Kelowna discussing options for a Community Energy Retrofit Strategy

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City council heard options Monday to reduce Kelowna's energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions through improvements to existing buildings.

Recommendations included expansion of education initiatives and rebates, developing an energy use map, conducting a legal assessment to determine if the City can require an EnerGuide Assessment at time of renovation permit, display home energy rating at time of sale or lease and explore options to link energy retrofits with upgrades of buildings on Kelowna’s Heritage Register.

While reducing temperature control in homes and making energy efficient upgrades would put Kelowna on the right track, Community Energy Specialist Chris Ray said it's hard to convince people, who live in B.C, to spend the money.

“The low cost of energy in Kelowna, and British Columbia for that matter, we have some of the lowest costs of energy on the electricity and natural gas side in North America and the world. So when we’re looking at it from that lens of reducing heating and cooling bills, the motivation might not be there as strong as it is in other areas where the cost of energy is quite high.”

According to Kelowna's 2018 Climate Action Plan, to reach our 2023 goal , 539 homes would need to be retrofitted annually.

With an average 669 renovations annually between 2014 and 2018, Ray said 80 percent of renovations would need to include energy efficient upgrades.

In order to make this happen, he said it is crucial for the City to educate consumers of the full benefits of retrofits.

The City is currently in the early stages of developing an online map-based decision tool that will outline energy efficiency of existing buildings.

Ideally, the City would obtain energy usage from FortisBC, but they don't have access to data.

“Much of the data we're going to be gathering at the parcel level, well we're going to gather as much data as we can, but a lot of it is going to based on modelled archetypes. So, we're basically modelling energy consumption as opposed to getting that real data because we can't. Unfortunately it's a privacy issue,” said Ray.

The goal is to engage the public and inform them of problem areas within their individual homes, so they can make the appropriate upgrades at their discretion.

The City plans to launch the tool in January 2020.

When it comes to reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in Kelowna, the city's doesn't have much authority.

The report showed the City cannot require building changes but they can offer incentives and tax exemptions.

“Just like a lot of people converting to different types of vehicles, there’s an interest out there and a sense of responsibility that we each have to play a role. I think our single biggest tool will be education and helping people find a way to comply and to be part of the solution,” said Councillor Luke Stack.

He said the report was sobering; highlighting it really is up to builders and individuals to make the change.