Sparwood provides incentive for energy efficiency

The District of Sparwood has begun working on implementing what is called a “progressive” Energy Efficiency Incentive Program.

The District of Sparwood has begun working on implementing what is called a “progressive” Energy Efficiency Incentive Program for its residents, a program that can provide thousands of dollars in construction refunds.

The program was brought to council at the Jan. 19 meeting and is recommended to replace the Energy Efficient Development Permit Area (EEDPA) that was being contemplated in Sparwood’s drafted Official Community Plan (OCP).

Nelson Wight, Manager of Planning, noted that a benefit to the incentive program is that it can be implemented immediately, unlike the EEDPA, which would not come into effect until 2017.

Wight also reasoned that the incentive program would be applicable to all new homes in Sparwood, not just to lots currently owned by Sparwood such as Cherrywood and Whitewood that the EEDPA would limit itself to.

“Those two measures really sort of watered [EEDPA] down and, in the end, we thought the incentive program would be a better choice,” said Wight.

The incentive program dictates that if a home in Sparwood is designed in collaboration with a Certified Energy Advisor (CEA) and if upon final occupancy that home achieves a minimum EnerGuide 80 rating — a rating that shows a standard measure of your home’s energy performance — the district will refund half of the building’s permit fees and 100 per cent of the Certified Energy Advisor fee.

For a home with a construction value of $350,000, a refund of $1,600 may be available from the district.

This can be combined with BC Hydro’s New Home program and could tally another $4,300 for a homeowner if installations of high-efficiency gas water heater, boiler and fireplace are achieved along with the EnerGuide 80 grade.

Wight compared Sparwood’s incentive program to other municipalities and noted that while they are not the most generous in the area he hopes uptake on the program will still occur.

“The incentive program we’re offering appears to balance out the incremental costs of making a home meet EnerGuide 80,” said Wight, referencing speculations made by industry experts, “but it will be interesting to see how it plays out in our community with builders responding to the building changes made in December of last year, which are very significant in terms of additional cost and diligence in building well.”

As of December 2014, the Province of British Columbia made revisions to the B.C. Building Code and mandated an EnerGuide rating of approximately 76-78.

Wight concluded, “[Builders] are going to be saving the homeowners money at the end of the day. If you can achieve a higher energy standard at no additional incremental cost, you are able to reduce your operating costs for the life of that home. So it’s actually the more economical choice.”

Sparwood has already dedicated itself to reducing community greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by two tonnes per capita from the 2007 baseline levels by 2020.