Today, Canada faces two significant and intertwined challenges: the growing housing crisis that has left many Canadians unable to afford homes, and the need to accelerate a green transition to reduce our environmental footprint.
In 2021, Statistics Canada reported that nearly 1.5 million Canadian households lived in “core housing need” — unable to afford alternative housing in their community and living in housing that is unaffordable, inadequate or unsuitable.
Buildings sector: A significant GHG emitter
This goes hand-in-hand with the growing need for climate-resilient buildings. Natural Resources Canada reports that 13 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are from the buildings sector, and this increases to 18 per cent if we include electricity-related emissions. Space and water heating equipment for buildings also accounts for over 78 per cent of building emissions.
Canada’s Green Buildings Strategy calls for picking up the pace of retrofitting all residential, commercial and public buildings to reach net-zero by 2050. In this landscape, there is a growing need for businesses to step up and play a role in driving future positive environmental and social change. Together, Enercare and Habitat for Humanity Canada are answering that urgent call.
Partnering to drive change for a greener tomorrow
In November, we announced our new Sustainable Homes Partnership with Habitat for Humanity Canada. Our partnership will not only help build more homes for families who need them most but also build more homes sustainably to ensure that they remain affordable for many years to come and reduce their impact on the environment.
Enercare is the largest funder of Habitat Canada’s Sustainability Grants program to date. These grants support the upfront investment required to build more affordable and energy-efficient homes in communities across Canada. Our partnership will support 17 sustainability grants and numerous new builds by 2026.
The Sustainability Grants were implemented to support, and directly contribute to, building homes that are both energy-efficient and sustainable, with features such as energy-efficient U-factor rated windows, HVAC systems modelled to the exact energy efficiency required for the home, geothermal heating and solar panels. Enhancing the energy efficiency of a home can add 10 to 15 per cent to building costs.
New technologies and energy-efficient strategies for a greener future
Habitat Canada is a recognized leader in building affordable, inclusive communities. Across Canada, local Habitats are employing new building technologies and energy-efficiency measures to build net-zero homes that are 100 per cent more energy efficient than homes built to conventional standards; net-zero ready homes that are up to 80 per cent more energy efficient; and passive homes that can create up to 90 per cent in energy savings for Habitat homeowners.
In 2022, Habitat for Humanity Heartland Ontario completed its first passive home – an energy-efficient home created from a well-insulated and tightly sealed structure, reducing its carbon footprint by 50 per cent. This is the first ever Habitat for Humanity home built to passive house standards in Canada, and it was done in collaboration with various partners. While an average home in the County of Brant has an electricity bill near $100 per month, this family’s projected average monthly electric bill is between $11 and $25.
“Our lives have completely changed since being in our new home,” says new homeowner Kayla, who moved into this passive home last August with her three young children. “I can’t thank Habitat Heartland Ontario enough for everything they’ve done for my family. Life was such a struggle and so much of our stress has now been alleviated.”
Like Kayla, we are all affected by the housing and climate crisis in Canada. We understand the urgency of acting on climate change and housing affordability, now.
These issues are urgent and complex. While all levels of government are implementing supports to address these challenges, we know that policy alone will not deliver the future Canadians want and need. With our funding commitment and expertise, coupled with Habitat’s programs, we can contribute to building a healthier and affordable future for Canadians.