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Alberta’s Tiered Energy Code Roadmap: Building a Sustainable Future

As our world grapples with the challenges of climate change, it has become imperative for every industry to make a shift towards more sustainable practices. In Alberta, the construction sector is gearing up for significant changes through the Tiered Energy Code Roadmap. These codes aim to enhance energy efficiency in residential buildings, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote sustainable living. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore key findings of the roadmap and look at some recommendations put forth by BILD Alberta.

Challenges and Key Findings: 

The Tiered Energy Code Roadmap presents several challenges that need to be addressed to ensure a successful implementation. One key finding is the delicate balance between cooling load requirements in the summer and passive heating in the winter. This challenge persists across all Tiers, highlighting the need for innovative solutions. 

  • In the shift between tier 1 and 2, homeowner education is important with respect to the impact of HVAC systems performance in the home. They need to understand the importance and be more educated on how the HVAC system works with the house as a system to ensure proper air tightness is achieved and fresh air is brought back into the home on a continuous basis.
  • Another significant change is the introduction of airtightness testing, which becomes mandatory at Tier 2. However, the capacity of Energy Advisors must be expanded to meet the increased demand. 
  • Additionally, the roadmap emphasizes the importance of multi-family airtightness testing and highlights the need for further education for Energy Advisors in this area.
  • The roadmap also reveals that the prescriptive compliance path is currently not available for Tiers 3-5, making the performance compliance pathway mandatory. This shift requires builders to incorporate more insulation and energy-efficient windows, leading to increased costs. This shift requires builders to increase their envelope performance by 10%  by increased air tightness, more insulation and better energy efficient windows.
  • At Tier 4, electrified home heating becomes a requirement, but concerns are raised about the readiness of Alberta’s electricity infrastructure to support such a transition. This is where the substantial shift is in terms of cost, technologies and overall feasibility will occur.
  • Furthermore, air source heat pumps, the most cost-efficient technology for electrified heating, face limitations in extremely cold temperatures, necessitating a secondary heat source. 
  • Lastly, Tier 5, which surpasses Net Zero standards, requires modifications before a feasible timeline can be determined.

BILD Alberta’s Recommendations: 

Understanding the challenges posed by the Tiered Energy Codes, BILD Alberta has presented preliminary recommendations aimed at preserving housing affordability and competitiveness while achieving energy efficiency goals. These recommendations provide a roadmap for the phased adoption of the codes across the province.

  1. Uniform application: Ensure consistent implementation of energy Tiers throughout Alberta.
  2. Tier progression: Establish Tier 1 as the minimum standard by mid-2023 and Tier 2 by mid-2025.
  3. Tier 3 implementation: Dependent on industry capacity and clarity regarding the prescriptive compliance pathway.
  4. Tier 4 timeline: Contingent upon resolving concerns related to electric home heat technologies and utility infrastructure.
  5. Tier 5 modifications: Adjustments are needed before determining a feasible timeline for implementation.

Preliminary Action Plan: 

To address the challenges and recommendations, BILD Alberta proposes the creation of a working group comprising industry representatives, the Safety Codes Council, Municipal Affairs, and other stakeholders. This collaborative effort aims to develop strategies for a smooth and affordable implementation of the Tiered Energy Codes. 

The working group will focus on various aspects, including expanding capacity, addressing technical issues related to airtight homes, identifying knowledge gaps, providing education for trades and builders, and establishing consumer education programs. 

Additionally, engaging experts from British Columbia will offer insights into air source heat pump technologies suitable for colder climates, while collaboration with electrical utility providers will help identify barriers and solutions for widespread adoption of electric home heating.

Enroll in Our New Energy Code Seminar!

Are you ready to navigate the upcoming changes in Alberta’s construction landscape? Join us for our New Energy Code seminar to gain a comprehensive understanding of the Tiered Energy Code Roadmap. Learn about the latest developments, explore strategies for compliance, and discover how to build sustainable homes of the future!

The content provided in this blog is for general information purposes only and nothing contained herein should be taken or relied upon as legal advice. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of information shared on this blog, the information may inadvertently contain inaccuracies. The content of the blog post has been adapted from the provided Tiered Energy Code Roadmap summary.