Homes

Kelowna homeowners should have to disclose how much energy their properties consume when they list them for sale, Mayor Colin Basran suggests.

Kelowna homeowners should have to disclose how much energy their property uses when they list it for sale, Mayor Colin Basran says.

Such a mandatory disclosure could encourage more environmentally friendly home renovations and give potential home purchasers valuable information, says Basran, a former real estate agent.

“The (EnerGuide) number would be on display for the world to see,” Basran said during Monday’s council meeting.

The city is beginning to explore ways it can encourage energy-efficient upgrades for all Kelowna residences as part of its effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions, but it could be a daunting and costly undertaking.

Like all B.C. cities with the exception of Vancouver, Kelowna cannot currently require specific energy-efficiency upgrades when homeowners take out a renovation permit, council heard. About 670 home reno permits are issued annually, but the projects rarely include energy upgrades.

Homeowners may not be aware of the benefits of such upgrades in terms of reducing energy consumption, council heard, or they may be put off by the somewhat higher initial cost of low-energy appliances and fixtures.

But since buildings are big emitters of greenhouse gases, the city’s 2023 GHG reduction goal cannot be achieved unless there’s a 30% reduction in energy use in, depending on the estimate, between 539 and 1,617 Kelowna homes every year.

Measures under consideration to spur a higher number of home renovations that include energy-reduction components include:

— requiring a home’s overall energy consumption to be listed at time of sale, just like other information such as property taxes.

— increasing funding for a city program, now with a budget of $20,000, that provides rebates when energy-efficient upgrades are undertaken.

— increasing renovation grants for the owners of decades-old homes on Kelowna’s heritage register. Such homes are typically big consumers of energy, council heard.

— producing a map, possibly as soon as next year, that shows which Kelowna homes and neighbourhoods are big consumers of energy. “We don’t really know which areas are some of the biggest energy hogs and which areas are performing well,” Chris Ray, the city’s community energy specialist, told council.

While not asked Monday to take specific decisions regarding the ways in which the city could accelerate the pace of home renovations that include an energy-efficiency program, councillors spoke in general terms about the need for renos that include a GHG-related component.

“I believe many people want to help to reduce GHG,” Coun. Luke Stack said. “There’s an interest out there and a sense of responsibility that each of us have a role to play.”

“This is so timely when climate change, etc., is so topical,” said Coun. Mohini Singh.

Coun. Gail Given said she was particularly interested in the idea of a map that could be accessed by the public to see how much greenhouse gases are emitted by different properties. She predicted such information would be “shared quickly.”