Sydney Gladu spoke with the new Executive Director of Passive House Canada Chris Ballard about his transition from his previous position as Ontario’s minister of Environment and Climate Change.
Sydney Gladu: What motivated you to switch from Ontario’s minister of Environment and Climate Change to Passive House Canada?
Chris Ballard: I left politics in 2018, but I was still very passionate about the need to find some concrete solutions to the growing climate crisis. And it didn't take me very long to see that this position is a phenomenal opportunity to make real change in how we address the climate crisis in Canada. The climate crisis is top of mind here in Canada. When individuals learn about Passive House, they are excited about how it works.
SG: Passive House Canada has been key to the inclusion of Passive House in building codes, such as British Columbia’s energy step codes. How do you plan to build on those efforts?
CB: We need to make sure other provinces across Canada are adopting the Passive House standard in their building codes, and we can't wait for 2030 or 2050, when the national building codes start to change. We need it sooner. We have to push toward government regulation for Passive House standards; we have to get the professional community on board; and we have to do the same for tradespeople. Those are the three groups I'll be focusing on.
SG: What benefit do you see to working in the nonprofit sector as compared to a provincial government when it comes to climate change?
CB: It is another way of achieving a goal. As Ontario’s minister of Environment and Climate Change, my focus was on regulatory solutions—solutions to help the province crack down on greenhouse gas pollution—and educating the public in Ontario. Working with Passive House Canada we are not regulators, but we are educators and we have solutions. This is an opportunity to work closer to the ground and offer real solutions to the ministers and the leadership across the country. They are looking for solutions, and yet too many of them do not know about Passive House standards. Passive House Canada is a solution-based organization, and that is kind of fun to work with.
SG: What does building sustainable communities in Canada look like to you, and how is Passive House a part of that vision?
CB: I have a very simple definition that it is a place that people want to live, work, and play in. When I look at Passive House standards, I see homes and buildings that are wonderfully comfortable to live, work, and play in and are gentler on the environment. Passive House is a foundation for a sustainable community right across the country. Given the weather and climates we have, Canada is poised to be a Passive House leader around the world and export our knowledge and products around the world.