Langley Township rewards green building efforts

A new program that encourages construction of extra-energy efficient homes has been introduced by Langley Township, and local builders are beginning to get on board.

A Green Building Permit Rebate Program that helps developers create homes with energy efficiency beyond that required by the BC Building Code was implemented by Township council in January. The voluntary financial incentive program is the first of its kind in Metro Vancouver, and Quadra Homes is the first company to make use of the initiative.

“We want to provide a positive buying experience for our customers with a product above and beyond what’s normally expected,” said Shawn Bouchard, vice president of development of Quadra Homes. “The incentives are very important to help us reach some of our goals from a financial point of view.”

Bouchard noted that such incentives make it possible for companies committed to producing greener, more environmentally friendly homes to reach their objectives. And the Township hopes more builders – and other communities – will follow.

 â€œTownship council’s unanimous support of the Green Building Permit Rebate Program is a clear signal we are interested in working together with our builders to achieve our vision for energy conservation,” said Mayor Jack Froese. “We are the first municipality in the region to offer such a program, and we hope others follow suit. Every little bit helps, and if more communities get on board, it will create a healthier environment and a better future for us all.”

Over the next 30 years, the Township expects to see its population double and its electricity needs increase by 50 percent. To meet those demands, the Township is putting measures in place now to save energy and operating costs in the years to come.

“We take pride in being a leader in energy efficiency,” Froese said, “and we have the unique opportunity to achieve substantial energy savings if the new homes being constructed now are built to higher energy efficiency standards.”

Many companies would like to build cleaner, greener homes, knowing they are attractive to potential buyers who care about the environment and want to reduce their energy expenses. But outfitting homes with those features can be costly.

The Township came up with the Green Building Permit Rebate Program in an effort to offset those initial construction costs.

“Over the years, we have learned from the builders we work with that the higher cost of creating energy efficient new homes can be a deterrent,” said Roberto Cesaretti, the Township’s manager of permits, licensing, and inspections. “The Green Building Permit Rebate Program provides builders who construct homes that exceed what is required by the BC Building Code with a direct cash rebate to offset that expense.”

In Canada, the EnerGuide rating system is used as a standard measure of a home’s energy performance. Homes constructed to the BC Building Code are currently compliant if they achieve an EnerGuide rating of 77.

Under the Township’s new Green Building Permit Rebate Program, construction that exceeds the BC Building Code minimum values for energy efficiency is eligible to receive the rebate incentive. For single family homes that achieve an EnerGuide rating of 80, they will get $750 back on their building permits. For multi-family units that reach a rating of 82, they will receive a $150 rebate for each unit.

“The program is designed to remove any uncertainty a builder may have by also providing a complimentary building plan evaluation by a certified energy advisor,” added Robert Baker, the Township’s assistant chief inspector.

 While the initial goal of the program is to educate builders and encourage energy efficient construction through rebates to offset costs, Baker said the initiative will eventually aim to “recognize and identify these buildings for an increasingly educated consumer base that values energy efficient homes and has created a demand within our community.”

BC Hydro funded an Energy Manager for the Township who provided technical expertise to develop the Green Building Permit Rebate Program.  “At BC Hydro, we want to help our customers use electricity more efficiently to help them save money on their electricity bills. We see great value in working with leading organizations like the Township of Langley on programs like this one, that promote energy efficient communities from the ground up,” said Joanna Sofield, BC Hydro’s General Manager of Customer Care and Power Smart. “In addition, the program aligns well with BC Hydro’s New Home program that provides even more financial incentives to builders and developers looking to implement a higher standard of energy efficiency.”

For Quadra Homes, the Green Building Permit Rebate Program fit with the company’s ideology of caring for the environment and creating cost-savings for future customers. The program is being implemented for the first time at the Yorkson Creek Townhomes South development in Willoughby.

 â€œWe are pleased to have had Quadra Homes as the first successful builder to participate in this program,” said Baker. “We look forward to other builders also choosing to participate by showcasing themselves as energy efficiency leaders in the community.”

While the Township’s program is currently targeted at new residential homes, similar programs are being considered to include incentives for commercial buildings, renovations, and the use of alternative energy systems.

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