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2007 Residential Development

Town of East Gwillimbury

Town-Wide Energy Star® Standards for New Homes

Population: 22,000

In April 2006, the Town of East Gwillimbury in York Region acted on its commitment to environmental stewardship, the first pillar of its 2005 strategic plan, by mandating that Energy Star® standards be applied in all new home developments in the town. Energy Star homes use 30 to 40 per cent less energy than regular buildings and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by about three tonnes per home per year. The town estimates that its policy - the first of its kind in Canada — will prevent 97,000 tonnes of GHG emissions between 2007 and 2016. As well, the new standard means that the town reduces the burden it places on Ontario's energy system. Finally, homeowners benefit by having homes built to better standards and by saving on long-term energy costs.

Background

East Gwillimbury, one of nine communities within York Region, is 238 square kilometres of urban lands, historic villages and agricultural or rural communities. The town was originally a haven for United Empire Loyalists so its character is both rooted in history and shaped by current trends, especially the trend to urban growth. Located on the northern fringes of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), both the town and York Region are growing quickly. According to the Ontario government's population projections for the GTA, East Gwillimbury's current population of 22,000 will rise to 150,000 during the next 20 to 30 years.

When East Gwillimbury created a strategic plan entitled Our Town, Our Future in November 2005, the town identified environmental stewardship as its first and most important priority. The impact of rapid growth on the town's environment was uppermost in the council's mind in early 2006 when the mayor and town representatives attended an FCM sustainability conference in Ottawa. During that conference, they visited a booth staffed by Energy Star representatives. The town officials were impressed by the Energy Star home building technology and accreditation system and asked themselves: Why isn't this system of energy-efficient home building being mandated by towns, cities and provinces?

Results

  • The town estimates that 6,850 Energy Star homes in total will be built in East Gwillimbury between 2007 and 2016. The cumulative reduction in GHG emissions amounts to 97,500 tonnes.
  • Building Energy Star homes reduces energy use by 30 to 40 per cent per home per year. This means that the energy use footprint of East Gwillimbury is much lower than towns with similar populations and housing densities that do not use Energy Star standards in home building.
  • The town's reputation as an innovator has been boosted by the stand it took on Energy Star construction. Later in 2006, it also adopted the LEED Silver certification for new buildings in the industrial-commercial-institutional sector.
  • Builders in East Gwillimbury are using the Energy Star standard as a marketing tool for new developments in the town.
  • As of May 2007, 600 new Energy Star homes were slated to be built in the town.

Lessons Learned

  • BE COURAGEOUS. Mayor Young believes that other municipalities and even provincial governments need to have the courage to "just do it!"
  • TALK WITH DEVELOPERS. East Gwillimbury did not want to impose anything on anyone. "There needs to be a dialogue with stakeholders," said Mayor Young. "We moved forward quickly to bring the developers on board."
  • THINK BIGGER AND BETTER. According to the town's mayor, the region north of Toronto will not have "enough power to supply the growing needs of our future population. These are big problems that need to be solved."
  • PERSUADE OTHER COMMUNITIES. The mayor would like to see more communities take up the Energy Star standards. "I want to be able to influence other communities by saying to them: Here's an easy option that applies right from the local order of government up to the federal government. It's something that could really help out."
  • LAY THE FOUNDATION. What municipalities do now will have a big impact on the future. "We're laying the foundation for that future, for our children. We hope that people in this community 100 years from now will look back and say, 'They were thinking back then.'"

Partners and Collaboration

  • Province of Ontario
  • EnerQuality Corporation
  • Land developers and home builders in East Gwillimbury
Page Updated: 21/12/2015