Radium Hot Springs encouraged to ‘go green’

There are some innovative ideas being pitched to reduce carbon emissions in East Kootenay municipalities this winter.

There are some innovative ideas being pitched to reduce carbon emissions in East Kootenay municipalities this winter.

Megan Lohmann, the head of energy management at the Community Energy Association, presented Radium council with information about branding the Radium Hot Springs area as “green” at the regular Wednesday, December 16th meeting.

The Community Energy Association is eager to help the East Kootenay region develop the characteristics to become an energy efficient region that attracts both residents and visitors.

“The key component that we’re looking at is education and awareness for builders, contractors and building inspectors around, specifically, the energy efficiency component of the BC Building Code,” said Lohmann. “There have been some pretty significant changes in the code, specifically around air tightness of new builds and ventilation, but there’s a bit of an information gap between the BC Building Code and the builders and even building inspectors in some cases — primarily because there aren’t many training opportunities that come out, from the Interior to the Kootenays.”

As a result, Lohmann recently went to Vancouver to attend a conference to get more information about the changes to the provincial building code. She is hoping to offer an informational workshop to builders and building inspectors, as well as to local government staff, in the Columbia Valley in March to help close the gap of information around the changing requirements.

“I’ll be looking at designing a sustainability or energy efficiency checklist,” she added, noting there may be some incentives attached to the document such as building permit rebates in some communities, “or a guide that could be attached to a building permit application process so that there’s information available for the builders during this process. We do want to be encouraging or, at least, be offering encouraging information for builders to be making decisions on improving the energy performance of homes.”

She believes that building a property in the area can leave a lasting legacy for the next generation if it is completed in a way that is energy efficient from the start.

In addition, Lohmann will also be developing a resource package for builders and people who will be undertaking the task of completing a renovation over the next few months to help address new components of building.

“I’ll be looking at doing some best practice reviews and ways that make sense for some of the smaller communities to provide incentives,” she explained. “On the commercial building side, there will be a portfolio manager tool that’s provided through Natural Resources of Canada, which is essentially a free energy inventory tool that allows business owners to create an account, offload energy information and identify where some efficiencies could be possible for each individual’s building. It also compares you to similarly sized buildings in Canada, corrects your energy consumption according to local climate data — it’s just another tool to manage energy information and, in that, ways to reduce their consumption.”

She also discussed the possibility of installing an electric car charger to help drive tourism to the Radium Hot Springs. She described three options for the municipality to explore, ranging from level one to level three chargers. Lohmann added there is no shortage of ways to “go green” and she hopes to help the village develop a blueprint to boost these initiatives locally.

Council accepted the information and planned to conduct research about her suggestions in the future.

For more information about Lohmann and her team’s projects, visit www.communityenergy.bc.ca.

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