Canada needs to treat climate change retrofits as a mission

There is no pathway to achieving Canada's greenhouse gas reduction commitments that does not include retrofitting the country's millions of residential and commercial buildings.

At the current pace, it will take 142 years to retrofit all low-rise residential buildings, and 71 years to retrofit all commercial floor space. And each retrofit must deliver deeper energy savings than standard practice, combined with switching to zero-carbon energy sources. A challenge of this magnitude calls for a national mission to transform our homes and buildings for a post-fossil fuel, climate-friendly future.

Building retrofits are high on the federal government's priority list. "Cutting energy waste" in buildings is the first chapter of the new climate plan. So far, we see a ramp-up of traditional policies, like grants and loans for individual homeowners. While these policies have their place, they are unlikely to meet climate goals without a strategy to change our current retrofit delivery models and reshape how retrofit markets are organized.