Green building financial incentives
Beyond just lower utility bills, there are other financial incentives to buy or build green homes. Here is a list of some federal, provincial and municipal programs that could save or even make you some money.
© Olga Chernetskaya
Important to note: some programs may be discontinued, some new ones may be out there. Please help us keep this page updated if any of these don't work out or you know of others out there and drop a note in the comments at the bottom.
According to the EnerQuality Green Building survey in October 2009, 40% of Ontario homebuyers were willing to pay an additional $10,000 for a ‘green home’, compared to only 22% in 2008. Demand for more efficient homes is rising, making an even stronger case for improving residential construction practices.
Whether you are buying and renovating, or undertaking a new building project, first speak with your bank and find out what funds you have available. Your options include a mortgage, which is a lump sum of funds, or a secured credit line where you have access to a set amount of funds and only pay interest on what you borrow.
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Banks are not too keen on giving you money for a new building project, as they don't have something tangible that they can comfortably consider collateral. What some builders do in that case is find whatever means possible (family loans or co-signers) to get a secured credit line to get their project off the ground. When certain milestones are completed, you then have collateral you can use to approach your financial institution about getting access to funds.
Like any other industry, many banks and credit unions recognize the green market trend, and the necessity to offer at least something 'eco' in their product line. So speak to your institution and ask what programs are available.
Some banks offer incentives for energy efficient upgrades, particularly when certifications are involved - like LEED, or Energy Star windows, doors and appliances. Along with those initial incentives, adding efficient components usually save money over their lifetimes, so it’s a win-win situation.
This will be a continually updated page as more programs are added. We will try to keep it current, but if you find some that aren't listed, or some that are that have been cancelled, please let us know by leaving a comment at the bottom. And keep in mind rates are subject to change.
National home financing programs:
TD Canada Trust Green Mortgage:
With TD Canada Trust’s Green Mortgage, you are provided with a discounted rate of 1% lower than the posted 5-year fixed mortgage rate. In addition, when you buy CSA® approved solar panels or make ENERGY STAR® certified purchases, TD offers a cash rebate of up to 1% on the cost of a mortgage, or on the fixed portion of your Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). They also make a $100 donation to TD Friends of the Environment Foundation. Visit the TD Canada Trust website for more details
RBC Energy Mortgage Program:
Receive 1% off the loan interest rate or a $100 rebate on a home energy audit on a fixed rate instalment loan over $5,000 when you purchase eligible products or services services. Visit the RBC website for more details.
BMO Eco Smart Mortgage:
BMO Eco Smart Mortgage offers a mortgage rate at 3.29% on a 5-year fixed mortgage for energy efficient homes. To qualify, your home must meet the requirements outlined in the BMO Eco Smart Mortgage checklist as confirmed by a third party appraiser (or energy auditor) arranged by BMO.
For single family homes, including townhouses (condo or freehold), your home will need 6 out of 7 features to qualify:
- High efficiency heating system
- High efficiency air cooling system or no air cooling system
- Good quality attic insulation
- ENERGY STAR® qualified windows with no cracks or air gaps
- ENERGY STAR qualified hot water system or solar or tankless hot water system
- ENERGY STAR qualified doors with no cracks or air gaps
- At least three ENERGY STAR qualified major appliances
For more information, visit the BMO.
Genworth Canada: With their Energy-Efficient Housing Program, home buyers purchasing an energy-efficient home or making energy saving renovations are eligible for a 10% refund of the Genworth mortgage insurance premium. Details here.
CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation):
Buying an energy-efficient home or making energy-saving renovations can offer a 10% CMHC mortgage loan insurance premium refund, and a premium refund for a longer amortization period (if applicable) may be available when you use CMHC insured financing to purchase an energy-efficient home or make energy-saving renovations. Details here.
Canadian Green Building Council: CaGBC registration and certification fees waived for registered charity project proponents LEED® Canada for Homes Affordable Housing Program
Municipal and provincial incentives:
Check with your municipality what building incentives they have; some offer tax relief for building homes certified to either LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), or Built Green standards. Some municipalites will also offer rebates on building permits for homes that carry building certications.
Many provincial power suppliers are also on board with grant programs for building energy-efficient homes, as well as for choosing EnergyStar appliances.
BC Hydro: Under the Power Smart New Home Program, achieving an EnerGuide rating of 80 or higher will earn you $2,000 on a single family home. An additional $200 is available for meeting requirements of EnergyStar appliances. TheEnergyStar incentive is also available to multi-unit residential buildings, at $200 per unit.
LiveSmart BC : Since its launch, The LiveSmart BC: Efficiency Incentive Program has invested $110 million over 5 years (2008-2013) to help families lower their energy bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Make energy efficiency improvements to your home and complete a second assessment within 18 months of your first assessment or by March 31, 2013.
Vancity Credit Union: The Bright Ideas program offers a personal loan at prime+1% rate¹ for up to ten years. The low interest rate saves you money compared to a conventional loan. You can borrow as little as $3,500 or a maximum of $20,000. Then pay it back through flexible payments options.
To qualify, you need to make renovations recommended by a Certified Energy Advisor who will provide you with a report showing the best ways to reduce your energy use. The LiveSmart BC efficiency rebates and other incentives you may earn from these programs are yours to keep. Use your incentives to pay down your loan, saving you even more, or speak to us about how you can invest your savings to help build your wealth.
Calgary: Look into building permit refunds for both LEED and Built Green certifications. Though a rebate program was cancelled in July 2010, it could have been replaced with another. Calgary is the first Canadian municipality to require all city buildings to meet LEED certification, so they are well versed in the benefits of building certifications. Details here.
Ontario MicroFIT program: Ontario is a leader in encouraging micro energy generation projects. The FIT program (Feed-In-Tariff) pays you a nice sum for power you generate privately. After your needs are met, any surplus power you generate gets fed into the power grid, and you will get paid a very respectable rate. If you lack the funds to get set up, leasing programs are available. Details here.
Desjardins' Green Homes Program is available both in Quebec and Ontario : Free Energy Assessment; cash-back for any renovation labeled Rénoclimat leading to a loan of at least $40,000 or a building project with a loan of at least $100,000. Details of the Green Homes Program here. This program gives you access to Desjardins' lowest mortgage rates, and you also get :
- up to $2,000 cashback to build a green home and $500 for green renovation projects
- a rebate on your home insurance
- your monthly plan free for 1 year
- free Home Assistance when you take out Loan Insurance
Plus you can make donations to Ecohabitation when you use your Visa Desjardins card to pay for your purchases. Learn more about the Green Homes Program.
SaveONEnergy Incentives for New Home Builders: $500/$1000 for EnerGuide 83/85, and/or prescriptive measures for lighting, A/C, home automation. Details here.
Kitchener: Residential homes certified to LEED standards will receive a financial incentive in the form of a grant. The amount of the grant is incremental dependent upon the level of certification. Details here.
Enbridge: Incentives available to Ontario builders in the Enbridge Gas Distribution franchise area. The Savings by Design program offers support and financial incentives during the design, construction and commissioning stages of your projects. Enbridge Savings by Design.
Electric vehicle rebates: Ontario's efforts to get more electric vehicles on the road have them currently offering up to $14,000. More details here.
Free Energy Assessment; cash-back for any renovation labeled Rénoclimat leading to a loan of at least $40,000 or a building project with a loan of at least $100,000. Details of the Green Homes Program here.
Novoclimat : Financial assistance for the purchase of a Novoclimat home.
- $2,000 for a house that has been Novoclimat-certified and built entirely on site by a Novoclimat-certified contractor
- $2,000 for a pre-fabricated home assembled entirely by a Novoclimat-certified contractor. The house can receive Novoclimat certification if the contractor provides a turnkey service;
- $1,500 for a pre-fabricated home where you do a portion of the assembly and installation work that pertains to Novoclimat requirements. The house cannot receive Novoclimat certification but could be granted a performance certificate.
The Renovation Québec program (in partnership with the Société d'habitation du Québec) offers a grant of $ 2,500 for LEED certified homes. Details here.
The Revitalization Program for new construction in Hull (city centre) provides a rebate of 75% of the tax year and for 5, 6, 7, 8 or 10 years depending on criteria met by your home. Details here.
Electric vehicle rebates: Quebec offers up to $8,000 in rebates for electric vehicle purchases. Rates fluctuate depending the capacity of the battery and whether or not it is a hybrid. More details here.
Home insurance :
These are the programs we've been made aware of, but without a doubt more will be added all the time. Please let us know if a program we have linked you to no longer exists, or if you find the conditions have changed from what we've listed. And if you find we one haven't listed, let us know so we can keep this current. Thanks!