Have you thought about putting off those new ceramic tiles or granite countertop - and start your home renovations with the installation of an EnergyStar appliance?
OK, so it's not as much fun, and certainly not something your house guests will ooh and aah at, but...
Who doesn't like to save money while helping the environment, right? Canadian banks are getting on that wavelength with recent offerings such as "green mortgages" and "green home lines of credit."
- Citizens Bank of Canada (online bank): First in with a green mortgage, in 2007.
- TD Canada Trust: Green Mortgage and Green Home Line of Credit (HELOC) including a push for consumers to buy EnergyStar qualified purchases and get a home energy audit.
- The RBC Royal Bank Energy Saver Loan: Reduced interest rate or rebate off home energy audit.
"True" Green Mortgages?
But are the banks' recent offerings in 'green lending' enough?
Not according to Gordon Shields of the Net-Zero Energy Home Coalition considers a Green Mortgage to be "preferential interest rates for a mortgage on a home that's measurably more energy-efficient than one built to the provincial or national building code, such as:
- Energy Star (US and Canada)
- Built Green (Alberta and BC)
- Power Smart (Manitoba)
- Novoclimat (Quebec)
Canada may not be there yet - attaching of green loans to the meeting/exceeding of building standards - but Ontario appears to be taking baby steps towards the goal. The province's grant to pay half of your home energy audit has an eye to mandate those audits by 2012.
And who knows - that could be the beginning of a cross-country move towards Green Mortgages with a real bite: Buy an energy-efficient home, or you won't get the loan you need to buy it.
Seems at least one U.S. environmentalist is paying attention and is 'green' with envy. The green products blog, Energy Saving Gadgets, recently wrote about the eco-lending options popping up in Canada, then observed: "So my question is this--when are green mortgages coming to America?"
Are you a Canadian whose gotten, or considered, a green mortgage or other eco-friendly loan? Would you put a high-efficiency furnace ahead of cherrywood cabinets for your next renovation?