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It’s not easy being green : overcoming the barriers to conducting green renovations in the home Nicol, Lee 2003

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IT'S NOT EASY BEING GREEN: OVERCOMING THE BARRIERS TO CONDUCTING GREEN RENOVATIONS IN THE HOME  by LEE NICOL B.Eng., McGill University, 1994 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIRMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE, PLANNING in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (School of Community and Regional Planning) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standards  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA June 2003 © Lee Ann Nicol, 2003  In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head o f my department or by his or her representatives.  It is understood that copying or  publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date  1  Abstract The construction, operation and demolition of buildings contributes significantly to the deterioration of the environment.  Although much of the building industry is not well  understood by the general public, the one aspect in which individuals can have a positive environmental influence is housing, especially during home  renovation  projects. This thesis has a two-fold objective.  First, it attempts to identify the obstacles  encountered by homeowners who try to renovate their home in a green manner. Secondly, it presents options to overcome these obstacles, thereby making green renovations  a more feasible option for a broad cross-section of  homeowners.  Obstacles and the options for overcoming them were identified through interviews conducted with individuals involved in green renovations, including homeowners, contractors,  non-profit  organizations,  for-profit  businesses  and  government  representatives. Options are explored by considering three approaches to increase the adoption of green renovations. The first approach addresses homeowners who are already inclined to renovate in a green manner, the second approach seeks to provide additional incentive for homeowners who are not inclined to renovate green, and the third approach is based on improving the availability of green materials, products and techniques that currently have limited use due to regulatory restrictions. It is concluded that a total approach to green renovations will comprise a number of elements  including: increasing homeowner  and contractor  knowledge  of  green  renovation options, improving affordability, promoting the synergistic benefits of health and savings, strengthening government roles, disseminating information by setting green building examples, and addressing regulatory barriers.  ii  T a b l e of Contents Abstract  ii  T a b l e of Contents  iii  List of T a b l e s  vii  List of Figures  viii  Acknowledgements  ix  C h a p t e r 1 - A n Introduction to G r e e n Renovations  1  1.1 Keeping Up With the Jones' 1.2 Background 1.3 Thesis Objective and Research Questions 1.4 Research Methodology 1.4.1 Non-Academic Information Review 1.4.2 Research Interviews 1.5 Outline of Thesis C h a p t e r 2 - T h e Building Sector and the E n v i r o n m e n t 2.1 Introduction 2.2 The Impact of Buildings on the Environment 2.2.1 Introduction 2.2.2 Energy Use 2.2.3 Water Consumption and Quality 2.2.4 Resource and Material Use 2.2.5 Pollution and Solid Waste 2.2.6 Looking for Solutions - Sustainable Buildings 2.3 Sustainable Buildings 2.3.1 Introduction 2.3.2 History of Sustainable Building.. 2.3.3 Defining Sustainable Buildings 2.3.4 Finding a Definition 2.4 Sustainable Housing 2.4.1 Introduction 2.4.2 Housing and the Environment 2.4.3 Perceptions of Sustainable Housing 2.4.4 Greening the Existing Housing Stock 2.5 Summary  1 2 2 3 3 3 5 8 8 8 8 9 10 10 11 12 ..12 12 13 14 16 17 17 17 19 21 23  iii  C h a p t e r 3 - T h e Shaping of G r e e n Renovations: Regulations and Resources 25 3.1 Introduction 3.2 Home Renovations 3.3 Green Renovation Opportunities 3.3.1 Introduction .. 3.3.2 Energy Use 3.3.3 Water Consumption 3.3.4 Resource and Material Use 3.3.5 Air Quality 3.4 Guidelines and Regulations Related to Green Renovations 3.4.1 Introduction 3.4.2 Codes 3.4.3 Zoning Bylaws 3.4.4 Building Permits 3.4.5 The Energy Efficiency Act 3.4.6 Health Act 3.5 Resources for Green Renovations 3.5.1 Introduction 3.5.2 Natural Resources Canada - Office of Energy Efficiency 3.5.3 Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation 3.5.4 Local Government 3.5.5 Utilities 3.5.6 Private Sector 3.5.7 Non-Profit Organizations 3.6 Summary Chapter 4 - G r e e n Renovation Experiences 4.1 Introduction 4.2 Homeowners 4.2.1 Introduction 4.2.2 Motivation to Renovate Green 4.2.3 Profile of Green Renovations 4.2.4 Resources Used 4.2.5 Barriers to Renovating Green 4.2.6 Thoughts for the Future 4.3 Contractors 4.3.1 Motivation to Renovate Green 4.3.2 Profile of Green Renovations 4.3.3 Resources Used 4.3.4 Barriers to Renovating Green 4.3.5 Thoughts for the Future  .  25 25 26 26 26 29 31 31 32 32 32 34 34 35 35 36 36 36 38 38 39 40 42 44 47 47 47 47 48 49 51 53 55 56 56 57 58 59 61  4.4 Non-Profit Organizations 4.4.1 Strengths of Non-Profits 4.4.2 Barriers to Program Development and Delivery.... 4.4.3 Gauging Success 4.4.4 Thoughts for the Future 4.5 For-Profit Businesses 4.5.1 Strengths of For-Profits 4.5.2 Barriers to Program Development and Delivery 4.5.3 Gauging Success 4.5.4 Thoughts for the Future 4.6 Government 4.6.1 Strengths 4.6.2 Barriers and Challenges 4.7 Summary Chapter 5 - Enabling G r e e n Renovations  ,  61 62 64 65 67 69 69 70 72 73 74 74 75 77 80  5.1 Introduction 80 5.2 Using Multiple Approaches to Overcome Barriers 80 5.3 Approach 1 - Removing Barriers for Green Homeowners 82 5.3.1 Identifying Barriers 82 5.3.2 Increase Knowledge of Green Options and Accessibility of Information 82 5.3.3 Increase Contractor Availability and Knowledge 86 5.3.4 Increase Affordability 90 5.3.5 Summary 93 5.4 Approach 2 - Increasing the Appeal of Green Options 93 5.4.1 Reaching the Majority of Homeowners 93 5.4.2 Promote Synergistic Benefits 94 5.4.3 Increase Government Roles 96 5.4.4 Disseminate Information by Setting Examples 100 5.4.5 Summary 101 5.5 Approach 3 - Pushing the Green Building Envelope 101 5.5.1 Increasing Green Options 101 5.5.2 Enable Changes in Codes, Bylaws and Other Regulations 102 5.5.3 Provide Means for Making Regulations Easier for Homeowners to Understand 104 5.5.4 Lessen Apprehension About Innovative Products and Techniques ..104 5.5.5 Make Code Interpretations Consistent , 105 5.5.6 Summary 106 5.6 Summary 106  v  Chapter 6 - Planning Implications and Conclusions  6.1 Introduction 6.2 Planning Implications 6.3 Final Reflections 6.3.1 Keeping Up With the Jones' - The Sequel  108  108 108 111 111  Bibliography  113  A p p e n d i x A - W e b Resources  119  List of Tables  Table 1: Energy Use in Canadian Homes  27  Table 2: Energy Efficiency Renovation Options  28  Table 3: Water Use in the Home  29  Table 4: Water Conservation Renovation Options  30  Table 5: Summary of Green Renovation Resources  46  Table 6: Homeowner and Contractor Green Renovation Experiences  78  Table 7: Non-Profit and For-Profit Green Renovation Experiences  79  Table 8: Government Green Renovation Experiences  79  Table 9: Renovated Versus New Buildings  97  Table 10: Single-Family Versus Govemment/lnstitutional/Commercial Buildings  97  List of Figures  Figure 1: Three Approaches for Achieving Widespread Green Home Renovations  81  Figure 2: Approach 1 - Removing Barriers for Green Homeowners  93  Figure 3: Approach 2 - Increasing the Appeal of Green Options  101  Figure 4: Approach 3 - Pushing the Green Building Envelope  106  Figure 5: Summary of Approaches for Promoting Green Renovations  107  viii  Acknowledgements  I would like to thank my supervisor, Dr. Penny Gurstein, for her advice and guidance throughout this project, and for providing encouragement when I felt sure I'd never finish. Thank you also to Thomas Mueller at the Greater Vancouver Regional District for allowing me to coerce him into taking time from his busy schedule to be on my committee, and Peter Boothroyd for agreeing to be my external examiner on such short notice. I'd like to extend my appreciation to the many friends I have met at SCARP whose energy and commitment to that elusive concept of 'sustainability' always impresses me, and who were around for fun times when they were much needed. Thanks to all those who read my thesis when i t was still in its wordy infancy. A special thank you goes out to my family for supporting my decision to return to school and follow a new career path. Finally, I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to Paul Hulme for helping me keep perspective on school and work over the past three years (not an easy task!) and for doing it with a sense of humour and an open ear.  ix  C h a p t e r 1 - An Introduction to G r e e n Renovations  1.1  Keeping Up With the Jones'  Imagine the following scenario: The Jones' love their neighbourhood but their home is falling to pieces.  The roof  needs re-shingling and the furnace needs replacing. The vinyl floor in the kitchen is cracked and worn, and the living room carpet is threadbare. The toilets leak through the night. The bedrooms all need a few coats of paint. The Jones' decide i t is time to renovate. They have two options. The first option is to do as many homeowners do.  They can go to the home  improvement centre and purchase the products and materials they need for their home renovation. They can pick up fibreglass asphalt roofing shingles and invest in a 65% efficient furnace. They can get new vinyl flooring and synthetic carpeting for the kitchen and living room, respectively. They can buy new 13-litre per flush toilets and pick up a few gallons of standard paint. But the Jones' decide not to follow the traditional path of home renovations.  Instead  they choose the second option: they renovate green. The  reclaimed  shingles they  purchase  for  the  roof  required  little  energy  to  manufacture and they saved natural resources. The 95% efficient furnace they install saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. They use linoleum, a durable yet biodegradable product made of natural ingredients, for their kitchen floor. used for the living room flooring is a rapidly renewable resource.  The cork  They install dual  flush toilets that use either only 3 or 6 litres per flush, thereby reducing their water consumption. Finally, they paint the bedrooms with a low-emissions paint, leaving the air they breathe free of toxins. This thesis attempts to address how all homeowners can be encouraged to keep up with the Jones'.  1  1.2  Background  It has become nearly impossible to listen to a newscast or read a newspaper without happening upon an item about environmental degradation.  The causes of this  environmental crisis are many and varied. Some are more prominent than others - the petrochemical industry, slash and burn forestry, and agribusiness, to name a few hence they are easier for individuals and organizations to rally against. are much less sensational but are no less damaging.  Other causes  One such industry has an end  product that impinges on each and every one of us for most of the day, every day. Although we rarely pay heed to its environmental repercussions, we potentially all have the ability to influence the way in which i t is environmentally managed: the building industry. Buildings are necessities. At their most basic, they provide shelter from the elements, but they can also be a place to conduct business, a setting for sport and recreation, and a venue for learning and teaching. Individually, a single office building, house or mall may have a negligible effect on the environment, hence its impact can be disregarded easily.  Although any one building may contribute relatively little to the  global environmental decline, collectively buildings are liable for many problems (Roodman and Lenssen 1995). Fortunately, progress can be made on two fronts.  First of all there is a surge in  interest in green buildings - buildings that are constructed in ways that are less damaging to the environment (USGBC 2001, 2).  Secondly, although many aspects of  the building sector are inaccessible to most people, individuals can make significant contributions to greening the built environment by incorporating green materials and products into their homes during renovation projects.  1.3  Thesis Objective and Research Questions  The objective of this research is to identify ways in which green materials, products and construction techniques can become viable alternatives in the home renovation projects of a wide range of homeowners. This will be accomplished by addressing the following two research questions:  2  •  What obstacles do homeowners in the Lower Mainland encounter when they attempt to undertake green renovations?  •  How can these obstacles be overcome thus making green renovations a more accessible and attractive option to a wide range of homeowners?  A literature review was conducted in order to ascertain the existing body of knowledge regarding  residential  green  renovations  and homeowner  experiences  thereof.  Academic journal articles were obtained by searching in indexes for humanities and social science, architecture, sustainability and housing.  planning, and engineering, using terms related to  Relevant books edited by academics were also sought at  the University of British Columbia library.  The search revealed that although a  considerable amount has been written about green buildings in general, there is little that addresses residential green renovations in specific. In order to address this gap in the literature, two methodological approaches were taken with special attention to Vancouver as a case region.  1.4  Research Methodology  1.4.1  Non-Academic Information Review  Extensive non-academic information pertaining to green renovations was gathered using a combination of library and especially Internet searches. These searches were key in informing me of the governmental, private sector and non-profit organization resources available, and of the regulatory framework that shapes the renovation process.  1.4.2  Research Interviews  Interviews were conducted with five different groups of people, each of which has a particular function within residential green renovations. Interview Participants A total of 14 people were interviewed, most of whom live in the Lower Mainland (Vancouver area of British Columbia). The categories of interviewees are as follows: 3  Homeowners who had conducted or had tried to conduct renovations using green materials, products and construction techniques. Four homeowners were interviewed: •  one environmental toxicologist;  •  two engineers working in the green buildings sector; and  •  one university professor whose research pertains to sustainability.  Renovation contractors who have considerable experience in green renovation work on single family homes. Two contractors were interviewed. Non-profit  organizations that  homeowners.  develop  and  deliver  green  home  programs  Four non-profit organization representatives were interviewed.  to  These  individuals worked in British Columbia, but not in the Lower Mainland. For-profit business that conducts home energy audits.  The one interviewee worked  for a utility. Government representatives belonging to various levels of government  and/or  government agencies. Three government representatives were interviewed: •  one CMHC representative;  •  one Lower Mainland municipality employee working in building services; and  •  one regional district employee.  The interviews were limited to people with knowledge of green home renovations since these individuals could provide the greatest insight into this field.  Analysis of  the perspectives of homeowners and contractors with no experience with green renovations lay beyond the scope of this research. Interview Methodology Interviews were conducted first with the four homeowners.  Homeowner interviewees  were selected based on responses to a request for subjects distributed on two listservs, and by word-of-mouth (snowball technique).  Three of the remaining four  categories of participants were determined based on comments made by homeowners during the interviews; contractors, for-profit  businesses, and government  were  4  frequently cited as affecting a homeowner's green renovation projects. The non-profit category was chosen since I was aware of their home audit programs and their role in green renovations outside of the Lower Mainland.  Since the pool of suitable  participants in the contractor, non-profit, for-profit and government categories was small, the interviewees were either identified and sought by myself or were suggested by other interviewees. Interviews were conducted in person and lasted between 30 and 90 minutes.  Semi-  structured interview questions were prepared and were tailored to be appropriate for each category  of participant.  Interviewees  also were encouraged to provide  information about issues relevant to residential green renovations that were not adequately addressed by the questions.  The interviews were conducted between  October 30, 2002 and February 9, 2003. A tape recorder was used to record one-on-one personal interviews that were then transcribed. The exceptions were •  one homeowner who was interviewed without the use of a tape recorder. Notes were taken, and follow-up e-mail exchanges were used;  •  t w o non-profits  who were  interviewed  by telephone  (these were  tape  recorded); and •  t w o non-profits who were unavailable for one-on-one verbal interviews, but who were able to answer questions provided to them by e-mail.  1.5  Outline of Thesis  The six chapters of this thesis attempt to address the research questions noted previously. Chapter 2 provides an overview of the environmental impact of the building sector and the concept of sustainable building.  The discussion begins with a summary of the  effects of building construction and operation on energy use, water consumption and quality, resource and material use, solid waste, and air pollution. This is followed by a brief history of sustainability in building design and construction, and a presentation of various ideas about what 'sustainable' means with respect to buildings. The chapter  5  then focuses on housing - the part of the building sector that most affects the general population.  Concepts of sustainable housing are investigated within the context of  new homes and the existing housing stock, and the chapter concludes with an introduction to green renovations. Chapter 3 explores the many factors that affect the way Canadians, and in particular British Columbians, currently conduct home renovations. After briefly describing the home renovation industry in Canada and British Columbia, a partial list of green options for energy efficiency, water conservation, resource conservation and improved air quality are presented.  This is followed by a summary of the guidelines and  regulations that shape and restrict the green renovation options available. Finally, an overview of resources that homeowners can draw on before and during the green renovation process is presented. Chapter 4 presents the results of the interviews conducted with the five groups of interviewees:  homeowners,  contractors,  businesses, and government representatives.  non-profit  organizations,  for-profit  First the experiences of those who do  the renovations is introduced, namely the homeowners and the contractors.  An  overview of their motivation to renovate green is followed by a profile of typical green renovations, the resources that homeowners and contractors use, the obstacles that impede green renovation progress, and their ideas for the future.  Next is a  presentation of the experiences of organizations that provide programs to facilitate green renovations in the home, namely  non-profit  organizations and  for-profit  businesses. The strengths that each type of organization possesses, the barriers and challenges  they  encounter  in developing  and delivering  their  programs,  their  successes, and some notes for the future are all noted. The final section provides an overview of the government perspective on residential green renovations, including the strengths they offer and the barriers they encounter or impose. Chapter 5 combines the feedback from the interviewees (Chapter 4) and existing green renovation resources (Chapter 3) to propose ideas for widening the appeal of green renovations.  The chapter begins by presenting some of the principal variables that  play into a homeowner's renovation project.  Based on these variables, the analysis is  divided into three approaches: removing obstacles and increasing opportunities for homeowners who are predisposed to renovating in a sustainable way; increasing the 6  appeal of green renovations to homeowners who are not sympathetic  to  the  environmental arguments for green buildings; and increasing the availability of green materials, products and construction techniques that currently are prohibited or are obscure. Chapter 6 presents some of the implications for policy and planning based on the analysis in Chapter 5, and concludes with some final thoughts on the research process.  7  C h a p t e r 2 - T h e Building Sector and the E n v i r o n m e n t  2.1  Introduction  This chapter explores the themes of buildings, the environment and sustainability.  It  begins with an overview of the negative impacts of the building sector on the environment.  This is followed by a discussion of the history of sustainability in  building design and construction, and the many ideas regarding what constitutes a sustainable building. Next, the discussion narrows to housing - the part of the building sector that most shapes the general population.  Concepts of sustainable housing are  investigated within the context of new homes and the existing housing stock.  The  chapter concludes with an introduction to green renovations, and how they will be addressed in the remainder of this thesis.  2.2  The Impact of Buildings on the Environment  2.2.1  Introduction  Canadians spend approximately 90% of their time indoors (CMHC 1999, 8). As building construction proliferates to accommodate the numerous activities we have moved inside, developers and builders have attempted to produce buildings that are less expensive to build and operate.  New and profitable building design and construction  techniques resulting from the discovery of materials of lower cost, greater durability and marketable potential have given little consideration to the environment or human health (Smith et al. 1998, 132). A building's environmental impact extends far beyond its visible infrastructure.  It  begins with quarrying and refining and continues with the production of raw materials, manufacturing of building products, on-site construction, building use, and ends with demolition, reuse and disposal (Smith et al. 1998, 60).  Each stage consumes non-  renewable energy and resources, and generates waste, as described below.  8  2.2.2  Energy Use  Building energy consumption causes non-renewable energy resources to be extracted and produced, and greenhouse gasses to be emitted, amongst other  negative  environmental impacts. The total energy consumed by a building is composed of two parts: the energy required to produce the building and the energy required to operate the building. Building production and operation use approximately 30% of the total energy load in the United States (USGBC 2001, 93). Worldwide, 40% of the world's energy is used by buildings (Roodman and Lenssen 1995). The energy required to produce a building, commonly referred to as its 'embodied energy', refers to the energy required to extract raw materials from nature, plus the energy used in primary and secondary manufacturing activities to provide a finished product (Mumma 1995). Approximately 80% to 85% of a building's embodied energy is attributable to the production and transportation of building materials, with the remaining energy associated with construction site activity (UNEP 1996). Buildings are a large consumer of energy-intensive manufactured materials, such as iron and steel for structural elements, copper for plumbing and electrical conductors, glass for windows, and synthetic materials for sealing and insulation (Bashford and Robson 1995).  In embodied energy terms, buildings represent a large and long-term energy  investment. After  construction,  buildings  continue  to  consume  considerable  energy  during  operation, primarily for the maintenance of acceptable internal conditions through building heating and cooling.  In fact, buildings are produced that have little do with  the local climate since it has "become easier and quicker simply to over-specify the building services" (Smith et al. 1998, 42), as evidenced by the huge heating and air conditioning systems in offices, factories, homes and hotels around the world.  It has  been estimated that as much as one third of global primary energy is used for operation and maintenance of buildings (UNEP 1996).  9  2.2.3  W a t e r Consumption and Quality  Buildings influence three different aspects of global water use: the volume of water withdrawn, the quality of water returned to the environment, and the natural flow regimes of water. Globally, buildings (and their occupants) consume 16% of water used annually (Dimson 1996).  Inefficient fixtures, low water and sewage rates, excessive irrigation and  water-wasting behaviour mean that water consumption in buildings is far higher than it need be.  Moreover, in Canada, virtually all building water is treated to drinking-  quality standard, including water used for toilet flushing and irrigation. Building water is used once before being sent to the sewerage system in the form of sewage and effluents. The result is that ever-increasing water consumption - and hence treatment - requires ever-increasing and expensive investments in water system infrastructure. Upgrades and expansions are needed to gather, deliver and dispose of water and wastewater, and significant material and monetary resources must be expended on dams,  reservoirs, water  treatment  facilities,  distribution  networks  and sewage  treatment. Buildings also influence the natural patterns of water flow. comprises impervious roofs and parking lots.  A building's footprint  As impervious area increases, the  quality, runoff rate, and volume of stormwater entering the natural drainage system decreases, and the quantity of run-off entering the stormwater system grows. Rainfall infiltrating the soil may be reduced, lowering the water table and potentially reducing the amount of groundwater recharging streams during normally low flow periods. Runoff from impervious areas, particularly in urban areas, contributes to pollution loading of nutrients, bacteria, sediment, heavy metals, oils, grease and road salt (Environment Canada 2000).  2.2.4  Resource and Material Use  Materials used in building construction are often composed of non-renewable or nonrapid ly-renewable resources, and their extraction both significantly depletes their availability for future generations and destroys natural habitats.  10  Building construction accounts for 40% of the raw stone, gravel and sand used worldwide each year. Sand and gravel, used in aggregate for concrete and asphalt, often are removed from coastal areas, frequently causing increased coastal erosion. Building construction also accounts for 25% of the virgin wood used worldwide each year, and the construction industry is the principal user of tropical hardwoods, contributing very substantially to the loss of tropical forests (USGBC 2001, 186; UNEP 1996). In British Columbia, wood for building construction often is obtained from clear cut forestry.  As non-rapidly-renewable resources are consumed, soil erosion, air  quality problems and biodiversity loss increase. 2.2.5 Pollution and Solid Waste Each stage of a building's lifecycle results in pollution and solid waste generation, as well as indoor environmental quality problems. Quarrying and mining for building materials produce noise, dust, water and air pollution, and very large quantities of residual waste. For example, cement, used almost exclusively by the construction industry, produces airborne dust particles generated in the heating process and during quarrying, transporting, and crushing of the limestone, as well as greenhouse gasses during cement production (UNEP 1996). Additional air and water pollution occur during the transportation of these raw materials over considerable distances, from their point of harvest or extraction to their point of manufacture and final use (USGBC 2001, 198). A variety of other environmental problems occur during building construction and demolition. Some are temporary, such as noise, dust and fumes. Others, such as spills, can contaminate soil or reach groundwater and have long-term effects (UNEP 1996). Construction and demolition activities also generate considerable solid waste, comprising approximately 40% of the total waste stream in Greater Vancouver. These bulky materials, which most often are sent to landfill, can include soil, stones and clay; concrete and masonry; bricks; wood; metals; and plastics, paper, and rubber (USGBC 2001, 167). Pollutants continue to be added to the environment during the building's occupancy stage.  Energy requirements mean that the combustion of fossil fuels in Canadian 11  buildings contributed 77 megatonnes of direct emissions in 2000 with another 57 megatonnes of emissions being attributable to the generation of electricity from the coal, oil or natural gas used to heat and cool buildings (11% and 8% of total Canadian greenhouse gas emissions, respectively, for a total of 19%)(Government of Canada 2002). In addition to the outdoor environment, indoor environmental quality is often compromised since conventional buildings have developed into sealed environments with no occupant controls (USGBC 2001, 254). Roodman and Lenssen (1995) claim that approximately 30% of newly-built or -renovated buildings suffer from 'sick building syndrome', exposing occupants to poor air quality.  Airtight environments exacerbate  the negative effects of a large number of products that contain glues, cleaning materials, adhesives, paints, solvents and pesticides. formaldehyde,  polycyclic  aromatic  hydrocarbons,  These products can release and  other  volatile  organic  compounds (VOCs), contributing to smog generation and air pollution outdoors while having an adverse effect on the health of building occupants. Molds, fungi, dust, and dander can become trapped on building surfaces, or grow in damp walls and carpets (Statistics Canada, Human activity, 2002; USGBC 2001, 246).  2.2.6 Looking for Solutions - Sustainable Buildings As noted above, the building industry figures prominently in many global and local environmental problems.  But just as other industries look toward how they can  mitigate their environmental impacts, so are parts of the building industry.  One  solution lies with 'sustainable buildings'.  2.3  Sustainable Buildings  2.3.1  Introduction  There has been a recent surge of interest, research and activity centred on buildings that lessen the burden they place on the environment - often referred to as 'sustainable' or 'green' buildings. These terms can be interpreted differently by various people, and can mean far more than simply lessening the impact of the building's  12  physical structure on the environment.  This section explores these ideas and how  finding a single definition for 'sustainable buildings' is problematic.  2.3.2 History of Sustainable Building Although some aspects of sustainable building have been addressed over the last century, the emergence of current widespread notions of sustainable buildings is fairly recent.  The energy crisis of the 1970s likely served as one of the first catalysts,  propelling ideas of energy efficiency to the forefront of the building industry as energy prices soared and concern about the wasteful use of fossil fuels grew.  One of the  solutions for conserving energy was to construct buildings that were more airtight, but this led to unforeseen consequences.  As the 1980s rolled around, 'sick building  syndrome', resulting from elevated levels of toxins and allergens trapped in poorly ventilated buildings, focused the public's attention on buildings with healthy indoor environments (Rousseau 1997, xi).  Resource conservation in the building industry  began in the late 1980s as landfills began to reach capacity.  The building industry,  being a primary user of resources and generator of wastes, began recycling building materials during demolition and, to a lesser extent, using recycled products during construction.  Awareness of resource conservation increased as people made the  connection between the use of tropical hardwoods in construction and species extinction in tropical rainforests (Rousseau 1997, xi). The culmination of all of these stages of awareness and action was a realization that buildings needed to be more energy efficient, use more natural materials, and use fewer resources. Popular advances in sustainable building design, construction and marketing have been spearheaded by numerous organizations.  In the United Kingdom, the  Building  Research Establishment Ltd. (BRE) devised a building rating system in 1990, BREEAM (BRE  Environmental  Assessment  Method),  that  assessed  the  environmental  performance of new and existing buildings (Building Research Establishment, BREEAM). Similarly, the U.S. Green Building Council, established in 1993, was formed to promote the understanding, development  and accelerated implementation  of  sustainable  building policies, programs, technologies, standards and design practices on a national basis. In 1998 i t released the first version of its green building rating system, LEED™ (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).  13  Many other private, public, non-profit, industry, and academic organizations related to sustainable buildings have proliferated over the past decade.  Yet a fundamental  question remains to be answered: "what is a sustainable building?" As seen in the next subsection, the groups that espouse the merits of sustainable buildings have vastly different interpretations of what that entails.  2.3.3  Defining Sustainable Buildings  The publication of Our Common Future,  also known as the Brundtland  Report,  provided the world with the now common definition of sustainable development, which is "development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (WCED 1987, 43). Since then, the true meaning of sustainability and the context within which the word is used have been debated passionately. When applied to building construction, definitions of sustainability range from broad concepts that incorporate all aspects of sustainability (e.g. social, environmental, and economic) to narrow definitions focused on one specific sustainable design feature (e.g. energy efficiency) (USGBC 2001, 1). The term 'green' is often used interchangeably with 'sustainable', and other expressions used for the description of sustainable building include 'environmentally sensitive', 'environmentally conscious', 'natural', and 'ecological'.  These terms also include  relative meanings - as in something is greener than something else (Cook and Golton 1994). There is considerable debate about what constitutes a 'green' product, process, or building, and conflicting claims regarding the 'greenness' of various products (Bashford and Robson 1995). Not surprisingly, there are inconsistencies and anomalies within some concepts of green building (Cook and Golton 1994). Simon Guy, Dean of Research in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of Urban Development, and Graham Farmer, a lecturer in architecture, both at the University of Newcastle in the United Kingdom, explored these conflicting ideas of green buildings and proposed six 'competing logics' of green buildings, described briefly below (Guy and Farmer 2000, 75-83).  14  Ecological The Ecological Logic, centred on the ecocentric environmentalist worldview believes building  design  should  emphasize  small-scale,  decentralized  solutions, and rely on the reuse and recycling of building material.  and  autonomous  Dependency on  infrastructure services of water, energy and waste should be minimized through the use of appropriate technologies, and there is an emphasis on the use of renewable building materials and technology. Smart Unlike the Ecological view, the Smart Logic believes that science and technology can provide the solutions to environmental problems, and that there is the "possibility of overcoming the environmental crisis without leaving the path of modernization". These technocentric environmentalists acknowledge the existence of environmental problems and want to solve them through management of the environment, therefore design is usually based on 'modern', high-tech buildings.  Success of the design  approach, therefore, is determined quantitatively by measures such as the reduction of building energy consumption and material embodied energy. Aesthetic The Aesthetic Logic believes that buildings must be created from architectural forms where both function and image celebrate the environmental message.  Sustainable  buildings do not simply reduce the energy consumption or ecological footprint of the building, rather they inspire and convey an increasing identification with nature. The use of organic forms is intended to reflect both the image of nature and to deepen our experiential understanding of it. Symbolic The Symbolic Logic believes that truly sustainable buildings need to relate more fully to the concept of locality and place and rejects the 'universalization' prevalent in modern culture.  Current technologically-based sustainable architectural approaches  often fail to coincide with the cultural values of a particular place or people. Sustainable buildings should draw inspiration from indigenous and vernacular building  15  strategies, which are seen as examples of ways in which culture adapts to the limitation of a particular environment. Architecture, therefore, should seek a greater understanding of local culture if it is to be sustainable. Comfort The Comfort Logic is concerned with the effects of the environment on the health and well-being of individual building occupants. Where buildings were once designed and built for protection from the hostile, natural world, the Comfort group sees the buildings themselves as potentially hostile environments. The emphasis is on the use of natural, non-toxic materials and on tactile spatial qualities.  "By linking health to  issues such as the quality of air, water and urban space, sick buildings become indicative of a far wider malaise, highlighting our aspirations for a better quality of life and control over our immediate surroundings". Community The Community Logic addresses issues of democracy and the creation of buildings that express the notion of community.  Buildings have the potential to help create a sense  of individual and collective identity,  as opposed to the examples of  architecture that create feelings of alienation. and  flexible  buildings  that  serve  the  modern  The aim is to construct appropriate  needs  of  residents  while  minimizing  environmental impacts by using renewable, recycled and local materials. The design approach "aims to express the organic formation of society with links to the natural locality within which communities are developed".  2.3.4  Finding a Definition  Evidently, the notion of a sustainable building means more than a structure that can be more or less better designed relative to environmental standards; rather i t is subject to competing green values.  As Guy and Farmer observe, "we have to be  sensitive not only to the widely differing motivations also to the range of techniques  and commitments  of actors, but  or technical innovations employed, the variety of  contexts and settings in which development occurs and the social processes involved in the definition and redefinition of the nature of the environmental problem i t s e l f .  16  A definitive definition of 'green' or 'sustainable' building may always elude us, but that does not mean that progress cannot be made. As Bashford and Robson (1995) write, "it may be that the best that can be achieved is a general raising of awareness of all the issues that can be considered and the use of definitions in a relative rather than an absolute sense."  2.4  Sustainable Housing  2.4.1 Introduction Buildings play a vital role in all of our lives, yet the average person has a limited ability to influence the greening of the building industry as a whole.  Housing,  however, is the one area of the building sector in which individuals can have greater control.  This section provides an overview of the environmental impacts associated  specifically to housing and why housing policy has said little with respect to the environment. The chapter concludes with a discussion of sustainability as i t applies to new and existing housing, setting the stage for the remainder of this thesis which explores green home renovations.  2.4.2 Housing and the Environment Housing constitutes a large subsection of the building sector.  In 1997, there were a  total of 11,606,000 households in Canada, most of which were single detached (57%), followed by apartments (31%), single attached (10%) and mobile homes (2%) (NRCan 2000). Considering the large number of dwellings in Canada, i t is not surprising that a significant proportion of the environmental impact of buildings is attributable to energy use, water consumption, and pollution and waste generation from housing construction activities and from keeping people warm and comfortable in their homes: •  Energy use in the residential sector in 1999 (e.g. space and water heating, appliances, lighting and space cooling) accounted for 17% of secondary energy demand in Canada, and accounted for  15.5% (or 69.9  megatonnes)  of  greenhouse gas emissions from secondary energy use (NRCan 2001).  17  •  Researchers estimate that the energy consumed in manufacturing, transporting and installing the materials used to build a house (the embodied energy) equals the energy used to operate i t for 30 years (CMHC 1999, 4).  •  More than half of municipal water demand in Canada is a result of residential use (Environment Canada 2002).  •  Residential construction in Canada accounts for approximately 12 percent of all waste sent to landfill annually (CMHC 1999, 4).  •  The construction of a typical home in the United States generates about 2.2 tons of solid waste (Bashford and Robson 1995).  Although the link between housing provision and environmental degradation is clear, a widespread move toward green housing has not yet occurred.  Until recently, the  housing field has said little with respect to the environmental consequences of housing provision (Bhatti 1994, 14).  A review of the literature suggests several possible  reasons. Firstly, housing fulfills fundamental objectives that, environmental  concerns.  More far-reaching  policy  rightly  or wrongly, supersede  on sustainable  construction  presupposes that the most pressing needs of housing are met first - namely that the primary requirement of a roof over everyone's head is met (Pieters 1996). This point is particularly relevant to British Columbia, where the cost of real estate and the challenges of owning a dwelling place environmental concerns on the back burner. Secondly, in addition to providing basic shelter, our homes affect us on an emotional level, and conservation and pollution reduction are technical issues that have nothing to do with how we feel. As the green architect and lecturer Christopher Day explains it, "[o]ur responsibilities to the planet seem at variance with our need for surroundings that nourish us" (Day 2000, 128). Another set of reasons revolves around the different scales at which the environment and housing work and the way the market fails to link the two.  For instance, many  aspects of the environmental crisis are truly global in scope (e.g. climate change) and require international solutions, but housing markets are an economic process that operate in specific localities (Bhatti 1994, 1).  Similarly, there is no dollar cost  associated with the environmental  housing materials,  burden of  products  and 18  techniques, thus most North Americans are not used to making housing decisions based upon avoiding emissions, waste and the use of non-renewable resources since the environmental impacts occur at different times and in different places (Bashford and Robson 1995). Regardless of the reasons for why the environmental impact of housing provision has not drawn widespread debate from policy-makers, individuals and groups are posing questions about the relationship between housing and global environmental change. Solutions may lie in any one, or all, of the interpretations of green housing discussed below.  2.4.3  Perceptions of Sustainable Housing  Just as different people associate different meanings to the notion of sustainable building, so too do individuals have various expectations of sustainable housing, some of which can be related to the Logics of subsection 2.3.3. The 'Eco-Home' One view of a sustainable home eschews bigger and more complex technology and instead believes that solutions lie with low energy, intermediate technology such as recycling wastewater within the home and making use of passive solar heating. Local food production, recycling of wastes and conservation of local wildlife are part of this vision of housing (Rydin 1994, 128).  This view, suggestive of the Ecological logic,  conjures up images of the autonomous house, where household functions are designed to work independently of municipal and other infrastructure.  There are several  examples of homes that f i t this description, one of which is the Alberta Sustainable House, located in Calgary. Features include passive and active solar systems, a ground level cold closet to store fruit and vegetables, a composting toilet and an extensive rainwater collection system.  Several items are salvaged, such as fallen willow  branches used for stair and balcony railings and an old cast iron bathtub, and many parts of the house were made of recycled materials (Rieger and Byrne 1996). Although several individual homes and research pilot projects exist that reflect this style of green housing, adopting all of the principals of the eco-home for use in mainstream  19  developments would challenge existing structures of economic, political and social organization. The 'Healthy Home' Sustainable housing can also mean dwellings that use materials and products that are conducive to health and well being - they are not the conventional homes that spring up rapidly in new developments, composed of synthetic materials confined within tightly sealed interiors.  Rather, sustainable homes are 'healthy' homes that maximize  indoor air quality and minimize potential adverse physical reactions.  This Comfort  perspective of housing, which champions individual health, forms one of the most compelling self-interest reasons for building homes with natural, non-toxic materials (Woolley 2000, 46).  Examples of healthy homes are plentiful, and range from large  single-family dwellings to multi-tenant buildings, such as the Barrhaven Community Housing for the Environmentally Hypersensitive in Nepean, Ontario.  Features of this  housing development include materials that are as additive free as possible, surfaces that are kept in a natural unfinished state, minimal hidden spaces where mold and mildew problems occur, and no basements (Rousseau 1997, 84). Green Cohousing Another perspective of green housing is one that captures "the needs of citizens, consumers and householders for a healthy urban environment which improves their well being and at the same time ensures the survival of the natural world" (Bhatti 1994,  30).  User  participation  and  social  justice,  suggestive  of  co-housing  developments, are a means of improving environmental quality of housing.  This  Community perspective of housing involves opening up the design process to ordinary people and allowing them active involvement in, and a feeling of ownership of, the built environment in which they live (Smith et al. 1998, 8). Cohousing projects exist in many cities, and the Greater Vancouver region has numerous, including Windsong in Langley and Quayside Village in North Vancouver. In each, residents participate in the planning, design, ongoing management and maintenance of their community, often in dwellings that offer environmentally sensitive design (Canadian Cohousing Network, What is cohousing?).  20  The Techno-Home The approach that dominates the debate on green housing is the one that asserts that it is possible to preserve environmental assets for future generations while maintaining an active development process and housing market (Rydin 1994, 128). This is likely achieved by the Techno-Home, best represented by the Smart logic, and i t embraces high technology to achieve environmental objectives (particularly energy efficiency). Unlike the Eco-Home, the Techno-Home does not challenge mainstream development in that i t does not try to be autonomous. Consequently, i t is assumed often to be the most pragmatic way forward, the best way of achieving an increased level of environmental protection since solutions remain within prevailing economic marketbased structures.  Vigorous debate exists about whether technocentric approaches  increase the likelihood of political acceptability at the expense of diluting the environmental message too far (Rydin 1994, 128).  2.4.4 Greening t h e Existing Housing Stock Obviously, sustainable homes rarely f i t neatly into only one of the above definitions; instead a house most often combines features from more than one. Nonetheless, i t is important to observe how different emphasis is placed on different elements, and how one person's 'dark green' home could be another's 'light green' home. Regardless, with a clear plot of land and limitless funds, it would be an interesting exercise to have people design and build their version of the 'ultimate sustainable home'.  Realistically,  however, the vast majority of the population will never experience that luxury since most people live in pre-existing homes that have been standing for 10, 20, 50 years or more.  Although  making one's home the ideal sustainable  home  may be an  insurmountable challenge, i t remains possible - and desirable - for all homeowners to make their homes more sustainable. New versus Existing Housing In any given year, new housing accounts for very little of the total housing stock, and this fact has interesting implications for the sustainable housing movement.  21  In theory, prospects for exploring the notions of green homes presented in the previous section are most numerous with new housing. aside,  new  builds can give  autonomous houses.  rise to  Regulations and restrictions  eco-communities,  high-tech  dwellings  and  New green homes can produce a small but growing pool of  housing with high environmental performance.  Nonetheless, although new house-  building can achieve a greater degree of change, i t is numerically much less important within the total stock (Rydin 1994, 131). Conversely, the existing housing stock has far greater limitations in terms of its adaptability to the differing ideals of sustainable housing.  It is clearly difficult to  effect substantial changes to the existing stock in a way that truly challenges current housing design and construction. Although elements from the different definitions of sustainable housing can be incorporated during housing rehabilitation, the options for greening suddenly narrow. Many of the elements of cohousing and eco-homes become much less achievable, and the objectives becomes much more 'mainstream', e.g. increasing energy efficiency,  reducing water  consumption,  and using  non-toxic  materials. Achieving these goals is much simpler than, for example, turning an urban 20-year old house into an autonomous home, or even more unlikely, transforming an urban district composed of 20-year old houses into a neighbourhood of autonomous houses. Yet since existing housing constitutes the overwhelming bulk of the housing stock, improving the energy efficiency and general condition of existing housing is a major sustainability issue (Rydin 1994, 131; Gibson 1994, 39).  In terms of environmental  benefit, a marginal improvement to existing stock can have a potentially large aggregate effect.  The refurbishment of older houses to increase environmental  standards is important and should be an expanding activity. Greening the Home - Homeowner Responsibility Just as the building industry must strive to green their practices, so must individuals. As previously noted, housing is the one part of the building sector in which  22  homeowners can play an active role in greening . 1  Home renovation projects present  the ideal opportunities for individuals to make their homes more sustainable by selecting green products, incorporating energy efficiency measures, conserving water, and landscaping to increase pervious area, amongst other actions. The impact, though small on an individual basis, is certainly large collectively. Greening one's home is also a matter of fulfilling one's personal responsibility to the environment. The remainder of this thesis explores ways in which the green renovation process can become more accessible for average homeowners, such that this collective action and aggregate benefit can be experienced by the environment.  2.5  Summary  This chapter  explored  the  relationship  between  the  building sector  and  the  environment, of which the key points are summarized below: •  The building sector has a considerable negative effect on the environment caused by excessive energy use, water consumption, resource and material consumption, and pollution and solid waste generation.  •  Sustainable buildings are one solution for mitigating these negative impacts, but individuals have vastly different notions of how sustainability applies to buildings.  •  Housing is a sub-sector of the building industry that impinges on virtually everyone. Notions of sustainable housing vary between people and can include features of the Eco-Home, the Healthy Home, Green Cohousing, and the Techno-Home.  1  For me, the terms 'sustainable' and 'green' conjure up t w o similar but different images. I view 'green' as  a component of that broader concept of 'sustainable', concerning itself specifically w i t h the environment. Given t h a t home renovations do not offer many possibilities for making houses more sustainable beyond improving environmental performance, I use the t e r m 'green' throughout the remainder of this thesis - as in green home, or green renovation.  Furthermore, this thesis does not debate the merits of the  Ecological versus the Smart approach to green housing; therefore I make no judgement w i t h respect to the greenness of a home renovation option.  23  Very little new housing is added to the total stock in any given year.  A small  improvement in the environmental performance of every house in the existing stock could have a potentially large aggregate effect. By selecting green materials, products, and construction techniques during home renovation projects, homeowners can contribute to the greening of the built environment.  24  Chapter 3 - T h e Shaping of G r e e n Renovations: Regulations a n d Resources  3.1  Introduction  Thousands of Canadian homeowners undertake home renovation projects each year. It is during this time that homeowners can make their homes more sustainable by selecting green materials, products and construction techniques. This chapter explores the many factors that affect the way home renovations currently are conducted in Canada, British Columbia and the Lower Mainland. discussing the renovation  industry  in Canadian  emphasizing green options for energy efficiency, conservation and improved air quality.  and British water  It begins by  Columbian  conservation,  homes, resource  This is followed by a summary of guidelines  and regulations that shape and restrict the green renovation options available. Finally, an overview of resources that homeowners can tap into before and during the green renovation process is presented.  3.2  Home Renovations  Home renovations are a multi-billion dollar industry in Canada.  In 2001, Canadian  homeowners spent a total of $20.4 billion on repairs and renovations, spending on average of $2,580 (Statistics Canada, Homeowner repair, 2002). In British Columbia, approximately 72% of British Columbia's homeowners indicated they had made at least one repair and renovation expenditure in 2001 (Statistics Canada, Homeowner repair, 2002). According to Peter Simpson, out-going president of the Greater Vancouver Homeowners Association, contractor and do-it-yourself home renovations in British Columbia were a $4.3 billion industry in 2002, 65% of which was centred in the Lower Mainland (Simpson 2003). Painting was the most common repair or renovation work reported, with 45% of owners undertaking some type of interior or exterior paint job. Also commonly reported were  25  repairs to plumbing fixtures; patios, fences or driveways; and heating/air conditioning systems (Statistics Canada, Homeowner repair, 2002). Green materials, products and construction techniques exist that are suitable for many common household renovations.  Given the extent to which Canadians and British  Columbians conduct home renovations, opportunities abound for making the existing housing stock greener by incorporating some of these green alternatives.  3.3  Green Renovation Opportunities  3.3.1  Introduction  Renovations that incorporate green materials, products and construction techniques can result in a home that uses less energy, reduces water consumption, decreases resource use and solid waste, and improves indoor air quality.  A brief overview of  some renovation options for achieving these goals is presented in this section.  3.3.2  Energy Use  Background Although energy efficiency in households increased by 13.0% between 1990 and 1999, total household energy use also increased by 1.3%.  Improvements in energy efficiency  were a result of improved thermal efficiency of new and existing housing (e.g. insulation and windows) and efficiency gains in residential space heating equipment and appliances (NRCan 2001).  Had these improvements not occurred, total energy  consumption over the same period would have been considerably higher.  Table 1  shows how energy use in homes is typically distributed.  26  Point of Energy Use  Percentage of Total Energy Consumption  Space Heating  59.3 %  Water Heating  21.6%  Appliances  14.0%  Lighting  4.4%  Source: NRCan 2001 Table 1: Energy Use in Canadian Homes  Renovation Options for Energy Efficiency Energy consumption in the home can be reduced by both conserving the energy that is used, and by ensuring that energy-consuming products have the highest efficiency rating. Table 2 provides suggestions for increasing energy efficiency in the home. Home renovations for energy efficiency should adopt the 'house-as-a-system' approach, which recognizes that the flow of air, heat and moisture within a home is affected by the interaction of all the components.  When insulation, a new furnace, and a new  window are added, they can alter the moisture conditions and ventilation within the home. The house-as-a-system approach considers these interactions and ensures that optimal conditions exist after the renovation (NRCan, R-2000: Technical  information,  2002).  27  Objective  Replace furnace with sealed combustion unit with AFUE greater than 89% Install heat recovery ventilator  Space Heating (59.3%)  Comments  Action  Mount a programmable thermostat Increase insulation levels Use energy efficient windows, doors, skylights Use caulking, weather stripping and gaskets Increase shading with roof overhangs, trellises, awnings  AFUE - annual fuel utilization efficiency Uses exiting warm air to heat cool incoming air Timer allows lower temperature at night Particularly in the attic  Seals windows, doors, baseboards, electrical outlets, etc. For south and west facing windows to prevent overheating in summer and to maximize solar gain in winter  Lower temperature setting on hot water tank Use insulating blanket around hot water tank Insulate hot water pipes Water Heating (21.6%)  Appliances (14.0%)  Install water efficient fixtures Install new energy-efficient hot water tank. Use integrated space heating/domestic hot water system Use EnerGuide labels to compare energy consumption of major appliances Purchase Energy Star appliances Avoid appliance use where possible Use natural light where possible. Use area or task lighting  Lighting (4.4%)  Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs Use automatic timers and dimmer switches indoors Use infra-red or motion sensor activation system outdoors  Reduces water consumption, thus hot water heating requirements •  Combines both systems into one  These are the top efficiency appliances Clothesline instead of dryer; hand wash dishes instead of dishwasher.  Avoids lighting areas that do not require it More than four times efficient  Source: CMHC 2003; Terasen 2003; BC Hydro 2002; CMHC 2001; Rousseau and Wasley 1998. T a b l e 2: E n e r g y E f f i c i e n c y R e n o v a t i o n O p t i o n s  28  3.3.3  W a t e r Consumption  Background The perceived need for water conservation is greater in some regions than others. People who live in arid environments are likely to appreciate the need to conserve water compared to those who live in a temperate climate, such as in the Lower Mainland.  Nonetheless,  an increasing number  of Canadian  municipalities are  considering water conservation as the key to keeping expansion needs to a minimum. Water conservation also optimizes plant efficiency, while assisting municipalities in financing the replacement of infrastructure (Environment Canada 2001). Approximately 6% of all water withdrawal uses in Canada are from the residential sector.  The average Canadian used 343 litres per day of water in the home in 1998,  the second highest consumption per capita in the world (Environment Canada 2002). The proportions of water consumption by household activity is presented in Table 3.  Task  Percentage of w a t e r used  Showers and baths  35%  Toilet Flushing  30%  Laundry  20%  Kitchen and drinking  10%  Cleaning  5%  Source: Environment Canada 2002 Table 3: Water Use in t h e Home  Renovation Options for Water Conservation Many of the renovation options available for conserving water are inexpensive to implement. Some suggestions are provided in Table 4.  29  Showers and Baths  Comment  Action  Task  Install low-flow showerheads  Reduce flow by about half (from 15-20 to 9 litres per minute)  Install water-saving devices inside the tank  Reduces flush volume  Repair leaks  Toilet Flushing  Replace conventional toilet with ultra low-flow toilet Replace conventional toilet with dual-flush toilet Install low-flow faucets  Faucets Install aerator on existing faucets  Reduce flush volume from 13 litres and more to 6 litres and less. User can select 3-litre or 6litre flush (avg. 4.3 litres) 2 litre per minute for bathrooms, 6-9 litre for kitchen Uses air to reduce water and still deliver sufficient flow  Replace conventional models with low-volume ones  Appliances  Use front-loading clothes washers Install new dishwasher  Uses much less water than top-loading models New designs can reduce consumption by 50%  Xeriscaping: . reduce amount of lawn . select native grasses, shrubs and Requires significantly less Landscaping water trees . use mulching . use rain barrels Source: CMHC 2003; Environment Canada, Individual action, 2003; CMHC 2001; GVRD 2000; Rousseau and Wasley 1998. T a b l e 4: W a t e r C o n s e r v a t i o n R e n o v a t i o n O p t i o n s  Options for Water Recycling and Reuse Water reuse and recycling options are much less common.  Residential wastewater is  commonly grouped into two classifications: blackwater (from toilets, kitchen sinks, dishwashers and clothes washers) and greywater (from showers, tubs and bathroom sinks).  Although technologies exist to treat and reuse greywater on-site at single  family homes, most of these are not permitted in Canada due to various regulations. Furthermore, those that are allowed are often not economical for homeowners since water rates are either low or flat, meaning savings from water conservation are small.  30  3.3.4  Resource and Material Use  Background and Options If not properly planned, home renovations can potentially use significant resources and generate considerable landfill waste.  Careful material selection can reduce the  pressures placed on natural resources and the environment, while reusing and recycling materials lessen the burden on landfills. Although specific recommendations are too numerous to list due to the large number of green alternatives available, the following are some suggestions for making home renovations more resource efficient (CMHC 2003; CMHC 1999): •  Donate materials to a reuse centre or demolition sale, including t r i m , interior doors, bathtubs, sinks, window casings, doors and baseboards, amongst others.  •  Reuse and recycle scrap wood, drywall and metal from demolition.  •  Use materials with recycled content such as cellulose or glass fibre batt insulation, drywall, roof shingles, and flooring products, amongst others.  •  Measure twice and order the correct quantity of materials to  minimize  wastage. •  Avoid prematurely replacing items by using durable materials that require minimal maintenance and last longer.  •  Avoid using tropical hardwoods and other scarce resources whenever possible.  •  Select materials and products that are extracted, processed and manufactured locally to reduce transportation requirements and support local economies.  3.3.5  Air Quality  Background and Options Certain household materials and products contain harmful compounds that negatively affect both indoor and outdoor air quality, and some surfaces and spaces promote the growth of molds and fungi, or trap dust and mites.  Suggestions for improving indoor  (and often outdoor) air quality include the following (CMHC 1999; Rousseau and Wasley 1998): 31  •  Avoid formaldehydes by restricting the use of particle boards,  laminated  panels, and some paints, amongst other products. •  Avoid volatile organic compounds by selecting safer alternatives for paints, solvents,  adhesives,  soft  plastics,  grouts  and  caulkings,  amongst  other  products. •  "Use hard floorings, such as ceramic tile, linoleum, and wood to minimize the build-up of dust, pollen and mites that often occurs in carpets.  •  Use low-emission construction materials, cabinetry, doors and t r i m .  •  Ensure proper ventilation of the house.  •  Ensure all fuel-burning items have a reliable combustion air supply and sealed combustion chambers.  3.4  Guidelines and Regulations Related to Green Renovations  3.4.1 Introduction Options for green renovations are not limited to those described above.  New  technologies and other creative measures are continually being developed and tested, but their use can be restricted or prohibited by various guidelines and regulations. An overview of regulations that shape the way green renovations currently can be done in Canada is presented below.  3.4.2 Codes The Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC) develops six of Canada's national model codes most of which are adopted, with or without modifications, and enforced by most provinces and territories (NRC, National code documents, 2002): •  National Building Code of Canada;  •  National Fire Code of Canada;  •  National Pluming Code of Canada;  •  National Farm Building Code of Canada;  32  •  Model National Energy Code for Houses Canada; and  •  Model National Energy Code for Buildings Canada  The National Building Code of Canada 1995 (NBC) applies to the construction of buildings, including extensions, substantial alterations, buildings undergoing a change of occupancy, and upgrading of buildings to remove an unacceptable hazard.  The  National Housing Code of Canada 1998 and Illustrated Guide helps builders, inspectors, designers and other industry representatives apply the NBC to detached, semi-detached, and row houses (NRC, National Building Code of Canada, 2002). The British Columbia Building Code is based on the National Building and National Plumbing Codes with minor variations.  British Columbia enacts building regulations  through the Municipal Act and the authority to enforce these building regulations is granted to municipalities and regional districts (MCAWS, History of).  Under the  Vancouver Charter, the City of Vancouver is enabled to adopt by-laws regarding the construction of buildings, a unique provision within the Province.  The Vancouver  Building By-law is based on the BC Building Code and has variations that apply in the City of Vancouver.  The Vancouver Building By-law regulates the design and  construction requirements for buildings as well as the administrative provisions for permitting, inspection, and enforcement of these requirements (Robertson 2003). The National Building Code, National Fire Code and National Plumbing Code are being reconfigured into an objective-based format for the 2004 editions. This new format is intended to be easier to apply to existing buildings, and will provide a better understanding of the intent behind each requirement and a greater flexibility to adapt to innovation (Canadian Commission 2002). It is proposed, therefore, that the next edition of the BC Building Code and the Vancouver Building By-law would adopt this objective based format (Robertson 2003). The Model National Energy Code of Canada for Houses 1997 (MNECH) contains minimum requirements for energy efficiency in new housing and to additions of more 10 m . 2  Under Canada's Constitution Act, building regulation is the responsibility of  provincial and territorial governments. To date, no province or territory has adopted the-MNECH, but a few have used some of its requirements in their building codes (NRC, Model National Energy Code, 2002). 33  3.4.3  Zoning Bylaws  Zoning bylaws are regulations enacted by a local government that govern development in various zones, with each zone having its own unique requirements.  In British  Columbia, zoning and other development regulations fall under Section 25 of the Local Government Act, and must be consistent with the area's Official Community Plan. Zoning by-laws may affect residential green renovations if the renovated home contravenes the by-law. Regulations typically cover some or all of the following areas (City of Vancouver, Zoning and development  by-law, 2003):  •  Site area  •  Frontage  •  Height  •  Front, side and rear yard  •  Floor space ratio and site coverage  •  Horizontal and vertical angle of daylight  •  Dedication of land for lane development  •  Area of transparent surface  •  Acoustics  •  Building depth  •  External design  3.4.4  Building Permits  Building permits are required for renovations that involve structural changes to the home.  Requirements for building permits vary in each municipality but generally are  needed for new additions, moving or removing walls, new window and door openings and installation of fireplaces.  In Vancouver, gas, electrical and plumbing permits are  obtained separately. In addition to ensuring that renovations meet basic requirements for health, safety and structural soundness as set out by the building code, the permit process verifies that plans are in line with other municipal requirements, such as  34  zoning regulations or heritage building designations.  Work such as re-roofing,  painting, re-siding, flooring and cabinet installation, and replacement of windows and doors (provided the opening is not enlarged) generally do not require a permit, as they do not entail changes to the structure or systems of the home (GVHBA, Consumer tips - building permit, 2002).  3.4.5  The Energy Efficiency Act  The Energy Efficiency Act, passed in 1992, provides for the making and enforcement of regulations relating to minimum energy performance levels for energy-using products, as well as the labelling of energy-using products. The Act also covers the collection of statistics and information on energy use and alternative energy (NRCan, Guide to Canada's energy efficiency regulations, 2003). The first Energy Efficiency Regulations  came into effect in February 1995 and have  been amended several times since. Regulations establish energy efficiency standards for a wide range of energy-using products and apply to products imported into Canada or manufactured in Canada and shipped from one province to another. household energy-using  products covered  by the  regulations include all  residential appliances; heating, cooling and ventilation equipment; equipment; and lights, amongst others.  Common major  water-heating  Depending on the product, dealers may be  responsible for ensuring that an EnerGuide label (described in subsection 3.5.2) is affixed to each unit energy (NRCan, Guide to Canada's energy efficiency  regulations,  2003).  3.4.6  Health Act  The Sewage Disposal Regulation, created under the BC Health Act, primarily affects a homeowner's ability to reuse treated greywater for purposes such as toilet flushing or subsoil irrigation. The Regulation currently does not differentiate between treatment systems for greywater and black water, meaning that distinct standards for safe design, treatment quality and operations for each do not exist. Consequently, public health officials effectively prohibit the widespread adoption of greywater reuse systems (WCEL 2002, 52).  35  3.5  Resources for Green Renovations  3.5.1  Introduction  Many resources exist to assist homeowners in completing green renovations within the parameters set out in the regulations described in the previous section.  These  resources are presented in the following section. They include programs, documents and products from Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, local governments, utilities, the private sector, and non-profit organizations.  3.5.2  Natural Resources Canada - Office of Energy Efficiency  The Office of Energy Efficiency was established in April 1998 as part of Natural Resources Canada, with a mandate to renew, strengthen and expand Canada's commitment to energy efficiency (NRCan, O f f in brief, 2003). EnerGuide for Houses The EnerGuide for Houses program was created by the Office of Energy Efficiency in cooperation with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.  An EnerGuide for  Houses evaluation is used to advise homeowners on energy-efficient improvements for their homes. Advisors who are experts on home energy efficiency provide independent advice on different systems of the home and what can be done to reduce energy consumption. A home's energy efficiency level is rated on a percentage scale of 0 to 100; a 0 rating indicates the home has major air leakage, no insulation and extremely high energy consumption, and a rating of 100 means the house is airtight, well insulated, sufficiently ventilated and requires no purchased energy (NRCan 2003). For example, on a scale of 0-100, an older, unimproved Canadian home typically rates a 20-50. An energy efficient house such as an R2000 home typically rates 80 or better (Building Insight, What's included). R-2000 Homes The R-2000 Program is a partnership between the Canadian Home Builders' Association and Natural Resources Canada.  R-2000 homes meet a set of technical requirements 36  that include insulation levels, sealing to eliminate air leaks and drafts, and energyefficient heating, cooling and ventilation equipment. The foundation, walls, and roofs are constructed to minimize heat loss and air leakage, and appliances must be chosen from the top third of their particular EnerGuide category.  Building to the R-2000  Standard can achieve energy-efficiency of approximately 40% above building code requirements, and can use at least 30% less energy than conventional new houses. In addition to energy efficient measures, the R-2000 Standard requires the selection of materials and components that contribute to a healthier environment.  These include  insulation and roofing products with recycled content; fibreboard, siding or drywall made with recycled or waste material; steel studs, wood studs and trim from recycled materials or mill waste; and drainage material with post-consumer glass waste.  R-  2000 homes also must include water-conserving toilets, shower-heads and faucets. The use of water-based paints and finishes and other products designed for better indoor air quality also means less toxic waste.  The R-2000 Standard applies to new  construction, however many of these standards are applicable for home retrofits and renovations (NRCan, The R-2000 Advantage, 2002). EnerGuide and Energy Star The EnerGuide program is one component of the Energy Efficiency Act and was developed by the Office of Energy Efficiency.  It is a system  of labeling household appliances or heating and cooling products sold in  Canada,  and  it  allows  consumers  to  performance of each model of a product.  compare  the  energy  The strategy is to  encourage consumers to buy the most energy-efficient product in its class, to increase public awareness of the link between energy and the environment and to promote the opportunities opened up by energy-efficient technology.  EnerGuide labels must be affixed to major appliances and shows how  much energy a particular product consumes in a year of normal service (NRCan, EnerGuide Program, 2002). Appliances and heating and cooling systems that have top EnerGuide ratings  receive  the  international  Energy  Star  symbol.  Only  manufacturers and retailers whose products meet the Energy Star 37  criteria can label their products with this symbol.  An Energy Star-labeled product  informs consumers that they are selecting among the most energy-efficient models on the market (NRCan, EnerGuide and Energy Star, 2002).  3.5.3  Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation  The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is the Government of Canada's national housing agency.  CMHC's areas of focus are housing finance,  housing  assistance programs and services, international services, and research and information transfer. CMHC promotes the concept of Healthy Housing, supporting improvements in designs, techniques, technologies, products and materials that result in the construction and renovation of housing that emphasize (CMHC 1999, 4): •  occupant health;  •  energy efficiency;  •  resource efficiency;  •  environmental responsibility; and  •  affordability.  CMHC has numerous publications and resources for homeowners on Healthy Housing, available at their offices or on their web site.  CMHC conducts research into Healthy  Housing technologies, including water conservation and homes for the environmentally sensitive.  They also deliver seminars to industry and the public, including a recent  Healthy Home Renovation Show at BCIT.  3.5.4  Local G o v e r n m e n t  Local governments can help provide information, incentives and programs  that  encourage homeowners to select green alternatives during renovations. The Greater Vancouver Regional District's (GVRD) principal focus regarding green retrofits  is in the municipal,  institutional,  commercial  and industrial  Nonetheless, occasional efforts address the residential sector as well.  sectors.  For instance, 38  the GVRD published a booklet entitled "Look for the Loop", which contains information on locally available household and home renovation products that are made from recycled  materials  or  are  environmentally  responsible  (GVRD  2001).  More  comprehensive building materials information can be found on the GVRD's Directory of Resource Efficient  Building Products.  resource efficient building products.  This CD contains listings of locally available, To be included in the directory,  building  products must meet one of five core criteria: the products are salvaged, have recycled content, are engineered, conserve water or conserve energy.  The directory covers  many aspects pf building construction, several of which would be of interest to renovating homeowners including, but not limited t o , woods and plastics, thermal and moisture protection, doors and windows, and finishes. Several member municipalities within the GVRD are similarly active in the green buildings sector, though rarely with respect to residential green renovations.  For  example, the City of Vancouver has two initiatives that positively affect the way homeowners use and dispose of water.  First, the City subsidizes 50% of the cost of  rain barrels for use by residents for garden irrigation (City of Vancouver, Rain barrel program, 2003).  Second, the City has established a Roof Leader Disconnection Pilot  Project in which homeowner are eligible to receive a subsidy towards the cost incurred in disconnecting roof leaders.  This encourages rainwater from roofs to percolate  naturally into the earth, reducing the volume of stormwater entering the sewer system (City of Vancouver, Environmental  3.5.5  initiatives,  2003).  Utilities  BC Gas Inc. Established in 1997, Homeworfcs is the BC Gas residential services subsidiary created with  the  objective  renovations.  of  helping  owners  save  energy  through  energy-efficiency  There are 12 Homevvorks-authorized contractors working in British  Columbia, four of which are located in the Lower Mainland.  These are independent  contractors who specialize in energy retrofits specific to the building envelope. Contractors provide a free home energy audit (based on the  house-as-a-system  approach), which usually includes windows and doors, draftproofing, insulation, ventilation, and thermostats amongst others. The contractor makes recommendations 39  of work that should be done and will carry out any work authorized by the homeowner. Homeworks also provides financing to help homeowners complete energyefficiency renovations that would otherwise be postponed indefinitely. Aside from the Homeworks program, BC Gas publishes a guide to energy conservation in the home, Hot Tips, available for downloading at the BC Gas web site. BC Hydro BC Hydro introduced its Power Smart program in 1989.  The program consists of a  number of elements related to home energy efficiency improvements: •  The Home Energy Profile allows homeowners to complete an on-line profile to assess areas of the house that should be targeted for energy efficiency.  It  provides a breakdown of annual energy use, costs of running each major appliance in the home, cost of the heating system and advice on energy saving opportunities. •  The Appliance Calculator calculates how much energy appliances uses, whether they be gas or electric.  It estimates what costs might be if one switched  appliance types or systems. •  Power Smart Tips provides advice on how to save energy around the house.  •  The Energy Library is a comprehensive resource of information on heating, water, lighting, and appliances.  •  >  Shop Power Smart allows manufacturers to use the Power Smart label i f they meet BC Hydro's energy-efficiency standards.  It also tells consumers where  these products can be purchased.  3.5.6  Private Sector  Building Insight Technologies, Inc. Established in 1995, Building Insight is a Vancouver-based company that provides the EnerGuide for Houses evaluation.  Building Insight is an independent agent that does  not offer contracting and renovation services (Building Insight, Building  Insight).  Evaluations typically take two hours and include a computer profile of the home's  40  energy performance, a cost analysis of potential savings, an official EnerGuide for Houses rating label, and an air leakage test.  Homes that receive an EnerGuide for  Houses evaluation from Building Insight have their energy profile available on-line at  This site allows homeowners to test renovation plans to see  what impact they would have on their home's energy use. The Environmental Choice Program Initiated by Environment Canada in 1988 but now managed by the private sector (TerraChoice Environmental Services, Inc.), the Environmental Choice Program identifies materials, products and services that are considered to minimize adverse impacts on the natural environment.  Certification of products and  services is based on compliance with stringent environmental criteria that  are  established in consultation with industry, environmental groups, and independent experts, and are based on research into the life-cycle impacts of a product or service. Certified products and services are awarded the 'EcoLogo' label. (Environmental Choice Program, Criteria,  1998).  There  more  are  now  than  three  dozen  such  labeling  programs  worldwide.  The Environmental Choice Program belongs to the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN), an international association of eco-labeling programs (Environmental Choice Program, About Us, 1998). Home Improvement and Renovation Centres The Home Depot is the largest home improvement retailer in the world with over 1500 stores in North America (Home Depot 2003).  The Home Depot's environmental  program began in 1990 and has expanded to offer homeowners some green choices in the  materials  and  products  they  purchase  for  renovations.  Amongst  their  achievements, their wood purchasing policy ensures that wood used in products is not harvested from endangered forest regions or with endangered species.  Homeowners  can also find information on wood products, alternative green products, and tips on energy conservation and recycling from their web site ( The Environmental Home Center in Seattle is a national distributor of exclusively green building supplies and household products.  Their extensive web site provides 41  information on their stock as well as information on green home topics. Environmental  Home  Center  carries  products  from  the  following  The  categories  (Environmental Home Center 2003): •  wood and garden;  •  insulation and roofing;  •  bath fixtures and miscellaneous;  •  flooring, cabinets and countertops;  •  paints, finishes and wall coverings;  •  caulk, sealers and adhesives;  •  household equipment; and  •  bedding, housewares and cleaning supplies  3.5.7  Non-Profit Organizations  Green Community Associations Green  Communities  (GCs)  are  community-based,  environmental organizations located throughout Canada.  non-profit,  multi-partner  Each Green Community is  locally incorporated, planned and managed (Maynes 1999). The mission of Green Communities is to build sustainable communities by conserving resources, preventing pollution, and protecting and enhancing natural ecological processes. Green Communities concentrate on the residential sector, though not exclusively. Green Communities partner with various stakeholders to deliver their programs, including •  electric and gas utilities;  •  municipal governments, including their various departments (waste, water, transportation, etc.);  •  government agencies at the provincial and federal level;  42  •  financial institutions;  •  manufacturers and retailers; and  •  other community groups, associations, agencies, institutions, and individual businesses as corporate citizens.  The major service provided by Green Communities is the Home Visit in which trained advisors spend up to two hours in the home identifying ways to save money, improve comfort, health, and safety, and help the environment.  Green Home Visits typically  address any number of the following issues: energy and water conservation; solid waste reduction; household toxics reduction; transportation alternatives; emergency preparedness; and organic gardening After the visit, advisors and homeowner agree on solutions and recommendations for action. Home Visits also typically include installation of energy- and water-saving hardware, such as low-flow showerheads and water heater tank wraps.  They can also include  distribution of other green products, such as sample kits for non-toxic home and yard maintenance (Maynes 1999). British Columbia has four Green Communities: •  Green Communities Nanaimo (  •  Salmon Arm Green Community  •  City Green in Victoria (  •  Cowichan Green Communities  (  Green Communities in B.C. also provide information on environmentally-friendly practices and some distribute and sell green products.  43  Home Builders' Associations The Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA), its B.C. affiliation (CHBABC) and the Greater Vancouver Home Builders' Association (GVHBA) are non-profit societies that represent and promote the interest of its members. designers  and  homeowners  with  valuable  They provide contractors,  information  about  new  housing  and  renovations. Web sites include tips on home renovations including green issues such as energy efficiency. In 1996, the CHBA undertook a collaborative initiative with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). The Renovation Demonstration showcased affordable renovations that emphasize occupant health, energy  and water  savings,  and  reductions  in  the  impact  of  housing on  the  environment. In the Fraser Valley project, a run-down 1906 heritage home was transformed into an energy-efficient healthy living environment.  Work included digging out the existing  crawl space bucket by bucket, damp-proofing the foundation and installing a new heating system. Many features were preserved and restored including the cedar siding that had been hidden under vinyl siding and a claw-foot bathtub (GVHBA, Consumer tips: Reno demos, 2002). The public was invited to tour the houses at various stages in the renovation process, and to attend on-site seminars to learn what was being done and why.  Summary  3.6  This chapter presented an overview of green home renovation options, and the regulations and resources that shape the way they are selected and applied in British Columbia. The key points are as follows: •  British Columbians conduct billions of dollars worth of home renovations each year. Opportunities to green the existing housing stock are plentiful.  •  Numerous options for green materials, products and construction techniques can be incorporated into a home renovation project that result in reduced  44  energy use, lower water consumption, fewer materials and resources, and improved indoor air quality. Several regulations shape which renovations (green or otherwise) can or cannot be done.  These regulations are found in building codes, zoning by-laws,  permits, the Energy Efficiency Act and the Health Act. Despite regulations that often limit the extent to which green renovations can be completed, homeowners can rely on several resources to guide them through the green renovation process, summarized in Table 5.  45  Resource  EnerGuide for Houses Natural Resources Canada  R-2000  EnerGuide and Energy Star  Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation  Healthy Housing™  Local Government  -  B.C. Gas Homeworks  Utilities B.C. Hydro Power Smart Building Insight TerraChoice Environmental Private Sector  Home Depot Environmental Home Centre  Green Communities Association Members  Home Builders Associations  Description  Program or Feature  Green Home Visit  -  Provides home energy audits. Construction standard for new houses. Incorporates energy efficiency, resource conservation and toxic materials. Can be applicable to renovations. Inform public about energy efficiency of major appliances and other energy-using products. Energy Star label given to the most efficient. Focuses on: occupant health; energy efficiency; resource efficiency; environmental responsibility; and affordability. CMHC has many web-based and hard copy publications. Not much involvement but do have small programs and some information resources. Provides home energy audits, contractor services (through approved partners), information on products that increase home energy-efficiency. Provides home energy audits, information on products that increase home energyefficiency. Provides EnerGuide home energy audits Manages the Environmental Choice Program which certifies environmental products, identified by the 'EcoLogo'. Offers some green choices and have adopted a wood purchasing policy. Provides green building supplies and household products exclusively. Based in Seattle, but products can be purchased from their web site. Conduct home audit covering energy, water, toxins, etc. Distribute energy and water conserving hardware. Educate homeowners about the environment and their home. Located in Nanaimo, Duncan, Victoria and Salmon Arm. Provide some information to homeowners and contractors. Responsible for the Renovation Demonstration. Canadian Home Builders Association also developed R-2000 with NRCan.  Table 5: Summary o f Green Renovation Resources  46  Chapter 4 - G r e e n Renovation E x p e r i e n c e s  4.1  Introduction  Homeowners undertake home renovation and retrofit projects for a variety of reasons, and their desire and ability t o complete these in a green manner depend on numerous factors.  This chapter uncovers these factors by presenting the perspective of five  groups of interviewees: homeowners, contractors, non-profit organizations, for-profit businesses, and government. Section 4.2 and Section 4.3 relate the experiences of those who actually do the renovations, namely the homeowners and the contractors, respectively. The next t w o sections, 4.4 and 4.5, explore residential green renovations as experienced by organizations that provide programs t o facilitate green renovations in the home, namely non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses, respectively.  The final  section before the summary, Section 4.6, provides an overview of the government interviewees who represent several levels of government, each of which affects the widespread adoption of residential green renovations.  4.2  Homeowners  4.2.1  Introduction i  This section surveys the experiences of homeowners who have completed some level of green renovation project. The reason why homeowners choose t o renovate green is presented, followed by a description of the type of green renovation done most commonly.  The resources that homeowners use and the obstacles they encounter  before and during the renovation process are then discussed in depth.  Finally, the  homeowner interviewees reveal some ideas that they believe would facilitate future green renovation projects. homeowner  interviews,  Although most of the discussion is based on the  other interviewees  also reveal their  thoughts  regarding  homeowner green renovations.  47  4.2.2  M o t i v a t i o n t o Renovate Green  The interviewees revealed four principle reasons why some homeowners choose to undertake green renovations: •  personal green ethic;  •  savings;  •  health benefits; and  •  aesthetics.  Green Ethic Personal accountability to the environment forms a fundamental part of the character of most of the homeowner interviewees, and this is evident in many aspects of their lives.  For instance, each of the homeowner interviewees works in a field related to  sustainability.  Unsurprisingly, they apply that same 'green ethic' to their home  renovation projects. Savings A sustainability-oriented  lifestyle is not the only motivating factor for  several  homeowners. Potential savings, especially but not exclusively from lower energy bills due to energy retrofitting, were identified by all homeowner interviewees as being a significant reason for renovating green. Other interviewees confirmed that this desire to save money is often the top reason some homeowners give for energy retrofitting. One contractor also noted that homeowners can be convinced of saving that occur due to product durability:  [ l ] f t h e c u s t o m e r knows t h a t a l o t o f t h e g r e e n p r o d u c t s a r e a c t u a l l y long t e r m cost saving... because t h e y last l o n g e r , t h e n y o u ' r e l i k e l y t o c o n v i n c e t h e m t o take them.  ( C o n t r a c t o r 1)  48  Health Benefits Improved  indoor  air  quality  resulting  in  better  health  was cited  by  several  interviewees as being a principal reason homeowners undertake green renovations. Concern about mould and fungi in damp spaces; dust, dander and bugs in upholstery and carpeting; and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from synthetic materials are inspiring many homeowners to select more 'natural' and less processed materials for their homes:  [ G ] e t t i n g r i d o f d r a f t s , m o i s t u r e a n d m o u l d w e r e v e r y high on t h e l i s t . T h e health i m p a c t of mould had a much higher interest t h a n w e had first i m a g i n e d . ( N o n - P r o f i t 2)  Aesthetics Finally, a few interviewees noted that homeowners sometimes use environmental benefits as a reason for doing green work that they actually want done for aesthetic reasons:  People l i k e t o do good t h i n g s , b u t t h e y w a n t o t h e r b e n e f i t s t h a t c o m e as a result f r o m t h a t .  So I t h i n k t h e r e ' s an i n t e r n a l j u s t i f i c a t i o n t h a t says "if I do  t h i s I'll have g r e a t w i n d o w s a n d m y house w i l l look g r e a t , b u t a t t h e same time,  I'm  doing something  right".  So in a w a y i t ' s a d o u b l e w i n f o r  consumer.  the  ( P r i v a t e 1)  4.2.3 Profile of Green Renovations Homeowner interviewees undertook green renovations that addressed several aspects of their home, primarily •  energy efficiency;  •  water conservation;  •  home restoration and material reuse; and  •  landscaping. 49  Energy Efficiency Energy-efficiency retrofits were the most popular green renovation completed by homeowners and these ranged from small measures to major upgrades.  Energy  retrofits raised the thermal retention of the house and increased the efficiency of energy-consuming items, and included •  installing an outdoor clothesline (to reduce the use of the clothes dryer);  •  replacing single pane windows with double pane;  •  changing incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescents;  •  replacing an old furnace with a high-efficiency furnace;  •  installing Energy Star appliances; and  •  increasing insulation levels.  Some homeowner interviewees expressed interest in tapping into solar energy through the use of photovoltaic (P.V.) cells, though none had completed this work:  I'd love t o be a b l e t o g e t a p o r t a b l e P.V. c e l l t h a t I c o u l d s t i c k o u t t h e w i n d o w a n d a t t a c h w h e n t h e sun is o u t , a n d m a k e use o f t h e e l e c t r i c i t y w h e n it's a v a i l a b l e - e s p e c i a l l y d u r i n g t h e s u m m e r - t o run t h e TV or t h e VCR or t h e lights.  ( H o m e o w n e r 2)  Water Conservation Homeowner  interviewees  implemented  simple  water  conserving  measures  included fixing leaking taps and replacing 13-litre toilets with 6-litre models.  that Non-  profit interviewees noted that many homeowners who had participated in their programs benefited from toilet dams (to reduce the volume of water in the tank) and water-efficient faucet aerators.  Larger scale water conserving measures were also  explored, though none had been implemented yet.  Several homeowner interviewees  had plans to install a rain barrel, and one expressed considerable interest in greywater reuse and onsite wastewater treatment.  50  Home Restoration and Material Reuse Restoring existing materials in the home and using salvaged materials from elsewhere were identified as other ways of renovating more sustainably.  One homeowner  interviewee particularly emphasized this aspect of greening his home:  The major thing that we did was to salvage absolutely everything that we could in the house. So it wasn't a renovation, I wouldn't consider it a renovation at all. I think 'restoration' is a much more accurate term.  (Homeowner 3)  Landscaping f  Green renovation efforts extended beyond the house envelope. Removing impervious area to promote more natural stormwater flows and reduce runoff was completed by at least two homeowner interviewees.  4.2.4 Resources Used Homeowners sought information and advice on green renovations from several sources, including •  the Internet;  •  neighbours and friends; and  •  the private, public and non-profit sectors.  Internet The Internet contains a wealth of information on just about every topic and all homeowner interviewees used this resource to learn more about green options for their home. Notably, many of the other interviewees, particularly the governmental, private and non-profit participants use this medium to post tips and technical information about green renovations, or to advertise green home and energy-retrofit programs.  51  Neighbours and Friends Neighbours and friends provided valuable help and input during the projects of all homeowner interviewees.  renovation  Little of the assistance, if any, was related  to the green aspect of renovations; rather contributions of time, knowledge, and effort were centred around the 'how-to' aspect of renovating:  W e have f o u r sets o f f a n t a s t i c neighbours w h o a r e e a g e r t o h e l p us w i t h o u r e f f o r t s . T h e y a r e n o t s p e c i f i c a l l y g r e e n r e t r o f i t t e r s , t h e y j u s t l i k e DIY ( d o - i t y o u r s e l f ) s t u f f . So t h e y a r e a l l i e s a n d p r o v i d e us w i t h a m u l t i p l i c i t y o f o p i n i o n s on w h a t t o do a n d h o w t o do i t .  ( H o m e o w n e r 1)  This interaction between neighbours and friends would sometimes generate discussion about and brainstorming of green renovation options. Private, Public, Non-Profit Sectors Homeowners used a variety of resources provided by the private, public and non-profit sectors, which included •  utilities (BC Hydro and BC Gas);  •  individual companies that sell green products;  •  Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation;  •  Natural Resources Canada and the Office of Energy Efficiency;  •  the  Greater  Vancouver  Regional  District  and  municipal  government  departments; and •  Green Communities Association member organizations.  No one used all of the resources mentioned above - in fact homeowner interviewees used one or two at most, and some did not get mentioned explicitly.  For instance,  although non-profits were not identified by the homeowner interviewees, these obviously are used frequently in the communities in which they exist (note that none currently exist in Greater Vancouver).  52  4.2.5  Barriers t o Renovating Green  Homeowner interviewees provided considerable feedback about the barriers they encountered when trying to undertake green renovation projects. These included •  too little time and insufficient knowledge;  •  difficulties with contractors;  •  high cost; and  •  restrictive regulations.  Time and Knowledge Homeowner interviewees found that the additional time required to learn about green options made the renovation planning process onerous.  Not only do they need to  understand the inner workings of their own home, they must also ascertain which areas would benefit most from green renovations and learn how these renovations should be done:  Learning about your own house and energy and water conservation. Lots of things are ambiguous - they can make things much better or way worse. Every house is different!  (Homeowner 1)  Several interviewees remarked on the challenge of deciphering which materials, products and techniques are green and which ones are only marketed as such. Being an informed and knowledgeable consumer is difficult to do. Some interviewees observed that the above challenges of insufficient time and lack of knowledge make homeowners not want to participate much in their own renovations. Rather, they look to professionals to tell them what they should do:  There are groups of people who want fantastic amounts of detail. There are other people who say "well that's why I phoned [company]. Figure it out! I haven't got time to figure out this stuff. Just tell me what is the right thing to  53  do." Consumers haven't got time for that. "You're the smart guys, you tell us, put the label on, and we'll trust you."  (Private 1)  Contractors Homeowner interviewees experienced considerable frustration with contractors.  The  first problem was the low availability of contractors to do the work. Comments from homeowner interviewees included the following: •  Contractors do not return phone calls unless the homeowner states that the work is to be done the following day.  •  Homeowners have to adhere to the 'pay as you go' principal,  otherwise  contractors will not return to the work site the following day. •  Good contractors are always busy, hence they are difficult to hire.  Homeowner interviewees also were disappointed by the lack of green knowledge possessed by contractors.  They need to be a little more imaginative I think. And even if there were one good (green) contractor, what a huge difference that would make! (Homeowner 3)  Finally, some felt that certain contractors provide green renovation advice based on the product they are trying to sell, rather than on the actual deficiencies of the house and the best options for making i t more sustainable. Higher Cost than Conventional Renovations Renovations can be expensive, and cost limited the ability of all  homeowner  interviewees to do the green renovations they would like to have done. Although the desire to renovate green existed, there was only so much that could be accomplished on the available budget:  54  We kind of know that we need to replace the windows, but it's the expense, I suppose, that really puts us off... If we just had the money to retrofit everything.  (Homeowner 4)  Regulatory Obstacles Codes, zoning bylaws and health regulations were cited as barriers to using some green alternatives by several interviewees.  Even when codes and bylaws allow  the  renovation, the permitting process can be onerous and dissuade homeowners, as demonstrated by one homeowner's experience with solar panels:  [l]t appears that the city would be reluctant, I mean they don't want the ugly solar panels. You have to have them hidden, you have to do a development permit (...), something where your neighbours get to say whether it's acceptable, which is understandable in some ways. [I]f you had a stand-alone set of panels, you couldn't drop them in your yard for example, you wouldn't be allowed.  (Homeowner 3)  Finally, deciphering the codes, bylaws and other regulations can be difficult for homeowners who are not conversant with building, zoning and regulatory language.  4.2.6 Thoughts for the Future Homeowners made observations about what they believe would have helped them complete their green renovations.  Aside from overcoming the barriers previously  described, greater access to information and additional incentives were mentioned. Access to Information Greater access to information would have helped homeowners conduct their green renovation projects.  This information could be delivered in several ways.  One  suggestion was to have private/public/non-profit organizations set up information booths in malls. Another ideas was to somehow have homeowners share their personal experience with green renovations with other homeowners:  55  I f e e l l i k e w e c o u l d advise.... If i t w e r e a t w o - y e a r p r o j e c t I b e l i e v e t h a t w e c o u l d t a l k t o s o m e b o d y l i k e y o u r s e l f a n d w e c o u l d save y o u 25% o f y o u r t i m e p r e t t y easily, based u p o n o u r e x p e r i e n c e .  ( H o m e o w n e r 3)  Financial Incentives Different financial incentives could be used to alleviate the financial burden of selecting greener materials and products, as noted by one homeowner:  Any k i n d o f i n c e n t i v e .  Even i f i t w e r e t a x d e d u c t i b l e .  T h e y d o n ' t have t o give  y o u $300 w h e n y o u r e p l a c e y o u r f u r n a c e , j u s t m a k e p a r t o f t h e cost o f t h e furnace tax deductible.  4.3  ( H o m e o w n e r 4)  Contractors  Many homeowners seek the services of a professional renovator or general contractor to help them with their renovation projects. This section explores green renovations from the perspective of contractors, beginning with the reasons why some renovate green followed by the resources contractors use. Next, the barriers that contractors encounter to doing green renovations are presented.  The section ends with ideas  contractor interviewees have for making green renovations easier to complete.  The  emphasis is placed on the specific experience of the contractor interviewees, both of whom have knowledge of green renovations, but i t also includes comments from other interviewees who have insight into contractor home renovations.  4.3.1  M o t i v a t i o n t o Renovate Green  Interviewees identified three principal reasons for why some contractors promote green renovations: •  green ethic;  •  savings; and  •  niche market.  56  Green Ethic Most interviewees noted that few contractors renovate using green materials, products and construction techniques. But just as some homeowners have a 'green ethic', so do some contractors.  Accordingly, these contractors are likely to make green options a  priority. Savings Occasionally, a green renovation technique can be less expensive than its standard counterpart.  In those instances, savings can be a motivator for contractors to  incorporate the green technique:  W h e n t h e y see a reason t o d o i t , usually p r o f i t is t h e b i g m o t i v a t o r . realize they  can save a c o u p l e  of  thousand  d o l l a r s on t h e i r  When they construction  p r o j e c t s s i m p l y by r e c y c l i n g t h e i r w a s t e , t h e n t h e y p a y a t t e n t i o n because t h a t ' s money straight out of their pocket.  ( G o v e r n m e n t 1)  Niche Market Contractor  interviewees  noted  that  since  there  are  few  of  them  who  are  knowledgeable about green renovations, they can f i l l a specific niche within the highend renovation market.  4.3.2  Profile of Green Renovations  Green renovations encompass the changes done on a home to make i t greener, and the way the actual renovation process is managed. These are typified by the two principal green renovation actions done by the contractor interviewees: •  energy efficiency and indoor air quality; and  •  material recycling.  Energy Efficiency and Indoor Air Quality Renovations that increase energy efficiency and promote better indoor air quality were identified as the most common green renovations done by contractors.  In some  57  instances,  these  renovations  are  proposed  by  the  homeowner,  reflecting  the  homeowner's interest in savings and better health. Other times they are presented as an option to the homeowner by the contractor. Material Recycling Contractor interviewees remarked upon aspects of green renovations that have no direct benefit to the homeowner but that minimize the environmental impact of the renovation project nonetheless. Most notably, resource conservation can be achieved by reusing and recycling construction waste:  W h e n e v e r w e h a n d l e t h i n g s a t o u r j o b sites, w e t r y t o s t o c k p i l e so t h a t w e don't  t h r o w away metal w i t h  l u m b e r so t h a t w e can r e c y c l e as m u c h  possible.  4.3.3  as  ( C o n t r a c t o r 1)  Resources Used  Although contractors rely primarily on themselves to learn about green alternatives, they also obtain information from two other sources: •  other construction professionals; and  •  seminars and workshops.  Networking with Other Construction Professionals Networking with others who have experience with green options for the home also helps contractors increase their knowledge base:  J u s t t h r o u g h e x p e r i e n c e , w e l e a r n t h a t t h e r e a r e c a t a l o g u e s a n d as y o u m e e t o n e s u p p l i e r y o u m e e t o t h e r s in t h e same f i e l d .  ( C o n t r a c t o r 1)  Seminars and Workshops Seminars and workshops delivered by various government agencies supplement the information obtained by networking with others:  58  When the GVRD was putting on a recycling program, they invited renovation contractors and new homebuilders to participate by stockpiling selected materials and taking them to the selected locations and so on. So I was part of a group of contractors that did that.  It meant taking a short seminar and  running our job sites that way. So we got some recognition...  4.3.4  (Contractor 1)  Barriers t o Renovating Green  Contractor interviewees identified three main barriers that have hindered them and other contractors from doing green renovations: •  lack of demand due to homeowners' emphasis on cost;  •  lack of knowledge; and  •  regulatory obstacles.  Homeowners' Emphasis on Cost Additional cost was cited as the main reason homeowners reject green alternatives that are proposed by the contractor. Contractor interviewees noted that homeowners often are willing to pay higher prices for aesthetic details before paying more for green options even when the green option is a fraction of the total renovation budget. Contractor interviewees revealed that in addition to not wanting to pay extra for a green material or product, homeowners are unwilling to pay a fair price for the green renovation service.  As a result contractors have little motivation to adopt green  practices:  There are not enough people trained, and the reason there are not enough people trained is that the public is not willing to pay for the work. You can't train people if you're not paid to. ... I can't teach a labourer (green techniques) and pay him $12 per hour.  (Contractor 2)  59  Consequently, few contractors are knowledgeable about green renovations.  Those  who are can be selective about their clients, leaving mid-income or low-income householders without the option of finding a green renovator:  A c o n t r a c t o r t h a t i s n ' t g o i n g f r o m h a n d t o m o u t h is l i k e l y t o be p r e t t y up on w h i c h o f t h e s u s t a i n a b l e p r o d u c t s a r e a v a i l a b l e a n d a f f o r d a b l e a n d so o n , b u t that's  still  going  to  be  an  established  contractor  and  therefore  a  more  e x p e n s i v e c o n t r a c t o r . ... S o m e o n e w h o s t a r t s d o i n g r e n o v a t i o n s f r o m t h e back o f t h e i r v a n , i t ' s n o t l i k e l y t h e y ' r e going t o s t a r t w i t h a s t r o n g b a c k g r o u n d in t h e s e t h i n g s , t h e r e ' s a l o t o f o t h e r m a t e r i a l t h e y ' d have t o l e a r n f i r s t . ( C o n t r a c t o r 1)  Lack of Knowledge Both green and synthetic products continue to stream into the residential construction market.  Obtaining reliable data about the greenness of so many products can be  overwhelming for contractors. Regulatory Obstacles Contractors expressed frustration about the obstacles presented by building codes, permitting and other regulatory processes. These can restrict contractors from using products that not only make environmental sense, but economic sense as well. Simple products, such as floor finishes are unlikely to be cause for concern, but products that affect the building envelope, structure, fire safety and occupant health have a greater chance of being scrutinized. One contractor interviewee noted how liability concerns are likely a significant reason that some products are not permitted:  My f a v o u r i t e  example  would  be a p r o d u c t  called  Icynene  (a spray  foam  i n s u l a t i o n ) . ... A l o t o f p e o p l e f e e l i t w o u l d be a g r e e n a l t e r n a t i v e , b u t a l o t o f municipalities are hard t o sway on accepting i t .  And t h a t ' s because t h e y ' v e a l l  had t h e i r f i n g e r s b u r n e d w i t h l i a b i l i t y in t h e r e c e n t past, l e a k y condos a n d a l l , so t h e y ' r e a l i t t l e b i t a n t s y .  ( C o n t r a c t o r 1)  60  Problems also arise as a result of inconsistent decisions by building inspectors who may approve a particular material, product or technique in one instance, but not in another. Contractors sometimes find they consume valuable time and money lobbying on a house-by-house basis, thereby dissuading them from pursing innovative green options.  4.3.5  Thoughts f o r t h e Future  Increase Homeowner Knowledge Just as homeowners would like contractors to know more about sustainable options, contractors also would like homeowners to learn about green options and have an appreciation for the cost and effort required to do them.  If a homeowner did their research and knew the types of things they wanted, would a homeowner who had that kind of knowledge be helpful at all? Very! (Contractor 1)  Growing Prominence of Green Renovation Regardless of the low popularity of green renovations, the contractor interviewees agreed that green renovations are becoming more prominent.  Homeowners are  starting to inquire more about them and more contractors are noting this interest.  The knowledge is there. There are lots of people who would love to do it and get involved.  You could see a definite surge of people interested in the  industry.  4.4  (Contractor 2)  Non-Profit Organizations  The previous two sections described green renovations from the perspective of those who do them: the homeowners and the contractors who are hired to complete the renovations. The following two sections explore the experience of those who enable green renovations, beginning with non-profit organizations, followed by for-profit businesses.  61  As described in Chapter 3 , several non-profit organizations throughout Canada offer inexpensive home audits that provide homeowners with options for greening their homes. This section presents the strengths of non-profits as well as the barriers they meet during program development and delivery.  Thoughts about the success of non-  profits are presented, and the section ends with some thoughts for the future.  4.4.1  Strengths of Non-Profits  Non-profit interviewees identified a number of strengths that their organizations and programs offer. These include •  being part of the community;  •  providing information and education;  •  ability to establish partnerships;  •  benefits compared to for-profits and utilities; and  •  accessibility to all homeowners.  Part of the Community One of the principle strengths identified by the non-profit interviewees is that they are part of the community. Thus, non-profits •  deliver programs that are more attuned and responsive to the needs of citizens,  especially  compared  to  programs  that  are  provided  by  big  government-driven campaigns; •  are usually involved in numerous community events and volunteering;  •  succeed in engaging local sponsors and supporters;  •  give potential partners confidence that the resources contributed will stay within the community; and  •  generate work for local residents.  Being a part of the community, as well as being non-profit, means that they hold a level of trust that may not be as evident with for-profit enterprises.  62  Providers of Information and Education Non-profit interviewees do more than provide suggestions for making the home more environmentally benign. Non-profits educate householders (renters and owners) about the environmental aspects of their homes.  This is done not only during the green  home visits, but also during various other activities.  Some have a centre or store  where people can drop by and purchase green items, such as cleaning products. Others use workshops and advertising to convey their environmental  message.  Conveying the environmental message is an important aspect of their work, as described by one non-profit:  It is i m p o r t a n t , t h o u g h , t h a t t h e ' s o c i a l m a r k e t e r ' p a r t o f t h e assessment t e a m , be a r e a l p e o p l e - p e r s o n ,  touching the  heart,  motivating  the  within.  person  from  ( N o n - P r o f i t 3)  Ability to Establish Partnerships Non-profit groups have the flexibility to establish partnerships with public and private sector organizations.  These include municipal and regional governments, transit  authorities, utilities, and banks, amongst others.  Many of these groups give in-kind  contributions, including advertising, promotional material, give-aways for marketing, and retrofit equipment.  The non-profits also have numerous volunteers who help  support and deliver their programs. Benefits Compared to For-Profits and Utilities When discussing the strengths of non-profits, several mentioned the advantages that they have over for-profit enterprises that have similar (though not identical) programs. Most comments  revolved  around  second-hand  accounts  of  homeowners  feeling  pressured to purchase services or goods from companies that did home energy audits. Others felt that because most for-profit companies and utilities were not based in their community, they were not as accountable; once a utility or  out-of-town  contractors finishes its job, the perception is that i t disappears, leaving no one to answer any questions or help with the next step of the green renovation process.  63  y  Accessible to all Homeowners Many lower-income  households that  could  not otherwise  afford  to  do energy  retrofitting benefit from the low- or no-cost retrofitting available through non-profit programs. Since many of these people live in old or substandard housing, the benefits of energy retrofitting are obvious.  However, it is not only low-income homeowners  who are interested in these programs, as described by one non-profit:  Interestingly enough, even though this program was low-priced, it attracted people across the gamut of household income. We certainly had people who had big beautiful homes, and we had people who were renting hovels who had no money, and everybody in between.  (Non-Profit 1)  Realtors recognized the value of the program and several signed up their home for an audit, and at least one non-profit interviewee told of the high level of interest expressed by the Real Estate Board, which saw it as a good way to raise the value of homes.  4.4.2  Barriers t o Program Development and Delivery  Despite the numerous strengths described above, non-profit program development and delivery is often compromised by barriers, most significantly cash flow. Low Cash Flow and Funding Nearly all of the difficulties encountered by non-profit interviewees were related to cash flow and lack of funding. One consequence of precarious financial viability is the frequent loss of good employees to the private sector:  Pay is often lower than in the market place (especially for someone with good skills in house audits and retrofits) and not guaranteed for a long period of time. Sometimes we lose great staff because of this.  (Non-Profit 2)  64  Since qualified personnel are drawn to more stable working environments, non-profits can be left having to start over again with new employees, thereby jeopardizing the non-profit's ability to sustain a sound program. Unpredictability of funding also can mean that long-term planning is compromised, resulting in a lack of program credibility.  Service delivery may have been perfected,  the public may want the service, and the program efficiency may be high, but it can be all for naught if funding is exhausted.  In some instances, existing programs have  been scaled back or remain incomplete. Finally, the distribution of what little funding exists across the numerous non-profit home audit programs in Canada can result in all programs deriving little benefit, as explained by one non-profit interviewee:  Ironically, another community may well get funding approval - all parts of the country must be treated with some equality - and re-invent the wheel in their community, just as we have done.  (Non-Profit 3)  Other Challenges Non-profits identified other areas where challenges were met.  These included  organizational issues, and people not honouring their appointments.  4.4.3 Gauging Success Non-profit organizations measure their success in two ways: •  homeowner satisfaction; and  •  achieving targets.  Homeowner Satisfaction According to the non-profit interviewees, homeowners who have participated in their programs have been pleased with the results.  The non-profits have been able to  establish good relationships with people while educating and motivating homeowners  65  on the issues of energy efficiency and water conservation. This sentiment is reflected in customer feedback:  W e h a d e x t r e m e l y p o s i t i v e f e e d b a c k . Our assessors w e r e v e r y k n o w l e d g e a b l e on a large v a r i e t y o f t o p i c s a n d gave e x c e l l e n t  advice.  People l o v e d  the  o p p o r t u n i t y t o f o l l o w t h e m a r o u n d t h e house a n d ask q u e s t i o n s a n d l e a r n m o r e a b o u t t h e i r house. T h e y w e r e v e r y i m p r e s s e d w i t h t h e h a r d w a r e w e i n s t a l l e d a n d o u r assessors l o v e d t h e i n t e r a c t i o n t h e y h a d w i t h t h e h o u s e h o l d e r s . ( N o n - P r o f i t 2)  Achieving Targets With the exception of one non-profit that had to postpone further visits until funding became available again, non-profits expressed satisfaction in reaching their targets for number of households visited. One non-profit interviewee indicated that success was also found in the way that people were influenced to change their behaviour:  Our p r o g r a m t a r g e t was t o have a t least o n e ' s t r u c t u r a l ' c h a n g e t o t h e h o m e a n d a t least o n e ' b e h a v i o u r a l ' c h a n g e - a n d p r e f e r a b l y t w o o f e a c h . W e can r e p o r t t h a t i n m o s t cases w e have a c h i e v e d o u r t a r g e t a n d o u r v i s i t a v e r a g e w i l l be g r e a t e r t h a n 1 - a n d - 1 .  ( N o n - P r o f i t 3)  One non-profit interviewee also addressed program success with respect to actual reductions in GHG emissions:  F r o m a f i n a n c i a l p e r s p e c t i v e , can w e j u s t i f y t h e cash o u t l a y i n r e l a t i o n t o t h e t o n n a g e o f g r e e n h o u s e gas emissions r e d u c t i o n ?  T h e d a t a is n o t y e t c o m p i l e d .  H o w e v e r , m y i n i t i a l r e a c t i o n is t h a t t h e results m a y n o t j u s t i f y t h e e x p e n s e , simply because w e are a t t e m p t i n g t o change a life-long t r e n d , wastefulness. ( N o n - P r o f i t 3)  66  Thoughts f o r t h e Future  4.4.4  In the future, non-profits would like t o see the strengthening of their programs through three ways: •  partnerships;  •  expanding green visit scope; and  •  provision of core funding.  Partnerships Non-profit interviewees all emphasized the importance of developing, maintaining and strengthening partnerships with other sectors. Suggestions included: •  Utilities - Common interest in energy conservation would make them ideal partners.  •  Federal and Provincial Governments - Non-profits could efficiently deliver programs sponsored by the government, including educating homeowners about personal reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.  •  Local Governments - Through the Partners for Climate Protection, non-profits could be a vehicle for helping the city reach targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  •  Private Sector - Companies could maintain and increase the services and products they provide t o non-profits.  •  Non-Profit Organizations - A stronger network of non-profits (e.g. Green Communities of B.C.) would strengthen program development and delivery.  Expanding Green Visit Scope Non-profits also saw the potential benefits of expanding their service t o businesses, (one non-profit interviewee already has done this in a limited capacity).  Businesses  may require more time and more follow-up, but the potential for gains in energy efficiency are greater.  Other sectors could also benefit from the programs, as  described below:  67  You can t a k e a w e e k a n d do t e n h o m e s , o r y o u can t a k e a d a y a n d do an a p a r t m e n t building, 1 0 units.  And beyond a p a r t m e n t buildings, w h a t  about  p u b l i c buildings? ... It w o u l d have b e e n i n t e r e s t i n g t o g e t t h e c o n t r a c t t o do t h e w h o l e o f t h e c i t y or t h e school d i s t r i c t . f o r i t a n d t h e y set t h e b a r .  Those o r g a n i z a t i o n s can a f f o r d t o p a y  T h e y w o u l d be s e t t i n g an e x a m p l e .  These  measures a r e e f f e c t i v e a t any l e v e l , b u t a r e m o s t e f f e c t i v e a t t h a t l e v e l o f public institutions.  ( N o n - P r o f i t 1)  Finally, increasing program delivery to older homes and low-income households was also mentioned since the people in these houses most likely would feel the greatest benefit. Provision of Core Funding Ultimately, many of the goals for the future were based on the premise of having the core funding to continue such programs.  Government support could allow new non-  profits to avoid having to devise a program from scratch:  [ W e h a d c h a l l e n g e s d e v e l o p i n g ] t h e f r a m e w o r k f o r a good p r o g r a m .  W e had  s o m e a d v a n t a g e as w e p l a g i a r i z e d o t h e r s ' m a t e r i a l , b u t s t i l l had t o d e v e l o p a l o t o f c r i t e r i a on o u r o w n . T h e r e seems t o be no ' c o o k i e - c u t t e r ' format  that  has  proven  effective  to  date.  It  seems  to  me  process or that  senior  g o v e r n m e n t s w h o have p r o v i d e d f u n d i n g f o r t h i s t y p e o f p r o g r a m w o u l d do w e l l t o spend t h e d o l l a r s necessary t o d e v e l o p s o m e p r o - f o r m a t h a t w o u l d e l i m i n a t e a lot of local w o r k and f r u s t r a t i o n and t i m e t o develop this t y p e of m a t e r i a l . ( N o n - P r o f i t 3)  Recognizing that funding will always be an issue, one non-profit interviewee expressed the need to perhaps become more self-sufficient:  On o n e h a n d y o u c a n ' t e x p e c t n o n - p r o f i t s r u n n i n g a r o u n d w i t h t h e i r h a n d o u t a l l the time.  It makes i t d i f f i c u l t t o d e l i v e r p r o d u c t s a n d services.  ( N o n - P r o f i t 1)  68  4.5  For-Profit Businesses  Many homeowners across British Columbia take advantage of the home energy audit services provided by for-profit enterprises.  The following section explores the  experience of one for-profit business and offers observations on for-profits in general from other interviewees.  Strengths and barriers are investigated, followed by a  discussion on the perceived success of for-profit programs and thoughts for the future.  4.5.1  Strengths of For-Profits  The for-profit interviewee noted four main strengths of the home audit programs, namely •  ease of use for customer;  •  financing options;  •  economic sustainability; and  •  quality assurance  Ease of Use for Customer Since many homeowners are too busy to research home energy retrofit ideas, the forprofit works to ensure that their program is as simple as possible for the customer to follow:  We basically try to fit the customers' agenda rather than trying to bring our agenda to the table. ... We've gone out and really become customer focused, and asked "What is it that you want?"  (For-Profit 1)  Financing Options Some for-profits  make energy  retrofitting  more accessible for  homeowners  by  providing them with financing options that let them complete additional renovations. This allows homeowners to complete additional retrofitting, meaning that energy savings are achieved sooner rather than later:  69  J Interestingly  enough,  the  people  who  finance  the  work  that  we  do,  do  somewhere from double to three times t h e amount of work than people who don't finance.  If y o u t a k e s o m e o n e w h o pays c a s h , t h e y p r o b a b l y do a b o u t  $ 5 , 0 0 0 o f r e n o v a t i o n , b u t s o m e b o d y w h o gets a loan is l i k e l y t o do $ 1 0 , 0 0 0 w o r t h o f r e n o v a t i o n , w h i c h makes sense.  So i t ' s a b i g f a c i l i t a t o r because w h a t  y o u ' r e d o i n g in t e r m s o f e n e r g y e f f i c i e n c y is y o u ' r e d o i n g s t u f f t o d a y r a t h e r than w a i t for t h e f u t u r e - you're taking advantage of t h e opportunity. ( F o r - P r o f i t 1)  Economic Sustainability Unlike non-profits who struggle for financial viability, successful for-profits, by their nature, have better economic success. Their business model allows them to do things that the non-profit model does not, such as charging customers more and developing financial agreements with contractors:  T h e r e ' s a b s o l u t e l y z e r o subsidy - in f a c t i t ' s t h e r e v e r s e , w e m a k e a s m a l l surplus.  So w e ' v e t u r n e d t h e w h o l e t h i n g a r o u n d a n d m a d e i t an e c o n o m i c  model that works for everybody.  ( F o r - P r o f i t 1)  Quality Assurance For-profits are aware of the need to do a good job in order to sustain business, and therefore are concerned about quality assurance. The for-profit interviewee contacts each homeowner and visits several homes after job completion to obtain customer feedback.  In some instances private enterprises  (and utilities)  have  business  relationships with contractors and are able to ensure quality by setting standards for them.  For example, in addition to demonstrating a certain level of competency, for-  profits can ensure contractors have good customer service standards, and good financial standing, amongst other due diligence criteria.  4.5.2  Barriers t o Program Development and Delivery  There are two principal barriers to delivering a more complete home audit program: •  specialization of trades; and  70  changing customer behaviour. Specialization of Trades Energy retrofitting a home can mean changing many of its features, such as the building envelope, windows, ventilation, furnaces and appliances. Unfortunately, few trades and contractors have expertise in all of these areas, but for-profits (who have business relationships with contractors) have found that customers want all of their answers from one contractor:  One o f o u r p r o b l e m s is t h e w a y t h e t r a d e s a r e d i v i d e d - t h e p e o p l e w h o do furnaces d o n ' t do windows - and t h a t ' s a reality.  And t h a t ' s a big challenge  because f r o m t h e customer's p e r s p e c t i v e , t h e y [ e x p e c t t h a t s e r v i c e ] b u t w e h a v e n ' t got those kind of companies around.  So t h a t ' s a r e a l i t y . A n d w e ' v e  t r i e d t o m e r g e t h o s e t w o d i s c i p l i n e s t o g e t h e r b u t have n o t b e e n successful, j u s t b e c a u s e t h e y a r e d i f f e r e n t p e o p l e a n d t h e i r t r a i n i n g is q u i t e d i f f e r e n t . ( P r i v a t e 1)  This specialization has resulted in at least two homeowner interviewees feeling as though they were being pressured to purchase the specific services or products offered by the contractor that did the audit:  I was really disappointed.  I felt that they just came in and they w e r e out to  sell y o u a p a r t i c u l a r b r a n d o f w i n d o w t h a t t h e y o b v i o u s l y w o u l d g e t a b i g commission on.  It w a s n ' t " t h i s is a range o f t h i n g s y o u should d o , t h i s is t h e  p r i o r i t y o r d e r , t h i s is w h a t w i l l save y o u m o n e y o v e r t h i s m a n y years in t e r m s o f this much energy used."  It was " w h a t y o u n e e d t o do is c h a n g e a l l y o u r  w i n d o w s a n d t h i s is t h e b r a n d o f w i n d o w y o u s h o u l d b u y . "  Their  primary  o b j e c t i v e w a s t o sell t h o s e w i n d o w s , a n d t h a t ' s n o t w h a t I e x p e c t e d f r o m t h i s . (Homeowner 4)  71  Changing Customer Behaviour The for-profit interviewee acknowledged that the home audit program is not designed to change customer behaviour; the objective is to achieve energy efficiency with minimal homeowner effort.  What we're not trying to do is change customers behaviour, because that's a tough and expensive thing to do.  (Private 1)  Gauging Success  4.5.3  The for-profit interviewee gauges the success of the program based on two factors: •  energy savings; and  •  customer satisfaction.  Energy Savings Through the renovations that are completed as a result of home energy audits and financing programs, the for-profit estimates that significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions have occurred:  To put it in perspective, we reckon on average a renovation reduces emissions by 1.2 tonnes per year, for every household. And that's without touching behaviour habits or anything like that.  (For-Profit 1)  Customer Relationships In addition to energy efficiency, the success of for-profit programs can be measured by the number of satisfied customers. As customer satisfaction increases, so do word of mouth referrals, and this can save the company considerable money that would otherwise be spent on marketing.  We've got some fantastic customer feedback. We do a survey now and again when finances allow us we use a third party survey on our customers - and we  72  had somewhere in the region of 52% who said our program was excellent, and a total of 90% - around another 40% - who said it was good. And we're working on the excellent. Good is never good enough!  4.5.4  (For-Profit 1)  Thoughts f o r t h e Future  Partnerships Similarly to non-profits, the for-profit recognized the advantages that could be derived from partnerships between the different organizations that provide similar programs. This could lead to organizations reducing their program delivery costs and providing a better service to customers:  Because everyone is inventing their own wheel, and they're all going out and spending billions of dollars trying to do what we're all trying to do. Why can we not have a one stop shop that says (to the customer), ... "well actually we have a special from Natural Resources Canada, and PowerSmart has one today that expires on such and such a day, here's a deal we have today for you." (For-Profit 1)  Partnerships with non-profit organizations are potentially problematic, although these too could be established:  I think the challenge is effectively the philosophical differences between nonprofits and organizations like ours, and I think that's an interesting challenge. How do you reconcile ... "I know why you want to do this, you want to make more money" - and the answer is "yes!" And that's not necessarily a bad thing. I'd rather be making more money doing this than selling more [energy]. So I think it's a philosophical challenge that we face that over a period of time we'll be able to overcome.  (Private 1)  Private enterprises also see the need to have a better community presence in order to obtain the level of trust that some non-profits perhaps enjoy.  73  Government  4.6  Each level of government significantly affects the widespread implementation of green renovations in the residential sector. This section explores some of these influences, beginning with the strengths that governments bring to green renovations, and ending with the barriers. 4.6.1  Strengths  Governments enable green renovations by two principal means: •  being a source of information;  •  promoting green technology research.  Sources of Information Despite their limited resources, two of the government interviewees see themselves as being a repository of information, available to the homeowners, contractors and architects who seek it. Information is available on web sites, CDs, product directories, and publications.  Numerous publications on non-toxic and healthy homes have  focused on this health aspect of green renovations, further increasing the green renovation market. Education is also provided through workshops and seminars:  We deliver seminars to the industry ... on IAQ. (indoor air quality) and building technology, construction issues, marketing issues and all kinds of different things.  (Government 1)  Promote Research One of the government organizations represented by an interviewee promotes research into green technologies for the home. Although no other interviewees offer this, it is apparent that other governmental organizations do.  74  4.6.2  Barriers and Challenges  Targeting Residential Renovation Sector New buildings are the primary focus of any green building initiative.  With the LEED  green building rating system gaining so much momentum in British Columbia (USGBC 2003), emphasis is directed towards those buildings that currently can fulfil the certification  process  (i.e.  new  buildings that  are nor  single-family  dwellings).  Furthermore, new commercial, institutional and government buildings are generally larger and these sectors have representatives to whom governments can target education and incentives.  Consequently, few resources are left to address the single  family renovation sector. The issue, as one government interviewee explained, is not a lack of interest:  That's m y m a i n j o b , t o w o r k w i t h t h e p r i v a t e s e c t o r t o g e t t h e i r b u y - i n f o r t h e s e t h i n g s . A n d r e t r o f i t , u n f o r t u n a t e l y , is r e a l l y l o w on m y l i s t .  It's n o t t h a t I  d o n ' t see t h e b e n e f i t , it's j u s t t h e r e a r e o n l y so m a n y d o l l a r s a n d t i m e a n d s t a f f , a n d y o u look f o r t h e best b a n g f o r y o u r b u c k .  ( G o v e r n m e n t 2)  At the level of the single family dwelling, green new construction will be targeted first because governments can work with developer and homebuilder groups to achieve green standards, rather than work with individual homeowners to address renovations. Risk and Liability Innovative technologies are inherently risky and decision-makers in British Columbia have become acutely aware of this since the leaky building fiasco.  This may make  them more hesitant to adopt green alternatives. Building inspectors, who often make the final decision regarding a renovation, are particularly sensitive to this:  Inspectors, t h e y a r e also t h e p e o p l e w h o s i t t h e r e a n d g e t c a l l e d i n t o d i s c o v e r y b y l a w s u i t s , by t h e legal d e p a r t m e n t , a n d t h a t can be v e r y i n t i m i d a t i n g .  If  they've been through that, they tend to be a little more cautious. ( G o v e r n m e n t 3)  75  Other risks are related specifically to the renovation process since each house presents unique conditions and problems:  We have to be a little bit cautious. We start to prescribe fixes and there's always other factors involved.  You fix one thing and you can sometimes  exacerbate another problem.  (Government 1)  Regulatory Obstacles Government interviewees noted that some regulations, such as building codes and zoning bylaws, prevent homeowners from undertaking certain green renovation.  In  some circumstances, these barriers are necessary as they are directly related to health and safety. In other instances, the reason for the regulation is less clear:  [l]f you would do a renovation and put in a 6-litre toilet, [the municipality] might not allow you to. They might insist on a 13-litre.  (Government 2)  Nonetheless one government interviewee stated that, in general, building codes have little impact on the greening of buildings. Since testing is only required for fire-safety and, more recently, environmental separation (leakage detection), building codes can ensure healthy indoor environments and energy efficiency. Lack of Public Awareness Governments also recognize that public awareness is crucial, and that i t is an area that has not been supported adequately to date:  I think there's a lot of interest out there, but we haven't really built on that. I think there's a challenge in terms of public awareness of green building. ... There's a really big job ahead of us to build that awareness. It extends not only to residential but generally so that all our buildings are greener, so that people are more accepting of the idea and what it means, and what these buildings can do for us in terms of better environmental quality in the region and reducing operating costs in municipal buildings that save the taxpayer.  The  76  municipalities  a n d t h e GVRD  really  haven't  done  a n awareness  e d u c a t i o n c a m p a i g n t h a t says w h a t a r e g r e e n b u i l d i n g s .  4.7  or  public  (Government 2)  Summary  This chapter explored the experiences of people who are involved in residential green renovations,  namely  homeowners  and contractors;  non-profit and for-profit  organizations that provide green home programs; and government representatives. The key themes from the interviews are presented below: •  Homeowners and contractors are the people who physically and logistically undertake green renovations. Their experiences are summarized in Table 6.  •  Non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses provide programs to facilitate green renovations in the home. Their experiences are summarized in Table 7.  •  Government agencies and representatives from all levels of government play a dual role with respect to residential green renovations by both providing assistance and creating obstacles. Their experiences are summarized in Table 8.  77  Contractor  Homeowner Motivation  Renovation Profile  Resources  • . . • . . • • . . . • . • •  Obstacles  • • •  In the Future  .  'Green ethic' Savings Health Aesthetics Energy efficiency Water conservation House restoration Landscaping Photovoltaics (interest only) Rain barrel (interest only) Internet Neighbours and friends Private, public, non-profit sectors Lack of time and knowledge Contractors unavailable and know little about green renovations Cost Regulations including codes, by-laws Increase access to information Provide incentives  • 'Green ethic' . Savings . Niche market . Energy efficiency and indoor air quality . Material recycling  . Networking with others in the profession . Seminars and workshops . Homeowners' emphasis on cost; no demand . Lack of knowledge . Regulations including codes, by-laws • Increase homeowner knowledge . Green renovations are becoming more popular  Table 6: Homeowner and Contractor Green Renovation Experiences  78  Strengths  Barriers Gauging Success In the Future  Non-Profit Organizations  For-Profit Businesses  . Part of the community • Providers of information and education • Ability t o establish partnerships • Benefits compared to forprofits • Accessible to all homeowners • Low cash flow and core funding . Miscellaneous • Homeowner satisfaction . Achieving structural and behavioural targets • Create more partnerships • Expand scope of green visit • Provision of core funding  • Ease of use for customer • Financing options • Quality assurance  • Contractors are specialized • Cannot change customer behaviour • Actual energy savings • Good customer relationships • Increase cooperation amongst all program providers  Table 7: Non-Profit and For-Profit Green Renovation Experiences  Government Strengths  Obstacles  • Provide homeowners and contractors with green renovation / green building information . Undertake green building research . Resources are directed at greening new buildings • Risk and liability . Regulatory obstacles (though many regulations exist for good reason) • Lack of public awareness  Table 8: Government Green Renovation Experiences  79  Chapter 5 - Enabling G r e e n Renovations  5.1  Introduction  This chapter presents options for overcoming the barriers to green home renovations based on the feedback from the interviewees  (Chapter 4) and existing green  renovation resources (Chapter 3). This analysis addresses removing obstacles and increasing opportunities for those who are predisposed to renovating in a sustainable way; increasing the appeal of green renovations to homeowners who are not sympathetic to the environmental arguments for green buildings; and making available green products that currently are not permitted due to regulatory constraints.  5.2  Using Multiple Approaches to Overcome Barriers  The objectives of this research are to identify the obstacles preventing homeowners from completing green renovations and to explore the ways in which green materials, products and construction techniques can become a viable alternative in home renovation projects.  The interviews revealed that coming up with a single approach  would be problematic due to the diverse nature of home renovations, green or otherwise: •  Different  homeowners  possess  varying  degrees  of  awareness  of  the  environmental impact of buildings and the green renovation options that can mitigate these impacts. •  The scale of home renovations done by a homeowner can range from the very small and inexpensive to the large and costly.  •  Some green alternatives are readily available at home improvement centres, whereas others have poor market penetration or are subject to regulatory restrictions that limit their use.  Clearly, one approach to overcoming obstacles cannot satisfy every homeowner and renovation option.  Thus, the remainder of this chapter presents three different  approaches for overcoming the barriers to widespread green home renovations, shown in Figure 1 and described below.  80  Approach 1 Removing Barriers for Green Homeowners • Homeowners have a 'green ethic' . Small to mid-size renovations • Green options easy to moderately difficult to obtain  +  +  Approach 2 Increasing the Appeal of Green Options Homeowners are not inclined to renovate green  ~  More homeowners undertaking green renovations  WIDESPREAD GREEN HOME RENOVATIONS  Approach 3 Pushingithe Green [ Building Envelope • Green options are not allowed for regulatory reasons  More green options for home renovations F i g u r e 1: T h r e e A p p r o a c h e s f o r A c h i e v i n g W i d e s p r e a d G r e e n H o m e R e n o v a t i o n s  The first approach, presented in Section 5.3, capitalizes on the experiences of the homeowner interviewees and describes ways in which opportunities can be opened up for homeowners who have a 'green ethic' to do small to mid-sized green renovations that are easy to moderately difficult to do.  This scenario represents the most  straightforward set of circumstances for overcoming obstacles to green renovations. First, the homeowners are pre-disposed to doing green renovations. Second, emphasis is placed on small to mid-sized renovations since these are the scale of renovations that most homeowners will undertake at some point during home ownership (Statistics Canada, Homeowner repair, 2002).  Third, the green options are not excessively  difficult to obtain. This approach should produce a high green renovation response rate amongst this category of homeowners, but a low overall conversion rate since, presumably, these homeowners are in a minority. The second approach, presented in Section 5.4,  explores ways to increase  opportunities for homeowners who are not inclined to green their homes (such as the homeowners with whom the contractor interviewees are familiar). These homeowners 81  require additional incentives and other 'self-interest' reasons for renovating green. By addressing the needs of this large category of homeowners, a much greater green conversion rate amongst all homeowners could occur. The third  approach,  presented in Section 5.5,  explores the technologies  and  construction techniques that could increase the greenness of the home but that are currently not allowed due to regulatory reasons. options  would  allow  all  homeowners  to  Increasing the availability of these  undertake  a wider  variety  of  green  renovations.  5.3  Approach 1 - Removing Barriers for Green Homeowners  5.3.1  Identifying Barriers  This section explores the experiences of the homeowner interviewees in order to discover ways in which to increase their opportunities to renovate green. Homeowner interviewees identified four principal barriers that, should they be reduced or eliminated, would enable them to complete more green renovations: 1. Homeowner knowledge of green options and access to green  renovation  information is poor. 2. Contractors are not available and/or do not have knowledge of green options. 3. Green  renovation  costs  are  too  high  compared  to  their  conventional  counterpart. 4.  Regulatory obstacles impede homeowners from doing some green renovations (the issue of regulatory obstacles is addressed in Section 5.5).  These obstacles and possible mechanisms for overcoming them are explored below.  5.3.2  Increase Knowledge o f Green Options and Accessibility of I n f o r m a t i o n  Despite the quantity of information available on green renovations, as seen in Chapter 3, homeowners find i t difficult to locate the information that is relevant to their particular circumstances. For instance, a homeowner may know she should use locally sourced materials but may not know where to find out which materials are local. 82  Increasing knowledge of green options, therefore, is not simply a matter of providing more information.  Instead, it entails making the existing information more locally  relevant and of making the body of knowledge that exists more intuitive to access. Thus, opportunities  for green renovations can be maximized  by tapping  local  knowledge by using the means by which homeowners commonly seek information. Based on the feedback from the participants, the use of neighbours and friends, nonprofit organizations and the Internet are three ways in which to accomplish these goals. Neighbours and Friends Neighbours and friends played a significant role in the renovation projects of nearly all homeowners interviewed - even if i t was not in a 'green' capacity - whether i t was giving advice, helping with labour, or just inquiring about the work that was being done.  Evidently, doing construction work on one's home is a great way to bond with  nearby neighbours. As one homeowners remarked, "even the simple act of getting out a Skilsaw leads to community building! It's sort of like parking a car on the street and opening the hood." Such naturally occurring interaction between people during renovation  activities  provides an occasion to share experiences of greening one's home. The creation of a network or group of homeowners that had been through the green renovation process and that was willing to impart its experience to those who were considering going through this process could be an excellent way of increasing homeowner knowledge. This idea was highlighted by one homeowner who observed that, given all of the knowledge he painfully gained while greening his home, he would be able to save other homeowners considerable time and effort.  The experience and information  shared would be relevant to local circumstances, thus knowledge transfer could include such points as where to purchase products, problems with obtaining permits, helpful contractors, etc.  Ideally, homeowners interested in green renovations would be bonded by geography, meaning that they would live close to each other to fully take advantage of the natural community that occurs when home renovations are being done.  Realistically,  however, this scenario is unlikely since the likelihood of two or more homeowners who 83  live on the same block doing green renovations at the same time is small. Fortunately this challenge is not insurmountable.  It requires identifying other creative means for  creating paths for knowledge transfer and bonding between renovating homeowners in Greater Vancouver.  Two possibilities for this have been identified  from  the  interviews: the use of non-profit organizations, and the use of the Internet. Non-Profit Organizations Local non-profit organizations, such as those belonging to the Green Communities Association, are locally-based and are aware of the needs of and services provided within a community.  In areas where such groups exist (currently, none are located in  the Lower Mainland), they do considerable work in providing homeowners green alternatives for home improvements.  In order to accommodate green renovations  further, their existing functions could be enhanced in two principal ways: by providing a repository of the more extensive and less accessible green renovation information, and by maintaining a database of the types of green renovations that have been done by individuals in the community. The advantages of such an arrangement include the following, amongst others: •  Non-profits are centrally based and homeowners would know to go to them for information.  •  People have a high level of trust with non-profits.  •  Green Community Association -type non-profits have considerable experience in the field of greening homes.  •  Local green contractors could register their services with the thereby increasing their  exposure to  homeowners,  making i t  non-profit easier  for  homeowners to find them. •  The non-profit could provide the base for a homeowners' network.  •  Interested  homeowners  could  provide  contact  information  for  other  homeowners interested in green renovations, thereby providing opportunities for communication between homeowners. The obvious obstacle with the non-profit option is lack of resources.  Whereas some  non-profits are well-established and would be capable of providing this type of  84  service, others may not be at that stage of development yet. As i t is, non-profits have considerable difficulty with financial viability, and to undertake this additional role could  very  possibly  stretch  them  beyond  capacity.  Nonetheless,  non-profit  organizations would be an ideal avenue for neighbours and friends to share their green renovation experiences. Internet According to the  Home Improvement  Research Institute in the  United  States,  homeowners increasingly use television and the Internet as sources of information about home improvement products, and use material suppliers and home improvement professionals less (Oikos 2003). This trend was reflected by homeowner interviewees, most of whom stated that the Internet was one of the first ways they went about learning about green renovations. Given the popularity of this method of information acquisition, opportunities for using the Internet to achieve greater awareness about green products and services for the home should be considered. A web-based group devoted to local green home renovation efforts could be an ideal place to start as i t would provide homeowners with a way to find out about available resources in the Lower Mainland. Conceivably, a homeowner would do a web search say by typing in the words 'green', 'renovation' and 'Vancouver' - and come across the site.  A site maintained by a web-based green renovations group could contain  multiple elements, including: •  a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page;  •  a section on finding green renovators;  •  a section on green technical questions;  •  experiences of homeowners;  •  information posted by renovation professionals;  •  dates and times for green renovation meetings for homeowners; and  •  feature renovation of the month.  Most importantly the web site would be a focal point for discussion about green renovations.  It would provide a way for people who live in different areas of the  85  Lower Mainland to share their experiences and i t would be a means for creating an online community. The points described above are simply ideas, and any number of variations is possible. Such a web site could be set up and maintained by a non-profit, or perhaps by an interested homeowner.  Regardless of the details, using the Internet as a way to  create a local green renovations community has considerable potential.  5.3.3  Increase Contractor Availability and Knowledge  The second main obstacle that homeowners encountered when trying to do green renovations stemmed from their general frustration with contractors.  Not only is i t  felt that contractors have little knowledge of green alternatives, but they also are difficult to find and keep. This perception was echoed by several other interviewees, including the contractors themselves, who recognized that they were in a minority when it came to knowledge about green renovations.  Problematically, issues of  contractor availability and knowledge are much greater in scope than just the green renovations sector. Labour Shortage and Poor Information Dissemination The difficulty experienced by homeowners of finding and keeping contractors is symptomatic of the shortage of skilled trades in Canada.  If recent trends are any  indication, labour shortages in the residential construction industry will continue to worsen, with the possible consequence of increased do-it-yourself and 'underground economy' type work, particularly in the area of home renovation and repair (CMHC 2001). This shortage of skilled trades explains the struggle of finding and keeping contractors. Moreover, consequences also could be severe in terms of mainstreaming green renovation techniques.  As demand for labour and key housing construction services  increasingly exceed supply, the prices for such services are continuously driven upwards (CMHC 2001). According to the contractor interviewees, those in the industry with green renovation knowledge serve the higher-income market because they have that choice; there are so few of them who can f i l l the 'green' niche that they  86  understandably work for those who can pay the most.  Had contractors been in good  supply, these same contractors would be forced to market their services to a wider range of household income brackets, thus increasing the likelihood of green knowledge trickling down to contractors who market to middle and lower-income households. The lack of green knowledge amongst contractors, however, most likely is caused by the  problems  associated  with  information  dissemination  within  the  residential  construction industry in Canada. According to CMHC research, even when innovative technologies are proven and dissemination techniques aggressive, i t still takes 15 to 25 years for a new technology to be widely adopted by the Canadian construction industry (CMHC 2002).  residential  Only 50 percent of available cost-cutting or  quality enhancing techniques are available at any one time and of this, a full half occur in the last five to six years of the technology's introductory phase. Accordingly, "[t]he unique structural nature of the industry and limited resources pose inherent barriers to pursuing innovation adoption" (CMHC 2002).  Such a delay can limit  advances in sustainability and housing, as contractors and subcontractors remain unaware of advances in green techniques. Solving the problems of contractor shortages and information dissemination within the residential construction industry is beyond the scope of this research.  But these two  issues indicate to homeowners that, at least in the short t e r m , there is a need for a certain degree of self-reliance. Other Constraints to Contractor Green Performance Regardless of the challenges presented by the shortage of skilled trades and poor information dissemination, opportunities may exist to improve the green renovation knowledge of some contractors if not the residential construction industry as a whole. To do so, i t is worthwhile analyzing the obstacles that contractors identified as hindering their green performance, and then considering the resources that could be used to mitigate them. Based on interviews, these obstacles include the following: 1. Homeowners are unwilling to pay for green materials and products when contractors present them with those options (issues of affordability  are  discussed in subsection 5.3.4).  87  2. As a result of the point described above, there is a perceived insufficient demand for green renovations and so there is no reason for contractors to pursue this line of work. 3. Contractors, like homeowners, have difficulty in learning about green options (increasing knowledge is addressed in this subsection as well as subsection 5.4.3).  4. Regulatory obstacles prevent contractors from using some green materials, products and construction techniques (regulatory obstacles are addressed in Section 5.5). Increasing Perceived Demand for Green Renovations Connecting homeowners interested in green renovations through neighbours and friends, non-profit organizations, and the Internet was the topic of the previous subsection.  Herein also lie some interesting opportunities to increase the perceived  demand for residential green renovations. No statistics were found on the number of homeowners who would like to renovate in a more sustainable manner. Nonetheless, based on the interviews and other informal discussions, there are enough interested homeowners in the Lower Mainland to support at least a few mid-priced contractors. Yet despite a sufficient number of interested homeowners, the perceived demand remains low since individual homeowners are scattered across a wide area and large general population. An established network of green homeowners, such as in a non-profit organization or web-based group, could reinforce to contractors that homeowners committed to renovating green, do exist.  Furthermore, possibilities could exist to establish  partnerships between the homeowner organization and the green renovators. For example, if a homeowner were interested in restoring her hardwood floors, the nonprofit or Internet site could refer her to Contractor A; if another homeowner were to want to salvage material removed from a renovated room, he would be directed to Contractor B; and so forth.  An organization could create sufficient centralized  demand to potentially motivate a few contractors to go green, particularly those contractors and renovators who already possess a 'green ethic'.  Ultimately, as the  88  collective experience of these homeowners would grow, demand for green contractors would increase, and more small-scale contractors would gain green experience. The picture described above seemingly places the responsibility with homeowners more than with contractors.  Homeowners must help contractors increase their green  renovation knowledge by strengthening consumer demand thereby creating green business opportunities for contractors.  This may seem unfair, but as previously  discussed, there are a number of constraints within the residential construction and renovation industry that make it unlikely that i t will green itself, at least not in the short term.  Nevertheless, as contractor knowledge slowly increases, they can  reciprocally suggest green alternatives to uninformed homeowners, and a positive feedback  loop  of  homeowners  informing  contractors  who  then  inform  other  homeowners can begin. Contractors Learning About Green Renovation Options Unlike homeowners, contractors have the background to understand why different materials, products and techniques are greener and work better than others, hence they are expected to be a source, rather than a receiver, of green renovation information. Yet, similarly to homeowners, contractors have difficulty learning about green options for home renovations. Although^there are many sources of information, distilling all the data down to that which is relevant for a contractor's business is another matter. Challenges of information dissemination and skilled trades shortages may partly explain the slow uptake of green renovations within the residential construction industry, but it does not absolve contractors from the responsibility of looking to green alternatives within their own work.  Furthermore, i t does not address the issue of  industry responsibility as a whole to improve environmental standards.  Just as  homeowners must take greater personal responsibility to reduce their impact on the environment, so must construction professionals. Just as other industries slowly incorporate environmental considerations into their functions, so must the residential construction industry and those who work within it. Local home builders' associations, renovation councils, and government agencies should provide support for contractors to  be  greener,  by  providing  relevant  local  information  and  providing  green 89  construction workshops and seminars, such as are sometimes done by the GVRD and CMHC.  Much groundwork has been done in the United States, and Canadian  homebuilder associations could take advantage of these existing resources.  5.3.4  Increase A f f o r d a b i l i t y  The third main obstacle that homeowners encountered when trying to renovate green was the cost of renovations. The extent to which a homeowner renovates depends in large part on cost and this holds true for all homeowners including those who are motivated to renovate sustainably.  Unfortunately, since the cost of consumer goods  does not account for all of their externalities, including cost to the environment, many green materials and products present affordability challenges since they often, though not always, have a price premium.  In some instances, the up-front cost of a green  alternative can be offset by lower operating costs. For example, the premium paid for a high-efficiency furnace may have a five year payback after which the savings accrued from the reduced utility bills will have paid for the furnace.  For other green  options, however, the additional cost will not be returned as future savings. Regardless of whether there is an associated payback period or not, reducing the costs of green alternatives is a key to making green renovations more appealing to homeowners.  Two ways for making green renovations affordable identified in the  interviews include: 1.  Financial incentive programs; and  2.  Green financing  Financial Incentive Programs Incentive programs are an effective way of encouraging homeowners to do green retrofits and renovations.  Likely the most common incentive in Canada is the rebate  on green product purchase and/or installation, offered from time to time by governments, utilities and non-profits. Municipal governments are able to deliver incentive programs that promote green retrofitting by its citizens. fixtures  and  providing  For example, by providing households with low-flow  rebates  for  replacing toilets  with  their  ultra-low  flow 90  equivalents, municipalities are able to educate householders about water conservation and effect  a reduction in water consumption,  resulting in the  mitigation  of  environmental degradation and the deferred capital investments for water and sewage conveyance and treatment.  Furthermore, local governments have the best potential  to influence individual homeowners as they are able to deliver energy or water conservation messages to all households via mailings of tax, water or energy bills, and can get politicians and civic staff to provide background information and promotion in the local media (ICLEI 2001, 7). As part of demand-side management, utilities frequently provide rebates to purchase high-efficiency furnaces or hot water heaters. provide rebates at various times of the year.  BC Gas and BC Hydro occasionally Although these incentives encourage  homeowners to purchase efficient equipment (as they had with some homeowner interviewees), they are not available throughout the entire year, leaving homeowners who must replace their furnace 'immediately' paying for a new one in its entirety. Members of the Green Communities Association encourage homeowners to do green retrofitting by offering products at  low cost, such as hot water tank  weatherstripping and low-flow showerheads.  wraps,  Non-profit interviewees stressed the  importance of being able to offer these products at very low cost as key to the popularity of their programs. Other types of incentives exist, aside from rebates, particularly in the areas of advanced energy efficiency  and conservation.  British Columbia has sales  tax  exemptions for a variety of environmental goods, including energy conservation equipment such as solar panels (Environment Canada 2003).  Meanwhile, several  organizations in Canada, such as the Pembina Institute, -are studying ecological fiscal reform  (EFR).  EFR is a "strategy that  redirects a government's taxation  and  expenditure programs to create an integrated set of incentives to support the shift to sustainable development" and includes the use of such policy tools as taxation, tax exemptions, permit trading, tax rebates, direct expenditure, program expenditure and tax credits (Fiscally Green, What is EFR?). In terms of residential green renovations, EFR might involve, for example, levying a tax on the purchase of a particular good and using the revenue from the tax to finance refunds to individuals in return for certain behaviour. The most well-known example of this kind of reform is the deposit refund 91  system for beverage containers, but similar policies could be applied to other products, including household appliances and computer hardware, amongst others (Fiscally Green, EFR and You!). Most of these incentives currently exist in the United States. Sixteen states currently offer personal tax incentives for energy conservation and 32 states offer rebates on the purchase of renewable energy technologies such as photovoltaics, small wind turbines, fuel cells and solar thermal systems installed in homes.  In 23 states,  homeowners with solar, wind or thermal energy generation systems can 1  take  advantage of net metering, whereby any excess electricity they produce is fed back into the larger grid, offsetting their electric bills accordingly (DSIRE 2003; Scheer 2001). Financing Green renovations also can be promoted through the use of financing.  Financing of  green renovations geared toward energy retrofitting is currently available through some utilities.  For instance, by partnering with the Citizens' Bank of Canada, the BC  Gas Homeworks program has a financing program that enables homeowners to do renovations that they would not otherwise be able to afford.  These financing  programs are quite successful in terms of encouraging a wide cross section of homeowners to do work. Green mortgages are another way in which homeowners can be encouraged to improve energy efficiency or their indoor environment (CMHC 2000).  A green mortgage,  sometimes referred to as an energy mortgage, allows the money saved in monthly utility bills to finance energy improvements. The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) anticipates that more energy mortgages will become available in the United States as education and information outreach increases (RESNET 2001).  In Canada,  CMHC is studying green mortgages and at least one study recommends that the federal government use its influence over the banking industry to encourage  financial  institutions to issue green mortgages (CMHC 2000).  92  5.3.5 Summary Figure 2 provides a summary of the options identified for overcoming barriers and increasing opportunities for homeowners who are inclined to renovate green.  Objective  Secondary Obstacles  Increase homeowner knowledge and access to information  Increase contractor availability and knowledge  Lower high cost  Method  -> Neighbours and friends -> Non-profit groups -> Internet-based groups -> ?  I—Labour shortage |—Information dissemination—> -Insufficient demand > -> —Contractor knowledge -f -> —Regulatory obstacles ->  ? Centralize demand Seminars and workshops Industry responsibility __>  Incentives Financing options  Remove regulatory obstacles Section 5.5 F i g u r e 2: A p p r o a c h 1 - R e m o v i n g B a r r i e r s f o r G r e e n H o m e o w n e r s  5.4  Approach 2 - Increasing the Appeal of Green Options  5.4.1 Reaching the Majority of Homeowners The previous section explored ways in which green renovations could become a more attractive alternative for homeowners who have a high sustainability ethic and who already are inclined to renovating green. However, many homeowners exist who have low motivation to renovate green or who are completely unaware of sustainability issues, particularly with respect to housing. Therefore, although the options discussed in the previous section are useful for all homeowners, a more fundamental challenge exists in a) informing a wider audience of the benefits of greening one's home, and b) providing them additional reasons to renovate green.  93  The challenge of educating people about environmental issues and then encouraging them to act upon their newly-acquired knowledge is not exclusive to the green renovation sector.  Getting the public to act more environmentally responsibly with  respect to specific issues (e.g. transit-use, recycling, etc.) has been the subject of much research, including that of community based social marketing.  This second  approach does not try to address this broad issue, rather i t focuses exclusively on the particulars of green renovations.  Options to address these homeowners include the  following: 1. Promote synergistic benefits. 2. Increase government roles. 3. Disseminate green building information.  5.4.2  Promote Synergistic Benefits  Opportunities exist to create greener homes while satisfying other needs such as cost savings and personal health.  For homeowners who are inclined to renovate without  consideration of the environment, underscoring these concurrent benefits may be useful for encouraging them to do green renovations. The value of emphasizing these benefits was confirmed by many interviewees who acknowledged that homeowners often are motivated by factors other than the environment when they select green options for the home. The downside to this approach is that it lessens the prominence of the environment in the homeowner's decision to renovate green and diminishes homeowner awareness of the link between housing and the environment. environmental  benefits,  then  the  reasoning  But if the goal is to effect actual behind  the  renovations  becomes  unimportant and savings and health become but another tool for increasing the sustainability of the home. Renovating Green for Savings Participants agreed that savings on utility bills are a good incentive for doing energy efficiency upgrades. Programs like the EnerGuide for Houses, Green Home Visits, and Homeworks (Terasen, formerly BC Gas) and Powersmart (BC Hydro) are popular for  94  this reason.  The selling feature of most of these programs, particularly that of the  utility and private company, is on the savings that can be accrued from increased energy efficiency in the home. Furthermore, these programs differ slightly from each other (including varying emphasis on the environment), and collectively reach a wide cross-section of homeowners. Lower utility bills are not the only savings that can be achieved through energy efficiency.  One study in the U.S. showed that for every $1 decrease in annual fuel  bill, there is a corresponding $20.73 increase in the selling price of the home.  The  implication for home buyers is that they can profit by investing in energy-efficient homes even if they do not know how long they might stay in their homes. Not only will they enjoy a reduction in monthly energy bills for as long as they live in their home, but they will also recover their investment in energy efficiency when they sell their homes (Nevin and Watson 1998).  This potential for higher resale price was  emphasized by one non-profit who noted that their Green Home Visit was popular with numerous local realtors who believed the energy audit and subsequent retrofits would increase the value of their homes. Another set of less well-known savings that can be derived from green renovations is that from using durable, long-lasting materials and products that do not need frequent maintenance or replacement. These savings are more abstract since the value of the more durable product is not readily apparent without comparison to a lesser-quality one. For instance, a linoleum floor in the kitchen costs more than an inexpensive vinyl one and i t remains in good condition and lasts much longer, but since vinyl floors still have a relatively long life, this value for money may not be readily appreciated. Renovating Green for Health Many individuals place comfort and health ahead of sustainability in the features they look for in a home, and these have been confirmed in various formal and informal surveys and studies (NAHB 2002; Urban Ecology Design Collaborative, et al. 2001, 39). Fortunately, many of the features that result in a healthy home (though not all) are also better for the environment than their non-healthy counterparts.  According to  several interviewees, advances in healthy housing products and techniques coupled with homeowners' increasing interest in living in healthier homes have resulted in  95  more sustainable housing and green renovations being undertaken than would have occurred due to concern for the environment alone. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has taken advantage of this opportune coincidence.  Despite the health-focused title of their publication Healthy  Housing  Renovation Planner, much of the advice presented and many of the features described are related to environmental responsibility.  Elements include items such as salvaging  materials during demolition, using ultra low-flow toilets, and installing high-efficiency furnaces. Having such guidelines in a planner whose title promotes healthy dwellings is indicative of how closely tied our individual health is to the health of the environment. Homeowners are generally willing to pay a premium in order to live in a healthier home, therefore healthy housing concerns may be an effective way for contractors to influence homeowners to select green alternatives when renovating their home. Convincing homeowners that an ultra low-flow toilet is a healthy option may be tricky, but persuading them of the merits of using solid wood instead of urea formaldehyde containing -particle board, or using low-VOC paint instead of vinyl and adhesive wallpaper may be simple.  5.4.3  Increase G o v e r n m e n t Roles  As seen in Chapter 3 and in the interviews, the different levels of government are important repositories of green building information.  Nonetheless, governments must  be more than repositories if they are to effectively enable positive environmental change due to green renovations. Their obligations should include the following (UNEP 1996): 1. Adopting regulations stipulating minimum levels of environmental performance. 2. Setting incentives for sustainable building practices. 3. Establishing programs to raise consumer awareness on the  environmental  performance of buildings and of the building industry, allowing consumers to make more informed decisions.  96  The residential green renovation sector  of green buildings,  however,  presents  numerous challenges when i t comes to fulfilling these obligations. This was reiterated by several interviewees who acknowledged that residential green renovations are the lowest priority in green building efforts, in terms of the building sector  (i.e.  residential versus government or institutional), as described in Table 9, and the nature of the building (renovated versus new), as described in Table 10.  New Green Buildings  Renovated Green Buildings  Fewer design constraints since starting from scratch.  Significant design constraints due to existing structure of building. Some building systems may not be modifiable and may negatively affect green renovations. Existing buildings can hide surprises not seen in building drawings. Efforts may only marginally improve green performance of building.  V e r s u s  Few standards exist for renovating buildings. These are difficult to create since each building is different  Integrated design ensures all green building systems work effectively together. Building design is known - there are no surprises. Green design can significantly improve green performance of building vis a vis 'standard' building. Green building standards and rating systems exist for new buildings.  Table 9: Renovated Versus New Buildings  Governmental/Institutional/ Commercial  Residential (Single Family) There is no established homeowner group that can influence all homeowners to build or renovate green homes. Single family houses are small and have less perceived environmental benefit.  V e r s u s  Government and institutional (and to some extent commercial) have more centralized decision-making and a single green building policy can affect many buildings. Buildings generally are larger, therefore there is greater perceived benefit.  A green single-family home has a lower profile.  A large government, institutional or commercial building has a higher profile.  The benefits and payback may not be always apparent due to the small scale of the building.  Payback can be significant - greater worker productivity, higher rents, lower operational costs, etc.  T a b l e 10:  Residential Single-Family Versus G o v e r n m e n t / l n s t i t u t i o n a l / C o m m e r c i a l  Buildings  97  Regardless of the reasons why residential green renovations do not have high priority with government agencies, there are ways in which they can enable green renovations in single family residences to occur. Adopting Regulations Rather than allow homeowners or contractors to make decisions that are decidedly unenvironmental, governments, to a certain degree, can take greater responsibility for what is and is not allowed. Two examples highlight the types of regulations that governments can set.  In the  first, the City of Vancouver and the Province of Ontario each have mandated ultra low-flow toilets with a maximum 6-litre flush. Other jurisdictions, however, have no such requirement, thus homeowners may continue to purchase higher-volume toilets. In the second, since drywall can be recycled for use in wallboard, drywall has been banned from landfills across British Columbia and must be brought to a recycling centre. These two examples demonstrate  how governments  regulatory mechanisms to promote green renovations.  could  apply  other  similar  The fact that only certain  jurisdictions implement the 6-litre toilet regulation indicates that governments must work to make these regulations more widespread.  Similarly, in the case of recycling  drywall, governments should investigate other materials that could be regulated into being recycled or salvaged. These types of regulations require that all homeowners, regardless  of their  environmental  renovations in a green manner.  awareness  or sustainability  ethic,  do their  Regulatory mechanisms may not always be the best  way to encourage sustainable behaviour, but they are useful for establishing baselines (e.g. minimum energy performance).  Ideally, regulations should be coupled with  other, more positive measures, such as incentives. Setting Incentives Governments are well-suited to implement incentive programs that encourage all homeowners to select green alternatives for the home. were given in subsection  Examples of these incentives  5.3.4, and are not discussed further here.  98  Establishing Programs Programs that encompass green renovations can inform homeowners of green building issues and can provide them with the information needed to make environmentallybased decisions. Governments either can be the creator and deliverer of the program, or can provide the funding to allow other well-suited organizations to do one or both of these roles. By allowing a variety of agencies and organizations to deliver different green renovation-related programs, the likelihood of addressing the different needs and levels of awareness of homeowners is maximized. Several of these programs are described in Chapter 3. Federally-based programs for home energy efficiency may increase in the near future as a result of Canada's recent ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. In its Climate Change Plan for Canada, the federal government states a goal of completing energy efficiency retrofits of 20 percent of housing by 2010 in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.5 megatonnes. This would be accomplished through cost-shared audits under the EnerGuide for Houses program, and financial incentives for retrofits (Government of Canada 2002). Given this commitment, i t is likely that programs for energy efficiency will be funded at several levels. As mentioned by some interview participants and as discussed in the previous section, non-profit organizations have considerable experience with home energy audit and retrofit programs, thus i t is worth looking at their relationships with governments. Members of the Green Communities Association (and similar non-profit organizations) are knowledgeable, accountable, and more importantly when i t comes to program design and implementation, they are community-based.  This allows them to be  responsive to the specific local needs of the community, enables them to use local people and resources for program delivery, and gives them the chance to educate and be one-on-one social marketers. Given their experience and their strengths, all levels of government - and particularly the federal government - should increase funding support of these non-profits.  Currently, a lack of core funding prevents these  organizations from being able to deliver their services continuously and effectively. A national program of home energy retrofits delivered at the local level is likely the most effective and cost efficient way of achieving the greatest number of homeowners doing the greatest amount of energy saving.  99  5.4.4  Disseminate Information by Setting Examples  As noted in the previous subsection, efforts in the green building sector generally are directed toward projects other than residential green renovations.  Fortunately, all  green building projects can provide information by example to homeowners who are unfamiliar with the environmental impact of buildings and the benefits of building green. There are two schools of thought regarding the educational role of green buildings. The first believes that the role of a green building simply is to function in a green manner by conserving energy, using sustainable materials, and so forth.  The other  believes that green buildings also serve an educational purpose and should "deliver a clear visual message about the need for environmental sustainability" (Dimson 1996). This analysis supports the second philosophy since people remain largely ignorant of the need for buildings that are more sustainably built.  One way to deliver green  building education is by continuing to build and, importantly, highlight green building efforts in the commercial, institutional and government sectors.  Presumably, as  people become exposed in their everyday lives to a variety of green buildings they will become more aware of the links between buildings and the environment, and also would experience and appreciate the merits of a green building. Some municipal and senior levels of government are already making commitments to build all of their new buildings to LEED standards, as are many institutions such as schools and hospitals.  Even the commercial sector is starting to go green, most  notably in British Columbia where the Vancouver Island Technology Park (VITP) was the first LEED Gold building (VITP 2001).  The VITP project also demonstrated how  information dissemination can occur during the development and design stages. Good communication between the developers and the neighbours of the VITP ensured good relations between the two and also allowed neighbours to learn about the green building features of the VITP (Van Belleghem 2002).  Given all of these benefits,  efforts to increase residential green renovations should not come at the expense of these other green projects. A significant mental leap, however, is required to go from seeing the significance of a 30-storey green building to the significance of a three-bedroom green bungalow. This 100  is perhaps where new construction of green homes plays a significant role. R2000 :  homes are becoming more common and a number already have been built in Greater Vancouver. Although the emphasis is on energy efficiency, R-2000 also incorporates many other green options.  The marketing of R-2000 homes again increases the  prominence of green homes in the public consciousness. Furthermore, it exposes the trades and labourers who work for the R-2000-certified renovator to green products and techniques.  5.4.5 Summary This section presented options for making green renovations more attractive to homeowners who are currently not inclined to renovate green, and are summarized in Figure 3 .  Objective Promote synergistic benefits Increase government roles Disseminate information  Method > Savings -> Health -> Adopt regulations -> Set incentives Establish programs > Other green buildings  F i g u r e 3: A p p r o a c h 2 - I n c r e a s i n g t h e A p p e a l o f G r e e n O p t i o n s  5.5  Approach 3 - Pushing the Green Building Envelope  5.5.1  Increasing Green Options  As discussed in Chapter 2, the term 'green home' has widely different meanings for different people. For this research, 'greening one's home' is construed narrowly and signifies actions that make the home's construction, materials and functions less environmentally damaging than their standard counterparts - but even this has a wide range of interpretation. Strictly speaking, the simple act of replacing standard light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones can constitute greening one's home. For some, however, greening their home means taking every measure possible to minimize their dwelling's environmental impact: the low water consumption of the ultra-low flow 101  toilet is not low enough; the high-efficiency furnace still uses too much energy; and the hardwood floor may not be old-growth, but i t is still made of virgin wood. Finding the green solution to these challenges can be difficult even for the homeowner who is willing to do the extra research and spend a little extra money. This approach explores the regulatory obstacles to using materials, products and techniques that are on the cutting edge of technology and/or have not yet entered the mainstream. All categories of interviewees noted that codes and regulations can restrict a homeowner's or contractor's ability to do some green renovations.  These obstacles  include the following: 1. Codes, bylaws and other regulations that prevent green alternatives; 2. Codes and regulations that are difficult for homeowners to understand; 3. Hesitation regarding innovative products and techniques; and 4. Code interpretations that are inconsistent. Many of the barriers listed above are explored in Cutting Green Tape, a draft report produced in April 2002 by the Vancouver-based West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL), in which regulatory obstacles to green buildings are identified and an action plan to overcome them and promote green practices is proposed.  Cutting Green Tape deals  with issues that encompass much more than home renovations. This analysis does not include  a comprehensive  review  of  Cutting  Green  Tape,  but  does  highlight  recommendations relevant to green home renovations, where applicable.  5.5.2  Enable Changes in Codes, Bylaws and Other Regulations  The perceived restrictions imposed by building codes and other regulations are a point of contention for both homeowners and contractors.  Many interviewees believe that  some regulations do not reflect recent developments in materials, products and construction techniques.  Municipal and other regulatory officials may disagree,  arguing that building codes do nothing specifically to hamper the implementation of green alternatives - as long as the final result meets with the code requirements, then any green product or technique is acceptable. 102  Regardless of the reasons, the point is that homeowners encounter such regulatory obstacles - whether solar panels are forbidden due to zoning regulations, or greywater recycling systems are prohibited due health regulations - and opportunities may exist to review and amend some of these regulations that restrict the use of innovative technologies in home renovations.  Recommendations from Cutting Green Tape that  would impinge on green options for the home include the following: •  Create Smart Bylaws Guidebook - This would address barriers resulting from municipal bylaws (such as the solar panel example, above).  A guidebook  written by WCEL for local governments will review green issues and provide solutions to facilitate reforms to encourage sustainable practices (WCEL 2002, 12). •  Address Building Code, Plumbing Code, Energy Code and Related Barriers Specific changes to the codes that would accommodate green buildings while still maintaining public safety needs should be investigated. Recommendations for buildings, plumbing and energy code revisions are presented. Research also should be done on a 'Rehabilitation Code' to specifically address building restoration (especially of heritage buildings) (WCEL 2002, 46).  •  Address Health Act Barriers - The Sewage Disposal Regulation, created under the Health Act, currently does not distinguish between greywater and black water.  Amending the Sewage Disposal Regulation such that it separately  defines grey and black water and sets different standards for the two is recommended (WCEL 2002, 52). Further pressure to amend codes and bylaws should come from homeowners, building associations, developers and contractors.  The non-profit organization Affordability  and Choice Today (ACT) may provide an excellent source for such pressure. ACT helps speed up the process for changing restrictive codes and bylaws.  Although much  broader in scope than home renovations, ACT's issue areas are well aligned with the needs of green renovations. Their work includes removing regulations that no longer make sense, promoting new technologies and designs, making processes more straightforward, and making approvals simpler and faster (ACT 2001). ACT provides grants for projects undertaken by other organizations. A non-profit that focuses on green home renovations or a green homeowner network potentially could take advantage of this 103  funding source and use i t to conduct research to help eliminate some of these restrictions.  5.5.3  Provide Means for  Making  Regulations  Easier  for  Homeowners  to  Understand Interpreting regulations can be a significant challenge, even for the most intrepid homeowner who is trying to do renovations without the guidance of a professional renovator.  Making the code more 'digestible' for those who are not  building  professionals may not be a priority for municipalities, but one possible solution may again lie in the collective knowledge of a network of green homeowner/renovators. Those with experience may be able to help those who are inexperienced in this field. Once again, a homeowner group or network could help facilitate information transfer.  5.5.4  Lessen Apprehension About Innovative Products and Techniques  As noted by several interviewees, since the leaky building issue in British Columbia, municipalities, the Province and building inspectors have become more apprehensive about  approving  unknown  materials  or  products.  Local  governments  are  understandably risk-averse when i t comes to green innovation as they can be found liable when a system fails. This means that they are much more hesitant to approve new green products. With respect to home renovations, Cutting Green Tape addresses the issue of liability in two ways: •  Examine Liability Issues - Protecting municipalities from risk effectively places higher risk on the homeowners who would bear the consequences if a green innovation failed. Reducing liability also could lead to a lower standard of care by inspection officials. the  participation  of  The province should investigate liability reform with stakeholders,  and  should  carefully  consider  public  considerations before any amendments are made (WCEL 2002, 35). •  Seek Ways to Underwrite and Insure Against Risk - British Columbia should investigate ways to underwrite the risk of failure of demonstration projects that are in the public interest (WCEL 2002, 38).  104  Apprehension about the use of green innovations may be reduced with more comprehensive testing of materials and products.  The Canadian Construction  Materials Centre (CCMC) currently tests materials for compliance with code requirements.  Generally if a material or product is approved by the CCMC, it is  approved municipally (at least in the City of Vancouver).  Unfortunately, it is not  possible to test all materials. Should the CCMC be able to expand its operations and test more green products, then confidence in their use, and a minimization of risk associated with their use, could develop in municipalities. 5.5.5 Make Code Interpretations Consistent If the building code does not address a green innovation sought by a homeowner or contractor, they must seek approval for an 'equivalency' from inspectors who may be unfamiliar with the proposed solution or may not possess information on its efficacy. A few interviewees noted that inspectors can lack consistency in their evaluations of green innovations. As one municipal official noted, building inspectors come from a variety of backgrounds, and may not possess expertise in the particular area in which a green product is being used. Training, courses and facilitating better communication between inspectors and building code staff can be done, but this is one of the perennial problems with inspectors.  Raising the green awareness of building  inspectors is addressed in Cutting Green Tape: •  Implement  Programs for  Building Inspectors:  Demonstration  Projects,  Professional Development, and Innovative Practice Testing - Increasing the awareness of and access to information on green buildings is important. This could be done by having a professional development program that could include topics such as green building certification, green practices, and tours of leading-edge green buildings in B.C.; demonstrating performance, safety and economics of innovative practices by highlighting successful green buildings; and providing more opportunities to share and conduct innovative practice testing using a web-based clearinghouse of green building technology and materials.  Also included are establishing networks among local governments  to share testing and other green practice experience (WCEL 2002, 30).  105  5.5.6  Summary  This third approach to overcoming the barriers to green home renovations addressed the  regulatory  barriers  that  make  some  green  options  inaccessible,  and  are  summarized in Figure 4.  Objective  Method > Smart bylaws guidebook - > Address regulations  Enable changes in codes  Address Health Act Make codes easier to interpret Lessen apprehension about liability  ^ > I I  Make inspector decisions consistent  u~™™>.„™-  , „  Homeowner groups  > Examine liability issues > Insure against risk ^  Programs for building inspectors  F i g u r e 4: A p p r o a c h 3 - P u s h i n g t h e G r e e n B u i l d i n g E n v e l o p e  5.6  Summary  This chapter presented approaches that could be used to encourage green home renovations amongst a broad cross-section of homeowners.  The key points are  summarized below: •  The extent to which a homeowner will renovate in a green manner depends on numerous factors including the level of homeowner awareness about green renovations, the scale of the renovation to be undertaken, and the availability of different green materials and products.  •  A single approach to overcoming green renovation obstacles is not suitable for every homeowner's set of circumstances.  •  Three approaches to overcoming barriers to green renovations are presented. Collectively, they address many different homeowners and renovation options.  •  The first approach addresses homeowners who are already inclined to renovate in a green manner and who are doing small to mid-size renovation using green products that are subject to few, if any, regulatory restrictions.  The second  106  approach seeks to provide additional incentive for homeowners who are not inclined to renovate green.  The third approach is based on improving the  availability of green materials, products and techniques that currently are prohibited or limited due to regulatory restrictions. These are summarized in Figure 5. Secondary Obstacles  Objectives Increase homeowner knowledge and access to information  ai 'E jo on  c >  £ O > Q»  Ii *? • Ol 01 u (0 O t_ CL CL < T -  1  on  -  U CL  (0 <  2 ai Disseminate CL « information <  0) ai  Q.  ~  o  .£ >  -C c l/> LU £ op I  'I—  £ 3 <J OQ (0 _ O i l 0) CL Ol CL >c  Internet-based groups  I— Labour shortage — -> ? - Information dissemination ? Increase contractor - Insufficient demand > Centralize demand availability and — i - , r - ^ . Seminars and workshops knowledge • Contractor knowledge - p ^ , , , L - > Industry responsibility — Regulatory obstacles ~> Incentives Lower high cost -> Financing options Remove regulatory obstacles  £ c Promote synergistic^ benefits b o 7 ° Increase government SZ CL roles  -C  Method -> Neighbours and friends -> Non-profit groups  Enable changes in codes Make codes easier to interpret Lessen apprehension about liability Make inspector decisions consistent  -> Savings -> Health Adopt regulations -> Set incentives -> Establish programs -> Other green buildings  -> Smart bylaws guidebook <—j •> Address regulations < j -> Address Health Act < j -> Homeowner groups -> Examine liability issues < -> Insure against risk <^ Programs for building ^ inspectors  F i g u r e 5: S u m m a r y o f A p p r o a c h e s f o r P r o m o t i n g G r e e n R e n o v a t i o n s  107  j j j  Chapter 6 - Planning Implications and Conclusions 6.1  Introduction  This chapter presents a brief discussion of the planning implications resulting from the main elements presented in Chapter 5. The thesis ends with a discussion of some final thoughts regarding the research process.  6.2  Planning Implications  The analysis in Chapter 5 presented several elements that, collectively, would encourage the adoption of green renovations by a broad cross-section of homeowners. These are summarized as follows: Element 1 - Create Local Homeowner Groups: A community-based approach takes advantage of the interest that people have in their neighbours' renovation projects. Given the lack of proximity between green renovating homeowners, the creation of a local homeowners' group could be facilitated by means of non-profit organizations and/or the Internet. Achieving this could •  increase homeowner knowledge and access to information;  •  centralize demand for green renovations, thereby showing contractors that homeowners can support those in the industry who have green knowledge; and  •  enable homeowners to share knowledge about codes and bylaws, and the regulatory constraints of some green options.  Element 2 - Increase the Promotion of Synergistic Benefits:  Homeowners are  increasingly placing health (influenced by good indoor air quality) and savings (due to energy efficiency) high on the list of features they want for their home. Governments, non-profits, for-profits and contractors should consider further promoting healthy housing principals and expanding programs that encourage energy retrofitting with the objective of reaching these homeowners. Much research has been done and many programs exist regarding indoor air quality and energy efficiency, thus there already exists a sound foundation on which to further promote these features during home renovations. 108  Element 3 - Strengthen Government Roles: Strengthening government roles not only provides more direct opportunities for homeowners to undertake green renovations, but it also sends a message to the public that greening the existing housing stock - and therefore reducing the environmental impact of housing - is an important goal for us all.  All levels of governments can encourage homeowners to undertake green  renovations by doing the following, amongst other actions: •  providing core funding to non-profits that conduct green home visits;  •  continuing to do research into green technologies for the home, and disseminate information on energy efficiency and improved indoor air quality to homeowners;  •  addressing regulatory obstacles;  •  conducting rebate programs, particularly with respect to energy efficiency and water conservation; and  •  raising public awareness of green buildings in general.  Element 4 - Increase Home Builder Association and Industry Responsibility: Many industries are adopting practices that are more environmentally responsible. The building industry must strive to do the same. Industry support for green materials, products and construction techniques will encourage contractors to adopt green techniques (and, hopefully, homeowners as well).  Official homebuilder association  support for green practices could go far to encourage contractors to go green.  Element 5 - Remove Regulatory and Bureaucratic Obstacles:  The issue of  regulations that make it difficult to incorporate innovative features is being looked at by the building industry as a whole. As regulatory barriers to green options continue to be addressed, a trickle-down effect hopefully will occur, resulting in fewer restriction for green home renovations.  Element 6 - Increase Contractor Availability and Information Dissemination: The residential construction industry is experiencing a labour shortage which, in addition to many other problems, is affecting the uptake of green materials, products and construction techniques during renovations.  This issue should continue to be  addressed. i  109  Element 7 - Work Towards Progressive Incentives and Financing:  Progressive  incentives and financing options that encourage environmentally-friendly choices are being researched and promoted by governments as well as other organizations.  As  these begin to be implemented, homeowners will hopefully have the opportunity to take advantage of them to undertake green home renovations. These elements cover many sectors and range from small-scale local actions to large scale federal initiatives.  Although each one is valuable for the realization of  widespread green renovations, further research is needed to determine where the different stakeholders could focus their efforts to get results most effectively.  In the  meantime, planning for green renovations can be undertaken by any individual or organization willing to work towards one or more of these goals.  Co-operation  amongst different stakeholders (as represented by the interviewees) would likely result in better coordinated and efficiently-delivered action, but this should not hinder homeowners, non-profits, utilities, local governments or any other entity from working toward a greener housing stock. Improving the environmental performance of existing housing may not address many of the elements of sustainable buildings characterized by the competing green logics suggested by Guy and Farmer and presented in Chapter 2.  Nonetheless, considering  the large effect that such improvements would have, a collective effort to green our homes would bring us one step closer to living within Earth's ecological limits, and hopefully to achieving sustainability. At an individual level, renovating green reminds us of how our most personal physical surroundings - our homes - are intimately connected to the environment.  It may perhaps also make us a little more keenly  aware of the environmental consequences of some of our other lifestyle choices, encouraging us to tread more lightly on the planet.  More broadly, by collectively  working towards greening the homes in our neighbourhoods, we take steps to creating healthier, more sustainable communities.  Globally, greening the housing stock can  achieve substantial environmental improvements, reducing the demand for energy and water, diminishing the use of non-renewable or fragile resources, and minimizing the generation of pollution.  110  Final Reflections  6.3  Homeowner green renovations are still in their infancy.  This thesis provides an  exploratory review of the technical and 'people' issues that homeowners, contractors, non-profits, for-profits and government agencies must deal with when choosing or supporting green home renovations. Additional research could be done to create a more comprehensive study on the green renovation process.  Most notably, interviewing additional categories of participants  would enrich the residential green renovation story considerably. The most important would be •  homeowners who had not done green renovations;  •  contractors who were not knowledgeable about green options; and  •  manufacturers or distributors of green products.  The perspective of the for-profit sector was gleaned from one interviewee. Since forprofit business currently contributes significantly to the green renovation process, more research and analysis should be done on their role. Community-based approaches will likely play an important role in expanding the adoption of green renovations.  Therefore, in future research I would consider  exploring in greater detail the community-based aspect of enabling green renovations, leaving aside some of the other approaches.  6.3.1  Keeping Up W i t h t h e J o n e s ' - The Sequel  This thesis began with a story about the Jones' who had decided to renovate their home in a green manner.  Since the environmental performance of a home can be  improved in so many ways, those of us who want to keep up with the Jones' can be overwhelmed by all of the options. Where does a person start? I leave the last word to an interview participant who nicely sums up how we are all able to make a difference:  111  It's when people decide "it's time to change my flooring". It's those big purchases that make the difference. To decide instead of going to a vinyl floor in your kitchen you go to a hard surface with a heavy mass... They may be a little bit more money but they're much more durable.  You put down a tile  floor and it'll last forever. 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Oxford: Oxford University Press.  118  Appendix A - Web Resources Architects/Designers/Contractors Ecodesign BC - P r a c t i t i o n e r s : Harald Koehn Construction:  resource Rethinking Building: Richard Kadulski, Architect: TQ Construction:  Wisa Healthy Home:  Energy Audits B u i l d i n g I n s i g h t T e c h n o l o g i e s I n c . : EnerGuide f o r Houses: T e r a s e n ( f o r m e r l y BC Gas) - H o m e w o r f c s :  Energy Efficiency BC H y d r o - P o w e r S m a r t : EnerGuide: ( N a t u r a l R e s o u r c e s C a n a d a ) :  Energy Star:  R-2000 R-2000  (Canadian Home Builders' Association):  Financing Options and Incentives Database o f State Incentives f o r Renewable Energy: (U.S.)  T e r a s e n ( f o r m e r l y BC Gas) - H o m e w o r k s :  General E n v i r o n m e n t a l C h o i c e P r o g r a m : Greater Vancouver Home Builders' Association - Renovation Tips Links:  G r e a t e r V a n c o u v e r R e g i o n a l D i s t r i c t - Look for the Loop a n d 101 Things To Do With All  Your Old Stuff:  119  Healthy Homes Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation - Healthy Housing and Sustainability: Canada Mortgage and Housing C o r p o r a t i o n - Healthy Housing Fact Sheets: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation - Moisture and Mold:  Home Improvement and Household Products Canadian Eco-Lumber Co-op: E c o d e s i g n BC - B u i l d i n g P r o d u c t s : w w w . e c o d e s i g n . b c . c a / p r o d u c t s . h t m Energy A l t e r n a t i v e s : Environmental Home Center: Home Depot - Environmental Responsibility: TerraChoice - E n v i r o n m e n t a l Choice Program (EcoLogo):  Material Recycling GVRD G a r b a g e ft R e c y l c i n g - J o b s i t e R e c y c l i n g : R e c y c l i n g C o u n c i l o f BC - RCBC M a t e r i a l s E x c h a n g e : w w w . rcbc. b c . c a / resource/matexf rame. h t m  Miscellaneous Canadian Cohousing N e t w o r k :  Non-Profit Organizations City Green in Victoria: Green Communities Association: Green Communities Nanaimo: Salmon A r m Green C o m m u n i t y :  Renewable Energy Energy Alternatives:  Renovations Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation - Building, Renovating and Maintaining: Canadian Home Builders' Association - Renovating Your Home: Greater Vancouver Home Builders' Association - Renovation Tips:  Water Conservation Canada Mortgage and Housing C o r p o r a t i o n : W a t e r Conservation: .cfm C i t y o f V a n c o u v e r Rain B a r r e l P r o g r a m : City o f Vancouver Roof Leader Disconnection Pilot P r o j e c t : E n v i r o n m e n t Canada - Individual action - conserving w a t e r in t h e h o m e , c o m m u n i t y and at work: R o c k y M o u n t a i n I n s t i t u t e : Household W a t e r E f f i c i e n c y : w w w . r m i . o r g / s i t e p a g e s / p i d 1 2 3 . p h p  121  


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