A building energy retrofit is an improvement to an existing building’s energy system with the objective of reducing energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.(File)

Residential energy retrofits necessary for Kelowna to meet emissions targets

One per cent of homes need to be retrofitted with energy-efficient renovations annually

One per cent of Kelowna homes or about 539 houses will need to be retrofitted with energy-efficient renovations every year to reduce energy emissions by four per cent compared to 2007 levels by 2023.

That’s according to a report given to city council on Monday, that highlighted the role of home renovations in tackling climate change.

A building energy retrofit is an improvement to an existing building’s energy system with the objective of reducing energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions. They can range from quick modifications like sealing windows to complete replacements of the major systems that heat and cool a building.

Energy specialist Chris Ray said education is needed to make residents see the benefits retrofits can bring as they are often low on the priority list when it comes to home renovations due to high up-front costs and comparatively low energy costs in Kelowna.

“While improving energy efficiency in existing buildings has proven to be a challenge over time, there are environmental, financial, health, comfort and economic benefits that justify its importance,” he said.

“City needs to consider its limited authority, while also taking a leadership role to ensure retrofits are occurring at the required rate to meet our GHG emission targets.”

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According to the report, benefits of such installations include:

  • Reducing a building’s energy costs by up to 60 per cent resulting in lower utility bills
  • Reducing repairs to building components and therefore lower maintenance costs
  • Reducing GHG emissions
  • Improving home comfort (e.g., temperature control system)
  • Improving occupant health (e.g., less mould with improved vapour barrier)

Coun. Luke Stack said education on the issue is important but he believes a lot of residents are already on the path to reducing their carbon footprint.

“I am sensing out there in the general public, there’s a lot more interest in people wanting to jump on board to reduce their greenhouse gasses. Even if there’s a cost,” he said.

Coun. Brad Sieben discussed the possibility of offering loans to combat the high upfront costs of retrofits.

“It may be something for us to look at, at least for a pilot basis. It is that capital upfront cost which is usually the tough part to swallow,” he said.

“Our energy costs are lower than other, but electricity is still expensive in terms of what we look at the greatest chunk of people’s monthly bills are.”

According to Mayor Colin Basran, said there are a variety of options but like with many other issues, much depends on what the province brings to the table.


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michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

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