Canada’s net-zero energy ready (NZEr) model codes are expected to be available for provincial/territorial adoption in the winter of 2021. Building energy codes like the model codes are an opportunity for governments at all levels to deliver immediate benefits and prepare for Canada’s long-term clean-economy growth.
Urgent action is needed to completely decarbonize the building sector. A natural place to start is by ensuring all new buildings are highly energy efficient and zero-carbon.
Policy changes we need to improve building performance
Reaching the market transformation objective of all new buildings constructed to NZEr standards by 2030 requires a multitude of policy tools that support the national model codes development system.
This includes building energy codes that are part of a cohesive and informed framework of policy incentives that make buildings better overall. These policies must also prioritizes tangible co-benefits such as affordability, local economy, health, and equity.
Policy strategies we need to get better building codes adopted
Adoption of better building energy codes can drive energy efficient new construction and create market demand for a range of high-performance building products and assemblies. This will, in turn, attract investment and create new opportunities and skilled jobs in Canada’s clean-growth economy. And, over the long-term, these actions will lock-in the structural changes that Canada needs to meet its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reach a net-zero emissions future by 2050.
You can lay the groundwork for the adoption of better building codes in your province or territory by advocating for the following policy strategies.
Leverage the power of your people with stakeholder councils
- Pitch a ‘big tent’ and bring together all those interested in the buildings sector to figure out the “how” of implementation rather than the “why.”
- Follow the lead of the BC Energy Step Code Council and support better building code adoption through training and capacity building opportunities for local governments, industry, and other stakeholders.
- Communicate the benefits of code mandated net-zero energy ready buildings. This includes advice and clarification on technical aspects of the standard.
Get utilities and energy efficiency organizations involved
- Encourage utilities to use their programs to develop new tools for building energy analysis, develop new compliance tools, identify areas in need of training, and use financial incentives to drive market transformation.
- British Columbia stands out in this regard; the province requires its two utilities to each spend a minimum of 1% of their budget on codes and standards activities. As a result, BC Hydro has been particularly active in supporting the BC Energy Step Code.
Mobilize municipalities to advance better building codes
- A coalition of leading municipalities can take measurable steps to reduce energy consumption and emissions by advocating for provincial/territorial governments to adopt better building codes.
- Encourage local elected officials to join their peers and push for the power to adopt more aggressive tiers of the national model code specific to their jurisdiction.
- Municipal networks can pursue green development standards, for example those that incentivize low-carbon heating systems, that set enhanced standards for construction and development by minimizing the impacts of new development.
- Municipalities can share building code compliance best practices to better align municipal climate objectives and buildings sector ambitions.
- Encourage complementary policies such as mandatory building energy labeling, training, and the development and implementation of a building energy code compliance regime.
This project was made possible with funding from The Atmospheric Fund (TAF)
© Efficiency Canada 2021