Kimberley City Council approves changes to Energy Efficient Building Incentive Program

The program incentivizes builders to achieve higher energy efficiency in new home construction

Kimberley City Council has approved new changes to the Energy Efficient Building Incentive Program (EEBIP).

The current program offers rebates to new home builders on their building permits. Based on the legislated BC Energy Step Code contained in the Building Act, Kimberley incentivizes builders who wish to achieve higher energy efficiency in new home construction.

The current program provides an initial financial incentive of a $500 discount on building permit fees to builders who conduct an energy evaluation of their house plans prior to construction, in order to identify and implement energy-efficient upgrades. An additional rebate is granted once a level of efficiency, within the BC Energy Step Code and EnerGuide Rating System, is achieved at the completion of construction. The building permit fees are returned to the builder based on an incremental scale of performance matching the BC Energy Step Code.

Manager of Planning Services, Troy Pollock says that the city made some revisions to the program last year, adopting the new energy rating system into the EEBIP program.

At a regular Council Meeting on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, Council discussed the success of the program and approved further changes for 2018.

“We had a very successful year in 2017,” said Pollock. “17 out of 28 new homes built participated in the program. So far only six of those homes are completed, but we had better results than anticipated. Each of those homes exceeded the initial expectations that were identified in their assessments, three of them ended up at what’s called step three, or 20 per cent better than the reference house, and three of them ended up at step four which is 40 per cent better than the reference house. It’s been a very popular program and we anticipate a continued adjustment of that this year.

“What we’re recommending this year is that we actually use the percentage rebates, so it’s a reflection of the success of the houses that are in the program so far and are exceeding their initial assessment. We’re recommending that we reduce those rates of the rebate at the tail end and keep the initial $500 rebate which essentially pays for them to get into the program and that initial assessment. Based on some of the feedback, that’s what kind of makes the program a no-brainer right from the start. The rebate at the end is a bit of a bonus.”

The rates across the board are changing as follows: a step two house, which is 10 per cent better than the reference house, receives a ten per cent rebate. Step three, which is 20 per cent better than the reference house, receives a 20 per cent rebate. Step four receives a 40 per cent rebate and step five would be a 60 per cent rebate.

“We would have that apply to any new applications for new homes this year, and what we would ultimately be working towards is the eventual adoption of the BC Energy Step Code which is a provincial program,” explained Pollock. “This first program has been really beneficial in helping to educate the local building community about opportunities and about how easy it is to comply with the step code.”

Councillor Sandra Roberts asked if the EEBIP program will have to change very much in order to be in line with the BC Energy Step Code.

Pollock responded saying that education is a large part of the provincial government’s plan with the program, and that Kimberley is setting a bit of a standard when it comes to complying with the step code.

“Our program has been looked at as one of the early adopters and I think folks in that field and that industry are really impressed with the success we’ve had so far,” said Pollock.

A report to council from Building Inspector Andy Christie says that currently in BC, 17 communities have committed to impliment minimum construction standards following the step code model.

“These communities are setting goals for builders to achieve higher efficiency standards,” said Christie. “This will eventually lead to a minimum step code level adoption in Kimberley. Kimberley’s EEBIP has garnered provincial attention with leadership in energy production and energy efficient buildings. This has lead to innovative techniques and designs in new homes, as well as the realization that energy efficiency does not equate to large cost increases in construction. The quality of home construction has been greatly improved as a direct result of Kimberley’s EEBIP.”

Councillor Albert Hoglund asked if the program will make a difference with greenhouse gas emissions.

Pollock responded saying that it helps the community overall.

“These are brand new homes which will be more efficient anyway, but it’s raising the bar and raising the expectations for those that want to build more efficient; using less energy and creating less emissions,” Pollock explained. “Buildings in our community are one of the biggest sources of emissions.”

Christie says that any increase in energy efficiency reduces the aggregate demand for energy, lowers the overall production of greenhouse gases and carbon, limits strain on distribution systems and the need for capital to expand existing infrastructure.

“Heating, specifically in residential buildings, is the second highest contributor to greenhouse gases within Kimberley, and can be easily and more effectively abated by improving a building’s design or materials prior to construction,” said Christie. “An energy efficient home is more comfortable, economical and sustainable.”

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