Meet the Master of Energy Efficiency
Lauren Lipka is in high demand these days as the CHBA-NB’s go-to guy for energy efficiency expertise. As a licensed Energy Advisor, he works closely with builders, renovators, and homeowners to provide training, evaluations and recommendations that help bring our country closer to its Net Zero goals.
Lauren’s career in energy efficiency, spanning over 25 years to date, has taken him all over the country and began with his roles as a real estate appraiser and a tax assessor for the province.
“I was dealing with a lot of new construction and renovations in those days. At one point, my clients began asking me to also evaluate the condition of the home and the skills of the builder, which could help them determine the value of the home down the road,” Lauren recalled.
From that point on, Lauren decided to shift gears and began to focus his sights on energy efficiency.
In 2003, he went to Toronto to take training through Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) to become a licensed Energy Advisor and spent some time working as a consultant for other companies before joining forces with the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – New Brunswick.
If you aren’t among those entrenched in the industry or ahead of the curve in terms of building practices, you may not know what exactly an Energy Advisor does, or how their role plays a vital part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, Lauren, who is extremely passionate about the subject, was only too happy to give us the inside scoop.
“If you’re interested in making your home more energy efficient, the first thing you’d do is call me. I’d come to your home and do an inspection and air test (which determines how drafty your home is). Then I’d give you an upgrade report which is a list of recommendations that I prioritize for you detailing what you could do, and what incentives you could take advantage of, to make your home more energy efficient.
After the upgrades are made, I would come back and assess your home to help determine how much difference the upgrades made in your home’s energy consumption and discuss how to go about claiming your incentives based on what you had done.”
Lauren also explained that he doesn’t just work with homeowners on renovations, he can also assist on new builds, too.
“For new homes, you’d bring me your plans and I would show you what upgrades you could make – things like windows or a heat pump – to get your home to Net Zero Ready status while it’s being built. That way, you can still make your home more energy efficient and take advantage of some incentives.”
While discussing incentives, Lauren couldn’t stress enough the importance of understanding what needs to be done to qualify for an incentive before embarking on a renovation.
“It’s so important to pay attention to the criteria of the incentive you’re applying for because depending on the energy efficiency program, your requirements change. As an example, to be considered a Net Zero Ready home, you must build to an energy level that is 80% higher than the minimum standard codes.”
For some homeowners, reaching those higher standards all at once may mean contending with bigger renovations (and coming up with bigger budgets) than previously planned, which is why Lauren suggests starting small and approaching energy efficiency in stages.
“By starting with the easiest upgrades now, like swapping out your light bulbs or adding in more insulation, you can work your way up to becoming more energy efficient. You can take on projects here and there so that when the time comes, you just need to add the final touches like solar panels to bring your home up to the Net Zero standard.
Even using products within your home that have a reduced carbon footprint can make a difference in the beginning stages. Ultimately, anything you can do to reduce the impact made on the environment and bring down monthly electricity bills counts.”
Change in any capacity begins with awareness, and to determine the best way forward, we must first become aware of our energy usage, a key point that Lauren touches on in his courses.
“We teach builders, renovators, and consumers about understanding their energy consumption. For instance, which electronics tend to use the most energy, or how to manage your home’s energy usage once you have these efficiency measures in place so that you aren’t wasting energy.”
Lauren estimated that about 10% of our hydro bills are for electricity consumed by devices we believe are turned off when in actuality they are in “standby mode” and drawing power continuously. This is known as the Phantom Load and the energy consumed this way adds up over time, costing consumers more than they realize.
Lauren also noted that the latter has become so commonplace that it's now being studied as a behavioural phenomenon, one we need to better understand to further help consumers make better energy choices.
“What’s the sense in converting to a more energy efficient home if you’re going to keep the lights on all day or run your hot water constantly?” he stated with a chuckle. “Understanding the impact of those choices is important, too, if we truly want to make a difference.”
Agents of change like Lauren work hard to educate builders and homeowners about energy efficiency and encourage them to take steps now that will reduce their efforts later because they know all too well what’s on the horizon for Canadians.
“The goal is to raise the standard so that come 2050, when Canada implements their Net Zero goals, everyone will be off fossil fuels and no longer using old heating technology. Waiting until that deadline means scrambling – whether it’s to get training or to find available labour to do the work – and paying to do it all, all at once.”
The time to act is now and Energy Advisors like Lauren are at the ready to help move New Brunswick forward in any way they can. Whether you’re a builder looking to add energy efficiency certifications to your credentials, or a homeowner interested in learning about how you can reduce your energy consumption, everyone has a part to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions right here at home.
Lauren Lipka is an award-winning Energy Advisor and a trainer for CHBA-NB's Registered Energy Efficient Builder Program, a program designed to help builders and renovators get ready for Canada’s future building requirements.
Lauren is certified to teach ENERGY STAR®, R-2000, Net Zero Ready and Net Zero, and serves on the CHBA Net Zero Technical Committee, the ENERGY STAR® Technical Advisory Committee, and is a Board Member for the Canadian Association of Certified Energy Advisors.
For builders interested in becoming future-ready or homeowners interested in learning how to make their homes more energy efficient, sign up for one of Lauren’s courses today.