Posting in Energy
As the Swiss move to certify and catalog energy efficiency status of the nation's buildings, other countries watch progress
Everyone who has bought or sold a home has been subjected to all the requisite inspections that go along with the transaction – from termites to asbestos to radon.
A new government program in Switzerland, made possible through an application developed jointly with IT services company Keane, has me wondering how long it will be before you and I will be required to get some sort of green building inspection as part of the home selling or buying process. In short, will we eventually have to pay for energy certificates that rate the energy usage or insulation of our homes? Will local governments start basing tax formulas not just on size but on efficiency?
The Swiss government has developed a Web-based software application with Keane to do just that: catalog different data points about a home or building in order to gauge its energy efficiency and recommend ways that efficiency might be improved. The application, was developed by Keane in conjunction with the Swiss Federal Office of Energy and the Conference of the Energy Directors of the Cantons.
Christopher Berger, general manager of continental Europe for Keane, says while many European countries are studying similar programs the Swiss approach appears to be the most detailed to date. Keane was responsible for developing the interface to the application, which works in conjunction with a questionnaire (about 18 or 20 pages long) that can be used by professional engineers to collect information about a given building. The results are generated in the form of an energy certification.
There is a fee associated with the process of getting an energy certificate, although the launch phase is being subsidized to encourage Swiss citizens to get on board, Berger says. There were 15,000 orders placed for the certification process during the first three days, he says. During the first five months, 20,000 certifications were completed.
The certification is not mandatory, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future -- in Switzerland or anywhere else in the world, for that matter.
The Swiss government is using the information from the certificates to create a database that can be used for reference in the future, so, but subjecting themselves to the certification, building owners are making their data public. The overriding agenda of the Swiss government, according to Keane, was to help reduce utility bills for its citizens. (There are about 7 million people in the country.) There are also potential commercial benefits. Organizations such as the MINERGIE Agency have embraced the certifications as a way to study sustainability and energy efficiency expectations for new versus refurbished buildings.
Apr 14, 2010
Wow, It is amazing how much the lack of knowledge and understanding fester into distrust and anger. I am a certified energy auditor. I personally don't agree with the government requiring that energy audits be done, but after 10 years as a professional inspector I can certainly understand why. A few notes: 1. Using this topic as a fuel for invasion of privacy issues is ignorant and paranoid. 2. Because our electric grids are so out of date, 50% of the energy created in this country never reaches the end user. (why not fix the grid?) 3. Making more homes energy efficient means we need to use and thus need to produce less energy. 4. Once the audits are done, none of the programs REQUIRE that the improvements are made. 5 YES!!!! There should be incentives and rebates for homeowners to have these audits and/or improvements done. 6. Creating these programs creates jobs. There has to be people to actually perform the audits and improvements. Sure beats bailing out multi-billion dollar corporations.
Mandatory or not, energy saving programs will surely benefit all of us. Green-oriented sites such as http://www.TintBuyer.com are also doing their share in helping people on energy conservation with the use of window tints. They discuss how window tints can be labeled as one of the most effective ways to conserve energy consumption, in our home, office or car, it is a practical way to save money from energy bills while caring for the environment.
DadsPad - the problem is that most of the politicians pushing these programs only know the "whip & chair" method.
In other words, sugar works a lot better than a whip. At least, in the USA, we have elections. Politicians know that home invasions (as many would consider this) would be unpopular and might end political carrers. Look at the attention the Tea Party is getting. Does not matter if you agree with them or not, the amount of people draws attention to their wants.
Boulder is about to send city inspectors around to each home and "offer" to do an in-home inspection for energy conservation. If any repairs or upgrades are needed, they will then refer you to a city-approved contractor to do the work (at your expense). While the inspection and work are not mandatory, city leaders have been making implicit threats that it will be if not enough homeowners take up this generous "offer" to help the city reach its Kyoto goals. The inspection program is being financed by a special tax on residents. Another program about to be enacted would force mandatory green upgrades of several thousand dollars for all rental properties (about half the city is rental because of the university). The city is not quite ready to force the issue on homeowners because even here in Boulder they would face a firestorm.
Posts #1 and #6 make some very good points. What will happen if the government decides that your 150 year old Civil War vintage home doesn't meet the new energy codes? What options will you have to save a piece of history?
* Fourth Amendment ? Protection from unreasonable search and seizure. "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated...", and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause..." --except if the Green mob demands otherwise, right?
I don't like the idea of it being mandated by the government, but if consumers start to demand some efficiency rating data when they buy houses, nothing wrong with that. I can also see the point that if the government tied tax rates to efficiency ratings it would be quite an incentive to improve them. Maybe just offer the carrot without a stick... pay standard taxes if you don't have any rating at all, but you have a chance to reduce your taxes if you get one.
This sounds like a way to get good information before buying a house. For the post sale market, this would help people take steps to make the house more efficient. The point that seems to stop everyone is the word "mandatory". The idea is to save lots of money on national energy use and help individuals and families save money. I think it should be voluntary to have an energy inspection; but, it would also be a good idea to know how much money the house will cost in terms of energy before buying that house.
It is coming here and all of us would be wise to fight it tooth and nail. I'm all for better regulations on new construction but to expect people to retrofit their home before they can sell it is ridiculous. Gee, I've been laid off so now I have to sell my home before I lose it. Oh wait, I can't sell it until I sink thousands into it that I don't have. Gee force me into bankruptcy and having to beg fro scraps from the government. NO THANK YOU!!!!
The province of Ontario in Canada passed legislation(Green Act 2009) making home energy audits mandatory to sell a house (new houses are not included). Now there is NO current enforcement of it due to the complete lack of regulations surrounding it. So for the mean time, Ontario does not have to worry about the $150-300 added cost to selling a home. FYI, in Canada energy auditors are regulated by the government.
No matter how you cut it, anytime any branch of government working alone or in conjunction with a company, is allowed to enter your home (in this case under the guise of energy efficiency) you sacrifice your right to privacy. Not only that, such "energy inspectors" can lead to a new version of corruption and payouts under the table. What is not addressed is what happens to those of us who refuse to have any inspection? My experience with governmental entities is that they do not work in the best interest of "We the people" but the best interest of themselves. Examples abound over the last 50 years. You can visit my website to see some of the problems I have discovered in fighting corruption in one of the most corrupt cities (Chicago) and corrupt states (Illinois). Visit http://www.waynestrnad.info. Enjoy your day, week, month and year. Wayne Strnad