Reducing Ontario's Housing Market Carbon Footprint One Step at a Time
How a Certified Energy Advisor Can Help
This year, the Government of Canada announced a $182 million investment into improving the energy efficiency of our communities. The Green Infrastructure Fund marks an important turning point on the priority of going green and recognizing the importance of lowering our carbon footprint through a variety of measures, including tools to make our homes more energy efficient. Sacha Klein is a Certified Energy Advisor (CEA) who supports this initiative by helping builders effectively meet and exceed building code energy efficiency requirements and assisting homeowners who are looking to receive an EnerGuide rating on their existing houses.
Toronto born and raised, Sacha’s background is in construction management and environmental science. He became passionate about energy efficient practices during his time working with Sustainable Buildings Canada, where “Market Transformation” was the mandate in the residential building community. Now, he primarily works with developers who are building subdivisions and custom homes, ensuring that they meet and exceed energy efficiency requirements of Ontario Building Code. “Ontario’s building codes are periodically updated to reflect more stringent energy efficiency standards” Sacha states. Although such changes may not be overtly seen, its benefits are undeniably felt by the occupants who eventually inhabit the spaces.
Efficiency is a big part of what CEA's like Sacha strive for, and not just when it comes to energy. Finding a balance between constructability, price and comfort is crucial. Licensed by Natural Resources Canada, CEA's offer a third-party verification to assess the energy performance and potential energy savings for homes during the design, construction and renovation stages. Often the existing prescriptive packages don’t allow for much flexibility, and that is where hiring a professional can provide options that will better suit your vision. He will take the specifications of how you would like to build, perform an energy analysis, and compare your vision to a prescriptive package to ensure that you're building a more energy efficient home that will work for you.
The energy demands of the housing sector is a significant part of our greenhouse gas emissions. “If everyone brought down their energy usage by 15% - 20%, the Canadian contribution to climate change would be significantly impacted”. In addition to being mindful with our electricity and natural gas consumption, there are many ways homeowners can reduce their carbon footprint starting today, with varying expense. For instance, air sealing your home (cracks in the foundation, mail slots, windows & doors, chimneys, etc), replacing old and damaged mechanical equipment, installing a heat/energy recovery ventilator, and buying energy efficient light bulbs will help reduce your energy load. If you are looking to make impactful changes to your home, I urge you to look into the Save on Energy Program. Through programs, rebates and incentives, going green in your home may be more attainable than you ever realized. Especially if you already have some renovations in mind, this is a great program to look into before you begin your next home project."
It's probably not a shock that one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint is with the help of technology. Smart homes are not just for convenience. Control your air conditioning, heat, lighting and other appliances remotely, to ensure you don’t use additional energy while you aren’t home. We’ve all been guilty of leaving our air conditioner running when we aren’t home, so we don’t return to a hot and humid house.
In the near future, Sacha believes there will be more changes in this industry. He says, “one major change I hope to see is mandatory airtightness testing on each home built. Someone like myself would come to new builds and determine how tight the air barrier is constructed. The idea is that you are not heating/cooling your house just for that conditioned air to be escaping to the outdoors. It also leads to more comfortable spaces by mitigating drafts. Such testing is not mandatory at the moment, but I could see code moving in that direction.”
So, what exactly is the future of housing in Ontario? Potentially the most significant movement that industry and Ontario Building Code is moving towards net zero housing. Natural Resources Canada states that “a net zero energy home is so energy efficient, it only uses as much energy as it can produce from on-site renewable energy.” That is the end goal, net zero energy. A pilot for this project was launched back in 2013 when 12 builders across Canada were invited to submit Net Zero Energy Home designs. Natural Resources Canada writes that this project was “aimed at advancing the commoditization of net zero energy homes, the approach focused on homes that can be built today using technologies already available on the market that meet industry standards and regulations.” Currently, the energy efficient homes industry is primarily propelled by the Government. “At this stage, the consumers are a small piece of the puzzle,” says Sacha. The resources are available, the builders are standing by, but until these efforts are deemed a priority by the consumers, the process will continue to move at a less than satisfactory pace.
To learn more about how you can work with a CEA and create a custom performance package for your new home, or to schedule an energy assessment on your existing home, contact Sacha Klein at firstname.lastname@example.org