Columbia Institute

Columbia Institute

June 20, 2011 13:13 ET

Opinion/Editorial: Energy Efficiency Key to New Green Jobs and Action on Climate Change

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - June 20, 2011) -

By Charley Beresford, Executive Director, Columbia Institute

Canadians are thinking more and more about home energy use – and with good reason. In 2008, heating, cooling and electricity use in buildings accounted for 28 per cent of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions from energy use. And, with the cost of energy on the rise, Canadians are paying more to heat and cool their homes than ever before.

But by making some simple retrofits to your home – like replacing your water heater, weatherizing your home or putting in a heat pump – Canadian homeowners can earn average energy savings of between 26 and 35 per cent. For the average homeowner, that works out to between $700 and $2,000 a year. And with energy prices going up every year, the savings to homeowners will increase even more over time.

The Columbia Institute's June 2011 study, This Green House – Building Fast Action on Climate Change and Green Jobs, found that modest investments in energy efficiencies in homes can save homeowners thousands of dollars, while dramatically and rapidly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the same time.

Our study also looks at the role Canadian municipalities can play in setting up financing programs for residential energy retrofits. With municipal financing programs like the one being piloted this year in Vancouver, homeowners can make loan payments with the savings on their energy bills, making energy efficiency upgrades affordable and easy.

A small investment in one's home – supported with loans provided at the municipal level – will give homeowners significant energy savings that they can take to the bank. Successful programs in San Francisco, Portland and Colorado – and now a pilot project in Vancouver – show that these programs are both affordable and effective.

Retrofits don't just save energy and money. They also create jobs - 20 "green" jobs for each $1 million invested. Compare that with the oil and gas industry in Canada, which creates only 5.2 jobs per $1 million invested. Clearly, energy efficiency retrofits don't just make good environmental sense – they make good economic sense, too.

The next step is getting the regulatory changes necessary to make these kinds of partnerships possible in communities across Canada - municipalities need the support of their provincial governments to establish municipal retrofit financing mechanisms.

The time for action is now.

To download a full copy of This Green House – Building Fast Action on Climate Change and Green Jobs, visit the Columbia Institute's website at columbiainstitute.ca.

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