My name is Caroline, and I’m the project manager for Ecotrust Canada’s Energy Advisor Training and Mentorship Program to build local Indigenous Energy Advisor capacity in rural communities in Coastal BC. I live and work on the traditional territory of the Coast Ts’msyen people, Prince Rupert, BC, but my family is originally from Old Massett, Haida Gwaii.
We asked Caroline a few questions about the Community Energy project she’s been working on.
First of all, what is the Energy Advisor Project?
- The Energy Advisor Project is a pilot project funded by Natural Resources Canada to deliver energy advisor training to underrepresented Indigenous candidates across rural and Indigenous communities in coastal BC. Ecotrust Canada, with the help and expertise of Coefficient Building Sciences, is training five Indigenous candidates from rural and Indigenous coastal communities to become certified Energy Advisors (EAs). Natural Resources Canada has committed to increasing its proportion of Indigenous EAs from 1% to 4% by 2025. Indigenous peoples are largely underrepresented in energy efficiency work and our program directly addresses this gap.
Why were you interested in taking on this project?
- I wanted to continue working with First Nations communities and expand my knowledge of First Nations political, governance, and community structures. Before joining the team in May 2022, I had experience working with complex funding agreements and was interested in learning about building science principles and energy retrofit projects. I have a good understanding of environmental justice issues, and an interest in justice-based energy projects that improve access to affordable, clean energy.
What have you learned this past year?
- I have learned a lot about building science principles and energy retrofit projects, such as best practices for reducing energy consumption, expenses for homeowners, and greenhouse gas emissions, and how these practices can help improve household safety and comfort.
This project will help reduce the negative health consequences that many Indigenous people face due to energy insecurity, which is a direct result of poor-quality housing, lower incomes, and rising energy prices.
Why is this project so important for the coastal BC region and how will it help our communities?
- This group of newly certified EAs will provide access to EnerGuide home evaluations in underserved rural, remote, and Indigenous communities across coastal BC, such as my own, allowing our communities to participate in Federal funding programs, like the Canada Greener Homes Grant. This program will provide the EAs with consistent, sustaining work in their home communities and yield meaningful energy retrofit activity. Candidates will receive ongoing training, mentorship, and support as they complete their certification. And once they’re certified, we’ll help support their professional development.
Home retrofit activity is important because it will improve our climate resilience, our energy efficiency, the comfort of homes, the health of Canadians, it will reduce energy bills and lower greenhouse gas emissions, and it will help Canada progress toward its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
How is the project going so far?
- Our project is going great! We’ve had two in-person training sessions with our five candidates, facilitated by the experts at Coefficient Building Sciences, to prepare our EAs for their Natural Resources Canada exams. Having all the EAs together for training allowed them to build a support system for the duration of the program, and some friendships as well. The candidates are currently finishing off their first of two exams. After they complete their second exam, they will practice their EnerGuide home evaluations in early December. We are hoping to have all candidates certified by March 2023, and so far, we are on track to do so!
 Building science principles explores how different systems, such as windows, insulation, and heating and cooling, interact to affect a home’s overall safety, comfort, and energy efficiency.
[Published Oct. 17. 2022]