EfficiencyOne – Helping people build a better world through efficiency

Becoming more energy efficient is no longer something that we just talk about as a crazy idea when your energy bills come in the middle of winter, it has become a goal for individuals, businesses, and governments alike.  We get a better understanding from Janet Tobin, Communications Lead for EfficiencyOne about the organization’s role to inform and motivate Nova Scotians to use less energy, use it smarter, and enjoy the good things efficiency brings to everyone in the community. 


Spotlight on Business: We understand that Efficiency Nova Scotia is Canada’s first energy efficiency utility, when was it established and its role?

Janet Tobin: EfficiencyOne, operating in Nova Scotia as Efficiency Nova Scotia, is helping people build a better world through efficiency—starting in our own province. Becoming Canada’s first energy efficiency public utility in 2015, our role is to inform and motivate Nova Scotians to use less energy, use it smarter, and enjoy the good things efficiency brings. Investing in energy efficiency comes with many benefits—lower heating bills, more comfortable spaces, new jobs in your community, and a smaller overall carbon footprint.

Over the last 10 years, investments in energy efficiency programs have contributed to over $1.3 billion in customer bill savings and cut greenhouse gas emissions by over 24%. This includes helping low-income homeowners and tenants save $263 million on their energy bills.

Spotlight: When was EfficiencyOne Services first established and what services does it offer and to whom?

JT: EfficiencyOne Services was established in 2018 and helps governments, utilities and other clients meet their energy and resource reduction goals. EfficiencyOne Services has experience working with governments, educational institutions, health care facilities, large and medium industrial customers, and others.

Spotlight: The EfficiencyOne Services Team has developed a reputation as a leader in energy efficiency policy framework and program design, within our province and beyond.  How has the organization been able to accomplish this?

JT: EfficiencyOne Services offers its expertise to clients in the Caribbean region and across Canada, including the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, efficiencyPEI, the Government of Nunatsiavut, New Brunswick Power, and Energy Efficiency Alberta.  Working with these organizations and many others has allowed EfficiencyOne Services to develop a reputation as a leader in energy efficiency policy framework and program design, within our province and beyond. 

Spotlight: The Halifax Climate Investment, Innovation and Impact Fund (HCi3) is a subsidiary of EfficiencyOne, when was this created and how is this fund helping Halifax reach its full emissions reduction potential and unlocking shared benefits for local communities?

JT: The Halifax Climate Investment, Innovation, and Impact (HCi3) Fund began in 2021 and contributes to economic prosperity and environmental sustainability through collaboration and innovation. HCi3 will use a mix of investments and grants to advance climate change initiatives in the Halifax region.

HCi3 is one of seven non-profit organizations that, along with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), make up the Low Carbon Cities Canada (LC3) network. In March 2019, the Government of Canada announced a $950 million investment in the Green Municipal Fund, a program of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), of which $183 million was allocated to support the LC3 initiative. 

Spotlight: EfficiencyOne recently authored a White Paper outlines a goal of a net-zero Nova Scotia by 2050.  Can you tell us about some of the challenges and opportunities facing the province as it continues to focus on emissions reductions to meet this goal?

JT: We know that Nova Scotia needs to invest in energy efficiency, electrification, and decarbonization if it wants to achieve a net-zero future. Urgent action is needed to mitigate the effects of climate change. GHG emissions in Nova Scotia are down 30% since 2005, but a challenging path lies ahead if we are to achieve net-zero.

Our White Paper 2050: Net-Zero Carbon Nova Scotia, released September 23, 2021, and written in collaboration with Ralph Torrie of Torrie Smith Associates, outlines the challenges and opportunities facing the province as it continues to focus on emissions reductions.

The White Paper outlines five strategic pathways to help overcome the challenges, and seize on the opportunities, in responding to the climate emergency: energy efficiency and decarbonization; partnerships, collaboration, and training; innovative financing and private investment; equity; and regional capacity building.

Energy efficiency, electrification, and decarbonization, taken together, are strategic actions that can address 65% of Nova Scotia’s GHG emissions.

There is no single action that will get us to net-zero, but now is the time for everyone – government, institutions, industry, organizations, not for profits, and individual citizens – to get to work advancing innovative approaches to decrease GHG emissions and to develop a collaborative model that builds on existing successes.

The White Paper also recommends designing and delivering tailored programs that help ensure everyone can equitably benefit from a green, sustainable recovery. To be viable, the path to net-zero needs to work for everybody — and that means including everybody. Any actions taken must – especially with energy-efficiency and electrification programs – include services for low-income homeowners and renters, Mi’kmaw communities, small business, and commercial and industrial business.

Spotlight: We know that EfficiencyOne was preparing to file its next three-year Demand Side Management (DSM) Plan with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.  Can you tell us has been proposed in your DSM Plan to achieve higher levels of savings got Nova Scotians and the province on the path to achieve the goals in the Environmental Goals and Climate Change Reduction Act?

JP: We put forward a new 3-year energy reduction plan – or Demand Side Management Plan (Plan) – to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB) for approval in March 2022. The Plan would come into effect on January 1, 2023.

The Plan will help Nova Scotians lower their electricity bills by reducing their energy use, while helping the province meet its net-zero commitments under the Environmental Goals and Climate Change Reduction Act. Overall, the Plan will lower electricity bills by over $540 million for Nova Scotia’s families and businesses, support 5,300 jobs across the province, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 2 million tonnes.

The Plan will deliver more Efficiency Nova Scotia programs to more Nova Scotians, with $35 million to help low-income Nova Scotians, including renters, live more comfortably in their homes; $7 million to help Mi’kmaw communities reduce electricity costs and improve comfort while supporting local job creation; and $20 million to help small businesses on their path to recovery.

Spotlight: NSP has been in the news a lot this year and strongly criticized for looking to change how Net Metering works in the province.  Because of this recent move by NSP, more Nova Scotian than ever are looking to make the switch from grid-tied systems to off-grid solar energy systems now?  If so, would Efficiency Nova Scotia still offer programs and or funding and help them become more energy efficient and how?

JP: Energy efficiency plays a key role in helping Nova Scotia meet its net-zero commitments under the Environmental Goals and Climate Change Reduction Act and delivers important benefits to Nova Scotians by reducing energy use and lowering electricity bills. 

Nova Scotians are overwhelmingly in support of energy efficiency programs. Our research shows that a significant majority of Nova Scotians consistently assign a high level of importance to reducing their energy use. What’s more, a significant majority of Nova Scotians express a high level of agreement that adopting a more energy efficient lifestyle adds to their quality of life. Over the past ten years, Nova Scotians have spoken with their actions by making a variety of energy efficiency improvements. They want to do more, but the greatest barrier is affording the capital cost of new equipment and renovations.

Through our work we are committed to ensuring that all Nova Scotians have access to energy efficiency benefits and opportunities. And at a time when costs are rising, and many are concerned with having access to affordable housing, it is even more important that Nova Scotians families and businesses have even more access to programs that can help them reduce what, for many, is their largest bill.

EfficiencyOne has also partnered with Natural Resources Canada to deliver the Canada Greener Homes Grant in Nova Scotia through the Efficiency Nova Scotia’s Home Energy Assessment program.  This initiative offers grants of up to $5,000 to help Canadian homeowners make energy efficiency retrofits to their primary residences and up to an additional $600 towards the cost of EnerGuide home evaluations. To qualify, homeowners must obtain a pre-retrofit EnerGuide home energy evaluation before completing at least one retrofit that is both eligible and recommended by their energy advisor in their report. You can visit the follow website https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy-efficiency/homes/canada-greener-homes-grant/23441 for a complete list of eligibility requirements.

It is easy to see that EfficiencyOne believes and is committed to delivering on its values of Integrity, Partnership and Innovation. EfficiencyOne consistently achieves high energy savings, with inclusive programs and working with many of the best energy efficiency professionals.  They are an independent, not-for-profit organization providing accountable, transparent and are subject to regular, independent performance audits services.  EfficiencyOne has partnered with 13 Mi’kmaq communities to develop a first of its kind program, working with Mi’kmaq preferred contractors to install upgrades like insulation and heat pumps to 2,400 band-owned homes across Nova Scotia. And The Halifax Climate Investment, Innovation and Impact Fund will contribute to economic prosperity and environmental sustainability through collaboration and innovation.

by Lee Ann Atwater