Kelowna council defers decision on adopting energy-saving building code changes

Kelowna council has defered a move to the B.C. Step Code over concerns from developers.

KELOWNA - A recommendation that Kelowna take the first step toward eventually meeting mandatory provincial energy efficiency requirements has been deferred by council.

But council voted Monday, Aug. 27, to defer for 90 days the decision on whether to begin requiring local developers to meet the first step of the so-called B.C. Energy Step Code.

Only Coun. Gail Given and Coun. Ryan Donn voted against the deferral, requested by the Canadian Home Builders Association in a letter sent directly to Kelowna councillors before the meeting.

The deferral allows the association to complete and submit a review of the step code initiative.

Local home builders association representative Les Bellamy, a Kelowna builder, did not respond to a request for an interview but their concerns are mainly financial, according to Coun. Gail Given, who voted against the deferral.

“Their concerns are about adding costs but the intention is to make long-term maintenance costs lower,” Given said. “This puts the cost up front for the developer. In the past, they would typically pass on the cost in housing prices.”

Given said she thinks developers would welcome the new, less prescriptive approach, which instead of dictating material and design decisions, lets the builder chose themselves how to meet energy efficiency requirements, which are measured through testing.

The website EnergyStepcode.ca describes it as an “optional compliance path” for local governments to either require local development through bylaws or financial incentives to strive for "net-zero energy ready”. Net-zero energy ready is described simply as a building that provides as much clean energy as it uses.

The steps are increasing levels of energy efficiency and the hope is B.C. communities will use the step code to get themselves and local developers ready for when mandatory energy efficiency requirements become part of the B.C. Building Code in 2032.

Community energy specialist Ashley Lubyk in a report to council, had recommended the city aim to require all part nine structures under the current B.C. Building Code (described as housing and small buildings) be required to meet step one by April 1, 2019 and step two by October 1, 2020.

As incentives, Lubyk had recommended spending $70,000 on $500 building permit rebates for those achieving step four and $1,000 rebates for step five beginning October 1, 2018.

The deferral puts the additional measures on hold.


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