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Old 03-22-12, 01:01 PM   #1
MetroMPG
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Default Article: "Donít knock down that 50-year-old building; re-skin it"

I just read an article about a competition called the "Zerofootprint Re-Skinning Awards"

The Zerofootprint Prize

Quote:
started by Ron Dembo, founder and chief executive of the Toronto clean-tech software and services firm Zerofootprint. The worldwide competition has helped focus attention on efforts to make older buildings more energy efficient Ė and better looking Ė by recreating their outer shells and other components.
Award winners include everything from small, single family houses, to apartment complexes, to other commercial buildings.

EG:



60 year old wartime house in Toronto, Ontario. Originally built with minimal insulation, single pane glass, etc.

Since winning the re-skin it award in 2010, the house...

Quote:
... has acted as the prototype for the retrofitting of five similar houses in Windsor, Ontario, that are owned by a social housing agency. The original Now House re-skinning and retrofit resulted in energy savings of approximately 70 percent per year for the existing bungalow.
Source: Re-Skinning Award

Speaking of a re-skinning/conversion of an old car dealership, the architect says:

Quote:
Though these changes conserve energy, Mr. Hastings says the biggest environmental benefit came simply from reusing the old building rather than knocking it down and starting over.
ďThe re-skinning I think makes it valuable and new again,Ē he says.
The big problem, not surprisingly, is cost of retrofitting. The process isn't common, because the up front cost falls on the current building owner. Since all future owners will benefit, one suggestion is to have the cost of the upgrade made available in a public (gov't) loan which is repaid over time through an additional fee on the property tax bill.

Quote:
Such a scheme would mean minimal risk for governments, Dr. Dembo says, since building owners rarely default on property taxes because of the risk of losing the property if they do.
Sometimes called Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs, a few such initiatives exist in the United States. The City of Vancouver has a loan program to help homeowners make energy-efficiency improvements, but doesnít lump repayments into property tax bills.
Article: Don’t knock down that 50-year-old building; re-skin it - The Globe and Mail

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Old 03-22-12, 03:12 PM   #2
AlanE
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Originally Posted by MetroMPG View Post
The big problem, not surprisingly, is cost of retrofitting. The process isn't common, because the up front cost falls on the current building owner. Since all future owners will benefit, one suggestion is to have the cost of the upgrade made available in a public (gov't) loan which is repaid over time through an additional fee on the property tax bill.
Does this also mean that the cost of washing my car, changing its oil and buying new tires, not to mention the cost of any auto repairs, should also be paid for by the taxpayers, for the future owner of the car will also benefit from the upgrading I do to the car while I own it.

Sheesh. The government isn't some entity which has its own money, the government's money is my money, my neighbor's money, and so on. When the government takes our money away from us to give it to other home owners, that means that we've got less of the money we worked for to spend on ourselves and our families.

What I'd suggest this guy do is a test to see how popular his scheme is. He should make an announcement that he is collecting money for this program and that people will receive the proceeds of the loan repayments which arise from the money that they invest. If people think that this is a better use for their money than what they had intended to spend it on, then that speaks to the merit of his idea. If, however, he doesn't get many takers, then that loudly and clearly declares that people think that they have better uses for the money that they've earned than directing it to this scheme. Injecting government stealing money from people and playing Robin Hood doesn't change the fundamental dynamics here.
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Old 03-22-12, 03:58 PM   #3
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Well if 40% of the regions housing can be made to use 70% less energy then the regions energy systems will see relief. Maybe the local utility could provide the loan to save their assets.
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Old 03-22-12, 04:11 PM   #4
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I think they wanted to do the tax benefit for large buildings not individual homes. There is zero incentive for landlords to do anything with their rental units up here. The availability situation in many towns is so bad people will stay in mold infested hellholes with holes in the roof for years simply because there is no where else for them to go.

Convincing a landlord to spend tens if not hundreds of thousands on an apartment building so that his clients can have lower costs on their bills is never going to happen.

I'm not saying it's a good idea I'm just saying that is probably why they are considering the tax benefit route.

Since I am considering moving somewhere colder and into a 100+ year old farmhouse I really wish they gave more information about what they do to seal the outside up. How they deal with windows no longer being flush to the outside and so on.
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Old 03-22-12, 04:48 PM   #5
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I think they wanted to do the tax benefit for large buildings not individual homes. There is zero incentive for landlords to do anything with their rental units up here.
We're now through the Looking Glass. Look there's the Mad Hatter over there.
For a conventional residential tenancy rent increase in British Columbia that takes effect in 2012, the allowable increase is 4.3 per cent.
There is zero incentive because the government prohibits the landlords from benefiting from such improvements.

If there is a near zero rental availability rate then that is a pretty strong signal that the rents being charged are below the market clearing rate. If landlords had the ability to price to market then there would be incentive to improve units for they would be able to recoup via rent what they invest in their housing stock.

Quote:
The availability situation in many towns is so bad people will stay in mold infested hellholes with holes in the roof for years simply because there is no where else for them to go.
Again, government created shortages. You and I live in the same city. We are dealing with the Urban Containment Boundary which artificially restricts development. On one side of the street, at the border of the boundary, high density development is allowed and on the other side of the street no development is allowed and those properties are forever destined to remain farms and hobby farms. Then there are all of the government imposed regulations which drive up the cost of building. Check on Craigslist and you can probably find someone giving away double paned aluminum windows for free. Try putting those windows in a new construction. The government won't let you do it. The government forces you to buy new windows which meet current standards. How much energy does one have to save in order to make up the difference in cost between FREE and $30,000?

With government controlling how much rent increase a landlord can charge, with government controlling eviction processes to make it damn difficult to evict a bad tenant, etc, being a landlord is not as attractive an investment strategy as it used to be, hence people deciding to invest their money elsewhere, thus drying up the rental market and causing shortages.

Quote:
Convincing a landlord to spend tens if not hundreds of thousands on an apartment building so that his clients can have lower costs on their bills is never going to happen.
This is true. Let's assume that the energy efficiency rehab actually saves money. OK? Now rationally what should happen is the landlord raises the rent so as to recover the cost of the repairs. The tenant shouldn't object because what he has to pay for in increased rent is MORE than made up for by his lowered utility bills every month. Both sides benefit and everyone is happy. The fly in the ointment here is that government prohibits this landlord from raising the rent by more than 4%. Sure the tenant could save money and energy usage would decrease, but why should the tenant and society get all the benefits with the landlord getting none but having to foot the whole bill?

Quote:
I'm not saying it's a good idea I'm just saying that is probably why they are considering the tax benefit route.
What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. How should we fix a problem that was caused by government meddling in private contracts? Why interjecting the government into more private contracts.
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Old 03-22-12, 06:03 PM   #6
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I fully agree although I am a supporter of leaving that farmland farmland. If a city can't feed itself it shouldn't exist.

Let the costs keep climbing, if you can't afford to live there then don't. Nothing says Vancouver is some magical place that everyone has to work and live in. In many cases you can make the same wage for doing the same job in Vancouver as you would elsewhere but you get the insane price of living to be there.

I actually don't live in vancouver, I'm on the island at the moment. The same crap you're discussing is happening here just were still 1/3 the cost of the mainland.
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Old 03-22-12, 07:33 PM   #7
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I fully agree although I am a supporter of leaving that farmland farmland.
I'm fine with that so long as people don't buy these "civic improvements" on someone else's dime. Are you in favor of part of your property taxes going to the farm owner as an annual stipend to compensate him for his property value being lowered as a direct result of the arbitrary limitation on his rights to develop his property. This must really burn the people who live on the boundary out there is Saanich - right across the street from them are properties that, at one time, used to be just like theirs, but now those properties are worth boo koo bucks because they can be developed to high density while only 30 feet across the street the property must stay agricultural. The desire for rural ambiance shouldn't come at the cost of the property owner who has his property rights diminished for the benefit of the city dwellers, most of whom are living on land that also used to be agricultural at one time.

Secondly, by taking this land out of the market, the cost of land that can be developed sky rockets. This makes housing costs go up. There have been studies which detailed all the costs associated with zoning and they've tallied up to about 40-50% of the cost of a house in some cities.

I just find it ironic whenever I see instances of people saying "government should fix the problem" when in fact it was government that caused the problem by interfering in people's rational decision making.

Quote:
If a city can't feed itself it shouldn't exist.
How about cities which can't provide their own drinking water, or provide their own energy, or provide their own auto manufacturing, etc? I don't see why food is different. I highly doubt that most cities in Northern BC can feed themselves, but they sure put out a lot of timber, oil, natural gas, copper, molybdenum, etc that they can trade for food.

Quote:
Let the costs keep climbing, if you can't afford to live there then don't. Nothing says Vancouver is some magical place that everyone has to work and live in. In many cases you can make the same wage for doing the same job in Vancouver as you would elsewhere but you get the insane price of living to be there.
I agree. The best solution to rents which are too high is to leave the city for a place where rents are lower. This results in landlords having empty apartments and they'll lower their rents to find tenants. People seem to grasp this principle when it is applied to alcohol and tobacco taxes - low prices make booze and smokes more attractive and high prices drive consumers of these products away.
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Old 03-23-12, 12:10 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by MetroMPG View Post
I just read an article about a competition called the "Zerofootprint Re-Skinning Awards".
MetroMPG,

Thanks for posting this very interesting article. This is exactly the approach I am taking to my house. It is heartening to see that the same approach is being applied elsewhere.

Deep energy retrofits are not easy and not cheap but in my opinion they are well worthwhile. My advice to a home owner who wants to retrofit an old house is to divide the big task into many small target tasks and work on them when the time, gumption and financial resources are available, and relax when they aren't.

It gives me a secret pride that I am giving new life to a piece of history.

I know that the ghosts that live here with me are pleased!

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Old 03-12-13, 01:23 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by AlanE View Post
I
I agree. The best solution to rents which are too high is to leave the city for a place where rents are lower. This results in landlords having empty apartments and they'll lower their rents to find tenants. People seem to grasp this principle when it is applied to alcohol and tobacco taxes - low prices make booze and smokes more attractive and high prices drive consumers of these products away.
At some point, you then have to pay the people who do valuable and necessary but unprestigious jobs enough money to live where they work. I don't care if you live in an ivory palace surrounded by ivory palaces where only other multimillionaires live, someone has to deliver your pizza and wait your tables and unclog your drain and install your utilities and all the other things you aren't willing to do yourself. All of those jobs are important and require skills and talent that a lot of wealthier and better paid people don't actually have and never consider.

While I don't think communism is productive, I also think just about every "ism" is completely idiotic because life isn't binary or static. Some principles of every "ism" make sense when correctly applied. So if you're going to raise the rent in Vancouver, be prepared to deal with the sequelae of that decision - either a lot less service or a lot more traffic and pollution as your servicemen/women have to commute from wherever they can afford to live to wherever the jobs are. This is what happens when your economy is a lie.



High prices on booze means more trade in illicit drugs because we have yet to face the reality that it is completely normal and endemic to humanity to use perception-altering substances. But dealers of legal drugs can settle business disputes in court, and are held accountable for their business practices. Dealers of substances deemed illegal have no such means of settling disputes and must do so with violence. They also have no incentive to play fair or restrict their sales to adults... I for one prefer to see drug dealers operate above the law, since they're going to operate no matter what the law is anyway.


Last edited by shovel; 03-12-13 at 01:27 PM..
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