Q: What role does mandatory airtightness testing play in energy building codes?

A: Airtight buildings are more durable, more comfortable, and consume less energy. The executive committee overseeing Building code development is directing that airtightness testing be a voluntary measure in Canada’s proposed national model codes. This undermines Canada’s commitment to a net-zero future. refer to amendments made during the provincial adoption process that would see AT testing reintroduced.


Q: Who benefits most?

A: There are multiple parties who benefit from better building codes. The property owner benefits from having a building that has lower operating costs and provides a high-quality experience to its occupants. Local economies benefit by having a streamlined system for high-performance buildings and a more skilled workforce. The nation benefits by reducing unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions which will bring us closer to achieving net-zero energy standards.


Q: What are the economic benefits

A: The economic benefits of better building codes adoption will be based on how they are adopted within each jurisdiction. A Tiered code allows different jurisdictions to choose the code that is best suited for their community and provides a clear path to achieve higher performance standards. Some expected results of adoption include a spur in workforce development and more professionals with the capacity to construct high-performance buildings. Better Building code implementation will also help avoid costly retrofits down the road that would result from a reactive approach to changes in regulations, rather than the proactive approach offered by early adoption. Builder operators and owners can also expect lower operational costs, since buildings will high-performance and use less energy.

The sooner better building codes are adopted, the more benefits a community can expect in return, and the more prepared they will be for a high-performance economy and future changes in regulations.

If costs are of concern, building costing studies with appropriate methodologies can help determine what strategies are right for your jurisdiction.


Q: Who can advocate for better building codes?

A: Anyone can advocate for better building codes, and you can choose the action that suits your capacity to help the cause. You can build your network, get media involved, prepare an outreach program, and contact policy makers. If you are new to building codes, a good place to start is by reading the codes4climate toolkit and determining how your province or community is working toward more efficient codes. Regardless of whether you are a not-for-profit, working for your municipality, a volunteer, or a complete newbie to building codes, there are small actions you can take that will have a meaningful impact on the codes4climate campaign.


Q: To date, Green Development Standards (GDS) are not emissions focused and many development projects are not including energy efficient appliances like heat pumps. How can we encourage communities to be more emissions-conscious moving forward?

A: Green Development Standards (GDS) are fairly recent innovation that arose in the early 2000s to help municipalities reach a number of wide-ranging community development goals such as increasing active transportation, reduced water use, how the building site interacts with the community and, more recently but not always, a building’s energy use. Energy is not always a compulsory item amongst other measures that have to be selected in jurisdictions where there is GDS ‘menu’ style approach.

However, as more municipalities embrace GDS it will be important to ensure that energy and emissions take an enhanced role. Advocates can help encourage this by using tools, like those found in our toolkit, to build coalitions that demonstrate the communities desire to use GDS as a way to first reduce energy waste through building efficiency measures such as increased Building envelope performance, and then emissions through low-carbon space conditioning and hot water systems. This means that the building’s energy use is reduced thereby allowing smaller, low-carbon equipment such as heat pumps to be used effectively.

Currently, the national model codes and the Ontario Building code aim to be fuel agnostic and, while advocates in each of these areas are working towards changing this, we need action at the municipal level more quickly. GDS that mirror those in places like Toronto or Vancouver that set limits on emissions in their tiered approach are our quickest path to reducing emissions from buildings in municipalities of all sizes. 


This project was made possible with funding from The Atmospheric Fund (TAF)

© Efficiency Canada 2021

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