Municipalities accelerating deep retrofits Resources for local governments Canadian municipalities have an opportunity to help drive demand for and supply of deep retrofits by focusing their juris...

multifamily building retrofit

Municipalities accelerating deep retrofits

Resources for local governments

Canadian municipalities have an opportunity to help drive demand for and supply of deep retrofits by focusing their jurisdictional authority on cutting carbon from existing buildings. A comprehensive building retrofit strategy can be broken down into six key areas: financing and incentives, industry capacity, technology and innovation, actionable data, equity, and regulations (Figure 1).

Five pillars framework for building retrofits

Figure 1. Five pillars framework for scaling up building retrofits

Within this framework, we differentiate between supporting and transformative policies. Supporting policies facilitate incremental improvements by providing resources, capital, and building up capacity to ready the stakeholders and public for the transformative policies. Transformative policies are game-changing and designed to create widespread, systemic change, such as through regulations, mandated targets, or legislation, that require significant changes to the incumbent system to effect change in the entire industry and cultural shift to support deep retrofits.

With the support of NRCan funding from 2018 through 2020, the Pembina Institute and partners researched strategic actions local governments can take to help create broad scale deep retrofit market transformation. Here is a summary of the resources that were developed during that period. 

Actionable data

Provide actionable data to facilitate access and sharing and support public education and outreach, policy and incentive design, and monitoring and verification of retrofit outcomes.

Technology and innovation

Support standards development and local manufacturing and/or certification of imported of high performance components; drive market availability of deep retrofit solutions by prioritizing deep retrofits on public assets through innovative public procurement.

Industry capacity

Prime market transformation by investing in the deep retrofit market, leading by example by procuring deep retrofits for public assets, supporting delivery of training, and partnering on community demonstration projects.

Financing and incentives

Partner with senior levels of government to provide long-term, adaptable, and outcome-focused mechanisms that deliver loans and grants to build the deep retrofit business case and stimulate local economic development.


Create regulatory requirements to get buildings off fossil fuel and remove regulatory barriers to the innovations needed to get reach that goal.

Watch this space for our Blueprint for Building Retrofits at Scale, which identifies three transformational policies for reaching the pace and depth of retrofits B.C. needs to meet its climate targets.


Close the cost gap to ensure equity is designed into deep retrofit programs; proactively work with low-income and vulnerable residents to address energy poverty, improve health outcomes, and protect renters from renovictions.

  • Retrofitting with tenants in place (case study)
  • Capturing the Full Value of Deep Building Retrofits
  • Co-benefits fact sheets
  • Impacts of climate change on occupant health
  • Beyond energy efficiency - retrofitting for resilience

About the Local Government Readiness project

Between December 2018 and 2020, the Pembina Institute worked with Canadian municipalities on understanding barriers and opportunities to help stimulate the market transformation needed to accelerate deep retrofits for existing buildings. This project was a coast-to-coast effort made possible thanks to:

Micah Lang and Brenda Scott Castro, City of Vancouver, Derek De Candole, City of Kamloops; Mark Brostrom, Leon Milner and Maurya Braun, City of Edmonton; Trevor Imhoff, City of Hamilton, Sean Botham, CityHousing Hamilton, Katherine Flynn, Mohawk College; Robyn Webb, City of Victoria; City of Calgary; Karen Neville, Cape Breton Regional District; Ben Grieder, Ecology Action Centre; Charity Carr, Efficiency Nova Scotia; Allison Ashcroft, CUSP; Robyn Wark, BC Hydro

Funding partners

  • Vancouver
  • Kamloops
  • Edmonton
  • Hamilton
  • Mohawk College
  • NRCan



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