Five Things To Expect in 2016Posted by Derek Satnik on Jan 20, 2016 in Mindscape, Policy, Renewables, Residential | 4 comments
Times, They Are A-Changing!
By Derek Satnik:
Every year at Mindscape we like to sit down and look ahead at what we think might happen. You could call it planning strategically, but part of it is certainly that we just love to dream about how we can help continue to change the world. We’ve had a couple rough years for energy and the environment in Canada, but 2016 promises to be an exciting year. Here’s a bit of what we expect:
Five Things To Expect in 2016
1) CHBA Supports Net-Zero
The Canadian Home Builder’s Association (CHBA) represents builders and developers, their contractors and suppliers, from across Canada: literally thousands of companies, and the most significant sector for employment in the country. CHBA’s members are as diverse as you would expect, with some uber-greens that argue the minutia of Passive House, and some who still haven’t figured out what ENERGY STAR is. As an organization, CHBA represents all of its members equally, so it hasn’t tended to be overly progressive in the past, but this has changed radically in the last two years. CHBA’s membership voted and agreed last year that they would found a self-funding “Net Zero Energy Housing Council“, and that participating members would pay for this council to create and manage programs that would help builders to construct net zero energy houses. We expect to see the program launch in 2016, and the first pilot homes are already available for tour.
2) Carbon Trading in Ontario
There has been a lot of talk about carbon trading in Ontario over last five years, and especially since the Wynne Liberals made announcements last Nov. and have since begun to post details online about how the new trading system will work. Most of the discussion continues to be speculation at this point, but it is clear that Ontario has partnered with Quebec and California, and that other provinces and states are increasingly interested as well. 2016 promises to bring more clarity on how exactly carbon will be priced, and who will benefit from it.
3) Trudeau Re-green’s Ottawa
Canada’s 2015 Federal election saw a massive re-boot on environmental thinking in the Federal government. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have vowed to end fossil fuel subsidies, invest in clean technologies, increase protections for marine areas like the north cost of BC (including banning future tanker traffic there), and working with the provinces to address climate change. The Trudeau campaign plan makes clear connections between the environment and the economy, and makes extensive discussion about how programs that help the environment also stimulate the economy. It’s nice to see a politician catching up to the rest of the environmental movement. Trudeau’s plan also makes mention of expected wins like efficiency programs for consumer technologies and increased support for electric vehicles. Most of 2016 will undoubtedly be spent getting their feet mobilized, but we’re looking forward to seeing what the new feds will do.
4) Ontario’s HER&D
Back home in Ontario, we’re finally making progress on promises made in the Green Energy Act from 2009. Homes and other buildings have long been known to represent over 30% of all energy consumed in Canada, and a similar percentage of Canada’s emissions footprint. Many programs have emerged to improve new buildings, but most of Canada’s buildings have already been built, and it has been no small challenge mobilizing consumers and commercial occupants to improve them. Ontario has some good data now to show just how much money the government has saved by investing in conservation, and it is expected that the new Home Energy Rating & Disclosure (HER&D) program will help move the industry forward even further. For those of us in the know, this is the latest version of mandatory home energy labelling: that all homes would (at the time of sale) be tested and given a label that tells you how efficient the home is (or isn’t!). This is expected to catalyze a slew of home renovation activity (good for the economy) that will result in energy savings across the board. 2016 will be a year of planning, with the first phase scheduled for implementation in 2017. We’ll be watching this one closely!
5) New Partnerships for Mindscape
Mindscape has always been big into partnering. This year, we’ll be growing our partnerships with four different companies that are all doing great things. We can only disclose one of those four today, and other announcements will wait for coming months, but we’re proud to say that our former OntarioGreenSpec.ca practice has been blended into a new partnership with EcoSpex.com, and Mindscape is proud to be supporting EcoSpex in their efforts to help manufacturers green their products.
Lots to look forward to!
2016 promises to be a definite step forward in the Canada’s environmental building sector. There is quite a lot more to say on each of the five items skimmed above, and we’ll hope to say more in the coming months. Until then, happy 2016, and here’s to sunny days ahead!
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