The Ontario government, in hopes of converting the province from an auto-industry driven economy to a green-energy driven economy with its groundbreaking Green Energy Act ( http://www.greenenergyact.ca/ ), may soon rival California as North America's "greenest" area.
"With this initiative, Ontario is on track to become a leader in the global shift to clean energy and in preventing dangerous climate change," said Mark Lutes, climate change and energy policy analyst for the David Suzuki Foundation.
However, an interesting tidbit tucked neatly into the legislation aims to make energy audits a mandatory step before someone can sell their home. And this has caused quite a stir in the real estate circles.
In a press release sent out by the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), Bob McLean, director of communications, stated: "Ontario REALTORS® agree with the principle of energy efficiency for homes expressed in the Government of Ontario's proposed mandatory home energy audit, but they say that the additional costs will hurt homeowners, especially in these economic times.
"This mandatory government regulation will impose a significant cost on home sellers. As with most Canadians, we don't believe in green at any cost," said Gerry Weir, President of OREA "It's not the initial cost of these audits that concerns us," he said. "Rather, the results of these audits will be used by home buyers as bargaining chips to significantly reduce the final selling price.
"Today's economic downturn is a terrible time to introduce this measure. Home sellers are already worried about lost equity in their homes. A move like this, which will reduce their value even further, will not help them in any way," Mr. Weir said.
REALTORS® favour government encouragement of energy efficiency in homes through expanded tax breaks and other measures.
In addition, REALTORS® point out that there is no one standard for energy audits. Different firms arrive at different assessments of the same house. "EnerGuide ratings of an existing home can and do vary between energy auditors, depending on the assumptions they make and the extent of data they collect on the building's actual construction," Mr. Weir said.
Furthermore, since there is no regulation of energy auditors, a conflict of interest can arise if a contractor conducts the audit. There is a natural inclination for that contractor to find problems that he can offer to repair for the homeowner.
Many details of the energy audit proposal have not been released. For instance, the government has not said if an energy audit will be required if a property is transferred between family members. Nor have they said how long an energy audit will be recognized as valid. For example, if a homeowner sells within one year of buying a property, will the previous energy audit be recognized?"
--Interesting points, but I think we've got to start leading the way toward more energy efficient homes and this seems to be a step in the right direction. I welcome the opportunity to help guide my buyer clients through the maze of greenwashed homes by having a "window sticker" to look at in the form of an energy audit.
And I look forward to assisting my sellers in finding a reputable energy auditor, by helping explain what changes they can make to their home in order to make it more energy efficient and therefore attractive to a potential buyer. Bring on the Green Energy Act!
"People don't resist change. They resist being changed!" ~Peter M. Senge~