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‘Canada to set energy-efficiency standards at the highest level possible’

Jocelyn Argibay, spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources Canada, shares the government’s strategy to accelerate the adoption of more energy-efficient products, embed more stringent regulations in building codes and move towards net-zero-energy buildings, with Climate Control Middle East. Excerpts from the interview with Hannah Jo Uy…

| | Jul 29, 2018 | 11:40 am
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Could you provide us with an update on how the government is taking action on climate change, especially in terms of green building codes for new homes? Are there any updates on retrofit initiatives?

In response to a call to action from Canadians on climate change, the federal and provincial governments developed Build Smart, Canada’s Buildings Strategy, to help Canadians and Canadian businesses realise the many benefits of making homes and buildings more energy efficient.

Through the Build Smart Strategy, we are working with provinces, territories and industry on energy-code development, data sharing, research and development and market transformation strategies for the building sector.

We are working closely with our provincial and territorial governments, industry partners and the National Research Council to develop model national codes for provinces to adopt. For new buildings, federal, provincial and territorial governments are committed to developing a net-zero energy-ready model code by 2022, for adoption by provinces and territories by 2030. For existing buildings, retrofitting makes sense. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, retrofits save homeowners’ money by lowering energy bills while increasing the value and comfort of their

What is being done in terms of regulating and enforcing minimum-energy performance of appliances, especially in the field of HVACR?
Canada’s Building Strategy calls for new standards for high-efficiency equipment, including market transformation measures to accelerate adoption of next-generation, low-carbon technologies. With effective use of technology, we can make our homes and buildings work for us — ensuring our physical comfort while lowering our energy costs and our environmental impact.
The Government is updating Canada’s Energy Efficiency Regulations for appliances, equipment and products. We will set energy-efficiency standards at the highest level that is technologically and economically possible. Canada has proposed more stringent standards for residential gas furnaces and residential and commercial gas boilers to condensing levels. The forward regulatory plan is available here: http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/regulations-codes-standards/18318.

We are taking action to help transform the market for higher performance, energy-efficient equipment for homes, including windows, space- and water-heating equipment. This will help overcome barriers to mainstream adoption of energy-efficient equipment, like availability and affordability, and accelerate its uptake. Canadians are also well aware of the ENERGY STAR symbol. It is the internationally recognised and trusted mark of high efficiency. By  looking for this symbol, Canadians can easily identify products, new homes and buildings certified as energy efficient.

What is being done to educate stakeholders in the built-environment to ensure compliance with and awareness of the latest environmentally friendly building codes?
Sub-national authorities will ultimately determine how homes and buildings are constructed in their respective jurisdictions in keeping with commitments agreed to under the Pan-Canadian Framework. Accordingly, we are working closely with government stakeholders to come up with solutions that work for all Canadians . While model energy codes are developed at the national level, they must be adopted by a province or territory to have force in law.
NRCan is also working closely with building and construction industries and conducting public consultations as part of the code-development process, which is collaborative and consensus-based. Together, we are researching, developing and demonstrating projects to lower the cost of building to higher standards and undertaking energy retrofits in existing buildings. Development of codes for both new and existing buildings will consider cost-effectiveness and affordability and will benefit from evidence-based research.

How is Canada striking the balance when it comes to meeting its environmental goals and protecting the economic interests of local manufacturers and industries? Could you comment on the role of incentives – tax credits, grants or subsidies – in spurring innovation and best practices among manufacturers?
To ensure we created objectives that work for Canadians, in the lead up to the Pan-Canadian Framework we consulted with the federal, provincial and territorial Energy Implementation Group, along with provincial and territorial ministries of energy and environment. We also consulted industry stakeholders, such as the Canadian Green Building Council, BOMA Ottawa, and the PEMBINA Institute. A target date of 2030 was set to provide time for a gradual transition to net-zero-energy-ready model code for new buildings, deployment of new construction practices and market transformation strategies for high- performance equipment, all of which will lead to decreased consumer costs.

NRCan is already working with the construction industry through research, development and demonstration projects to lower the cost of building to higher standards and undertaking energy retrofits in existing buildings. We are also supporting proposals from a wide number of applicants, including builders, developers, provinces and territories to target real-world demo projects in all climate zones across the country. These Research, Development and Deployment (RD&D) projects will help reduce costs to meet new building codes while increasing knowledge and skills in the construction industry.

As we move forward with the five-year process to develop the new model energy codes to meet the commitments under the Pan-Canadian Framework for new and existing homes, we will be conducting extensive public consultations. We will be looking at ways to engage homeowners and building owners more extensively on key questions in order to gauge how best to apply model energy codes, particularly for existing buildings. We expect to do this in tandem with the provinces, territories and industry to ensure we have codes that work for Canadians.


Hannah Jo Uy is Assistant Editor at Climate Control Middle East magazine. She may be contacted at hannah@cpi-industry.com

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