Beware of energy-efficient housing policies driven by politicians with “no skin in the game”
Affordability, not energy-efficiency, is the reality for most home buyers. This fact is lost on the bureaucrats, writes Casey Edge of the Victoria Residential Builders Association
February 2, 2018 by canadiancontractor
Great article outlining the pros and cons of Ontario’s mandatory home energy audits (HER&D – Home Energy Rating and Disclosure).
HER&D and other initiatives (like the recent Step Code here in B.C.) are possible if they are done responsibly, with precision and thought given to affordability, capacity, etc. What undermines these initiatives, resulting in unintended consequences, is they are executed in a clumsy, bureaucratic and costly way with the priority to score political points rather than effectiveness, affordability and consumer protection. When it goes sideways, the politicians, regulators, etc. run for cover and invariably point the finger at industry.
Why not take the money for audits and implement a reno tax credit that will actually reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions in older homes? Most people already know if their home is drafty and uninsulated based on comfort and their monthly energy bills.
If an old house is clearly a knock-down due to land value, is the government really going to require/pay for an energy efficiency audit?
If executed poorly (almost guaranteed for a government program), HER&D will result in rising costs created by lack of capacity, bureaucratic bottlenecks, etc. in one of the most expensive housing markets in North America.
The reality is most home buyers are limited by income and mortgage rules, so affordability is (and must be) always the number one priority. It appears this simple concept is often lost on government regulators. In fact, energy efficiency is usually way down the list after safety, location, schools, etc.
The fact that most new homes are already reasonably energy efficient, makes fast-track policies like the B.C. Step Code all the more ill-advised, risky and a classic case of diminishing returns.
When politicians and regulators with no “skin in the game” promote Net Zero homes as the first and foremost consideration, that’s like saying a Tesla is always your best option regardless of affordability so don’t even consider a Prius.
For their edification, these are the homebuying priorities for consumers according to Zillow https://wp.zillowstatic.com/3/B-19_3x-951983.jpg
Most contractors, including energy efficient builders, with “skin in the game” already know this. It’s their business.
Executive Director, Victoria Residential Builders Association