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Making homes greener

Region gets grants for energy efficient reno program

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

Durham Region has received a $60,000 grant towards the design of an energy renovation program for homeowners.

The money comes from the Atmospheric Fund, and will fund market research, data analysis, and a technical assessment.

The Atmospheric Fund is a regional climate agency in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA), with the goal of making the area carbon neutral by 2050.

The region will use the funds to study housing types and the ages of homes, current energy uses, and any barriers keeping their owners from getting energy efficient upgrades.

With the gathered evidence, the region intends to design an evidence-based program to encourage homeowners to improve the energy performance of their homes.

Ian McVey, the region’s manager of sustainability, expressed his excitement to receive the funding to The Oshawa Express, and explained why they’re needed.

“[Last year] the Durham Community Energy Plan… laid out six priority programs to help the region meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets,” explained McVey. “One of those programs was a residential home energy retrofit program to basically enable homeowners to do renovations that [create] energy [cost savings].”

The grant money will help Durham staff engage in detailed market research, and interviews with key program stakeholders to help design a program which will best meet the needs of local homeowners, says McVey.

Ultimately, the goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions around Durham.

He says the region and province in general have seen a significant decline in greenhouse gas emissions in part to the closure of Ontario’s coal plants.

But Durham faces a unique challenge when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to McVey.

“I think our challenge here in Durham Region is with the personal transportation sector, namely cars and trucks on the roads and highways, and just given that our residents are typically commuting to outside of the region, it definitely makes it a little more difficult… to get out of the car,” he says.

He notes this is part of the reason the region advocated for the extension of the Lakeshore East line, so people can get out of their cars and onto the GO train instead.

But outside of taking the train to work, McVey says there are a lot of options for homeowners to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save some money as well.

“I think there’s a lot of things they can do even on a do-it-yourself basis – caulking, air-sealing, things like that, but when you’re looking at achieving deeper savings, there are certainly opportunities to work with local energy utilities,” he says. “They have rebates available for energy saving equipment, like new windows, new doors, putting insulation in your walls, upgrading to a more efficient furnace or water heater.”

He adds this also creates local jobs, as it provides opportunities for workers in those industries.

“If we can help make it easier for Durham Region homeowners to undertake these types of deeper energy savings projects… it’s a win-win for homeowners that are saving on energy costs, but it’s also creating local jobs within the skilled trades sector…, while also creating greenhouse gas savings opportunities within the residential sector,” he says.