Building Codes Should Reflect Climate Commitments

Building codes can reduce energy waste and emissions over the next decade – if we play our cards right, says the federal-provincial Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth Climate Change (PCF). It is calling for all new buildings to be Net-Zero Energy Ready (NZEr) by 2030. However, the current system that develops new building codes in Canada falls short in reaching that goal. It cites a report by Efficiency Canada, an energy efficiency research and advocacy organization at Carleton University, that outlines the disconnect between climate commitments and new ‘stretch’ model building codes. It found that the 2020 national model codes, in some instances, reject the more energy-efficient option. A lack of mandatory airtightness testing, an ineffective approach to measuring energy code compliance, and less stringent best-practice standards for large buildings, for example, stymie progress towards NZEr buildings. “We need our building standards to reflect our expectations of a net-zero emissions future,” says Kevin Lockhart, the study's lead author. “That big change – from a minimum standards mentality towards showing where we need to go – requires a new policy framework.”