Homeowners may be thinking about the earth’s future when choosing to go green, but incentives for the self-interested consumer are a growing part of the picture, industry experts say.

Ron Lemaire, spokesman for the Canada Green Building Council, says according to a Nielsen survey conducted this year, 82 per cent of Canadians said they would invest more for a green-certified home. A major factor is perceived value, he said.

“The whole building market is facing challenges, but green building has not faced the same impact,” he said.

There are also green “collateral benefits” for households, according to Lemaire, including cost-saving efficiencies through energy conservation and improved health and safety.

Federal incentive programs are encouraging homeowners to think green, but more could be done at municipal and provincial levels, Lemaire said.

The B.C. government wrapped up the popular LiveSmart B.C. program in mid-August, 21 months before it was supposed to end.

The program — in which homeowners conducted energy audits and received breaks on approved energy-saving home improvements — reached its three-year target of 40,000 home assessments in 15 months, using up $60 million allocated for the fund.

Blair Lekstrom, B.C. Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, said the government hopes to bring LiveSmart back when the economic situation improves.

“The success of LiveSmart B.C. was tremendous, but the harsh reality today is the economics are very difficult,” he said.

Here are some of the green incentives currently available to B.C. homeowners:

– The federal Home Renovation Tax Credit applies to eligible home renovation expenditures for work performed, or goods acquired, before Feb. 1, 2010. A maximum tax credit of $1,350 can be claimed when filing 2009 tax returns.

– Canada’s ecoENERGY Retrofit allows homeowners to get an energy evaluation and receive a grant for recommended energy-efficiency improvements. The average grant is expected to be more than $1,000, with upgrades expected to result in a 30-per-cent reduction in energy use and costs.

– Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation offers a 10-per-cent loan insurance refund for home purchase and construction, when a house meets energy rating requirements.

– Certain home renovation and solar-energy materials are exempt from B.C.’s PST, such as insulation materials, storm windows, storm doors, weather stripping, caulking material, window insulating systems.

– Under the Sunshine Coast Bathroom Fixture Replacement Program, eligible residents can receive a free dual-flush toilet and flow-reduction faucets when they remove two large toilets from their house. Value is up to $500.

– City of Vancouver residents can purchase a backyard composter for half-price, at $25.

B.C.’s favourite fixes

These are the most popular improvements completed in the LiveSmart B.C. program to date, according to the provincial government.

Improvements by type (%)

– Basement insulation: 23

– Attic insulation: 28

– Walls insulation: 13

– Draftproof: 87

– Space Heating: 64

– Windows and Doors: 33

-The Province
Oct. 5, 2009

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