Community Efficiency Financing (CEF)

Community Efficiency Financing (CEF)

Empowering municipalities to help homeowners make affordable energy upgrades

Home-energy upgrade programs are a win-win for municipalities and residents alike because they help reduce GHG emissions, cut energy costs and provide healthier and more comfortable places to live—all while making buildings more resilient to climate change. While Canadian homeowners are eager to upgrade the energy performance of their homes, rising costs and a lack of accessible knowledge create significant barriers to doing so. But with the right support, municipalities can help them finance and get started on the renovations their homes require. Through our Community Efficiency Financing (CEF) initiative, we’re providing municipalities with the funding and resources they need to implement their own efficiency financing programs for low-rise residential properties. CEF takes into account the local context, offering a broad range of impactful financing models such as utility on-bill financing and third-party lending partnerships so municipalities can choose the right approach for their region.

Since launching CEF, the number of local efficiency financing programs in Canada has increased from just two to more than 20 CEF-funded programs across the country, supporting energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy installations for more than 6,000 single-family homes. To get to this point, CEF has acted as the catalyst to test and validate a variety of efficiency financing models adapted to local and regional legislation, enabling municipalities to de-risk the adoption of their efficiency financing programs—and making it easier for them to enable positive economic, environmental and social benefits for their communities.

As a conduit between municipalities and private lenders/investors, GMF is able to offer a variety of financing solutions—including loans, grants and loan guarantees—that cater to the needs and realities of small and mid-sized municipalities, but remain nimble enough to accommodate new opportunities and more transformative projects. And by forming new partnerships and exploring new financing tools, GMF can improve the business case for investing in low-carbon, climate resilient community assets, while creating hand-off points for different types of investors to take solutions to scale.

To date, CEF programs have leveraged nearly $45 million in capital from the private sector, including an impressive investment from Vancity Community Investment Bank into the Better Homes Ottawa Loans Program. This initiative alone is already helping an estimated 500 households in Ottawa access a low-interest, 20-year loan to undertake energy efficiency retrofits and other home improvements.


CEF 2022–23

  • $37 million in programs and studies approved
  • Approved programs have potential to avoid over 15,000 tonnes of GHG emissions/year
  • Potential average GHG reductions of over 38% in each home

Helping communities make the case for home-efficiency programs

In 2022, we launched the new Community Efficiency Financing market guide to help municipalities and their partners across Canada assess the potential for a local home-energy upgrade programs in their communities. It provides stepby-step guidance for municipalities to help them determine whether this kind of program makes sense for their community and then build a case they can present to their local council.


CEF Community of Practice

Through in-person and online peer learning, the CEF Community of Practice (CoP) connects municipalities and partners that are actively developing or implementing an efficiency financing program to share experiences, tools and knowledge on how to successfully launch and scale up their programs. Last year, we hosted five CEF CoP meetings in May, July, September and November 2022 and March 2023, which featured spotlights on successful efficiency financing programs being delivered in Kingston, Ontario, and Fort Collins, Colorado, as well as a presentation on how the Region of Waterloo embedded equity considerations into the design of its program. We also hosted an information session on the Canada Greener Homes Loan Program and how it can complement CEF-funded programs.

To increase our impact even further, we opened the CoP to municipalities at an earlier stage of program development, welcoming 45 new members and doubling the size of the group.