Council likes the idea of a Deep Energy Retrofit Program for the city - approved $182,000 for year 1

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

September 15th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

This is a long article.  If the Deep Energy Retrofit pilot project is a success – the results will be houses that are retrofitted and become low carbon generators which will add significant value to the property.

The recommendation to the Standing Committee was to approve a budget of $182,000 for year one of a project that has the potential to have 80% of the residential homes in the city retrofit by 2051.

The report presented was pretty dry – the conversation and debate was anything but dry – but it didn’t get unanimous support.

If the project gets approved at Council at the end of the month it will mean another raid on a Reserve Fund – this time it would be the Tax Rate Stabilization account.

What the Standing Committee on Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services Committee (EICS) was doing was delivering on one of the election campaign promises.

Climate emergency graphicEarly in their term of office the Mayor led her council to declaring a Climate Change Emergency.

There was no stopping them once that declaration was cast in stone.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman said, after more than an hour of debate that this is “exactly the right approach. We need a guide – approve this plan – we will find the dollars.

“We will solve the Covid problem – climate change is what is going to kill us all.”

The City of Burlington has set a target for the community to be net carbon zero by 2050. The development and implementation of a deep energy efficiency retrofit program for homes is necessary to achieve the low carbon scenario described in the Climate Action Plan for Burlington.
On July 6th, 2020, staff reported to the EI&CS Committee with background information and options to deliver a residential deep energy retrofit program in Burlington.

The initial implementation of the Deep Energy Retrofit Program including but not limited to a scale-able home owner pilot project, research on resident take up and commitment, homeowner technical support to energy retrofit including the involvement of Burlington Enterprises Corp, and that staff report back with any financial implications of the pilot project.

Scale-able Pilot Project:
Staff recommend engaging the Centre for Climate Change Management (CCCM) at Mohawk College and the Bay Area Climate Change Council (BACCC) to develop and implement a scale-able home owner pilot project.

The City has an existing partnership with the City of Hamilton and Mohawk College to accelerate action on climate change through the CCCM and BACCC. Both cities recently contributed financially to support the administration of BACCC.

The CCCM is embarking on the development of a business plan for a Low-Rise Home Energy Retrofit Delivery Program for the region of Hamilton-Burlington on behalf of BACCC, with the following objectives:

• identify the Centre’s core services to provide to homeowners
• develop a financially feasible business model for the program
• recommend a governance structure to promote transparency and accountability
• define program eligibility criteria, as well as monitoring and evaluations frameworks
• identify opportunities to scale and transfer solutions (e.g. integration with Brant or other adjacent regions, supporting multi-unit residential retrofits)
• investigate whether outreach and education services should be part of the Centre’s core mandate.

As city staff reviewed the CCCM’s proposal and objectives, it became clear that there is an opportunity and benefit to join forces with the CCCM to expand the scope of this work.

The CCCM can act as the project manager with financial investment from Burlington to develop and deliver a scale-able pilot program for a home energy efficiency retrofit project. The additional work to be managed for the City of Burlington will include:

Deep energy house graphic

What makes a home energy efficient?

additional home energy efficiency audits
market research
an initial survey of a scientific random sample of homeowners in Burlington to determine market readiness, barriers and demand for incentives
focus groups following the process to complete more in-depth analysis of homeowners’ experience following completion of a home energy audit and implementation of measures
education – engage organizations such as Humber College and the Clean Air Partnership to deliver workshops and online sessions to residents on deep home energy efficiency retrofits
marketing – promoting current opportunities and benefits to homeowners interested in completing home energy efficiency retrofits.

What can the city expect to get in a year for $182,000?

Kate Flynn, Acting Director, Centre for Climate Change Management at Mohawk pitched the concept to Council.

The Centre for Climate Change Management (CCCM) is an applied research arm of Mohawk College.  Their role is to help the Hamilton-Burlington transition to a thriving low-carbon economy.

They do this by catalyzing multi-sector collaborations with industry, community and government.

They bring collaborators together to work on designing and implementing solutions that are often multi-faceted and require industry, community, and government support.

Their approach is to co-design human centered solutions that actually address the systemic issues of why something isn’t currently working.

In 2018 the Cities of Hamilton and Burlington commissioned a comprehensive greenhouse gas inventory. One of the main conclusions of that greenhouse gas inventory was that a home energy retrofit program would be one of the best opportunities for Hamilton and Burlington to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

Essentially, a HERO – Home Energy Renovation Opportunity is one the most important tools to help Burlington meet its 2050 goals to be a thriving carbon neutral community.

Deep Energy - Supporting graphicThe CCCC works as an applied research arm, and as an incubator is that provides additional flexibility, capacity and expertise.

They want to co-design a project that meets Burlington residents’ needs.  Through focus groups and home energy audits, we’d engage Burlington homeowners, providing them with the audit report, then asking them what works for them and their needs.

They conclude that given the number and diversity of homes in Burlington, one size will not fill all – the need is to design a program that supports a diversity of implementable solutions.

The hope is that one day, we could develop “turn key” solutions – package deals for certain kinds of homes that are cost effective and minimize disruption.

And finally, we know the battle will not be on establishing a program – the battle will be uptake.

Right now, doing a home energy retrofit is a very difficult thing for homeowners to navigate. We need to make it easy and accessible through the creation of a Home Delivery Retrofit Centre.

The goal at the CCCM is to create programs that effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the local economy, so we keep residents’ interests at the heart of what we do.

We also want to flow resources and support for community organizations that are already DOING some of this work like educating homeowners, talking to people in the streets, and engaging people – we know that’s an essential piece of this and we want to activate current networks and amplify the great work local organizations are doing to do that outreach and engagement.

Deep Energy report coverWe also want to design a truly scalable solution – so one that can support the growing market and changing consumer needs, but also can expand to support access, equity and heritage homes.

As part of our partnership with the Cities, we act as the administrative and physical home of the Council but they are an independent group.

Not everyone was onside for a program that would make major changes in the city’s carbon footprint and run by a community college in Hamilton.

Councillor Stolte was more interested in a “made in Burlington” solution and Councillor Bentivegna wanted more detail and what this pilot project was going to cost in its second year.

Councillor Nisan pointed out that “we all supported climate change – and now we are fussed about $300,000. There will be a reward.

The CCCM views this as an opportunity to expand the scope, where the experience and results of the partnership with Burlington will provide additional data and information to support the business plan for a Home Energy Retrofit Delivery Centre.

Project Deliverables
The CCCM proposes the following work to be completed within a year:

• Business plan for a Hamilton-Burlington Retrofits Delivery Centre for Hamilton- Burlington region
• Report on implementation plan
• Results on a study of home energy audits in Hamilton and Burlington, in which the project team identifies common consumer needs to verify delivery centre’s core services (additional energy audits will be completed in Burlington)
• Market research for Burlington – survey of homeowners and focus groups
• Outreach & education initiatives for Burlington residents

The goal is to incubate the Delivery Centre so that it can eventually grow to become its own organization or partner with another organization where synergies exist. The Centre will provide the support and knowledge needed by homeowners, ensuring the energy retrofit process can be convenient, easy to access and effective.

Project Management
The project will be managed by the CCCM, an applied research division of the College, aimed at supporting the Hamilton-Burlington Region’s transition to a low carbon economy.

Project Advisory Committee
For 2020-22, the Bay Area Climate Change Council has identified the acceleration of a home energy efficiency retrofit program as one of its priority areas of focus. As such, the Bay Area Climate Change Council’s Implementation Team on Home Energy Retrofits will act as a project advisory committee. The Implementation Team will meet monthly to provide project feedback and guidance. This group will comprise of 8-10 stakeholders from across the home energy retrofit ecosystem in Hamilton-Burlington.

Municipal Consortium in Ontario
The Clean Air Partnership is continuing discussions with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) to develop a municipal consortium in Ontario to support home energy efficiency retrofits.

There is talk about a loan program that would be financed by the municipalities.
The collaboration could take many forms from assignment of project leadership for a set of tools or in other cases it may be advantageous to have group development. Common platform pieces could include:

Deep energy - windows

Window upgrades are critical to achieving a low carbon foot print.

• One stop web site
• Program marketing materials
• Program outreach materials to key stakeholders (homeowners, realtors, contractors)
• Applications forms
• Client management system
• Client supports/resources
• Contractor supports/resources
• Better understanding how to handle and what are the differences in needs/capacity across municipalities with regards to these common platform pieces.

Staff will continue to monitor progress on this collaborative initiative and engage in discussions to determine the best approach for Burlington.

Options Considered
Staff assessed creating a scale-able home energy efficiency retrofit pilot program with in-house resources, however, the benefits of working with an external community-based organization outweighed that option. The CCCM can be flexible in managing the development of this program, has access to expertise within the college, has the ability to reach the community through its networks and, will receive additional guidance and support from the Bay Area Climate Change Council and

Implementation Team.
Mohawk College has a positive reputation for being a leader in applied research and skills training, an important element of scaling up the trades, skills and knowledge to support energy efficient building retrofits in the Burlington and Hamilton communities.

Total Financial Impact
Burlington’s total budget share for year one is $182,000 and year two $103,500. Year one includes one-time funding to develop the business plan and complete market research, including a survey and focus group.

The CCCM has applied to The Atmospheric Fund (TAF) for its share of funding of $32,800 for year one.

Source of Funding
Staff recommend the use of the city’s Tax Rate Stabilization Reserve Fund (TRSRF) for the one-time funding of $182,000 to partner with CCCM for development of a business plan, pilot project and associated market research costs.

As of June 30, 2020 the balance in the city’s tax rate $4.72 million net of commitments. It is important to note, that the city is projecting a year end shortfall as a result of Covid-19. Therefore, the TRSRF will not be replenished at year end with any retained savings, and furthermore, it is possible that the balance may be further drawn upon based on the year end forecasted shortfall.

Background links:

Burlington’s Climate Change Emergency declaration.

Green house gas emissions report

 

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2 comments to Council likes the idea of a Deep Energy Retrofit Program for the city – approved $182,000 for year 1

  • Luke

    Went to Mohawks page regarding the “World Class”… not much more than what is in the article which seems to be pretty thick with feel good statements and unverifiable or quantifiable measurement of outcomes.
    Putting lipstick on Energy Efficiency Upgrades doesn’t make it work.
    In the private sector if you couldn’t prove an ROI of less than 2 years, it went in the Garbage.

    Funny Councillor Nisan has no problem doling out $300,000 of other peoples money for the development of a Business plan. This guy billed himself as someone who would be a thoughtful steward of Taxpayers money.
    We used to call such plans in Software, “VapourWare”.

    Editor’s noteThe writer of this comment is related to a person who ran for the ward 3 council seat and lost.

  • Eve St Clair

    Be very afraid Burlington ……..Climate change Emergency declared by Council will bankrupt us all . Retrofitting my home to see $1.22 is not my top priority . Which Liberal friends our benefitting

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