What other tools can you use?
Building code adoption affects a wide array of stakeholders in the model code adoption ecosystem. As a result, advocates must ask themselves: What kinds of groups will support model code adoption? Who might support it, but needs to be convinced via the right advocacy efforts? Who is unlikely to support code adoption, or who may work against the new codes? And why?
This section provides a number of tools advocates can use to reach decision makers, provides techniques for building popular support, and offers exercises to develop the organizing mindset.
Sign up to take action on building codes
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Build your network
You can build support for the adoption of better building codes by building a network of like-minded individuals and organizations. Your network can be most effective in encouraging provincial/territorial adoption if it focuses on mobilizing others to act, and by sharing information that will inform others on the benefits of building code adoption.
This section provides tips and tools on finding allies and getting them involved.
Find your allies
The first step in building support for better building code adoption is getting to know your people. With a little time spent thinking creatively and strategically, you can identify whom to involve in your work.
Step 1: Write the names of potential stakeholders impacted by building codes on sticky notes (NGOs, industry associations, homeowners, low-income groups, etc.). Be specific (ex. Write ‘Efficiency Canada’ rather than ‘energy efficiency NGOs’).
Step 2: Place each sticky note in one of the 5 following groups:
- Constituency – those who share your interests, are impacted by the building code outcomes, and are committed to acting.
- Leadership – these are members of the constituency who take on extra responsibility to enact change.
- Supporters – those not directly affected but who may be interested in supporting the work.
- Competitors – may target the same constituency/supporters and have some interests in common but not all. Competitors can potentially become supporters.
- Opposition – those with whom we have a conflict of interest.
Step 3: Map the actors onto the playing field according to their interest in keeping the status quo (top of the field) or making change (bottom of the field). Also map whether they are involved in the action (centre of the field) or not (on the sidelines).
The climate action organization 350.org has made an activity resource to help you organize information on key players.
After completing the exercise, take a moment to reflect on what you have found. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your constituency actively involved or on the sidelines?
- Are you supporting your leadership?
- Can supporters be made to be more engaged in your work?
- If your competition is active, is it possible to bring them onto your side?
- If your opposition is active, how can you counter their actions?
Map the actors
Map where the actors stand
Host an event
Be sure to reach out to your ABC Council Member and see if they want to collaborate on an event. They will likely have a list of contacts who may be interested in attending, and can support you in planning and hosting events. There are generally three types of events you can work on:
Educational: Build the knowledge of your community
- Panel discussions
- Lunch and learns
Community building: Bring advocates and champions together, recruit new people
- Networking events
- Coalition meetings
- For fun – virtual happy hour, dinner together, etc. (don’t underestimate the power of having fun together for building relationships that can make a difference)
Demonstrations: Show the public that there is widespread support for your cause
- Rally (virtual or in person)
- Press conference
- Coordinated social media campaign
Get the media involved
Send a press release
Get your story in front of those who matter. When a major milestone is reached or important events occur, a press release is essential to sharing the news. By writing a press release you can put your issue into the public view. This template gives you an example of how to reach news outlets and journalists using a press release.
A press release is used to announce important events, milestones, or anniversaries. A press release should include:
- Headline: briefly and clearly worded to capture the attention of your readers. The headline should be bolded and capitalized.
- A hook: before writing your press release, take time to identify why your issue is newsworthy.
- Body: the body of the press release should start with the date of release and the location of your organization. The body should use simple, short sentences and avoid the use of highly technical terminology or acronyms. Be clear in communicating what, when, why and who in the body of the press release.
After writing your press release, share it by pitching your press release directly to a few selected media editors, or by using a wire service such as Cision that widely distributes press releases.
Write an opinion-editorial
Shape the public dialogue by sharing your opinions in an op-ed. Op-eds are a great tool to share your perspective to a wider audience. Leaders can reference this tool to learn how to write an op-ed and pitch it to newspapers to get it published. There are several key items to keep in mind when writing an op-ed.
- Write simply and clearly with the needs of your reader in mind.
- Capture the attention of the reader. Start with why your topic matters, why it is timely, and why the reader should care about the topic.
- Provide a clear opinion, backed by evidence and a persuasive argument. An op-ed is more likely to be published if the writer follows an 80-20 rule: 80% new information, and 20% opinion.
- Use an active voice to project confidence to convey concise information.
- Aim to submit a finished product and trust the editor and respect their decisions.
For more on how to craft an effective op-ed, visit the OpEd Project.
You need to get your article published. Here are some tips:
- Keep your article short, under 600 words and tie it to a current news angle.
- In your pitch to the editor make sure to include the who, what, where, when, why of why this op-ed should be published right now.
- Include the full text of the op-ed in your email submission.
- Op-ed submission contacts are always available on the newspaper Masthead page, contact page, or “Staff” page. If there is no opinion editor, send to the managing editor.
- If possible, have a high profile organization or individual author your op-eds as the name recognition means they are more likely to publish your article.
Prepare an outreach campaign
You can build awareness about building energy codes via a campaign to highlight the benefits of model code adoption. Your campaign can show how building energy codes can benefit your province/territory, and your local community. Public understanding and awareness of energy efficient building code adoption plays an important role in proactively countering the perception that model code adoption brings additional regulatory burdens, only benefits a small segment of society or negatively impacts affordability.
A successful outreach campaign is also useful in gathering feedback and perspectives. By treating it as an opportunity for dialogue, discussion, and training you can better understand how to bolster support amongst supporters, and how to convert those that may be detractors.
Outreach should include:
- A plan to gather feedback from all those affected by the model code adoption. Make sure that you include all those identified through your power mapping exercise. This list should include industry representatives, municipal advocates, building officials and climate activists.
- An approach for assessing the value that the national model codes provides to building owners, the construction industry, provincial entities, and utilities.
An outreach plan is one of the first steps to take when looking to adopt the national mode codes and can help spread the message regarding the benefits of the building energy code, identify areas of support or potential detractors, as well as those who need or will benefit most from the energy code.
Your ability to build a broad network of support for model code adoption is key to finding innovative and effective ways to reduce barriers. This means taking a systematic approach to developing your position, knowing the arguments others might make, and by being aware of what other policies or activities are occurring you have a better chance at building your coalition for success.
Sustaining a campaign
These steps will help in your efforts to build a coalition made up of advocates for model code adoption. By bringing them together for workshops, webinars or other events your coalition can form a plan of action which could include, for example, the formation of provincial stakeholder councils.
Contact your policymakers
Write to your minister
Let your elected official or the relevant minister know that model code adoption is important to their constituency. Advocates can use a template, similar to this example, to write a letter to the minister(s) and official critics responsible for building codes in their province. You should also include tips for getting other organizations to sign on to the letter.
When writing a letter to a minister or other elected official it is important to maintain a respectful tone, and to be concise. Be sure to focus on a single issue in your letter while also making a connection that illustrates why this issue is important to your community and relevant right now. Be sure to:
- clearly state your purpose at the beginning of your letter,
- reiterate your request in your closing paragraph, and,
- write naturally and clearly to avoid confusion.
Also, consider who else may benefit from receiving a copy of your letter, such as other organizations who could provide feedback.
After you have sent your letter, follow up in about a week with a cordial note. Ask if additional information is required, and what, if any, action has been taken. The ministers who are most likely to be involved in building code energy efficiency requirements are the Ministers of Energy, the Environment, Northern Development and Mines, or Municipal Affairs and Housing depending on your province or territory.
In the event there is not an individual or department in your province or territory with a clear mandate to work on building codes, read the publicly available mandate letters of multiple ministries and try to figure out the best fit.
Your challenge is to convince them that they need to be involved in the issue. Be sure to also send your letter to the corresponding critic in the opposition party in a separate message.
|Prince Edward Island||https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/executive-council-office/meet-cabinet|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||https://www.gov.nl.ca/cabinet-ministers/|
Sending a letter on your own can be effective. But building a broad coalition is even better. You can amplify your impact by asking others to sign on, like this example from Efficiency Canada about Ontario’s energy efficiency programs.
Ask organizations and businesses to support better building codes as signatories. Circulate your letter well in advance of your deadline to submit it so they can sign their names at the end of the letter, get any needed approvals, and share their support with their peers.
Call your Councillor/MPP/MLA
Provincial, territorial and local elected officials have varying degrees of influence over the building code adoption process, and in some areas their support could influence the process.
Let your representatives know that their constituency cares about building code adoption. By calling your representative and telling them how the model codes impact their community, representatives are likely to take action and advocate for NZEr code adoption.
Reference this one-pager to take the mystery out of effective political phone calls.
Meet your MPP/MLA/Councillor
Request a meeting with your local MPP or MLA and encourage them to support model code adoption in your province or territory. You can also meet with your local councillor to share the benefits of better building codes and ask them to join your coalition.
A meeting is a great way to introduce yourself and show your elected officials why Canadian consumers benefit from better building codes. To help show how building energy codes benefit us all, you can use our Resources section. To make your meeting effective, remember to follow these 5 steps:
- Setting up the meeting: try to meet with your own representative, or the relevant minister (link to ‘write to your minister’ section). Call, email, or visit in-person to make a meeting request. Have the following information ready before you make the request: who will attend, what topics you would like to discuss, and your postal code.
- Preparing for the meeting: research the topic, bring relevant materials, and prepare questions. Be ready to be informed about why building codes matter to your community. You should also know a bit about who you are meeting with. This includes what they have worked on, voted for, and championed in the past.
- The meeting: present a short summary of one topic. Prepare to have a limited time to present your information, then to answer questions, and listen carefully. Use this storytelling model as a guide for your meeting.
- Make your ask: Be precise. For example, ask for a photo for social media, a follow-up call, an action, etc.
- Follow-up: a few days after the meeting send a thank you email. Be sure to summarize the content of the meeting and reiterate your ask.
Resources & additional materials
Action on Building Codes Council (ABC Council)
If you sign up to our Codes4Climate list, you’ll be connected with your province or territory’s Action on Building Codes Council Member, who will find ways for you to take action.
|British Columbia||Arman Mottaghi|
|Member-at-large – Membertou First Nation||Jennifer Martin|
|New Brunswick||David MacDonald|
|New Brunswick||Lauren Clark|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||Michael Philpott|
|Nova Scotia||Emma Norton|
|Nova Scotia||Gordon Hart|
The Atmospheric Fund (TAF)
A regional climate agency that invests in low-carbon solutions for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and helps scale them up for broad implementation.
Clean Air Partnership
CAP enables communities to improve air quality, advance active transportation, and take bold climate action. We convene networks, lead research and knowledge transfer, and catalyze transformative action.
Passive House Canada
A national non-profit professional association advocating for the Passive House high-performance building standard. Passive House is recognized internationally as the proven best way to build for comfort, affordability and energy efficiency of residential, institutional and commercial buildings, through all stages of design, construction, and livability.
The Pembina Institute is working to solve today’s greatest energy challenges — reducing the harmful impacts of fossil fuels while supporting the transition to an energy system that is clean, safe and sustains a high quality of life. They provide our expertise to industry and government leaders, and we advocate for a strong, science-based approach to policy, regulation, environmental protection and energy development.
New Buildings Institute
The New Buildings Institute (NBI) is working towards better energy performance in buildings and offers guidance and tools to support the design and construction of energy efficient buildings.
International Code Council
The International Code Council is the leading global source of model codes and standards and building safety solutions that include product evaluation, accreditation, technology, training, and certification
This project was made possible with funding from The Atmospheric Fund (TAF)
© Efficiency Canada 2021