Net-zero a winning number for Penticton architect

Penticton architect Florian Maurer designs with net-zero in mind.

Florian Maurer installs the solar array on the roof of his home. The home received a 91 out of 100 rating for energy efficiency.

Florian Maurer installs the solar array on the roof of his home. The home received a 91 out of 100 rating for energy efficiency.

For local architect Florian Maurer, energy efficiency isn’t only a way to save money on power bills — it’s an ethical responsibility.

Maurer said too many  people are simply focused on getting bang for their buck without considering the environmental implications of their actions

“Everybody is talking payback these days, as if this was the only consideration by which to make our decisions,” he said. “Where do moral imperatives come in? Have they all fallen by the wayside when we voted Stephen Harper in? It’s just ridiculous.”

“I hear the payback to be a hired killer is very quick, still we don’t go around doing it,” he added. “It is a moral, it’s an ethical imperative for us as architects to be seen as not leaving a stone unturned to get off fossil fuels.”

Maurer installed solar panels on his roof to generate electricity and a geothermal heating system to heat his house. The heating system uses the Earth’s warmth underground to heat water, which is then circulated through the house, bypassing most of his need for fossil fuels.

Maurer, an architect with local firm Allen and Maurer Architects, built his new home to be as efficient as possible, trying to reach net-zero status. Being a net-zero home means the house is essentially off the grid, being independent of gas lines and outside power sources. Maurer’s home, while not quite net-zero, received a ranking of 91 out of 100, a rating which Gilles Lesage, an energy advisor with Energywise Solutions, said is the highest ranking a renovated home can hope to receive.

Maurer is still set to receive a sizable chunk of money through the government’s LiveSmart program, which provides cash incentives to people renovating their homes to make them more environmentally sound.

The maximum amount of money the provincial government pays out is $7,000, said Dean Neveu, owner and operations manager of Energywise Solutions. Homeowners who renovated in the past could have seen more incentives, however federal programs have been cut, said Neveu.

Even the current LiveSmart program is set to expire next March, and while there are works to develop a new program, whether it will be implemented is anybody’s guess.

“The thing about this program and, even using the government’s own numbers, is these programs stimulate the economy in that they create jobs, because people are renovating their homes and even using the government’s own numbers, for what they pay out in these incentives, they get a dollar back,” said Neveu.

“They’re essentially doubling the money for themselves, but yet they seem to just get cut. I don’t have an answer as to why, it just doesn’t make any sense.”

The government aren’t the only ones who could be sending cheques to those who highly efficient homes. Should the houses generate more electricity than it uses, the power company sends cheques, not bills, for the power added to the grid through a net-monitoring program, which measures how much electricity is taken from, or in this case added to, the grid.

In some provinces such as Ontario, the electricity is paid back at a rate much higher than what consumers buy the power for, said Devin Krenz, Okanagan regional engineer with FortisBC, due to Ontario’s reliance on energy sources such as nuclear power.

However, in B.C., where much of the power generation is hydroelectric and relatively clean, these incentives wouldn’t make sense.

Despite the environmental benefits a net-zero home has, Maurer said people would usually prefer to spend the money on a few more square feet in their home instead of making it environmentally friendly, a decision he said people need to think about.

Maurer said between the cost of the system on his roof and the geothermal heating, people could only afford an additional 400 sq. feet in their home.

“I think it’s important to stretch the ethical aspect,” he said. “We must touch the payback, but it’s important to make these decisions. So do I build 2,000 sq. feet and be as wasteful as ever, or do I build 1,600 and become a citizen of the future? These are moral decisions that we all must make.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin makes preparations at Toronto’s mass vaccination clinic, Jan. 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
3 deaths, 234 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

One death connected to outbreak at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital, where 20 patients and 28 staff have tested positive

Head Brewer Kody Rosentreter, owner Wes Greve and taproom manager Lisa Deleo celebrated North Basin Brewing’s grand opening Jan. 22 and 23, 2020. (Contributed)
Osoyoos’ first microbrewery celebrates grand opening

The brewery hopes to show that the Okanagan is more than just wine country

Once complete, the Ambrosia in Keremeos will house more than 100 seniors, families and those on disability. (LSCSS photo)
Keremeos affordable housing suites coming along

Once complete, Ambrosia will house more than 100 people

Penticton Search and Rescue completed two rescues in succession of each other Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 afternoon. (PENSAR / Facebook)
Penticton Search and Rescue members execute back-to-back rescues

PENSAR had barely completed their first rescue of the day when they received a second call

(THE NEWS – files)
Snowy days ahead for the Okanagan and Shuswap

The region could get up to 5 cm by Thursday

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Heather Barker. (File)
Manslaughter charge laid in Vernon woman’s 2018 death

Shaun Ross Wiebe, 43, faces manslaughter and assault charges related to the death of Heather Barker

Zaudanawng “Jay-Dan” Maran in his Creston home. Hanging on the wall behind him is a logo of Kachin’s Manaw festival. Photo: Aaron Hemens
From Myanmar to Creston: The story of a refugee

In October 2007, Zaudanawng “Jay-Dan” Maran and his friends encountered a woman being sexually assaulted by two Myanmar soldiers.

Kamloops This Week.
48 COVID-19 cases and one death associated with outbreak at Kamloops hospital

One of the 20 patients infected has died, meanwhile 28 staff with COVID-19 are isolating at home

The City of Vernon is sending a letter to the provincial government to request that church be deemed an essential service amid the pandemic. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon mayor scolded for revealing stance on making church essential

Coun. Scott Anderson calls Cummings’ actions ‘arrogant’

The scene of a serious crash on Highway 33 in Kelowna that killed one and severely injured two others on June 20, 2018. (File)
Driver found guilty of causing death, injury in 2018 Kelowna crash

Travis Ryan Hennessy will face sentencing at a later date

(Michael Rodriguez - Capital News staff)
Downtown stairwell fire suspicious, Kelowna RCMP say

Crews were called to Gotham Nightclub for a report of a stairwell fire

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran addresses media from the front steps of council chambers on March 23. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna, West Kelowna still looking to opt-out of speculation tax

Mayors say spec tax has missed the mark, revenue largely coming out of Canadians’ pockets

Most Read