The federal-provincial Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth Climate Change (PCF) calls for all new buildings to be Net-Zero Energy Ready (NZEr) by 2030. However, a new report warns the current system that develops new building codes in Canada falls short in reaching that goal.

The report, published by Efficiency Canada, an energy efficiency research and advocacy organization at Carleton University’s Sustainable Energy Research Centre, outlines the disconnect between Canadian climate commitments and new “stretch” model building codes.

The report tracked the latest building code development and 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.”

The authors have two key recommendations: clearer federal ministerial direction for building codes to reach national net-zero emissions goals, and a policy “champion” to integrate building codes into a broader climate policy mix.

“The community that develops our building codes needs confidence that the government will move the market towards the net-zero standards,” explains Lockhart. “The government can do this by strengthening the codes development process as well as supporting building code adoption and enforcement.”

According to co-author Brendan Haley, the report reflects on lessons learned from Canada’s first tiered model energy codes and presents a forward path to safe, comfortable, and zero-carbon buildings.

To read the complete report, click here.

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