Podcast gives plaudits to net-zero audits

Podcast gives plaudits to net-zero audits

· The Pulse

Episode 209 of Speaking Municipally was perhaps uncharacteristically positive about some recent civic developments involving climate action and reimagining the Whyte Avenue area.

(Given city council's decision on Feb. 21 not to close a portion of 102 Avenue to cars after all, things may not be so rosy in Episode 210.)

Taproot's city hall observers expressed support for a program offering free energy audits to homeowners looking to retrofit their houses to achieve net-zero emissions.

At first, the program seemed a little underwhelming, given that Change for Climate is looking to connect just 10 to 15 homeowners with trained contractors.

"Given the thousands of people that have been interested in e-bike rebates and solar rebates and other things, it just seemed like 10 to 15? Really? That's it?" said podcast co-host Mack Male.

But as co-host Troy Pavlek explained, this is about building capacity and awareness rather than retrofitting homes. A free audit, valued at $600, is not insignificant, but it's just the first step toward a retrofit, and the program is really meant to be a kind of practicum for contractors who are taking training through the Canadian Home Builders Association.

"Hopefully this fills up so that these contractors can get some more experience, and we can be (more) adept at making more buildings net-zero," he said, acknowledging the incremental nature of the move. "We should absolutely do a ton of small things. But this is definitely a small thing."

Pavlek and Male also seemed pleasantly surprised by the Old Strathcona Public Realm Strategy, which is seeking public feedback until March 5. While it's a bit unclear how it would work to have bus lanes down the middle of the avenue, and there's always a gap between the renders and reality, Pavlek described the strategy as a win so far.

"There is a proposal that says we're going to reimagine Whyte Ave. with wider sidewalks — no compromises on that. With dedicated space for mass transit — no compromises on that. With removing the parking lot for the farmers' market and making the linear park up to End of Steel connecting with the river valley," he said. "All of these things are things that we've been asking for for a decade or longer … So broadly? I think it's pretty good."

Listen to the Feb. 17 episode to hear more thoughts on these issues, as well as on the state of intergovernmental relations, funding to renew the Citadel Theatre, a consultation on the community sandbox program, and a recommended shift in the use of a screen-industries fund.

Photo: A 1953 bungalow in Westmount underwent a retrofit to reach net-zero emissions, part of which involved beefing up the installation. (City of Edmonton/Change for Climate)