A Quick Look at Ontario’s New Environment Plan

Published on December 04, 2018

A Quick Look at Ontario’s New Environment Plan

The Provincial Government has released its new Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, with the intention of: protecting lakes, rivers and air, addressing climate change, reducing waste and litter in our environment, and conserving land and greenspace. The section of the Environment Plan which targets climate change has a goal of fulfilling the previous requirements of Cap and Trade, now that it has been cancelled in Ontario.

The Environment Plan is based largely around three governing principles, which include: clear rules and strong enforcement, trust and transparency, and resilient communities and local solutions. The plan is also scheduled for government review every four years, and will have consultation from the Environmental Registry of Ontario until January 28th of next year.

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The Environment Plan has a chapter regarding how Ontario will address climate change, and includes an number of strategies for helping the province reduce its amount of yearly carbon emissions. Among these strategies is the expansion of natural gas into more trucks and homes, and an emissions performance standard that sets the limit of how much an industrial facility can emit - tied directly to their level of output or production. This means there will not be a generic ‘blanket’ carbon emitting limit for all industrial facilities in Ontario, instead the limit will be determined specific to each facility; taking into account individual conditions, while also allowing for economic growth.

Clean fuels and a Federal Clean Fuel Standard are listed in the Environment Plan, with clean fuels referring to an increase in gasoline’s ethanol content by 15 percent by 2025. This is intended to encourage natural gas uptake and reduce the amount of carbon fuels used in Ontario. Clean fuels are expected to reduce Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions emissions by 19 percent by 2030, while a Federal Clean Fuel standard - which is an estimate of the extra-impact caused by the new federal emitting standards - is expected to lower emissions by 7 percent by 2030.

Together, energy efficiency innovation in the industrial market and new Industry Performance Standards are planned to reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2030. The plan also includes the Ontario Carbon Trust, a $350 million publicly sourced emission reduction fund, which is planned to help make private investments in clean technologies affordable. Included in the Ontario Carbon Trust will be an $50 million Ontario Reverse Auction, allowing bidders to send in proposals to an independent board, which has them compete for contracts that have the lowest cost greenhouse gas emission reductions.

Conserving Energy in Homes and Buildings

The Environment Plan also includes actions for helping increase energy conservation and efficiency in Ontario’s homes and buildings. The gas conservation programs that are already offered by both Enbridge and Union Gas, make efficiency upgrades more affordable for homeowners. Each dollar spent on efficiency improvements through either of the programs can net homeowners up to $2.67 in reduced utility bills, according to the Environment Plan.

Also included is an intention to work with the Ontario Real Estate Association, “to help encourage the voluntary display of home energy efficiency information on real estate listings to better inform buyers and encourage energy-efficiency measures,” says the Environment Plan. This means that by voluntarily having a Home Energy Assessment conducted by a Registered Energy Advisor, Ontario homeowners can not only be made aware of and display their home’s level of efficiency, but they can also improve their home’s value on the market through improved buyer transparency, and be informed about efficiency improving investments and how effective they can be per dollar spent.

The plan also includes an intention to review the Building Code, in an effort to support the adoption of cost effective measures for improving energy efficiency in newly built homes, and an intention to work with the Ontario Energy Board to reduce emissions by increasing the conservation of natural gas in a cost effective manner. Connections with indigenous communities in Northern Ontario is also planned, as a way of supporting the integration of climate action into local plans and a reduction in the use of diesel fuel. This includes actions such as: encouraging the use of heat pumps for space and water heating, and removing the barriers for trucks to use compressed natural gas refuelling stations.

Contributing to Lower Emissions as a Homeowner

According to the Environment Plan, homes and buildings account for 19 percent of Ontario’s energy use, but by improving home energy efficiency, homeowners are able to significantly contribute to lowering this amount - helping also to lower greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.  Home efficiency improvements are a cost-effective way of improving a home’s: level of comfort, interior air quality, carbon footprint, value on the housing market, and utility payment amounts.

As both the Provincial and Federal governments are looking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through incentives for efficiency-improving investments, along with additional education on energy use, Ontario homeowners may wish to capitalize on certain programs to affordably improve their home’s efficiency, such as the home renovation rebates that are currently offered to Enbridge and Union Gas customers.

By contacting Barrier Sciences Group and scheduling a time for our Registered Energy Advisors to come into your home to conduct a Home Energy Assessment, you can be provided with a complete look at how efficient your home is, along with a list of suggestions for improving efficiency that are specific to your home and ordered by our advisors in terms of cost-effectiveness. This means that you can become aware of how easy it may be for your home to become more efficient, and how effective each suggested efficiency improvement could be at lowering your utility payments and energy usage.

The Canada Greener Homes Grant offers home efficiency renovation grants up to $5,000.

Homeowners Canada-wide are eligible for the Canada Greener Homes Grant, announced on May 27, 2021. This new incentive offers up to $5,000 in grants for home efficiency retrofit renovations, plus a $600 reimbursement for pre- and post-work EnerGuide evaluations. Eligible retrofit scopes include home insulation, heating, doors, windows, photovoltaic solar panels, resiliency measures, and thermostats.

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