Delay in B.C. Building Code creates opportunity for builders

Code updates for wall, attic & basement construction could be significant

An anticipated increase in energy standards in B.C.'s Building Code is now expected to be introduced only after the next update to the National Building Code, bringing the two codes in line with each other.

What does that mean to builders in B.C.? Those who are already going above Code to include enhanced energy efficiency will continue to enjoy a marketing advantage, as energy-aware buyers seek the long-term savings and performance value of efficient homes (and improved resale value).

Meanwhile, those who have not yet adopted energy efficiency standards above Code now have more time to learn and prepare for Code changes, which may include significant changes in wall, attic, and basement construction.

Why is the Code update delayed?

"Energy standards were first introduced in the 2008 Code update, with options for following a prescriptive path, or a performance option," says Doug Overholt, representative for BC Hydro's Power Smart New Home program. "Now, we understand the province is awaiting the model energy content that will be in the National Building Code before increasing the B.C. standards."

The federal government is updating energy-related provisions in the National Building Code to bring them in line with the objective-based format used in other national model construction codes, meaning that energy-efficiency will now be a stated objective within the Code. A special public review will run from January 9 to March 2 to allow input on the Code revisions.

In B.C., national model codes are often adopted verbatim, but the energy provisions are expected to undergo extra scrutiny since B.C. has already advanced energy efficiency in the provincial Building Code. No date is set for the next update to the B.C. Code's energy provisions.

How Power Smart helps with energy efficiency

"We work with builders to help them find the best options for improving their product," says Kari Reid, program manager for Power Smart New Homes. "We provide financial incentives, marketing support, and advice so they can offer energy efficient homes and help lead the market.

"When the new Code does come, those who have already changed their practices will be ready. Meanwhile, they're able to leverage the marketing value of demonstrating that they're leading-edge builders. We're keen to see the code change so that energy efficiency becomes the baseline for all building — but we can already see the market shifting."

For more information contact your New Home Program Advisor, Doug Overholt.