realtors push for mandatory energy audits prior to listing

CanWest News Service

Published: Saturday, July 28, 2007
Every Canadian home should have a mandatory energy evaluation before it can be put on the market, says a Toronto real estate broker who is setting up a national green real estate association. “Within five years, we hope to have mandatory energy audits on every resale home,” says Elden Freeman, executive director of the non-profit National Association of Green Agents and Brokers, which has 15,000 members. In Canada, 40% of greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to the construction and operation of homes. Evaluations assess insulation, appliances, furnaces, air conditioners and exhaust fans and measure a home’s airtightness. Agents can stage a home to boost curb appeal, Mr. Freeman says, but rarely mention green factors. “Weak houses would be forced to improve or sell for less money,” he says.

© National Post 2007

That will never fly, although like a pre listing inspection - a good home can reep the marketing value.

Problem is there are too many homes out there that would fare badly if they had an energy audit as a condition to sale, and as we all know, the last thing a Realtor wants is something to hold up a sale and his/her commission.


It’s a marketing ploy.

In this month’s issue of “This Old House” you can read an article called “Buying and Selling Green”.

The article discusses the birth and growth of a new field in the real estate sales game called the “EcoBroker”, to which Mr. Freeman must belong. They are specializing in marketing to the interests of those buyers who are eco-conscious and who would actually pay more green for “green”.

This fellow seems to be falling into the trap of “ashifying” the matter. Instead of pushing for the “green” house to be sold for more…he wants to present a reduction in price or “sell for less the money” the non-“green” home.

Anyway, it is the new wave coming down the pipe.

Home inspections should be the primary concern. Greening should take a back seat.

There was talk several years ago about mandating home inspection on all sales. That never materialized and never will become mandatory.

There’s little initial interest from the buyer about the efficiency levels in a house but when I start to explain and hand out retrofit materials, interest increases rapidly. When I mention that a house has already had a retrofit and now has a “Energuide Rating of ++”, they get really interested.

The program is still quite new here and only been pushed in the last 5 years or so. As fuel costs rise (or even stay the same) more people will be asking about energy issues. Energy efficiency levels should be a main part of every inspection.

I presently due a furnace efficiency test as a standard part of my inspections. This usually verifies what the service company states on their services record labels (if they use them) and gives some confidence to the buyer that the unit is performing at its peak.

I also check for wall insulation by removing a few receptacle covers and checking along side the boxes. Over the years, this has allowed me to discover insulation or foam inside the electrical boxes for airsealing purposes (code violation/fire hazard) 6 or 7 times.

To feed off of Brian’s comments - the energy efficiency of a home has a big impact on the purchaser and or home owner. I also had heard “rumours” that labelling houses was possibly going to happen.

Is it really any different than labelling appliances? For those that have studied building science the energy efficiency of a home is often related to the quality and care of construction detail.

Certainly it is beyond the scope of the normal home inspection - but as we can see many are now looking at offering other services such as energy audits and/or thermography.

On new housing or existing code compliant at time of construction?

If you are suggesting that a home built 25-30-50-100 years ago should have been built with energy conservation in mind or that the quality reflected energy concerns, that is wishful thinking. The fact is energy conservation has only become a concern because of escalating fuel costs.

We have all seen high quality constructed homes from 25-30-50-100 years that are built better than todays houses.

This is being done already in some cases, the EnerGuide for New Houses project has been around for a while. The builder can get credits from the government if their house’s that they build score 80 or better. Problem is, it is a hassle for them and really not worth the time or effort in most markets.

I do believe that as fuel prices climb higher, there will be more interest on the part of the consumer to want to know the “EnerGuide rating” of the home they are purchasing, I just don’t think it will ever become mandatory or terribly popular.

But the worst contructed houses I have seen are 70-100+ years old; there were no codes then. I was doing some retrofit work with an aquaintance on his 100+ year old house a few years back. Had cut through a knee wall into an outer attic (shed style roof on an old addition) that had a second storey bathroom dormer supported by the first floor ceiling joists of 1 and 2x4’s and a few 3x3’s spanning 10 feet. The bathroom had a claw foot cast tub. I had noticed the first floor ceiling had a sag in it. When I saw the support for the bathroom floor, I jokingly forbade he and his mate from taking a bath together. Have not seen anything that lightly framed before or after. Have been told by a senior code official that our codes have a lot more safety built into them structurally than we think.

Raymond… are these evaluations the same ones that a recent newspaper article said were flawed?

I don’t get quotes like, “In Canada, 40% of greenhouse gas emissions”

From what I read, (just to use co2) almost 60% is from the oceans/volcanoes, then the next is almost 40% which is respiration(human and animals), about 1% is from making cement(process has to release co2 for it to work) and fossil fuels.

The only 40% thingie, is breathing, should we mandate real estate agents put tightly sealed plastic bags over their heads to protect Canada?