July 17, 2006

New Ontario Building Code sets higher energy efficiency standards

Ontario's new Building Code for 2006, released June 29 by Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister John Gerretsen, will set the toughest energy-efficiency standards of any building code in the country, introducing more stringent requirements than the 1997 or earlier codes. Over the next eight years alone, the Building Code's increased energy efficiency requirements will save enough energy to meet the needs of 380,000 homes and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equal to removing 250,000 cars from Ontario's roads.

The 2006 Building Code's new standards apply to both houses and non-residential and larger residential buildings. Energy efficiency requirements are being increased for these categories of structure built under the new code in 2007. New non-residential and larger residential buildings constructed under permits applied for in 2012 will have to meet standards 25% higher than those set out in the Model National Energy Code for Buildings.

New Ontario Building Code requirements for houses include:

* a 29% increase in ceiling insulation levels;

* a 50% increase in basement wall insulation levels (i.e. full-height basement insulation);

* a 67% increase in energy efficiency of windows; and

* 90% efficiency of gas and propane furnaces, instead of the current minimum 78% efficiency requirement.

These higher energy efficiency requirements will yield long-term energy cost savings for new-home buyers, says the Ministry.

In addition, new provisions in the Building Code will promote the use and recognize the installation of green technologies, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, active solar hot water systems, rooftop stormwater retention and use of stormwater and grey water.

"Codes and standards that set high energy-efficiency standards are powerful tools for creating a 'Culture of Conservation'," noted Peter Love, said Ontario's Chief Energy Conservation Officer. "Setting dates for the implementation of targets such as Energuide 80 (December 2011) and full height basement insulation (December 2008) is critical," he continued, adding, "We are pleased that Energuide 80 has also been included as an immediate compliance option. More is achievable. I am asking leading builders and smart home buyers to help us achieve these targets sooner."

Most of the changes set out in the new Building Code will be in effect December 31, 2006. Certain energy efficiency changes, however, will not come into effect until the beginning of 2009 and others in 2012, to give the building industry time to prepare for the new requirements. Certain enabling provisions, including those that promote the use of green technologies, come into effect immediately. The Building Code is a regulation under the Building Code Act, 1992.

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