March 6, 2006

Proposed Building Code changes would enable use of green energy technologies

Changes being proposed to the Ontario Building Code by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MAH) would increase the energy efficiency of new buildings and those that undergo substantial renovations, and would enable the use of green energy technologies such as solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and wind turbines.

"We see an opportunity to use the Building Code to increase the province's energy efficiency and meet our commitment to reduce Ontario's greenhouse gas emissions," said Minister John Gerretsen. "We hope to incorporate new energy efficiency requirements in the next edition of the Building Code, anticipated for release in Spring 2006," he added.

The Building Code is a regulation under Ontario's Building Code Act, 1992. In its current form, the Code addresses energy efficiency in buildings in numerous ways, including referencing of Canada's Model National Energy Code for Buildings. It also contains requirements for water conservation and other measures that support the principle of energy conservation.

The potential amendments to the Building Code are detailed in a consultation paper prepared by MAH. They include:

*increased energy efficiency requirements for houses, including detached, semi-detached and row houses;

*increased energy efficiency requirements for commercial buildings and large-scale residential buildings;

*energy efficiency labeling for houses; and

*changes to enable the use of green technologies such as solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, solar-powered hot water systems and wind turbines. Other amendments within this section address stormwater retention and use of stormwater or grey water in specified fixtures.

The MAH is also inviting comment on energy efficiency technologies that might eventually be included in the Code, such as motion sensor lighting and green roofs. While the Building Code does not prohibit the use of green roofs, it does not explicitly recognize their use at this point. Given their environmental benefits, the Ministry is interested in comments on how they could be used as alternative solutions (i.e., trade-offs or credits) for the proposed changes set out in the consultation paper.

The energy efficiency labelling of houses is a method of rating a house with respect to its level of energy efficiency. The Building Code currently does not set out any requirements for the labelling of houses. One of the potential amendments would introduce such a requirement and would include labels indicating the level of energy efficiency achieved. It would recognize existing incentive-based and voluntary labelling programs currently in use in North America, as well as relevant provisions contained in the Building Code Act, 1992.

MAH is holding a series of public information sessions this week at various locations across the province, beginning March 6 in Ottawa. The remaining sessions are scheduled for March 8 in Sudbury and Toronto, and March 10 in Thunder Bay and London.

Comments on the proposed changes are being accepted until March 27, 2006. The paper may be requested from MAH's Building and Development Branch or downloaded from the Building Code Web site, www.obc.mah.gov.on.ca. Comments may be submitted electronically on the Web site or mailed to the Ministry.

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