By far the largest consumption of natural gas occurs in the northern portions of the Northern Hemisphere. This is where the location away from the warmer southern climates, and the location in the interior of large land masses, result in large consumptions of natural gas for heating.
In addition, significant natural gas for heating is consumed by towns and cities on the B.C. coast and in all coastal towns and cities on all of Canada’s coasts.
Improving building envelopes to reduce heat losses is considered one of the basic solutions to climate change. Building envelopes include reducing building heat losses in all their forms, including air tight building wrappings, sealants at all building material interfaces, reduced heat loss at windows and increased insulation.
This is, or should be, a building trades specialty diploma. I think about changing building envelopes as I take my dog for walks through my neighbourhood and drive on my daily travels, and realizing that the changes are needed for all human occupied buildings including all types of residents and businesses and public buildings, I am overwhelmed at the scope of this effort.
As with all climate change initiatives it is essential that the initiatives are staged over the next 30 years, both to minimize the impact to employment and the economy, and to ensure that we do not fail due to procrastination. Immediate actions could also be a substantial boost to the required economic recovery from COVID-19.
Retraining for building trades, building envelopes, heating, ventilation and air conditioning certificates, would also provide a strong boost to reduce the unemployment resulting from COVID-19. Training for the specialty of construction estimating could also reduce unemployment.
The appropriate action in some instances may be to have the building demolished and replaced. Mobile homes may require special consideration. This decision will be made by the building owner, possibly with advice from the specialty technician. These changes should also be promoted to occur on a staged basis over the next 30 years.
Because of the high concentration of older homes owned by seniors and those with low-income, specific promotions should be considered.
I believe the current natural gas carbon tax collected under the Canadian rebate carbon tax system is very ineffective and inefficient in producing the desired effect of both reducing the consumption of natural gas and promoting changes to building envelopes. This is particularly true for building envelopes.
The current initiative associated with building envelopes is advertisement suggestions to arrange a building heat loss survey. Changes to building envelopes are long-term and significant investments decisions. The only approach is for the government to hire a team with building envelope certificates to actively pursue individual commitments to building envelope changes, and to provide appropriate tax incentives to stimulate action.
Contractors should be certified for building envelope construction. Receipts and government building envelope team confirmation would be required to receive tax incentives.
To stimulate action the tax incentives should be in the form of limited time offers. Buildings are owned and/or managed by individuals, strata, rental apartment owners, building management companies, governments and institutions.
The government hired team needs to approach all these groups.
As the building owner will end up owning a more valuable building, the tax initiative should not need to be very large and could likely be adjusted depending on success.
Bill Stollery – retired construction manager living in Penticton – Aspiring author ‘How WE Can Save the World’