Actions to get us rolling
25 actions is a long list. Some items are more urgent than others, mainly because they will take a long time to implement (maybe even all 30 years in the planning period) and the sooner we start, the better. Some are already moving along without our involvement. For example, a number of Guelph home builders are already offering net zero homes. If the share of new homes that are net zero grows quickly enough, Guelph will reach the Action #1 target. Our task will be to measure that growth rate and decide if we need to take any action.
The most pressing action is to retrofit our residential buildings (Actions 3 and 4). There are a lot of these buildings, and retrofitting every one of them will take quite a while. The availability of skilled labour will limit how quickly this will progress. We have a limited number of contractors that can do the work, although this will increase as the market grows. Retrofit materials and equipment may also become harder to source as the volume of retrofit work increases. On the other hand, we may have to work hard to convince homeowners (and rental property owners) to sign up.
Retrofitting industrial, commercial, and institutional buildings (Action 5) will also be a high priority. However, it will likely be best to wait until after we build some momentum with residential buildings.
Action 17, electrifying transit, will require City leadership. It’s unclear what role, if any, we would be able to play. For now we expect to encourage the City and to help spread the word as they move forward on this item.
Some actions may be politically challenging, the most notable being the car-free downtown (Action 20). This would involve changes to the Downtown Secondary Plan, the Urban Streetscape Manual, and potentially the Official Plan; all of these were prepared before the new CEI target was set. There may not be the political will to undertake these changes. If so, we will have to find a way to take some other action (or augment the actions already on the list) that will make up for the contribution from the abandoned action.
The recent Government of Ontario announcement centralizing conservation programs makes it that much more important to develop local energy management capacity. Without such capacity, many conservation opportunities will not be exploited. OEG can play a role in building this capability through programs such as the Regional Sustainability Initiative.
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