Is your home energy-efficient?

Home energy consumption and reno inspiration topic of upcoming open house

Megan Lohmann is passionate about home energy. As the community energy manager at the Regional District of East Kootenay, Ms. Lohmann wants the whole Valley to get on the same page when it comes to how we think about energy in a home.

She equates the concept of energy performance to fuel efficiency in a car.

“When you’re buying a new car, for example, you’re very aware of the miles per gallon rating. It’s right on the window, it’s labeled; you know what it means. When you’re buying a home, you’re not asking those questions often and it’s definitely not labeled,” says Ms. Lohmann. “That’s going to be the single most expensive source of bills in your house. No one seems to really be taking to heart, to be asking those questions.”

She is hosting a public event this Tuesday to showcase locally available resources and services for renovating and building energy-efficient, cost-effective, comfortable homes.

“It’s an opportunity for people to touch and feel, what new approaches to construction look like, and also ask an expert who is passionate and has a high level of expertise in this,” she explains.

The event will feature presentations by industry experts and a trade show of local businesses and service-providers focused on energy-efficient homes and buildings. There will also be demonstration of wall assemblies at the open house.

“It’s amazing, when you actually see what’s behind your drywall in these little demonstration panels, it’s like you would question why you would ever do a standard build,” Ms. Lohmann reports.

The British Columbia government has established targets for building codes, requiring net-zero ready construction by the year 2032. In April of this year, the government enacted a BC Energy Step Code, a voluntary provincial standard that will provide an incremental approach to achieving more energy-efficient buildings. There are measurable, performance-based energy-efficiency requirements for construction that builders can choose to build to, and communities may voluntarily choose to adopt in bylaws and policies. Several communities, including Kimberley and Sparwood, have adopted incentive policies that pay for the energy modeling of new homes for builders, including covering fees and rebating a percentage of building permit fees.

The idea behind these community events, explains Ms. Lohmann, is to start helping the industry as a whole move to the new energy targets slowly over time.

“That gives the whole industry and local governments a really good timeframe to work towards that deadline, and it provides us an opportunity to figure out what is needed help industry to get there; so is it training, is it funding, is it incentives, is it improvements in the supply chain?” she questions.

On Wednesday, November 15th the RDEK ‘Building A Legacy’ program is also offering Envelope and Air Sealing Training workshop for builders, from 7:30 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Chamber of Commerce/Lions Hall.

“There’s perceptions that improving energy efficiency means an increase to the cost of the build. With these workshops, we’re trying to give tangible examples of how to get energy performance without overall increasing the cost of the home,” Ms. Lohmann reported. “It’s been demonstrated that by doing incremental improvements … you’re going to be getting the benefit in the operational cost.”

The builder’s workshop qualifies for four Continuing Professional Development credits. To register for the builder’s workshop, or for more information on the community resource night, visit www.ekenergyhub.ca.

The free community resource night happens Tuesday, November 14th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce/Lions hall. Desserts and refreshments will be provided. All are invited to attend.

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