CEO Letter – January 2022

Happy New Year to everyone. We hope you had a relaxing and safe break. Passive House Canada has hit the ground running this New Year with new education programs, more opportunities to network and continued, strong advocacy.

Just before the holiday we learned the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC) was proposing to change the energy-efficiency tiers in the forthcoming performance 2020 National Building Code (NBC). The changes would mandate that, when modelling for compliance with any tier in the performance path, the peak cooling load for the proposed house could not be greater than the peak cooling load for the reference house. The consequences of this change would be grave for passive house designers.

The requirement proposed for the 2020 NBC may limit necessary solar gains in winter – but may not control overheating in the summer in energy efficient homes. As you know, PHC recommends using a performance-based approach for the overall energy use of a building, which includes annual heating and cooling energy limits, instead of a reference building approach. You can read more here about why the reference building approach is failing Canadians.

We believe this was a well-intentioned proposal to plug holes in the reference building approach – but high-performance buildings will be the unintended victims of such a change. The CCBFC needs to rethink this change before releasing the 2020 code. You can read our detailed letter to the CCBFC here.

Last year’s federal election clearly showed the importance Canadians place on having government address climate change in a meaningful way. I went door-knocking with MP candidates from a number of federal parties and was pleased to hear voters raise climate change as a primary issue.

In his recent mandate letters sent to federal ministers, the Prime Minister appears to be listening to Canadians and has set some important climate change tasks for his cabinet. (Mandate letters are the Prime Minister’s high-level directives to his Ministers, by which their effectiveness is judged. Traditionally, they were kept secret, so kudos to this government for once again publishing them for the public to read.)

PHC makes input on what should be in the mandate letters, as part of our continued advocacy for passive house buildings. And, as in past years, we offer the government whatever assistance we can to help it ensure Canada’s buildings become less polluting, healthier, climate resilient, and comfortable.

The mandate letters present a strong path for action on climate change and reaching net-zero emissions as soon as possible. Notably, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change is tasked with setting out a clear path to meet Canada’s legislated 2030 climate goals.

Both the Minister of Natural Resources and Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry must develop a net-zero emissions building code and a retrofit code by the end of 2024 that align with national climate objectives and provide a standard for climate-resilient buildings. Although both these codes were in development, we are happy to see a deadline set.

The Minister of Natural Resources and Minister of Environment and Climate Change have been told to achieve a 100 per cent clean net-zero electricity system by 2035.

PHC is pleased to see the critical issues highlighted in these mandate letters are aligned with addressing our key issues. We know that the “devil is in the details,” so we want to learn more. And we will continue to offer help to governments of all levels in policy and technical areas. We do this to advance the passive house standard and support our members.

Thank you for your continued support of Passive House Canada!