James McNeil RPA, LEED AP is the president of JJ McNeil Commercial Inc., a boutique CRE brokerage specializing in green buildings and sustainable workplaces.
This is the first article in a series about climate change, the economy, and its impact on our region.
Businesspeople around the world, including right here in Orléans, recognize clients and customers are developing an acute awareness of all things related to positive action on climate change. This is an incredible opportunity for businesses to do the right thing for climate while demonstrating to clients and customers that they share the same values.
We’ve all heard the term “achieving net-zero” but what is it? Achieving net-zero emissions means we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to nothing. Or, we offset them by actions such as tree planting or using technologies that can capture carbon before it is released into the air.
The Government of Canada has committed to meeting its Paris Agreement target to reduce emissions by 40-45 percent by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. These ambitious climate targets that need to be taken seriously.
As the largest employer and occupier of commercial space in the region, the federal government will transition to climate-resilient real property operations by sharing facilities, maximizing energy efficiency, and switching to lower-carbon fuels. Led by the Centre for Greening Government of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, the Government of Canada will ensure that Canada is a global leader in operations that are net-zero, resilient and green.
Similarly, the City of Ottawa has declared a climate emergency. The City’s Energy Evolution Plan details the change required to align with the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) target to limit global warming to 1.5C and reduce emissions by 100% by 2050 as approved by Council. These targets sound daunting, but they’re doable. Emissions are offset by planting trees, capturing carbon before it is released, fuel switching, and stopping the burning of fossil fuels from our heating systems.
The 2021 budget included a $4.4-billion investment over five years to improve energy efficiency in residential buildings with projects like replacing oil furnaces or low-efficiency systems, fixing drafty windows and doors, installing solar panels or upgrading wall insulation.
The City of Ottawa, through Energy Evolution, has The Better Homes Loan program to make it easier and more affordable for homeowners to pay for home improvements that will reduce their energy bills. The program entitles Ottawa homeowners to get a low-interest loan of up to ten percent of the current value of their home to cover the cost of home energy improvements. The loan is tied to the property, not the owner. The new owner assumes the loan balance if the house is sold before the loan is repaid.
To learn more about the available incentives and strategies to green your home or business, reach out to EnviroCentre.