Long-term strategy for energy code development

In the past couple of years, there have been some significant developments on the policy direction of energy codes. In particular, the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC) approved its Long-term Strategy on Developing and Implementing More Ambitious Energy Codes in September 2016. Soon afterwards, the federal government released the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCF) in December of 2016.

In response to the policy direction provided in these two documents, the National Research Council and its partners, the CCBFC and the Provincial Territorial Policy Advisory Committee on Codes (PTPACC), have made some significant developments on the subject of existing buildings. The CCBFC has also made some important structural changes with respect to its Standing Committee on Energy Efficiency in Buildings.

Alterations to Existing Buildings

Both the CCBFC and PCF policy papers recognize the importance of addressing the energy efficiency of existing buildings. Achieving even small energy use reductions in existing houses and buildings may create overall savings that are larger than energy use reductions in new houses and buildings.

A Joint Task Group on Alterations to Existing Buildings (JTG AEB), consisting of CCBFC members and PTPACC members, was created to scope and provide guidance on the code-related approach to alterations to existing buildings. The group had its first meet in October of 2016 and has since sought input from industry, provincial/territorial authorities, and the federal government (e.g. Parks Canada, Natural Resources Canada) in the development of its Report on Alterations to Existing Buildings.

The report provides a summary of the developments and recommendations of the JTG AEB. The JTG’s focus has been on developing overarching principles and a general concept that describes the triggers and decision points with respect to code requirements that would apply to the alteration of existing buildings. The guiding condition is that the overriding trigger for any requirement is based on voluntary action by the owner.

The complexity of the task is high and is probably a key factor that has hindered action in this area in Canada and globally. The development of requirements for existing buildings will involve many, if not all, of the CCBFC’s standing committees and will require extensive cross-committee coordination.

If the report is approved by the CCBFC, the standing committees can soon start the comprehensive and multi-faceted task of developing the technical requirements for alterations to existing buildings.

Standing Committee on Energy Efficiency

The CCBFC has recently made some structural changes to its committees. The goal is to improve the capacity of the code development system to respond to the significant workload and resource commitment associated with the CCBFC and PCF policy goals.

Hence, a new Standing Committee on Energy Efficiency (SCEE) was formed and had its inaugural meeting in August, 2018. The committee represents an equal balance of representatives from the housing and buildings industries. Approximately one third of the committee is made up of new members, while two thirds of the members come from the former Task Group on Energy Efficiency in Housing and Small Buildings and the former the Standing Committee on Energy Efficiency in Buildings.

As with all Standing Committees, the SCEE strikes a balance from all segments of the construction sector: regulators, architects and engineers, manufacturers and product suppliers, building owners and developers, and building users. They are appointed as individuals, not as delegates from a specific association or company, and are selected in a way that provides representation from all geographic regions in Canada.


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