Mandatory "Green" Audits

As is being discussed in the MO section, the Ontario Government is proposing mandatory green audits, these being done prior to the home being listed.

I posted the following in the MO section, but thought it should be there for everyone to see:

The proposed “green audit” is drawing some ire here:
http://www.yourhome.ca/homes/article/592717
and here:
[size=2]http://www.yourhome.ca/homes/article/592077

On the other side of the coin, there is the potential for money to be made, as explained here:
[size=2]http://www.thestar.com/News/Ontario/article/592718

Hey…i didn’t write em, just posted em. Enjoy the read.
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Yet another example of the creeping socialism being instituted by the liberal government in Queen’s Park. It is no surprise that this programme will supply millions of dollars of work to the failed energy audit programme, also instituted by the loony left greens in government.

George, where did you get it that the energy program failed? Quite opposite, as an Energy Advisor I’m booked for two weeks ahead.

When is the last time anyone read their utility bills - especially for heating/cooling and hydro?

This is not to state that an energy audit does not make sense.

But one can easily tell from looking at the energy used in most homes. That is not rocket science!

Claude, energy use in homes is more a sign of a lifestyle, rather then performance of the house. Someone likes to walk in shorts all year round, but the other doesn’t mind to put the sweater on. Hydro bills are very much different again because someone is just one person in the house and uses lights only where he spends most of his time. The other family may have teenagers and lights are on in every room all the time. Energy audits make a lot of sense since they do not address person’s lifestyle, but rather compare a particular house with other houses in the same area, same age, same construction type, etc.

None the less, the decision to have an energy audit must remain in the hands of the purchaser. We should be free to buy a house in whatever condition we like and then we are free to accept the consequences. Forcing vendors to perform an audit is just a hidden tax and not well hidden at that. We do not need big liberal government protecting us. And we certainly don’t need big liberal government creating a need for another big liberal government programme that has failed of it’s own accord.

Yuri, I base that claim of failure on the extremely low penetration that the programme has had on the total number of sales. We won’t get into the wait times for payments from the government!!

Just to add to Yuri’s post:

The aim of the Eco program is to provide grants to home owners who upgrade equipment, furnaces, a/c insulation,windows etc. How the homeowner uses the upgraded equipment does not enter into the equation.

George:

Hidden Tax?

I always thougth taxes were money that Governments take from us.

The home owner pays the auditor for the service, so the auditor (like me :)) gets the money not the Government.

Cheers

If someone is already forced to pay $300.00 for the audit how many do you think will be shelling out an additional $350.00 to $500.00 for a full home inspection? They will gain a false sense of security thinking that the audit is just as good as a home inspection but yet won’t have features like structure, electrical, plumbing etc inspected. Mr. Smitherman is quoted as saying that a buyer has the right to know how much electricity they are going to use in a given home and that the audits will provide them that information. I would love to see how you can tell someone what their electricity bill will be with the audit, as said there are many variables involved in a persons utility bills. This is the Government looking to pass more legislation without proper research. I have nothing against the audits if a homeowner desires one for themselves to help improve their homes and I have personally have been looking into getting involved but lets face facts it is an artificial market. If Government rebates and credits disappear so does 80% of the demand for audits. Most people I know that have had audits already knew they wanted to replace their windows or furnace and had the audit just to qualify for the rebates. Pull the rebates out then people say why should I pay for someone to tell me to replace an item I am already going to replace.The new ER 80 requirements coming up for the OBC should help push more demand for audits but to require audits on every home resale in my opinion is silly.

Jerry, first of all it is not $300, but only $150 since Ontario government reimburses homeowners for doing this audit. BTW reimbursement will be provided regardless of whether the upgrades will be done or not. So this is not so bad. Secondly, it was stated clearly that the energy audit does not replace the full home inspection, and I’m sure people understand this quite well. I do not agree with the assessment of the energy consumption, because as I said before it reflects more of the lifestyle rather than the house performance. It will take a lot of education to explain the differences between various EnerGuide ratings, but with the rising cost of utilities buyers get more and more sophisticated. As I said before the details are still at work, and until everything will be worked out, we don’t know how in fact it will work. I applaud to the fact that people will have extra protection knowing the energy efficiency of the house. And if someone like George does not care and wants to buy any crap, then… by all means do it.

Yuri I am just curious in comparing how the analysis of the following differs from when you are doing a home inspection compared to an energy audit. When I do an inspection I Identify the following The type/amount /estimated Rvalue of attic insulation. I identify to the best of my ability the age/ capacity and efficiency of the furnace. The age / size of the air conditioning. The types and approximate age of windows and doors many times based on manufacture date stamps. I identify the lack of weather stripping and deteriorated caulking around openings. Now I do not perform a blower door test to determine air leakage. I do however use a thermal camera to identify possible areas of concern. Now if there is more to the audit that would benefit a client to the point that it should be mandated for the sale of the home I would be pleased to hear it. I do not want to down play the role of an energy audit to a home owner that wishes to make improvements to their own home, I am just questioning the need to mandate an energy audit during a resale transaction. Lets start mandating everything in the transaction because people are too dumb to protect themselves according to the Government. Mandate a mould test, home inspection, radon test, past permits search, energy audit, thermal scan etc so that everyone is protected from everything. The fact that you mention that the Government will pay $150 of the fee goes towards what I am saying about the Government credits and rebates fueling the industry. I am curious if the owner pays for the audit then what about the second audit that is required under the program? Who would qualify for the rebates on any improvements made? There are many loose ends that this Government has not addressed, it is another feel good proposal from the Government without any solid research on the subject. I mean no disrespect just some good debate Yuri. All the best.

Jerry, please re-read my post again. I said that the homeowner gets $150 just for doing an audit. No upgrades required if someone does not want to spend his dollars for energy improvements. Therefore no 2nd audit is needed if no upgrades were done. Once again in my opinion what the EnerGuide label will show to the potential purchaser is the fact where this home stands in comparison with the other similar houses. You are absolutely correct that many things that are part of the energy audit are done during the course of the general home inspection. Therefore the home inspectors fit well in performing energy audits. The main difference though between the two (other than obvious plumbing, electrical, etc that is not the part of the energy audit), is the use of HOT2000 modeling software and the blower door test. I do not do thermal imaging. So I cannot compare it with the blower door test. The blower door test though again in conjunction with the software provides a lot of information about the house air tightness. I agree with your opinion that the level of interest to the energy audits is supported in part by the government Grant. But the Grant itself will not make anyone rich. It just provides some incentive for people who need to upgrade their houses but are sitting and waiting forever. To tell you the truth I’m ashamed sometimes to see how people live in the older houses without any concern to the environment and their own spending for utilities cost. Once again when all the details will be ironed out, I’m sure the program will look much better then it seems today.

What I have never been able to appreciate is why windows in particular are credited so little as far as pay back. It would not seem to be a good investment to replace/upgrade a large picture window, or even large bay or bow window when the same improvement credit is given for a much smaller window.

Doug, if the government forces the vendor to spend two cents that he does not want to spend it is a tax regardless of who ends up with it. I have nothing against energy audits. I do have a problem with the government using it’s powers to force them upon us.

Fair enough Yuri, I just like how Smitherman and McGuinty made it sound like they were protecting the consumer from the financial ruin of high utility bills especially electric bills. They don’t want to try to deflect any attention from Ontario’s antiquated electrical grid that they have failed to present any reasonable forseeable improvements to so that we are not facing broown outs or blackouts all summer long are they? They do not seem to care if that consumer gets stuck with structural issues that can cost tens of thousands or electrical issues that could also cost thousands or even a persons life, but watch out for that dredded utility bill. Thanks for letting me rant Yuri.

The aim of the EcoEnergy program is NOT to provide grants to homeowners, it is aimed at reducing greenhouse gasses, reduce the carbon footprint of the home, water conservation, and promote energy efficiency and conservation. The rebates are simply a method of inticing the h/o. To the h/o, its about money, yes. To NRCan, money is not the intention.

P.S: I’m not a “tree hugger”, thats the answer I give clients when they are b*tching about their rebate cheque taking so long to come.

Well ok we can split hairs but the end result is the same

cheers

This article was posted by my friend Gerry Pollatta on another message board and makes some very interesting points ( thanks Gerry, good find);

Energy audits a waste of energy
Posted: March 04, 2009, 8:36 PM by NP Editor
energy audits, Vince BresciaForcing energy audits on sellers is both inefficient and problematic
By Vince Brescia

To many people, the Ontario government’s recent announcement that all homes must have an energy audit before being sold must sound like a good idea. In fact, the legislation states that an energy audit is required prior to all real property transactions, including leases. So much the better, some may say.

The legislation does not actually specify that an independent audit is required. That intention was announced by the government, and would have to be spelled out in regulations. The legislation actually specifies that sellers must provide “information, reports or ratings” on “energy consumption and efficiency.” The government says the audits should cost about $300. However, a province-wide audit infrastructure does not yet exist so the market price for audits once they are in demand is yet to be determined.

There are certainly positive aspects to mandatory audits. Everyone who buys a home will get some information on the energy efficiency of the home (property) they are buying. It will increase consumers’ awareness about this aspect of real estate. And it will incent some potential sellers to take steps to improve the energy efficiency of their properties.

However, forcing energy audits on sellers is both inefficient and problematic.

Firstly, not all purchasers will want or make us of this service, regardless of whether or not some think they should have it. The intent of the legislation is to provide value to purchasers. However, energy efficiency may not be a priority for the purchaser, because they are interested in the property for other reasons. Therefore, the expense will be wasted in many circumstances, making it inefficient.

A second problem is that the scheme will create a considerable amount of energy consumption. There are about 460,000 real estate transactions in Ontario every year. Most audits will require a return truck or van trip by auditors to each property, consuming energy. The infrastructure of a bourgeoning home audit industry will also generate significant energy consumption.

A third problem is that many homes (properties) do not really need an audit. If they are relatively new homes, they will have had to meet building code standards for energy efficiency, making the information provided of little use to the buyer. Another example is condominiums, where neither buyer nor seller has much control over the energy efficiency of the condominium unit. In condominiums, the main parts of the infrastructure that determine energy efficiency are controlled by the condominium corporation, not the unit owner.

Another problem is that information from a standardized system like this often does not provide customers with the information they are interested in, or in a format that meets their needs.

Adding to the last problem, the audit will be paid for by the seller, not the buyer, making the seller the client. This introduces moral hazard into the system, where sellers look for auditors who provide favourable audits, and find auditors willing to comply. The legislation does not indicate whether or not there will be standards for, or policing of energy auditors.

A final key problem is that the new cost associated with the energy audits must come at the expense of something else. In the language of economists this is the “opportunity cost.” The money spent on the audit may come out of capital expenditures on energy efficiency, which already have a high priority with Ontarians. Or it may come out of other important priorities, such as improving the building’s health and safety. The point is that it is not a free new benefit. It comes at the expense of something else. Given that it does so inefficiently, it is not a great idea.

In this age of growing consumer awareness and interest in energy conservation, a mandatory audit approach is not necessary. The most efficient option is to let those who value energy audits to pay to have them done. The consumer is the best one to judge when such audits will have value, what specific information they need, and in what format.

Given that so many purchasers these days already have independent inspections done before buying, it is clear that consumers are not shy about paying to get the information they value prior to making an important purchasing decision. In fact, purchasers can easily ask their home inspector to opine on energy efficiency, without necessitating a second inspection.

Financial Post
Vince Brescia is president & CEO of the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario.

Hi, Guys, first of all I am and Energy Auditor, and do perform both home inspections and energy audits. Second an energy audit is similar to an inspection but in many ways different…

I will offer on opinion and in no way do I expect anyone to agree with me. I think most people do not know what an energy audit is about and I am sure a lot of home inspectors do not know either.

as an auditor I am looking at things in the home from a different perspective and have to take off my HI hat on some cases. We are not in the home as long either. About 2 Hours depending on the size…

Yes as a HI, I could tell my client about energy efficiency, but its not standards, its extra liability, and to do it properly it takes time…

What are some things I do during an audit…?

  1. Measure the Perimeter of the Home
  2. Calculate the Entire Volume of the Home (Heated Space)
  3. Evaulate every Exertior Window and Door.
  4. Take of cover plates to see insulation.
  5. Attic Insulation Type and R value.
  6. Blower Door Depresurization Test
  7. Combustion Spillage Test
  8. Air Infiltration Examination (windows, doors, Attic Hatch)
  9. Standby Power Test

6-9 Can only be done with equipment and software. You can’t do these during a home inspection it would add 2 hours to a 3.5 hour inspection.

It is true that there are no SOP for audits however there are procedures and requirements set out by NRCAN for the performance of one.

We are audited by NRCAN (Leve1, 2 and 3) The first is a review of our reports to the clients, second is a call to the client and survey of the experience, and then the last or level 3 is a NRCAN auditor goes with the auditor on an audit…

We are also required to be trained, do 2 audits with an instructor, do 5 Audits and submit all the data, and finally write and pass the NRCAN exam.

Get 1 chance, fail and you have to wait 6mths, fail a second time and your done…

So please don’t think this is gimmick. I take the work very seriously and provide a good service…

And do you want to know how much NRCAN gets $$ from the audit?

5.42$ is what it costs to submit a audit to them…

If you have any qestions you can email me
HomeAnalyst@Rogers.com

Steven

Oh well say goodbye to all those who wanted to profit from this…

Actually we don’t really need a Energy Auditor type puppy mill.

There is enough to go round for the extra work if any…

Steven