New B.C. energy efficiency rules already 'the norm' in Whistler 

Requirements can increase energy savings by up to 15 per cent on average

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New provincially mandated energy efficiency building requirements, which come into effect this month, won't have a major impact on Whistler's construction industry, said a local developer, as many resort builders already go above B.C.'s current standards.

"I think we're a pretty forward thinking bunch (in Whistler) and it won't actually have a lot of effect on us because we're already doing all of what would be considered upgrades to the building code," said Chris Addario, president of the Canadian Home Builders Association's Sea to Sky division.

Many resort developers use more insulation in their buildings than is required and energy efficient triple-glazed windows already he said.

"I think Whistler's a great place for this in that we have the clients that are willing to go the extra mile in a lot of cases," added Addario. "I think the rising energy costs are sort of pushing people in this direction anyway because it makes business sense."

The new energy efficiency requirements for the B.C. Building Code came into effect Dec. 20. Developers will have a choice between energy efficiency standards for complex buildings, including large residential, industrial, commercial and institutional buildings. The changes will not apply to houses or small buildings, according to a provincial release.

Developer Nigel Woods of Coastal Mountain Excavations said the changes to B.C.'s building code likely mean some added costs for construction companies in Whistler.

"There's no question that they'll add cost," he said. "Because of roof loads and things like that, building costs in Whistler are already higher than in other regions of the country."

Developers will have the option to use either the 2011 National Energy Code for Buildings, which harmonizes B.C. with the national code development system and addresses the climatic and construction practices in the province, or the ASHRAE 90.1, an older, well-respected standard that will require the use of Canadian climate data and ventilation rates from the B.C. Building Code. Each standard can increase energy savings by up to 15 per cent on average over the previous requirements, depending on the building type, according to the province.

AWARE executive director Claire Ruddy said legislation, along with industry recognition, can encourage local builders to increase energy efficiency in their developments.

"Getting certifications, such as LEED and Built Green, that recognize design progression rather than just legal compliance is often a motivator for industry leaders looking for that unique selling point," she said. "This change in regulation is really about raising the bar for those who are simply following the business-as-usual model."

Ruddy pointed to several Whistler developments that demonstrate high-energy efficiency standards, such as the LEED Silver certified Fire Hall in Spring Creek and the Whistler Public Library. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building rating system based on several criteria, including water and energy efficiency, materials used and innovation in design.


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