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How to Green Your Buildings and Target Low-Income Households

With the right policies in place, we can make our buildings more efficient and affordable for everyone. Every person deserves to live in a safe, healthy, and affordable home. But today, one in seven Canadian households—that’s over 1.7 million homes—live in what we call “energy poverty”: they spend so much on energy that they can’t afford other basic necessities like food or clothing. Energy poverty is a serious problem, and it disproportionately affects low-income households, especially those led by single mothers.


So how can we fix this? One important way is by targeting low-income households for higher-performance green buildings. Green buildings use less energy and water, generate less waste, and are healthier places to live and work. They’re also more affordable in the long run: studies show that every $1 spent on making a building more energy efficient saves $2-$3 on energy costs down the road.


Efficiency Canada called for a $5-billion investment to drive new approaches to mass, deep energy retrofits. This would create half a million jobs while cutting emissions and saving people money on their energy bills.


But we can’t stop there. We also need policies that make it easier for people to access these benefits. For example, many of the most vulnerable households are renters—but they often don’t have the same rights as homeowners when it comes to making energy-saving improvements. We need to change that.


Our buildings have huge potential when it comes to improving our environmental sustainability and affordability—but we need the right policies in place to make it happen. I'm encouraged by some of the measures in the recent budget, but we still have a long way to go when it comes to supporting low-income households who are struggling with energy poverty. Let's keep fighting for progress on this important issue.