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  • Writer's pictureLily Dittschlag & Dennis Dittschlag


Updated: Sep 30, 2020

This is where the world is going. Global consumers and investors are demanding and rewarding climate action. Canadians have the determination and ingenuity to rise to this challenge and global market opportunity

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his Throne Speech on September 23, 2020

energy efficient renewable energy generation

Today, we decided to post a different kind of blog post, one that reflects more on the most recent economic and political landscape and how our build actually aligns with the latest developments.

As a family we have made the deliberate decision to watch our living habits by trying to be respectful to the environment and limiting our very own carbon footprint. In our new home project we are able to incorporate this goal by going for a very energy efficient Passive House. By using less energy to begin with, a Passive House is truly a sustainable approach that will save on energy during its entire lifetime. We have outlined why we believe Passive House is future proof in one of our earlier posts. With newly announced policy plans coming in, we feel this approach to buildings is becoming more relevant, and here is why...

The Political Background

When looking at energy efficiency as a key principle to fighting climate change, there is very little that the average person or business will do by themselves, unless they see some form of benefit to them directly or they are part of a small idealistic minority. Change on a larger scale and with ambitious timelines, whether it be on energy efficiency or anything else, is only possible when there is clear public policy and regulations that not only promote but mandate it.

This is reality and it's easier said than done. There are always political and economic challenges and with governments on federal, provincial and municipal levels from different parties of the political spectrum, finding consensus to drive towards the same goals can be near impossible. However, maybe 2020 is different?! With Covid-19 heavily impacting all aspects of daily lives and the economy, there has been much debate on stimulus packages and ideas of how to revive the economy as a whole.

One perspective on our country's path to economic recovery has been the focus on sustainability and clean technology, so to not just restart where we left off but to make the economy and Canada's position globally stronger in future. During this week's Throne Speech, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlined more concrete steps as part of his economic recovery program and his "green agenda". This speech is important because it has been pre-coordinated with opposition leaders and it describes the government's priorities for the upcoming parliament sessions.

Some of the main points from the government's plan worth mentioning are:

  • more spending in building retrofits

  • investment in clean energy and products

  • ban certain single-use plastics in 2021

  • plant two billion trees by 2025

  • protect one-quarter of the country's lands and oceans by 2025

  • updating the Canadian Environmental Protection Act

all in the name of exceeding Canada’s 2030 climate goals and a "near net zero future".

Realistically, theses are lofty goals. There are aspects of the government's policy that will continue to support the existing oil and gas industries and other economic drivers that are not clean per se. This is politics after all. Just because our top leader has made a speech outlining a plan, doesn't mean that all those things are going to get done. But for climate action and energy efficiency to take center stage in a strategic and much needed plan for our country's economic recovery is very significant!

Policy as it relates to our house build and Passive House

Passive House Toronto building site

An energy efficient Passive House directly contributes to reduced energy demand and lower CO2 emissions by simply using significantly less energy than a conventional house. Now this is great and will put anyone living or working in such a building on the right track for being more sustainable and energy efficient. But with the most recent announcements, we feel there now is a stronger connection to what is happening on the bigger picture.

When it comes to the government's plans for investing in retrofit of existing building infrastructure and making it more efficient, the same Passive House principles can be applied. As a matter of fact, you already know there is a certification specifically targeted for retrofit building renovations called EnerPHit. So the same energy efficient principles that are the basis for a new Passive House build can be applied for retrofits.

Clean energy investment is targeted towards making existing fossil fuel energy production cleaner and obviously expanding renewable energy generation, which is super compatible with a Passive House. In fact, we are hoping to eventually integrate renewables ourselves and someday, maybe become a prosumer in a distributed electricity grid (fingers crossed, this will eventually work out).

With the investments mentioned, the building technology and products required to achieve those goals will evolve and advanced Passive House components that are not very common or available today will become more widespread in future (think about windows, doors, insulation, heat recovery ventilation systems).

Along with these changes announced to the current economic recovery plan, we would expect to see tighter energy efficiency requirements to be introduced to the building code, incentives for homeowners, investors and builders to exceed the standards and effective feed-in-tariff programs for properties with renewable energy generation.

Our perspective is that a Passive House today is in line and even ahead of the newly announced plans and actions that are to be introduced and implemented in the years to come. We feel really good about our choices and we are more positive than ever that Passive House is indeed the future when it comes to leading energy efficiency in buildings.

Call to Action and to Explore More on Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficiency Day 2020

If energy efficiency is something you would like to support or to explore further, we invite you to join Efficiency Canada's Energy Efficiency Day 2020 and become part of their network on #ourhumanenergy

For a nice perspective on the political announcements just made this week as part of the Throne Speech, we enjoyed this Globe and Mail article in particular.


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