Stakeholder Landscape

The Windfall Protocol Program addresses challenges across various stakeholders in the energy retrofit ecosystem. Building owners and occupants benefit from targeted incentives and automated financing, while local governments enjoy reduced administrative costs and improved data flows.

Utilities can streamline data compliance, and energy auditors can access tools for more efficient certification. Retrofit providers gain access to tailored portals, and finance providers can streamline their programs for deeper retrofits. Realtors can offer enhanced energy efficiency information to potential buyers.

Overall, the protocol aims to simplify and incentivize energy-efficient retrofits, benefiting all stakeholders and contributing to environmental sustainability.

Windfall Protocol Stakeholders

Motivations, Rights & Affordances

Data Access

Key Challenges

Building Owners & Occupants

This stakeholder group contains two distinct roles, but those roles may be held by the same individual or individuals. Building owners or owner/occupants may seek retrofits for home comfort, adding to the value of the property, saving on energy bills, reducing their environmental footprint, and increasing resilience to potential outages or infrastructure changes. They must facilitate and finance the retrofits and can access rebates and subsidy programs depending on the jurisdiction where they live.

This stakeholder group has limited access to their natural gas and energy usage data with jurisdictional variance. Only Nova Scotia and Ontario, have adopted the Green Button Standard which enables utility customers access to their energy usage data. This group is key in granting permission to building data, contributing to data flows that can greatly accelerate retrofitting programs and help to improve granularity in information, supporting more targeted subsidies and rebates

Under current models, retrofit projects are left to the building owners or owner/occupants, who must navigate a tangled web of subsidy programs, with little or no coordination between suppliers. They also must front thousands of dollars and wait several months for rebates. The owner may not live at the property, so they may not be motivated by reducing the monthly energy bills if they are not responsible for paying them. While they may have some access to data, there is a lack of third-party organizations to support them in making use of this data. There may also be impacts on renters due to gentrification - retrofits can increase property values and building owners could choose to sell the property or raise the rent.

In First Nations communities, which often face compounding infrastructure issues, and northern or rural off-grid or grid-distant communities, there are additional challenges to consider including high building costs, logistical challenges, and varying building contexts. Low-income housing occupants or renters who cannot afford to buy a home are excluded from the benefits of government programs and are dependent on building owners to finance retrofits.

Local & Regional Governments

Municipal, regional, and provincial governments vary widely in retrofitting programs and partnerships. They can apply for and support the administration of large subsidy programs, support stakeholder coordination along with building owners and occupants, and/or develop partnerships with financing entities to orchestrate special interest rates for retrofit lending. There is a mix of municipal and private ownership of utilities and power sources. Municipalities are key in promoting local generation and renewable energy through public outreach campaigns, guides, and enabling regulatory environments favorable for prosumers.

There is wide jurisdictional variance in what data streams government entities have access to and what data is publicly available regarding residential, public sector, and commercial buildings. Commonly, municipal and provincial governments can receive data from other government agencies and regulators, utilities, and other civil and municipal data. For example, in Durham Region, the municipality has a data-sharing agreement with NRCAN to access Energuide data.

Municipalities are on the frontline of the increasing demands of growing populations and urban agglomeration, with high administrative costs, and resource limitations to meet the various demands of maintaining several avenues of local public infrastructure. While outsourcing or having subsidiarity in some services such as property assessment can benefit governments, it can also create mixed incentives and more overhead in streamlining data flows and access.

Utility Companies

Utility ownership in Canada can be public, private, a mix of both, or cooperative. They are locally connected to municipalities, sometimes through direct administration. They offer a main line of communication to home and building owners through advertisements and often deploy financing, subsidies, and retrofit programs directly. Because of their large-scale service and infrastructure, they have access to a diverse array of financing opportunities. Many utilities operate under a Cost-of-Service Business Model, tying revenues to the amount of energy sold, and incentivizing infrastructure ownership including large capital expenditures which may not always be optimized for energy or capital efficiency.

Utilities are a key data intermediary as they hold access to real-time energy consumption and building occupancy change data. They could support improving data transparency for consumers and regulators and incentivize homeowner permissioning of data with discounts on services. They also must balance data privacy and sharing concerns along with granularity questions around how detailed to be in the data provisioning process.

There are 60 different local distribution companies (LDCs) across Ontario alone, and across Canada, the range of technical infrastructure, capabilities, and administrative costs can be a hindrance in various aspects of infrastructure updates and integrations such as data availability and opportunities for on-bill incentives and financing. There are mixed incentives currently for many utilities to reduce energy usage, and utility business models are threatened by massive changes to utility infrastructure

National Government & Regulators

There is a mix of regulatory bodies associated with residential and commercial building retrofits. Federally, NRCAN oversees the setting, maintenance, and upgrades of energy certifications and regulatory standards, and licensing of service and training organizations. Other boards like the Canadian Board for Harmonized Construction Codes (CBHCC) oversee building codes. Provincial boards, regional and municipal governments oversee utility and energy regulation, as well as building codes, permitting, and even noise by-laws that can affect or limit some retrofitting projects.

Regulators hold energy consumption, efficiency, emissions, and other aggregate analyses on retrofitting projects and initiatives as well as directive and policy guidelines on maintenance and access to data

While many reports cite the necessity of innovation, in fast-moving markets of energy efficiency and climate change mitigation it may be difficult for regulatory bodies to keep up with new technologies or construction techniques required for deep retrofits. Regulators must also balance data privacy considerations while also supporting calls for more transparency in data and processes. They must also keep up with the increased demands that will be required to certify more energy auditors and more frequent updates of energy standards (which may have the increased complexity of context dependencies or heterogeneity based on province or technology access).

Energy Auditors (Residential)

Energy auditors are licensed by NRCAN and use regulated protocol and Energuide standards to audit and support the labeling of residential buildings. They get directly compensated by providing on-site audits and walk-throughs and can speak directly with building owners and tenants, offering education. Their assessments can verify or counter virtual audits or other data projections with on-the-ground information and increased efficiency of energy audits could lead to more retrofits.

They hold and store detailed on-site audit and building data, which could be cross-referenced with other data streams to improve granularity and update attestations to energy assessments. This group must also adhere to jurisdictional data privacy and security requirements.

A shortage of certified energy auditors has been cited as a key bottleneck in the acceleration of energy efficiency and retrofitting initiatives across Canada, and is particularly acute in the Northwestern Territories with some sources citing up to a two-year wait for a residential home audit. There have also been reports of wide variance in audits and studies on common problems in audits like overestimating savings, incomplete building descriptions, and missing opportunities.

Retrofit Providers & Contractors

This group consists of private firms that provide retrofit services, equipment, and maintenance. They are incentivized to advertise subsidies and sell products and have a primary communication channel with homeowners that provides education as well.

They hold and store detailed data on the latest products like heat pumps, window upgrades, and solar technology. They also have detailed information on financing options, marketplace standards, and metrics, and record retrofit sales and service data.

Retrofit providers must stay up to date and adhere to regulatory processes which can sometimes affect their business models, add administrative overhead and extra steps, or slow retrofits. As retrofits become more in demand, they may also face supply chain constraints and waste management issues as they try to keep up with demand. Due to the types of incentives available, they may also have biases in selecting retrofits with the best payouts, influencing homeowners who may choose retrofits based on financing, not necessarily energy efficiency

Finance & Incentive Providers

This stakeholder group includes banks, credit unions, federal, provincial, and municipal grant and loan programs, and utility-mediated retrofit rebate programs. Access to capital is crucial to encourage retrofits, as affordability has been identified in retrofit reports as a prominent issue for acceleration and conducting more extensive energy efficiency improvements. Enhanced coordination of retrofit programs could lead to larger loan books and new lending and business model opportunities. Federal, provincial, and municipal governments have a wide range of tools to draw from: they can develop alternative retrofit repayment mechanisms, offer credit enhancements to incentivize finance, issue bonds, use carbon pricing revenues to support funding or loan programs, and/or establish funds, trusts, or a Green specialized institutions, such as a Green Bank

Access to data is limited for private groups looking to assess risk, benefits, and potential return on investment. More granular and accessible data could support targeted subsidies and improve financing opportunities by helping to reduce risk and the cost of underwriting.

Efficiency Canada estimates the cost of the retrofit overhaul of Canada’s buildings could cost between $580 to $972 billion - $39 to $62 billion annually over 15 years or $20 to $32 billion annually over 30 years. For context, the estimate cites how much Canadians spend annually on home renovations - $80 billion - and what the country spends per year on fuel and electricity - $57 billion.²

Research suggests that innovative financing approaches may help accelerate investments in efficiency upgrades, but they must be combined with other support mechanisms. There is no incentive for cross-promotion of subsidy, loan, and rebate programs which are fragmented across public and private organizations and sometimes competitive politically or otherwise. Another challenge is the size of projects, which are often “too small” at the municipal level to gain competitive financing. Loans are also dependent on market fluctuations. In addition to financing challenges, there can be up to six months of delay in rebate programs, adding to the financial burden of the home or building owner. Finally, without public and community banking or platforms for participatory micro-lending programs, most financing and returns on investment are highly concentrated, benefitting large banks and private entities, with little or no returns for local communities

Realtors & Real Estate Platform Operators

Realtors and real estate platforms are critical stakeholders in decarbonization, offering a powerful channel in scaling energy efficiency labeling and retrofit acceleration as intermediaries in commercial and residential building transactions and ownership transfer. Energy efficiency initiatives and regulations can affect key aspects of real estate including investment and financing, government legislation, leasing and development, renovation and retrofitting, and construction.

Real estate platforms hold and have consolidated key building data that can support virtual audits to assess energy usage via various machine learning algorithms that can extrapolate based on energy efficiency models. Platforms could leverage additional data if made available.

Although energy audits could be a benefit for them (much like the introduction of “walk scores”), many realtor groups and platforms are resistant to extra steps in their process and are worried that poor energy results for homes could hurt their business. They have pushed back against mandatory energy audit and labeling regulations and must balance regulatory pressure with marketing, although investors may increasingly desire the inclusion of energy efficiency data in market valuations and risk valuation in analyzing investments.

The Earth: Flora, Fauna & Funga

The Earth is “motivated” by maintaining planetary homeostasis in support of life-sustaining conditions according to the Gaia hypothesis. It does so via self-regulating feedback mechanisms involving organisms tightly coupled to their environment. Despite thermodynamic disequilibrium, massive perturbations like increasing solar luminosity, asteroid strikes, and variable exchange of matter with the inner earth, life has persisted for over 3.8 billion years on the planet.

The Earth holds the richest source of data flows as all-natural ecologies and living systems exchange information whether expressed as energy, water, nutrients, or biomass.

The mutual reciprocity of nature and humanity’s role in the great balance requires not only policy change but change in the heart

Stakeholder Challenges Addressed by the Windfall Protocol

Building Owners & Occupants

One key challenge identified for this stakeholder group was split incentives. This could be addressed granularly within the protocol via incentives offered within the interface, based on the account. For example, building owners could receive incentives for equipment, while occupants (renters or tenants) could receive targeted incentives for energy usage. Payouts could also go to an account for the building itself, allowing incentives to carry over beyond occupancy or ownership change, or be split amongst stakeholders. Up-front financing was also identified as a need and issue; building owners could also receive offers from finance and incentive providers via municipal or regional governments. These payouts could also be automated when certain conditions are met, e.g. energy usage targets or retrofit completion attestations. By having access to the building information and customized profiles based on their stakeholder role, the overhead for managing retrofits, financing, and incentives would be greatly reduced - another key challenge identified in our research.

In addition to these use cases and examples, tailored programs could be offered to fit the specific incentive, finance, building, and access challenges of First Nations, off-grid communities, and low-income groups. This could enable more flexibility to cost-effectively implement bespoke cost and benefit-sharing schemes across a diverse set of stakeholders and ways of governing assets.

Local & Regional Government

For municipalities and regional governments, the protocol offers reduced administrative costs in advertising, facilitating, and administering retrofit information and programs. The protocol would also ensure and support the government’s prerogative of maintaining data privacy and security, and streamline data flows and access. The enhanced data flows, granularity, and indexing of data could also support this stakeholder group in accessing better financing and funding opportunities, both for their citizen’s retrofits and their own initiatives in accelerating retrofits. The protocol may also enable better coordination amongst municipalities in sharing successful pilots, patterns, and programs they are deploying.


A key challenge for utility companies has been the expense and overhead of complying with open data regulation and updating technical infrastructure. The Windfall Protocol will automate much of that with open API integration that can transform data streams into formats that meet government standards while enabling building owners and occupants to directly grant access to their data. This lowers the barrier and speeds up the key connection of tying retrofits to energy usage data and reducing the overhead of utilities in managing data permissions and access. Better data availability and integration on shared infrastructure will also make it easier for utilities to innovate and improve on-bill incentives and financing. They could also consider ways to build on the protocol that would enable them to become a platform for decentralized energy production and financing, opening potential new streams of revenue and economic opportunities.

National Government & Regulators

Similar to local and regional governments, the key challenge of balancing data privacy and security and streamlined flows of data with transparency would be addressed with Windfall Protocol. The decentralized infrastructure would also support helping this stakeholder group to keep up with fast-moving markets and retrofit products, as retrofit providers could enter data into the ledger, and metadata to track installs granularly, down to the serial or product number, or type of heat pump along with a photo for example. They could also create automated processes to accelerate the certification of energy auditors, done through an application built on top of the protocol.

Energy Auditors

A key challenge identified in this stakeholder group was that there is a shortage of certified energy auditors. In addition to the automation of certification, an educational application or portal could be built on top of the protocol that streamlines the training and certification of energy auditors. A machine learning tool could be built on top of the protocol to analyze and aggregate audit data to identify overestimates and flag incomplete building descriptions or missing opportunities - a key challenge surfaced in the research involving this stakeholder group. Incentives could also be offered to encourage data sharing between auditors, to improve overall audit efficacy.

Retrofit Providers & Contractors

With shared infrastructure, retrofit providers could have access to a tailored portal from governments, supporting them in staying up-to-date and adhering to regulatory requirements. They could also build their reputation with verified installs and offer incentives directly to priority buildings. As more energy-efficiency software and devices come online, the protocol and energy usage connection could also be used as a validation layer on the performance and claims of those devices and software.

Finance & Incentive Providers

Finance and incentive programs could be streamlined with the Windfall Protocol, reducing fragmentation and competition. Government and other stakeholders could be permissioned to see what is already offered by other programs, layer on supplementary incentive offers to fill in gaps and focus on deep rather than basic retrofits. Building data could be aggregated so financiers could offer retrofit financing to groups sharing certain parameters. The release of funding could be automated by smart contracts when certain conditions are met - e.g. a private attestation of a credit check. A module could be built on top of the protocol that enables the creation of a green bank that can disperse funding to the building itself or the building owner or occupant. Or perhaps a low-interest micro-lending or community financing and investment platform backed by a government or loan loss fund, so citizens or a municipality could invest in their neighbor or community’s retrofits and receive a return.

Realtors & Real Estate Platform Operators

Realtors and Real Estate Platform Operators have an opportunity to be ahead of the curve in offering investors and buyers energy efficiency information about homes to improve their capability to make risk assessments and decisions regarding building purchases. With the Windfall Protocol, they could have additional information to offer buyers if the property they are looking to purchase is eligible for subsidies which may increase the attractiveness of the home, knowing electricity costs could be lowered with retrofits. Incentive providers could also consider granting a commission to realtors for retrofits converted after the sale of a building.

The Earth: Flora, Fauna & Funga

This stakeholder group can benefit directly from any successes of the protocol in reducing harm to natural and living systems.

Feedback & Discussion

A key objective of the litepaper is to inform constructive feedback of the protocol and inspire clarifying questions and thoughtful discussion around the protocol and its potential use cases beyond the pilot project.

Your feedback is crucial to the effective development and implementation of the Windfall Protocol. Please consider sharing your questions and feedback using the form linked below, or join our discussion forum on Discord.

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This article is based on the Windfall Protocol Litepaper, summarized by ananth.eth and edited by rathermercurial.eth for the Windfall Protocol Community.

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