The recent BUILDEX Vancouver 2022 was a great re-introduction to meeting folks in person. Thank you to our corporate sponsors and to the Passive House Canada team for executing a fantastic event. Our red-carpet pavilion displayed companies with new passive house technologies, and a learning hub to educate and facilitate discussion with participants.
I also attended the Globe Forum 2022 where I participated in a roundtable with Minister Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and Minister Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, to discuss Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy and how to make our society more resilient in the face of accelerating climate change impacts.
To further reinforce the importance of our work, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its third and final section on the review of climate science and the conclusions are dire. It will now be “almost inevitable” that temperatures will rise above 1.5C – the level at which many of the impacts of climate change will become irreversible. There is a small window to bring emissions below the 1.5C threshold but politicians must act now. The report notes that using the Passive House standard can achieve “an annual heating and cooling energy demand decrease between 75% and 95%”. Also, the report notes that the area ripe for the biggest improvement to reduce demand-side emissions is the building sector, and an increased “use of energy efficient end-use technologies and passive housing.”
It has been an exciting couple of weeks for the federal government with Minister Guilbeault announcing the 2030 Emission Reduction Plan: Clean Air, Strong Economy and Minister Freeland announcing the first post-pandemic 2022 budget. The 2030 plan gives Canada a real opportunity to meet emissions targets and reflects meaningful engagement with stakeholders in the net-zero building industry. The 2022 budget is focused in part on cutting carbon pollution, improving affordability and building more houses with funds to create more opportunity for Canadians to live in comfortable, high quality, and highly efficient buildings.
Several recommendations by Passive House Canada made it into the 2030 plan such as increased efficiency standards for the National Housing Strategy, a retrofit accelerator for deep energy retrofits for larger buildings, and support for the development of decarbonized and climate resilient standards and codes. Funding for these projects has also been announced in the budget.
It is also encouraging to see the federal government put $150 million over five years to develop the Canada Green Buildings Strategy to drive building code reform, accelerate the adoption of performance-based national building codes, reduce embodied carbon, and to increase the climate resilience of buildings.
We congratulate the federal government on a bold and ambitious plan and budget that balances emission reductions with affordability. While we await implementation details on a number of these policies, we are happy to see the whole-of-government approach to building a low-carbon economy and expand green jobs. Passive House Canada is ready to support the federal government on implementing this plan.
Though a modest improvement, the highest level of the newly announced 2020 federal model code is unambitious and a missed opportunity to drive deep energy reductions and bolster resilience at costs comparable to current code-built homes. Decades of science back this statement and can help the federal government achieve science-based and verifiable outcomes that overcome the well documented performance gap of today’s “green” buildings.
The federal government must also improve the model code development process. By reducing the code cycle from five years to three years, making decisions more transparent, and improving government oversight and funding, the government can ensure climate resiliency and net-zero objectives are met. Currently, provinces and territories through a committee can block, in-camera, virtually anything the code committee of technical experts wants to move forward with. The code belongs to the people, not entrenched interests. Stay tuned as we continue to talk with government about guidelines, standards and codes that will help build buildings that help protect Canadians.