Toronto’s Housing Market Makes It Hard to Care About Green Infrastructure

by Philly Dias on October 9, 2016 - 3:06pm

The housing market in Toronto is at the highest that we’ve seen in years. Toronto is the fastest growing metropolis in the continent and quickly becoming one of the most expensive North American regions to live in. Housing affordability is among the top issues that our country is currently facing. Changing demographics and population are leading to both a rise in markets and cost due to supply and demand. In recent years consumers have become more environmentally conscious. Green technologies have made advancements towards implementing sustainable energy into homes. Homeowners believe that by adopting these technologies, it will differentiate their home from others on the market come time to sell. However these eco-features lose all impact, as buyers are discouraged to purchase them due to the unaffordable prices of the housing market.

Sumit Ajwani, a 33-year old advertising producer from Toronto, is finding ways to make his home more efficient without adding external sources of green energy. He believes that instead of offsetting grid energy with solar panels, we need to focus on using a non-conventional green approach. Green energy isn’t necessarily about powering your home with renewable energy but rather efficiently managing the energy that you currently possess. This means creating energy efficient home without the need for new sources. In order to reduce the amount of energy needed to supply the household, more efficient practices must be utilized, such as reducing air leakage through better insulation and enhancing power consumption. By using the right insulation and adjusting respective factors, it is expected that an electric heat pump could substitute gas lines, which is high in performance and less expensive. Ajwani argues that the increasing prices of utilities (e.g. cost of heating and cooling a home), will encourage buyers to search for homes that incorporate these effective resources. The millennials currently make up the majority of the housing market demographic, being first time buyers. In a seller's market, we need to create demand for investing in profitable green renovations to add market value for the houses of the “Tesla generation”. 

While this information is recognized, it is still unknown as to why there is no incentive to create green features for our homes. Torontonians need to invest in green alternatives that are cost effective, sustainable, and contributors in adding value to the market in the long term. The Ontario government needs to create incentives for people to want to pursue new forms of sustainable features and green power for their homes. In 2011, Manitoba made it mandatory that all new homes were to contain energy saving, heat recovery ventilation systems. However one province making these advancements is not enough. The Ontario provincial government needs to invest in a policy that creates demand within the economy for environmental technology in homes. So will Torontonians choose energy efficiency or continue to be one of the most consumptive globally?



 

 

Work Cited

O’Kane. J. (2016). Green features add value to a home, but do they make it sell? The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/green-features-add-val...

 

 

Comments

I agree with this post. My family and I used to have an extreme expense when it came to utilities, especially electricity. We did not have enough money to implement any solar electricity, but we began to save money by implementing better habits in the house. Turning lights off, not letting water run, fans rather then AC ect.

Great post! I'm from Mississauga and I feel like coming from such a big city i can relate to some of the concerns you've raised. I personally feel that Torontonians will continue to live consumptively. There is not enough interest or awareness on the issue for individuals to actually change their lifestyles because of it. They do not see direct results of their actions and choices, hence they do not think it is their responsibility to make better choices and changes. I do agree that it can be expensive to make large scale changes such as solar panels; however I think even the littlest things make a big difference in the long run.

Hey there,
Thanks for creating a post that encompasses information and facts about how Torontonians or Ontarian's in general are completely cut off from making green decisions when it comes to purchasing, selling or just living in a home. You made many great points about the inability to think environmentally when it comes to homes and what things can be implemented to not only save money on bills but save the environment at the same time. You made a great point about how some people who are purchasing homes are unable to afford them because of the aspects that are in the home, adding to the cost of the home. It is understood that the more your home has, the more it is going to cost. In Toronto in particular, this adds to the every high costs of a bare-bones home itself. Homes in Toronto are some of the most expensive around and it does not help those such as the millennial's who are now purchasing their first homes. However, you made a comment about how the city or the provincial government needs to implement incentives or a system to purchase 'energy saver' or 'environmental' friendly product. I would like to share that the government of Ontario has implemented many incentives to get homeowners to purchase and think about the environment and saving money when it comes to building or purchasing items for the home. Currently, someone who buys an 'energy efficient' fridge, or washer/dryer etc. is eligible for a minimum of $75 in return in the form of rebates. I think that if the government maybe raised the rebate amount, we may see more people take more of an environmental outlook on the things they buy. It is not that there is no incentive programs in place, its just that they need to be more enticing for the consumer.

Good Post!
-Devan

This is a great post that brings up issues many may not have thought of. The surprising point of the article is how usually the transition from a regular house to a green one is something that most individuals would want to pursue. "Green" houses use less energy and are appealing to those who are buying the house and therefore increases the value. The trap here is how the increased price in the house market might make it too expensive for anyone to consider purchasing. This not only discourages people from using less energy and reducing their environmental footprint, but it is generating a cycle where this shift to more green energy cannot occur until either the housing market drops, or Toronto appeals to people with a high enough income who are willing to buy and sell energy efficient houses. This situation will either cause the Toronto housing market to stay outdated, or propel it into a modern/future era with efficient heating, electricity, and gas management.

I really enjoyed reading your post! You made a lot of great points. As someone who has a passion for sustainable architecture it really is a shame that more houses aren't utilizing energy as efficiently as they could. There may be the perception that people would have to make some trade-offs in order to obtain this efficiency, however that's not always the case. Incentivizing energy is a good starting point but maybe people need personal motivations as well to make the shift.

I really enjoyed reading your post! You made a lot of great points. As someone who has a passion for sustainable architecture it really is a shame that more houses aren't utilizing energy as efficiently as they could. There may be the perception that people would have to make some trade-offs in order to obtain this efficiency, however that's not always the case. Incentivizing energy is a good starting point but maybe people need personal motivations as well to make the shift.

I agree that being energy efficient is an important part of being green. There really are so many ways we could make our homes more energy efficient without the the use of things like solar panels.

Thank you for the insight into how Torontonians are responding to the green energy solutions that are available to them. I agree that implementing green energy production systems (solar, wind, etc.) on the individual dwelling level is extremely cost prohibitive. You have done an excellent job explaining why new homeowners may not be interested in creating their own green energy. The housing market is brutal for young individuals and couples right now and there is almost never any money left after a purchase. Additionally, more young people are renting due to the price of purchasing a home in Toronto, which of course, does not foster the desire to implement expensive energy generation or energy saving techniques.

I disagree with the notion that implementing energy saving techniques is a suitable substitute for shifting to green energy. I think that Ontarians too often forget that electricity is not clean energy in most places across Canada, the USA and the rest of the world. Ontario is fortunate to have vast river systems that can be used to harness electricity. Additionally, nuclear energy in Ontario has been instrumental in meeting the province's energy demands. However, these energy production methods are not harmless to the environment. Hydroelectric dams destroy land and damage ecosystems, and nuclear power involves significant water use and results in nuclear waste that must be disposed of. Neither of these methods produce zero emissions.

The situation is much worse across Canada, the USA and the rest of the world. Not all cities have the ability to harness nuclear and hydroelectricity and as a result, many places are still using coal, natural gas and oil for electricity generation, making electricity in the home very unsustainable. The notion that simply saving electricity via more efficient appliances and better insulation is a dangerous one. It creates the belief that energy reduction is as good as using renewable, emission-free technologies such as solar and wind. As a result, progress toward renewable energy development could slow or stall due to low interest and low demand. While energy reduction is a great strategy to try to mitigate the effects of electricity use, it is not satisfactory as a complete energy strategy going forward.

Cheers!