Ontario Needs a Green Building Program

It’s time for a comprehensive Green Building Program in Ontario. Increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand is the most financially responsible and effective approach to planning for Ontario’s energy future. With the government already announcing increases in hydro rates and a number of economists predicting rising prices for fossil fuels, it is clear that the era of cheap energy is coming to an end. The time to plan is now. A Green Building Program will reduce demand for two of the three largest areas of energy use: home heating fuels and electricity.

With energy prices on the rise, it is inconceivable that for every dollar the Ontario Power Authority has spent on energy conservation and efficiency through 2008, it has contracted for $60 worth of new electricity supply. As a result of this misguided focus, Ontario is behind other jurisdictions. For example, Ontario’s electricity consumption per capita is 50% higher than that of a comparable jurisdiction, the State of New York.

According to the McKinsey & Company's report, The Case for Investing in Energy Efficiency, investments in energy efficiency have higher rates of return than the stock market or the real estate market. National Post columnist Jim Harris shows that the simple act of painting a black roof white will result in a 100 percent rate of return on investment from energy savings.

A Green Building Program would create jobs today in trades and construction that save money now and in the future by reducing our dependence on electricity, oil, natural gas and other forms of energy.

A comprehensive Green Building Program will provide incentives, including access to affordable financing, for home owners, property managers and businesses to retrofit existing building stock. Such a program must contain rules and criteria to protect consumers. Professionals in the green building sector also recommend upgrades to the building code to ensure that all new buildings in Ontario are constructed to 21st-century standards. The government must lead the way by mandating that public buildings achieve LEED certified gold as a minimum standard. Finally, a Green Building Program will require investment in training and colleges to ensure a trained work force capable of meeting rising demand for jobs in the sector.

It’s time to make energy efficiency and conservation a top priority. It’s time for leadership in putting forward a comprehensive Green Building Program.