Nova Scotia

Halifax looking to retrofit buildings to meet climate goals

The new retrofit program would deal with window replacements, increased insulation, improved efficiency for heating and cooling systems, as well as switching to fuels that are less carbon intensive.

Environment committee has endorsed proposal to create pilot project

Unlike HRM's Solar City program, the proposed retrofit program would be open to commercial buildings in an effort to reduce their environmental impact. (Dave Irish/CBC)

The Halifax region wants to offer a retrofit program to help reduce energy consumption by 50 per cent. 

It would be modelled after the municipality's successful Solar City program.

To date, 553 properties have installed solar panels financed through the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The new retrofit program would deal with window replacements, increased insulation, improved efficiency for heating and cooling systems, as well as switching to fuels that are less carbon intensive.

The program is needed to help Halifax meet its climate change targets.

"Buildings account for 70 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions," said Taylor Owen, a climate change specialist with HRM's environment department.

"So we need to retrofit 5,000 residential properties a year over the next 20 years."

Commercial buildings eligible

Unlike the Solar City program, which is only available to homeowners and non-profit groups, municipal officials want the retrofit program to apply to the region's 50,000 commercial buildings. They are considering third-party financing for commercial property owners.

A proposal endorsed by the environment committee Wednesday involves the creation of a pilot project and a navigator to help people who want to take part.

The initial costs would be $3.5 million, which would be recovered from the property owners.

Coun. Sam Austin said it's critical the municipality encourages people to make these energy retrofits.

"If anyone doubts the urgency, we just need to go back and look at Exhibit A from last week where literally hundreds of people have died in B.C. from the heat wave," said Austin.

The program still needs approval from regional council before it can go ahead.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca

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