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We’re all aware of the challenges facing our planet and every one of us has a role to play in protecting it. Businesses especially have an enormous responsibility. There are some industries that have a very obvious and significant impact. Home renovations and the companies involved in them are high on that list.
It is challenging to create an environmentally friendly home. Regulations and incentives change frequently and this can intimidate anyone who wants to take on their own project. Thankfully, there are companies to help you navigate your options.
At Centra, we think it’s important for businesses to work together to combat and solve problems. We should share knowledge and support each other in order to be better and be more prepared for the future, which will also help our customers make more informed decisions. That’s why we sat down with the team from Capture Energy, a great BC company owned by Barb and Scott Silverthorn, who can help make your home as energy-efficient as possible.
What does Capture Energy do?
At our heart, we are a group of energy specialists who are passionate about helping people find solutions to climate change right in their own homes. We know how houses work and we partner with residential construction companies to create homes that are not only more comfortable and healthier to live in, but are also better for the environment.
Present building code regulations in BC require an energy advisor to sign off on any renovation of over $20,000 undertaken in the city of Vancouver. For the rest of the province, the government offers rebates to encourage builders and homeowners to consider energy efficiency.
Capture Energy figures out where the current gaps are in a home’s performance and flags a range of potential issues before they become a problem, including energy code compliance.
A well-insulated, sealed, ventilated house is more enjoyable to live in — there are no cold areas in winter, and it doesn’t heat up uncomfortably in summer. It is much quieter, and as a major bonus, if you have allergies or simply hate cleaning, there is less dust and pollen. Retrofitting can also improve moisture control which means your house will stay in better shape and last longer.
Centra Window Geek Adam Torris (far left) and Barb Silverthorn of Capture Energy (2nd from right) participating in a panel on healthy high performance homes with Henri Belisle from TQ Construction (2nd from left), moderated by Kathy Yuen of Phase One Design (right).
How did the company start?
Capture Energy’s story begins in 2011. Scott and I had just moved to Richmond from Toronto. I was working in hospitality, having trained as a chef, and Scott had been an energy advisor for about 5 years. As Scott got more involved in the building industry in BC, he kept coming across people who wanted to affect climate change but didn’t know where to start or even have much confidence there was anything they could do. I grew up on a horse farm in Southern Ontario and was practically born with a built-in desire to protect the environment, so we went all in. I quit my job and we started our own company working with the residential building sector - which on its own produces 17% of the greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. We help builders and architects consider the ways they can influence climate change and give homeowners the greener homes they’re looking for.
Do you think current regulations go far enough to solve the environmental problems we’re facing?
This is a tricky question. Right now, we have the BC Energy Step Code, which is a set of energy standards the province is pushing every municipality to adopt for all new builds and renovations. It is like a ladder, with the bottom rung being the building code minimum and the top one being “net zero,” which the province wants the new normal to be by 2032.
While this is a big step forward in increasing the knowledge design and construction teams have about what they can do to help a building’s performance, there are just as many who have never even considered the impact a home has on the environment.
With home renovations, what would you say is the best way for homeowners to improve efficiency?
There are 3 significant things that contribute to how much energy our homes consume. The outside walls (what we call the building envelope), the holes in those walls (windows), as well as the home’s heating/cooling and hot water heating systems.
By replacing old windows with new higher performance windows - which is something you guys at Centra are experts on, increasing your insulation levels and updating an old mid-efficiency heating source with a heat pump or high-efficiency furnace, you can substantially lower the effect your home has on the environment while increasing the health and comfort inside.
All of that can save you money, and you can also get money to do it. Over the past few years, both the federal and provincial governments have stepped up to help homeowners financially through the Canada Greener Homes Grant and the Clean BC Better Homes Rebates. Part of our job as energy advisors is to help you figure out your options.
What does Earth Day & eco-anxiety mean to you at Capture Energy?
Who hasn’t seen pictures of the islands of plastic filling the oceans, or heard the warnings about violent swings in the weather and rising temperatures? Literally no one. There is a bit of a doomsday feel to it and it can seem like nothing can change the inevitable outcome.
That is eco-anxiety, and that is where companies like Capture Energy can help. We gather an enormous amount of information about how your home works. We’ll show you your greenhouse gas output and then show you how you can lower it. Compared to the challenges facing the earth, that may be microscopic, but small things - when we all take action - add up to a big difference.
We’d love to talk about your project and sustainability goals. We’re here to help. Visit us at our website capture-energy.ca
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Want to know more about improving your home’s efficiency through upgrading your windows and the incentives available? Centra’s experts are here to help! Reach out to us at 1-888-534-3333 or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you have and to book a free quote for your window upgrade. You can also sign up for our bi-weekly Window Geeks newsletter and follow us on LinkedIn for news, advice, and tips about the industry and upcoming events.