The prolific Environmental Commissioner of Ontario has issued
his Annual Energy Conservation Progress Report for
2011 under the Green Energy Act, and he isn't very
impressed. The Green Energy Act has made a huge difference for
renewable energy, but conservation (which should probably come
first) has lagged. Some progress has definitely been made. But the
Commissioner is disappointed that Building Code changes are coming
so slowly (allowing Toronto's current surge of condos to be
built the old wasteful way) and that no progress has been made on
promises to rachet up appliance efficiency standards.
Why, if the province requires municipalities, universities and
hospitals to report their energy use and GHG emissions annually
(starting in 2013) and five-year energy conservation plans (by
2014), isn't the provincial government doing the same?
The Commissioner's strongest criticism is for the
province's abandonment of its promise to require home energy
audits and disclosure whenever a dwelling is sold:
But the big disappointment for Ontarians with respect to
both saving energy and consumer protection was the failure of the
government to meet its commitment to implement mandatory home
energy audits prior to the sale of homes. ...
We don't buy a refrigerator without knowing how much
energy it consumes. We don't buy a new car without knowing its
fuel consumption. Young people are already stretching their
financial capacity to the limit in order to buy a home. Why do we
expose them to unknown risks with respect to energy costs?
That's why jurisdictions in Europe, the U.S. and
Australia have put in place various kinds of mandatory energy use
disclosure policies on real estate. By bringing this information
into the light, we protect consumers and help place a market value
on energy efficiency, which will hopefully drive additional
conservation actions. If the Government wants to foster a culture
of conservation in our society, making people conscious of the
energy consumption of our homes is an essential first step. We need
mandatory home energy efficiency disclosure in Ontario as
We agree. Drive Clean, the automobile emissions equivalent, has
been remarkably successful in getting the worst-polluting cars
fixed or off the road. Home energy audits might take a while to get
used to, but they are likely to work.
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The Divisional Court is grappling with a complex battle between two possibly overlapping First Nations over whether a Northern Ontario hydropower project is being lawfully evaluated under the Environmental Assessment Act.