Published in Pembina Institute (2021-03-16)
Buildings Contribute To Carbon Pollution
Even before the pandemic, the building sector was the third biggest contributor to carbon pollution in the Pacific Northwest. Heating is a major contributor to North America’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: over half of the energy used for space heating and air-cooling energy comes from burning fossil fuels. Replacing old furnaces with efficient heat pumps can both capture heat and provide cooling. Replacing windows, adding insulation, and bringing in more fresh air will also make residents safer and more comfortable as we face increasingly frequent heat waves and polar vortexes.
A 2019 Abacus poll reports that three quarters of Canadians support, or at least can accept, that the government must “require all existing buildings and homes to switch their fuel source for heating off oil, gas, or propane by 2040.”
Providing grants for some up-front costs of these retrofits is a good start. As carbon and health benefits increase, so should the grants, and these retrofits should be fully covered for low-income households. Canada learned a stark and horrifying lesson through COVID-19 that the very lives of some of our most vulnerable are intrinsically tied to the design and health of their residences.
Heating costs have risen right alongside housing costs for many, and will likely continue to rise as the world moves away from fossil fuels. With people at home 24/7, we’re using more energy than ever. In fact, about 20 per cent of Canadian households experience ‘energy poverty’ due to the high cost of heat and light for their homes.
This article was Published in Pembina Institute (2021-03-16)