Albertans living in a newly built home will soon experience a healthier, energy-efficient environment, which is good for you and for the planet. We spend 80-90% of our time indoors – at work, school and home – so it only makes sense to lead the way and promote improvements in new home construction.
An energy-efficient home is a more comfortable home. By better controlling the flow of air, heat and moisture, these new homes can save you money on utility bills while helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Changes to Alberta’s Building Code
Alberta recently adopted energy-efficiency requirements in our provincial building codes and joined other provinces with similar requirements. The National Energy Code of Canada for Building (NCEB) and Section 9.36 of the Alberta Building Code, came into effect November 1, 2016.
For single-family homes, the building code changes affect the minimum efficiency of your furnace and hot-water heater; and thermal performance of walls, window, doors, roofs and more. The NECB covers all these plus interior and exterior lighting, more complex heating ventilations and air-conditioning systems, combined hot-water systems, and power distribution components and motors.
Donna Moore, chief executive of the Alberta chapter of the Canadian Home Builders Association, says many builders were already meeting or exceeding the new standards.
How Builders Can Comply with the Changes
There are a number of different ways to implement these changes, which allow for creativity and flexibility in terms of the path to compliance. Builders can choose from:
- Prescriptive with trade-off, or
The main difference between all these methods is that the energy efficiencies in the prescriptive path are standardized across all home models whereas the performance path will vary. In the performance model, your total energy efficiency only needs to meet or beat the government’s reference model and included in the equation is which way your home is situated on the lot with a north, south, east or west exposure. Taking into account solar and thermal gains can result in a home constructed at a lower standard.
How a Broadview Home is Changing
At Broadview Homes, we’ve decided to go with the prescriptive with trade-off method. The main reason is that all our walls around the stairs in our homes are engineered. This allows for a better finish, and we believe a more solid construction than a stacked wall. However, when these types of walls are on an outside wall, then we can’t insulate them to the prescriptive level. As a result, we’ve increased our attic insulation to compensate as a trade-off as outlined in the code.
The benefits of the prescriptive path are that our customers are getting a better house with better products. Here are some of the main improvements customers will see:
- Furnace upgrade from 92% to 95% efficiency
- All homes now include an Active HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator)
- All homes have a total control April Aire Thermostat
- Wall insulation has bene upgraded from R20 to R22
- Attic insulation has been increased from R40 to R60
- Bonus room floors and cantilevers will use spray foam insulation
- All exterior walls will have airtight electrical boxes
- Basements will be fully framed and include with R20 insulation
- All hot-water lines are insulated with 12 mm insulation.
We also believe that our customers will benefit greatly by choosing the prescriptive trade-off method. Let’s say that a customer wants to make a small floor plan change, like moving or increasing or decreasing the size of a window. If we had chosen the performance method, then either we couldn’t make any changes on a standardized plan. Or, if we did make the change, then we would need to revise the plan, run the changed plan through our modeling software, and get another building approval done by the city with the revision. This one small change could add an additional $1500+ on top of the cost of the change itself.