread, voluntary action by homeowners. CHBA has been advocating for years for the federal government to use its policy levers to address climate change in housing while improving affordability. The 2021 launch of the Canada Greener Homes Grant Initiative is an example of that action, which should also help improve capacity in the industry. The initiative provides funds for home evaluations and for retrofits such as insulation, windows, doors, and air sealing. By requiring receipts, the program also helps combat the underground economy. More information on the grant, which can be shared with interested homeowners, can be found on the government’s website: nrcan.gc.ca.

Recent activities show the federal government is aware of the critical importance of energy efficient renovations to the future of Canada’s existing housing stock if Canada is to achieve its climate change goals. CHBA is working to equip members who want to lead the way in this area with the information and skills they need to get ahead of the competition and provide homeowners with the quality renovations they’re looking for.