VCIB and City of Ottawa partner to help homeowners reduce emissions

TORONTO, Aug. 04, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Traditional territory of multiple Indigenous nations, including the Haudenosaunee and the treaty territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit — Vancity Community Investment Bank (VCIB) today announced a financing partnership with the City of Ottawa. VCIB’s $33.9 million financing will support the city’s Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program, which allows residents to borrow funds for home energy improvement projects.

Rising cost of living, increasing energy costs, and more extreme weather events mean that improving the comfort and energy efficiency of homes is top of mind for many Canadians. The ongoing operation of Canada’s homes and buildings accounts for 17% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Energy efficiency retrofits are one way to make homes more climate-ready and comfortable. The upfront costs of carrying out a retrofit can be daunting, even though these expenses can be offset by long-term savings. The City of Ottawa is addressing some of these concerns with its specialized loan program.

The Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program offers 20-year, low-interest loans from $15,000 to $125,000. Homeowners will repay the loans to the City of Ottawa via a local improvement charge attached to their property tax bill. Linking the loan to the property encourages owners to move forward with long-term retrofits without the worry that they will be unable to recoup their expenses should they wish to sell. At the time of sale, the new homeowner will assume the balance of the loan, while also benefiting from reduced energy expenses for the duration of their ownership.

Eligible upgrades include new windows and doors to enhance the building envelope, heat pumps or other energy efficient HVAC appliances, and solar or geothermal technologies which make use of renewable energy. The program is estimated to reduce individual household greenhouse gas emissions by 30% per year.

“The Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program is a further demonstration of the City of Ottawa’s ongoing commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, while supporting residents to do the same,” said Mark Martin, a manager within the City of Ottawa’s Finance Department who has worked closely with the Climate Change and Resiliency team responsible for the Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program. “On top of the innovative Better Homes Loan program, the city is the largest municipal issuer of green bond financing in Canada.”

VCIB’s partnership helped make this program possible, as private capital was required for the City of Ottawa to access $12.2 million in funding through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund. The first $3.9 million financing drawn from VCIB provided capital for the very successful pilot program. The second tranche of $30 million will allow the program to expand to many more residents, greatly increasing its impact.

“VCIB is committed to helping the public take action on climate change,” said Jonathan Frank, VCIB’s Head of Business Development, Clean Energy. “The Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program’s successful start proved that there is appetite for residents to do their part in reducing emissions. With attractive financing options and supporting public and private partnerships in place, these kinds of municipal programs can have a huge impact and will help Canada move closer to its net-zero goals.”

VCIB believes the climate crisis requires immediate action and financial institutions have a critical role to play in addressing it. Designed to advance the low-carbon transition, VCIB’s financing for this program supports the Vancity Group’s ambition to be net-zero by 2040 across all mortgages and loans. This partnership builds on other Vancity programs to support non-profit housing providers with climate-friendly retrofit projects and offer a free energy advice program for Vancity members.

VCIB’s experts support the development of clean energy and energy efficiency projects across Canada. For more information about VCIB’s clean energy financing, visit vcib.ca/clean-energy.

About Vancity Community Investment Bank

VCIB is an Ontario-based, Schedule I federally chartered bank and a subsidiary of the Vancity Group. As the only values-based bank in Canada, VCIB provides specialized financing solutions for impactful projects like social purpose real estate and clean energy projects. For purpose-driven businesses and organizations, VCIB offers banking, investing, and financing solutions tailor-made to increase their growth and impact. VCIB is a Certified B Corporation and a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values. For more information, visit vcib.ca, tweet us at @BankVancity and connect with us on LinkedIn.

About the Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program

Through this program, Ottawa homeowners can access low-interest, 20-year loans to cover the cost of home energy improvements. Loans can be used to cover the cost of energy efficiency retrofits, renewable energy systems, climate adaptation measures, and secondary suites. Learn more about the program here: Better Homes Ottawa – Loan Program.

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