City of Ottawa Launches Loan Program for Green Home Renovation

The City of Ottawa has launched a program to help homeowners make their homes more environmentally friendly, but more staff and resources are needed at the municipal level to reduce Ottawa’s greenhouse gas emissions, a local nonprofit said.

Sana Badruddin, a project coordinator at Ecology Ottawa, says that while subsidies for renovations exist at all levels of government, it takes people to make them effective.

City staff can be crucial in helping homeowners make the transition to greener homes and educating different demographics about the support available, she said.

Badruddin told Alan Neal, host of CBC Radios all in one day, that 45 percent of Ottawa’s greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to the heating, cooling and electrification of homes and office buildings.

All in one day is running a series titled “Climate Change and the City,” which kicks off in August, looking at how the nation’s capital can reach its net-zero emissions target by 2050.

Listeners submitted ideas, including home renovations, and environmental groups and the city of Ottawa agreed it’s important.

All in one day10:04Climate change and the city #7: what is the city doing about renovations?

In August we talked about the need for the city to have better renovation programs. Today Janice Ashworth of the City reacts. 10:04

Residential buildings alone are responsible for 25 percent of the emissions, according to municipal staff.

The City of Ottawa launched its interest-free home renovation loan program called “Better Homes” in mid-November, which it had teased in July.

Homeowners can now apply for a low-interest loan from the city to help pay for renovations such as replacing windows, adding insulation, installing heat pumps or chargers for electric vehicles.

A homeowner can borrow 10 percent of the home’s value up to $125,000 and the loans would be repaid in 20 years in real estate tax accounts and would be attached to properties as a lien. If the house is sold, new owners pay the rest while living in the more efficient house.

Newer cities to adjust landscape

Janice Ashworth, project manager for the City of Ottawa’s Environmental Program, said: All in one day there is enough staff to manage the loan program, but this is all quite new at the municipal level.

“The city has never played a significant role in this space, so it’s building that expertise and working with the partners,” she said.

The city has contracted the environmental nonprofit EnviroCentre to offer energy renovation planners to interested homeowners — the service is free for qualified low-income homeowners.

The planner can help decide what needs to be upgraded and navigate quotes and oversee contracts, she said.

Janice Ashworth, project manager for the city’s environmental program, would like the city to be given more powers to run programs that could provide greater incentives for renovations. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Ashworth also said she wants to see a program for commercial buildings and larger residential buildings such as condos and condos.

She said the city’s plan for the next two decades calls for making commercial buildings between 50 and 60 percent more energy efficient and making homes 70 percent more energy efficient.

Rules for new buildings will be just as important, if not more important, she added, and municipalities await the upcoming release of a new building code model by the federal government.

“The federal government sends a model code, then the counties take over which components of that model code they want, and then the cities regulate that code,” she said.

Ashworth would also like to see municipalities given more powers to enact programs that could provide greater incentives for retrofits, such as linking one’s property taxes to their emissions level – something the city can’t do at the moment.

Leave a Comment