London’s Building Retrofit Program – a Roaring Success

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GLOBE-Net, February 22, 2013 – Perhaps the most aggressive energy reduction, public-building retrofit program ever, London’s RE:FIT, is into its sixth year.

Lessons learned from the work carried out so far were announced earlier this month. Resulting amendments to the program included making the scheme simpler and more flexible, as well as extending the range of funding options available.

The energy reduction program, instigated by the Mayor of London in 2008, became a national campaign this past November when the British Department of Energy and Climate Change announced funding to expand the project.

Interested public bodies wishing to improve the energy performance of their buildings and reduce their CO2 footprint can apply for funding to finance building upgrades. Transportation for London, an organization that took part in the Mayor’s initial pilot project, completed energy efficient upgrades to 22 buildings in 2011, has seen a 16% decrease in CO2 emissions, and is benefiting from annual savings of £500,000.

Retrofit programs targeting the private sector have been attempted and are ongoing in British Columbia. Formerly the federal government facilitated a much-lauded retrofit program,ecoEnergy, which was terminated in 2012.

LiveSmart BC, on the other hand, is the current provincial incentive and rebate program and it has also had much success. General Store-All, a ministorage facility in Vancouver, recently upgraded to more efficient lighting through LiveSmart BC and consequently saves more than 46,000 KWh of electricity each year.

To develop an approach for energy savings on a larger scale, a group of researchers prepared a guidebook: Getting to Carbon Neutral: A Guide for Canadian Municipalities. Prepared for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority in 2010, the guide has recently been used to devise a Low Carbon Infrastructure Plan for Toronto that “could be successfully applied in other municipalities in Canada and other countries”.

The plan will hopefully prompt further retrofit, policy, and behavioral change incentive programs.

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