East Gwillimbury: taking the lead on energy efficiency

My Clean Break column in today’s Toronto Star takes a closer look at the decision by the town of East Gwillimbury — with a population of 22,000 about 30 minutes north of Toronto — to mandate that all new home developments in the area comply with Energy Star standards for building construction. The town, which grew tired of waiting for improvements to the province’s outdated building code, is believed to be the first in Canada to require Energy Star in home construction. Hopefully by becoming a first mover other communities in Ontario and across Canada will follow closely in East Gwillimbury’s path. Town mayor James Young says he’s already received numerous calls from other municipalities, including Toronto, that appear interested in the program. This is the kind of leadership this province needs, and it reinforces the fact that municipalities that are creative enough with policy design have a lot of power to influence change when it comes to energy conservation/efficiency. Kudos to Young and his council for taking the plunge.

In the column, I also make reference to a February study from the U.S. National Association of Home Builders, and a new contest launched by Canada Mortage and Housing Corporation called “Net Zero Energy Healthy Housing.” Both show the growing interest in homes becoming net producers, rather than net consumers, of energy. I see no reason why within the next 10 years every new home that’s built isn’t an energy generator.