With the federal stimulus package there’s been a lot of talk about government money being used for energy improvements. A lot of builders (including Tay River) have been focused on energy efficiency for a long time. As a teenager, my first construction job was for an insulation contractor in eastern Ontario. We’d occasionally work on R-2000 homes, which were part of a high efficiency program for new construction at the time. It was a really interesting era – dare I say revolutionary. But the advances in knowledge spawned by the R-2000 program (and similar programs that popped up in other northern climates around the world) were probably bitter lessons for folks who had their homes messed up by them. Our current advanced understanding of building science partly stems from flaws in these early programs. To borrow from the language of politicians – mistakes were made.
The problem is compounded by a history of ‘energy efficient’ products and programs possessing the faintest hint of charlatanism – see my earlier entry on replacement windows, or check out Henry Gifford’s analysis of the (absence of) energy efficiency in the heavily marketed LEED certified buildings.
Many top builders are apprehensive about tax money being thrown at a problem as complex as energy efficiency. Using one example, adding insulation to the walls of homes will generally diminish the wall’s drying potential, which can cause rot or mold. This is not to say that you shouldn’t add insulation to older homes. But, as with many things, competent planning and oversight are important.
Here’s a link to the Energy Star’s explanation of the new tax credits for energy efficiency. The good news is that the standards themselves look like a step in the right direction. Frankly, they probably wouldn’t have caught my attention had it not been for a sales rep at a local lumberyard grumbling to me about how the high standards mean that most windows no longer qualify. (You mean you can’t offer tax rebates by selling leaky crap and telling people that it’s energy efficient? Waaah!). So if the program is enough of a nudge for homeowners, we could see some pretty positive changes.
Thanks for reading,