Proper insulation, conservation and the use of energy saving appliances can save you money on your utilities, but research by the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) reveals that homeowners may be entitled to over $2,000 in energy efficiency grants towards upgrading and renovating their homes.
Whistler Green, a program by the RMOW to create a mix of voluntary and mandatory green building standards for the community, presented the new grant program to council on Monday. According to municipal housing planner Guy Patterson, they researched provincial and federal grant programs for construction, upgrades and renovations, and assembled the information in a way that makes the process easy for Whistler residents.
“The tricky part is for homeowners to see what programs there are to choose from,” said Patterson. “(This program) is designed to make it easier for homeowners to select upgrades.”
Whistler Green’s Home Energy Grants program combines the Home Assessment services of City Green Solutions, the federal ecoEnergy retrofit program, and the province’s LiveSmartBC initiative.
According to Patterson, the process has been reduced to three steps. There is some investment up front — you have to hire City Green to perform a baseline home energy assessment to your home at a cost of $150 plus GST and mileage, but that money will be rebated to you through LiveSmart B.C.
The assessment will look for leaks, analyze your home’s heated air space, look at your appliances, and give you an EnerGuide rating. That information will tell you the best way to improve energy efficiency, from replacing appliances, to adding insulation, to replacing windows and doors.
Following the assessment you have 18 months to complete your choice of renovations, using a grant chart available on City Green’s website, www.citygreen.ca.
After completing your renovations, you will need to book a follow-up assessment from City Green, which will apply for grants on your behalf.
Whistler Green’s initiative comes on the heels of a proposal by the province to implement new green updates to the B.C. Building Code this spring that would require increased insulation, meet new standards for energy efficiency, and mandate the use of ultra-low flow toilets and water saving plumbing in new buildings and renovated buildings.
The province’s new standards mirror some of Whistler Green’s initiatives but don’t go as far.
In some cases provisions the building code doesn’t allow certain practices, such as the use of rainwater and snow melt in grey water plumbing systems. Patterson says they would like to see the code change to at least allow these kinds of systems if the province does not go far enough to make them mandatory.
In the meantime, everything that is allowed will be included and encouraged through Whistler Green.
Under the proposed changes:
• Low rise residential buildings and small commercial and industrial buildings would be required to install increased insulation, or, in the case of housing, meet an increased EnerGuide rating.
• High rise residential buildings and larger commercial buildings must meet the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers 90.1 standard, which is internationally recognized.
• Ultra low flow toilets and other water saving plumbing fixtures will be required in all new buildings and additions to existing buildings.
According to the province, these are only the first steps of a plan to develop unified green provisions for the construction of new buildings in B.C. Future steps will look at reusing existing buildings, adopting smart metering for energy use, disposing of construction materials in an environmentally friendly way, and improving indoor air quality.
— With notes from Claire Peich