Four Liberals interviewed by The Canadian Press confirmed the party is actively considering mortgage options to entice homeowners to go green.
One plan would allow homeowners to repay loans for retrofitting their homes through savings on heating and electricity costs. Certified inspectors would assess the home and recommended retrofits that would improve energy efficiency. The energy savings over time would then repay the retrofit loan.
Another idea is what Liberal environment critic David McGuinty calls a "location-efficient mortgage" that would let people who buy homes near public transit borrow mortgage money at a lower interest rate. That would encourage transit use and discourage driving.
The owner of an average four-bedroom home would have to invest between $3,000 and $7,000 to turn it into a green building, said Jonathan Westeinde, managing partner of Ottawa-based developer Windmill Development Group.
But he added the banks aren't necessarily confident homeowners will save enough money through retrofitting to pay back their loans.
That's where the green mortgage scheme comes in.
"Whatever those forecast savings are, and what the bank is moving outside its box on related to the mortgage, that portion would be guaranteed by the government," said Westeinde, who has spoken with the Liberals about their green mortgage plan.
"And what that becomes then is the tool that enables the market to get a bunch of products out. It doesn't require a whole bunch of non-recoverable grants by the government."
The article mentions that some smaller banks are already pursuing this angle, but the idea would surely move to mainstream if a Liberal government where to guarantee the loan. One of the biggest hurdles, for people who want to improve their efficiency, the high cost up front, which sometimes isn't feasible, even if there is a return long term. This initiative would eliminate that barrier, in many ways it becomes a no brainer, because ultimately you are better off.
This idea is the kind of policy that gets you behind your party, it defines the "new" Liberals. It also makes it a little easier to reach into the wallet, because I must say, the recent email asking to donate using Conservative immigration reforms as inspiration (give us money, so we can roll over and go into the fetal position) was hardly persuasive.
Thank-you, for throwing us a bone, even if Baird lifts it ;) A great idea.