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Transforming How We Build and Operate our Spaces

By: Mara Mackay

March 26th, 2021

TransformWR is Waterloo Region’s long term community climate action strategy, and our community-wide response to the global climate crisis. This work outlines our strategy to achieve an 80% local greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reduction target (based on 2010 levels) by 2050, with a short-term interim target to reduce GHGs 30% by 2030. The outcome of this collective action will help us achieve our vision for 2050, and ultimately transform Waterloo Region into an equitable, prosperous, resilient, low carbon community.   

Our call to action is to transform our community, in the ways we move, the ways we build and operate our spaces, the ways we produce, consume and waste, and the ways we relate to one another.

This excerpt from the TransformWR strategy focuses on: transforming how we build and operate our spaces.

45% of our local GHG emissions in 2015 came from energy used in buildings. Most of this is from natural gas or other fossil fuels, used to heat our workplaces and homes, and provide hot water.

Space heating in most of the homes and businesses in Waterloo Region currently comes from natural gas. HVAC equipment, such as furnaces and boilers, transfer heat generated from the natural gas combustion to air or water which is distributed throughout the building to provide space heating. In the average Canadian home, the hot water heater uses nearly a fifth of a home’s total energy from all fuel sources. Switching off of fossil fuels for heating and cooling needs in businesses and homes is one of the most impactful changes we can make to reduce GHG emissions locally.

To meet our 80by50 target, we must address this in the buildings that already exist, as well as set expectations for how new ones will be built.

Every Waterloo Region municipality, organization, business, and community member has an important role to play in Waterloo Region’s transition to a low carbon community. This strategy is meant to influence all future planning. Official plans, corporate plans, organizational planning etc. should look to this document, and the work outlined in the strategy should be integrated into all planning processes for the next 30 years, to align our community with success. This is a launching point for the next 30 years of local climate action, and the years ahead of us are where the real work comes into play.  If you are interested in contributing to this work, consider applying for our Residential or Workplaces sector committees, more information on that opportunity is available at https://climateactionwr.ca/get-involved/#volunteer.

Now is the time to act! Visit EngageWR.ca to review the full draft TransformWR document, look for the ways you see yourself in it, and join the entire community in helping to create a better future for us today and for generations to come. Together we can build a more equitable, prosperous, resilient, low carbon future!

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