Photo: Energy-efficient buildings

Credit: Jeremy Levine Design via Flickr.

Slashing energy use in homes and offices is an important way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and it saves money.

The residential sector accounts for 5.9 per cent of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, while the commercial sector contributes 4.7 per cent. Most of these emissions come from the use of fossil fuels, mainly fuel oil and natural gas, for space and water heating. Lighting, cooking, heating, cooling and home entertainment also use electricity, which is often generated from fossil fuels.

The following measures would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the residential and commercial sectors:

  • New homes. A provincial mandate to establish the R-2000 code as a minimum standard for new homes. The federal government currently promotes energy-efficient R-2000 construction, which creates environmentally friendly and healthy homes. R-2000 homes use an average of 26 per cent less energy than other types of new homes. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is another popular standard is that promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health:
    • sustainable site development
    • water efficiency
    • energy efficiency
    • materials selection
    • indoor environmental quality
  • Retrofits. Mandate cost-effective energy efficiency retrofits for commercial and residential buildings, and provide low-interest loans, tax credits or other incentives for these improvements.
  • District energy. Provide government financing and other support for district energy programs. District energy heats space efficiently by using one energy source, such as water warmed by waste heat from industry, to heat a large number of buildings. In Denmark, Sweden and Finland, district heating meets the needs of up to 80 per cent of the urban heating market. Twenty-three district heating projects identified in Canada could create 7,000 construction jobs, and 2,500 permanent jobs.

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