Air quality has been significantly diminished in Canada this year. Canada’s 2023 wildfire season is the worst on record and it’s not over yet. It’s a shame because it erases years of progress. (The Globe and Mail, among others, wrote about it.) Our air quality overall has improved over the past decades and is one of the cleanest in the world, but wildfires threaten this progress. Wildfires produce enormous quantities of a very small particle called PM2.5 along with other hazardous pollutants. These particles can become embedded deep in the lungs and long-term exposure can cause a whole host of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Poor air quality can even lower test scores and, globally, kills 10 million people a year. In a 2021 report, Health Canada estimates that “…air pollution from human sources in North America, contributes to 15,300 premature deaths per year in Canada.”
As most Canadians witnessed this spring and summer, wildfire smoke can travel long distances, exposing large populations, including cities like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and New York. With climate events like this becoming the norm and air pollution now the leading cause of death and disease globally, we need to continue the efforts of protecting the places with live, work and play. Innovation and progress are possible; passive house buildings with their superior air tightness and fresh air supply can play an important role in protecting the public. It’s a building method that needs to become mandatory in our codes process and something I am advocating for in our National Building Code’s efforts.
New flawed Fraser Institute Efficiency Report
The Fraser Institute’s new report on Canada’s new federal building energy efficiency mandates is fundamentally flawed in its methodology and assumptions. According to a detailed analysis by Brendan Haley, Director of Policy Research at Efficiency Canada, the report significantly overestimates the construction costs by relying on a single, cherry-picked study and further compounds this error by using inflated housing market prices instead of actual construction costs. Haley also criticizes the report for discounting the economic benefits of energy efficiency, making arbitrary assumptions that are ideologically driven by market fundamentalism. This approach not only undermines the protective role of building codes but also overlooks the economic advantages of energy efficiency, such as increased consumer spending power and the potential for innovation in the construction sector.