City of Ottawa urged to help homeowners save money, energy

City of Ottawa urged to help homeowners save money, energy
Posted on November 3, 2013 | Ecology Ottawa | Written on October 31, 2013


Ecology Ottawa

Dear Mayor Jim Watson and Ottawa City Councillors,

In May 2012, Ecology Ottawa and 16 other community groups, businesses and local energy retrofit contractors sent a letter to you asking the City of Ottawa to implement a pilot financing program for energy retrofits using the Local Improvement Charges system (also known as Property Assessment Payments for Energy Retrofit or PAPER). This approach provides interested residential and commercial property owners with a voluntary mechanism to enable increased investments in energy efficiency and conservation. PAPER programs typically require the annual energy savings to be greater than the annual repayments. Payments are billed and collected on either the property tax or utility bill.

Later in 2012, Council approved the 2012 Green Buildings Promotion Program which included a commitment to conduct a feasibility study on such a LIC/PAPER program. To the best of our knowledge, this research is nearing completion.

In the past year there have been several new developments that make it much easier for Ottawa to move forward with a pilot PAPER program:

  1. The Government of Ontario amended LIC regulations to allow municipalities to use the LIC process to voluntarily finance energy efficiency, water efficiency and renewable energy projects on individual buildings.
  2. Collaboration on Home Energy Efficiency Retrofits in Ontario (CHEERIO) - a collaborative of municipalities and other stakeholders across the Province and partially funded by governments and utilities has developed an LIC financing pilot program design for small residential properties, as well as other tools, guidelines, model program templates, and monitoring. Ottawa is an observer member of CHEERIO. For more information on these tools, visit
  3. In July 2013, the City of Toronto approved a $20 million pilot energy and water and efficiency retrofit program for the residential sector that utilizes the LIC financing mechanism. City staff will be finalizing the program design over the next several months. The program is expected to launch late in 2013. See for more information. The key features of the Toronto program are attached.

Ottawa stakeholders including Ecology Ottawa, EnviroCentre, energy retrofit contractors, and green building and green housing developers are interested in working with the City to implement an Ottawa pilot program. We recommend the following program features:

  • One-stop easy to access program with a clear list of eligible energy efficiency measures
  • Project savings should be greater than loan payments if used for energy efficiency
  • Project installers should be certified (may require training)
  • Audit/analysis showing savings is either prepared by or confirmed by a third party (i.e. not the installer)
  • Program is coordinated with any available rebates
  • Allow for ramp-up time. It could take 18-24 months for a pilot to prove itself
  • Clear minimum and maximum amounts; Too small = too much hassle; too large = too much risk
  • Once established, educate the mortgage/ realtor communities as well as potential users and installers
  • Can be combined with energy labeling and other incentives to encourage energy efficiency
  • Consider on-bill repayment collection in coordination with Hydro Ottawa

We stand ready to assist the City of Ottawa with the design and implementation of a pilot in Ottawa using the tools and materials provided by CHEERIO. Benefits to the City and its taxpayers include:

  1. Access to a voluntary financing program that will provide savings for Ottawa homeowners and businesses through lower energy bills at no cost to the city;
  2. Creating local jobs;
  3. Promoting Ottawa as a leader on green buildings and homes;
  4. Allow financing obligations and benefits to be shared with new owners; and
  5. Be City administered—lower risks and provides credibility.

Energy retrofit financing using the LIC approach will be a game changer in making Canadian housing and building stock more efficient, comfortable, cheaper to own, and environmentally friendly. It is the natural successor to the retrofit grant and other incentive programs used until 2011 and can be implemented at no cost to the City, as Toronto has recently demonstrated. It would help position Ottawa as a leader in Canada along in taking action to fight climate change.

We urge Council to begin consultations on an Ottawa pilot as soon as possible with the expectation of a launch of the program in early 2014.

We look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Ross Elliott, President
Homesol Building Solutions Inc.

Dianne Urquhart, Executive Director
Social Planning Council of Ottawa

Bill Shields, Coordinator
Sustainable Living Ottawa West

Trevor Haché, Policy Coordinator
Ecology Ottawa

Rodney Wilts, Partner
Build Green Solutions

Jonathan Westeinde, Managing Partner
Windmill Development Group, Ltd.

Jordan Charbonneau, President
Centretown Citizens Community Association

Karin Keyes Endemann, President,
Riverview Park Community Association

Michael Murr, Executive Director

Jonathan Ham, Founder
Jonathan Ham Energy Consulting Inc

Marc Aubin, President
Lowertown Community Association

James McLaren
Heron Park Community Association

Christopher Collmorgen, President
Action Sandy Hill Community Association

David Sacks, Acting President
New Edinburgh Community Alliance

Mari Wellman, Chair
Westboro Beach Community Association

Angela Keller-Herzog, Principal
Horizon Green Consulting

Roger Peters, President
Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op

Brooke Gilmour, Executive Director
Hearthmakers Energy Cooperative

Erwin Dreessen & Nicole DesRoches
Co-Chairs, Greenspace Alliance of Canada's Capital

Michael McGahern, President
Ottawa Solar Power

Matthew Pedersen, President
Design HVAC Experts Inc.

Sophie Oliver
Local Eco-Action Families (LEAF)

Kara Stonehouse, Executive Director
Tucker House Renewal Centre

John van der Heyden, Director
Reliable Home Environment

Luc Ménard, Operation Manager
Rick Ménard Heating & Cooling Ltd.

Ray Barton, CEO
Vitesse Canada

Gerald Kutney, Managing Director
Sixth Element Sustainable Management

Warren Abar, President
iSolara Solar Power

Rick Buffham, Owner
RB Heating Climate Care

Mitchell Beer, President
Smarter Shift

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Founded in 2006, Ecology Ottawa has grown to become the largest organization in the city focused on local environmental issues. The organization was created based on the belief that the City of Ottawa needs to become... More



It is highly commendable that Ottawa is planning to go green. Solar panels can be installed on roof tops to bring down the electricity bills as well as combat global warming.

Great idea. Please keep us up to date as to developments on this. Much appreciated.