Looking at Energy-Efficient Home Building Programs

There are an increasing number of highly energy-efficient homes being built in Canada. This only makes sense as these homes are typically more “environmentally-friendly”, provide greater comfort, save homeowners money, and have higher resale values, when compared to standard homes. Knowing this, the questions become how does a homeowner know they are buying an energy-efficient home or have one built? Fortunately, a recent program of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) that provides a 10 per cent CMHC mortgage loan insurance premium refund for homes bought or built under certain energy-efficient home building programs helps answer this question.

From the CMHC website, the home building programs eligible for the rebate are:

  • ENERGY STAR® (National)
  • R-2000 (National)
  • LEED Canada For Homes EnerGuide Rating of 82*+ (National)
  • Power Smart New Homes (British Columbia)
  • Built Green™ BC Platinum Label Homes (British Columbia)
    (Note: Gold, Silver and Bronze label homes are only eligible if they receive an EnerGuide evaluation indicating they meet CMHC’s EnerGuide minimum score of 82*)
  • GreenHome™ and Super GreenHome™ (Yukon)
  • Built Green™ Platinum Label Homes (Alberta)
    (Note: Gold, Silver and Bronze label homes are only eligible if they receive an EnerGuide evaluation indicating they meet CMHC’s EnerGuide minimum score of 82*)
  • Power Smart™ (Manitoba)
  • GreenHouse™ (Ontario)
  • Novoclimat™ (Quebec)
  • If the home you are purchasing or building does not belong to one of these programs, it may still be eligible for the CMHC rebate if it meets the EnerGuide ratings below.

*Depending on the closing date of your purchase, the Natural Resources Canada EnerGuide Rating required differs:

For purchases with a closing date…

EnerGuide Rating Required

On or after January 1st, 2013


From April 1st, 2010 to December 31st, 2012


From July 27th, 2005 to March 31st, 2010


The EnerGuide Rating System, the R2000 home building program, and the ENERGY STAR® home building program are briefly described below. For more information on the other listed home building programs, please go to their or the CMHC websites.

Natural Resources Canada’s EnerGuide Rating System “shows a standard measure of a home’s energy performance.” An energy efficient house would have a rating of 80-90 and a house requiring little or no purchased energy would have rating of 91-100. The rating is determined by a “Certified Energy Advisor” (CEA) who bases the rating on 1) the construction of the home as a system (mechanical equipment, windows, building envelope, insulation levels, etc.), and 2) a blower door test. You are likely to find the EnerGuide Rating for a home, if one has been done, on the electrical panel.

Certified Energy Advisors are people trained to conduct EnerGuide Ratings for homes. You can find a CEA by postal code or by province.

R-2000 is a Natural Resources Canada voluntary standard aimed at improving the energy efficiency of homes. The R-2000 2012 standard doesn’t prescribe how a home has to be built (for the most part), but rather how it has to perform. The R-2000 system does not require a home to meet a specific EnerGuide Rating. Instead, it relies on the Natural Resources Canada HOT2000 computer program, which is described as a, “State-of-the-art heat loss/gain and system modeling [that] will help you design residential projects for optimal thermal effectiveness…”.

Only an R-2000 licensed builder can build an official R-2000 home. They are easy to find through Natural Resources Canada’s “Find a Service Provider” website or the Canadian Home Builders Association “Find a Member near you” website.

Just to confuse things a bit, in addition to EnerGuide and R-2000, Natural Resources Canada also has an ENERGY STAR® rating program for homes. ENERGY STAR® was developed by the U.S. EPA and is now used around the world. (Many appliances have ENERGY STAR® ratings.) Natural Resources Canada writes that, “An ENERGY STAR® qualified new home is on average 20 percent more energy efficient than a home built to code.” The ENERGY STAR® rating for homes takes into account the energy efficiency of the entire home and what is in it, for example, its insulation and appliances, while R-2000 is more focused on the energy efficiency of the building design.

ENERGY STAR® builders do not have to be licensed (compared to R-2000 builders). Instead, they have to work with a certified energy advisor (CEA) throughout the design and construction of a home. To find an ENERGY STAR® builder in a province, go to Natural Resources Canada’s “Find a Service Provider” website.

The energy-efficient home building programs listed above have several things in common. One, they require the homes to be well insulated. Second, the homes have to be very air tight. Basically, these programs treat the insulation of a home as a system. For example, individual insulation products cannot get an ENERGY STAR® rating, instead “With respect to insulation, the position of Canada’s ENERGY STAR® program is that installed R-values [referred to as “effective R=Values” by engineers] are more important than the rating on the products themselves.” In other words, what is important is how an insulation product performs under real world and building conditions and not the labelled R-value printed on a bag.

Independent testing and infra-red imaging have shown that Quik-Therm products like Quik-Therm Connect, Quik-Therm Multi-Purpose Insulation, and the Quik-Therm Concrete Insulation System (for basements) provide very high effective R-values, particularly compared to fibreglass batt insulation. If you would like to learn more about how Quik-Therm products can be used in the building or remodeling of an energy-efficient home, please contact one of our representatives.