Reaching Net-Zero Energy Standards with the Help Efficiency Canada Benchmarks

The annual Canadian Energy Efficiency Scorecard launched November 17th. The annual report by Efficiency Canada, a research group based at Carleton University, benchmarks Canadian provinces and territories across 54 separate metrics, such as energy savings from public utility programs, electric vehicle registrations, building code adoption, and industrial energy management.  

It’s been an interesting year for energy efficiency in Canada. The new federal building energy codes came out last March, prompting many provinces to sign on to make all new buildings be built to net-zero energy standards by or before 2030. Meanwhile, provincial and territorial governments have been trying to find ways to make heating, cooling and powering homes cheaper while also cutting carbon emissions.   

Here’s a taste of what’s happened this year. 

British Columbia stayed in first place this year, thanks to its leading energy efficiency and climate policies, such as making all new buildings zero-carbon by 2030. Alberta remained near the bottom of the ranks, in ninth place. The province would benefit from more consistent investment in energy efficiency program 

Elsewhere on the prairies, Manitoba ranked eighth. It needs to amp up its annual savings to get its energy efficiency sector back on track after the pandemic disrupted program delivery. Meanwhile, Saskatchewan finished in last place at 11th and reported almost no savings overall.  

Ontario dropped one spot from last year, finishing fifth, just behind PEI whose stronger policy commitments put the province slightly ahead. Québec dropped to third place this year, after previously placing second, though the province still has nation-leading transportation policies. 

Atlantic Canada fared particularly well, with three of the provinces moving up in the rankings since last year. Nova Scotia finished in second place this year, displacing Québec thanks to its efficiency programs and the strength of its results. Prince Edward Island finished fourth this year, beating out Ontario. It boasts a strong energy efficiency agency, efficiencyPEI. Newfoundland and Labrador pulled itself out of last place, and finished 10th this year, thanks to a new electrification strategy.  

The Scorecard includes a full ranking for a territory for the first time. Yukon finished sixth overall in its debut. This was made possible by strong fossil fuel savings, and the highest per capita program spending in Canada.  

There have been some notable trends this year as well. Primarily, the Scorecard found that the provinces and territories all need to pick up the pace to meet the new federal building energy codes. Most of them need to adopt more ambitious tiers of the codes. Next, most provinces are falling short in funding energy efficiency programs for low-income households. This includes the “right to be cool”. For example, in BC, households of all income levels—but especially lower-income households—need better and more efficient cooling systems given the province’s rash of heat waves in the past few years.  

The Scorecard also notes that the federal government should create incentives to scale up the adoption of efficient and zero-carbon heating systems, like heat pumps that can run at higher than 100 per cent efficiency. Many provinces are also investigating heat pumps as a way to increase savings from heating and cooling homes. However, there’s still a lot of room to grow here.  

Finally, the highest-ranking provinces often needed to set more ambitious savings or emission-reduction goals, or work to better integrate their efficiency programming into their climate actions.  

The full Scorecard is available at — see how your province or territory ranked, and how it can scale up energy efficiency efforts in 2023. 

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