Better Homes Start with Knowledge
Updated: Jun 30, 2022
Change is on the horizon for Canada’s construction industry. With buildings and homes contributing to 17% of our country’s greenhouse gas emissions, the construction industry will have a big role to play in reaching the country’s net zero emissions goals. And while Canada’s housing goals to reach Net Zero Ready by 2030 and Net Zero by 2050 may seem far off, they are closer than we realize. Are builders and consumers ready for this monumental shift and the impacts that each group will face? We recently chatted with the Owner and Principal of New View Designs, Laurie Cole, to get her thoughts.
“Well, we aren’t there yet,” she stated with a bit of a chuckle. “People want beautiful, comfortable homes but they don’t see the value in energy efficiency as a part of that. They hear a lot of buzzwords, so they are interested, but they aren’t there in terms of truly understanding. It’s a matter of educating themselves.
Even for builders, the information can be confusing. The criteria are always changing as technology evolves. Many builders aren’t really interested in gaining knowledge to build to those higher standards because public demand for energy efficient homes isn’t that high. Maybe once the demand increases, we’ll see more builders jump on board, but right now, it’s not the norm.”
Laurie is among the province’s top builders who made energy efficiency a priority long before the net zero emission goals came into play. When her solo, award-winning design business morphed into a collaborative construction business with her husband in 2010, energy efficiency was already at the forefront.
“My husband, who passed away in 2019, was very passionate about energy efficiency so it was a big deal to us right from the beginning. We’ve always strived for excellence, to be better builders in every sense. Choosing to build energy efficient homes is about a pride of product and building something to be the best it can be.”
In fact, Laurie recently took home three awards for her outstanding bathroom and kitchen designs. When asked how energy efficiency factored into her work, she remarked, “Kitchens and bathrooms are busy rooms of the home, so energy efficiency is important – appliances, lighting, low flow toilets, showerheads and other plumbing fixtures, they all play a big part in making those spaces more energy efficient.”
Whether it’s renovating your current home or building the home of your dreams, it’s clear how energy efficient choices can impact the final product. So, what’s holding customers back from making those more environmentally friendly choices?
“We receive a lot of interest, a lot of inquiries, but the cost scares customers away,” she admitted.
Laurie estimated that sticker shock accounted for about 80% of the drop-off she noticed in customers who planned on going the energy efficient route only to decide against it later.
There are lots of different ways to conserve energy within your home, but for it to make a noticeable difference on your bills, you’re going to have to go to at least R-2000 standards, and what that means for your final budget all comes down to what you need to do to your home to bring it up to those standards.”
It was then that the conversation quickly circled back to a very important point Laurie touched on earlier, one that’s crucial in making Net Zero housing the norm: Education.
“There is a lot of confusion about the different levels of energy efficiency (R-2000, Net Zero or Net Zero Ready) so homeowners don’t truly understand the costs associated with, or what needs to be done in a home to get it to a certain level. With access to better information and by educating themselves as much as possible, I think they’ll be better able to see the long-term benefits of their investment, and how putting money into an energy efficient home now means being able to reap the benefits for years to come.”
We also discussed how education goes a long way in helping customers to be savvy shoppers.
“Knowledge is power!” stressed Laurie. “When you’re talking to builders, you should know how to compare apples to apples. Then you’ll know exactly what each builder is offering you.”
And the importance of education extends to builders as well.
“The more you know, the better your product will be. Enhance your skill set. Seek out information and gain knowledge. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, reach out to an organization like the Canadian Home Builders' Association – New Brunswick,” urged Laurie. “They help to distinguish passionate builders who want to build a better product and give them the training they need through their Registered Energy Efficient Builder Program. Energy efficiency as a standard is coming, if the training is available, why not take it?”
At the mention of the Canadian Home Builders' Association – New Brunswick, we asked Laurie about her own experience with the Association, and how it has shaped her work in the industry.
“The Canadian Home Builders' Association – New Brunswick has been amazing. I’m very proud to be a member. I’ve been in the industry for over 10 years, and they were instrumental in providing us with the tools we needed to become better builders. They are supportive, helpful, and foster a sense of community among builders. Any builder who wants to be better at their craft should join.”
Laurie also mentioned there are benefits to consumers as well.
“There are so many horror stories out there. When you hire someone backed by the Canadian Home Builders' Association – New Brunswick, you know you’re getting a certified, highly-skilled, top-tier builder.”
After speaking with Laurie, it’s clear how critical education surrounding energy efficiency is in home building and renovations among both builders and consumers. At the Canadian Home Builders' Association – New Brunswick, we strive to promote excellence in the industry and connect the best builders in our province with energy-conscious consumers. In 2020, we began ramping up efforts to train builders and educate consumers on the topic to prepare them for the changes coming in 2030.
If you are a builder or a consumer with questions, reach out. We’re here to inform and point you in the right direction.
Laurie Cole is a Silver-level REEB and the Owner and Principal of New View Designs, a creative custom home building and renovation company located in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
She is also a proud member of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – New Brunswick, a Certified CHBA-NB Master Builder™ and the winner of their 2020 “Best New Kitchen” “Best New Bathroom” and “Best Kitchen Renovation” awards.
Certifications: R-2000 | ENERGY STAR® | Net Zero Ready | CHBA-NB Master Builder™
For more about Laurie Cole and to see some of her work, visit www.newviewdesigns.ca