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Construction coalition calls for federal energy incentives

Patricia Williams

A coalition that includes the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) has called on Ottawa to amend regulations under the Income Tax Act to provide financial incentives to accelerate energy efficiency investments in the commercial building sector.

In a submission to federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, the Building Energy Efficiency Coalition recommended that certain “qualifying” investments in major energy retrofits be added as assets for inclusion in class 43.2 in Schedule II of the regulations.

Introduced in 2005, this class currently provides for accelerated capital cost allowances for specified clean energy generation equipment.

The coalition said tax incentives would “significantly accelerate” energy efficiency investments by building owners.

“Coalition members believe that energy efficiency retrofits are an underutilized but very important source of energy efficiency gains which will reduce the need for costly energy infrastructure, reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and promote jobs.”

The proposal got a thumbs-up from CCA president Michael Atkinson, who noted that buildings are in fact a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy efficiency retrofits “are great for the environment and climate change,” he said.

In addition to CCA, coalition members include the Association of Energy Engineers, Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations, Energy Services Association of Canada, Rental Property Association of Canada and the Thermal Insulation Association of Canada (TIAC).

Steve Clayman, director of energy initiatives at TIAC said his organization “strongly supports” the tax reform proposal. TIAC advocates for optimum levels of insulation thickness to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

John Gamble, president of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada (ACEC), voiced his support as well.

In a letter posted on the coalition’s website, Gamble said his association believes the recommendations will encourage owners and operators of buildings and facilities to take action to reduce energy consumption.

“In addition to the resultant environmental benefits, ACEC anticipates economic benefits through job creation and innovation.”

The coalition has asked that the tax incentives be included in either the 2013 or 2014 budgets.

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