With winter quickly advancing across western Canada in the shadow of COP27, I’m reminded of how improving climate comfort at home benefits our earth’s climate. In Nelson, BC, over 1,500 residents know this firsthand after participating in the City’s home improvement program that helped them finance home improvements to save energy and costs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). That’s 1,500 residents who will be more comfortable this winter and they will have helped the climate at the same time.  

In Canada, municipalities have influence over roughly 50% of the nation’s GHG emissions. While programs are underway to foster new low carbon home construction, if we want to reach ambitious GHG reduction targets we need to improve the performance of existing homes, as was done in Nelson. Two of the largest stumbling blocks to home improvement have been the lack of access to project financing and the complicated nature of building renovations and retrofits.  

Fortunately, two Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) grants offered through the Community Efficiency Financing (CEF) program are available to help municipalities develop and fund home retrofit financing models:  

  •  A $175,000 study grant and/or $175,000 program design grant, which can also be combined with funding for pilots and loans/grants to provide capital for the financing program. 
  • Another stream provides up to $175,000 for program evaluation studies of financing programs which includes identifying improvements.   

Through these grant programs, a Kootenay/Coast connection was recently made with the help of the Community Energy Association (CEA) and a unique “Retrofit Assist” program for Rossland, Whistler and Squamish was launched this spring. The program is a ‘concierge’ of sorts that walks homeowners through the retrofit process, from their first inquiry about the program, to finding their preferred contractor, and then applying for financing, rebates, and incentives.  

If you think these financing and retrofit support programs might help your community reach your climate action goals, please contact us so we can help with your program development and apply for $525,000 in funding available through FCM.  

Email dwilson[at]whistlercentre.ca  

Related links: 

Nelson EcoSave: http://www.nelson.ca/222/Energy-Retrofit-Program  

Financing home improvements (FCM): https://greenmunicipalfund.ca/community-efficiency-financing 

Retrofit Assist: https://www.retrofitassist.ca/