Changes to the local building code await Saanich Derek Ford / District of Saanich

Report recommends new building code for Saanich

Move likely to generate opposition from parts of local building community

A report recommends Saanich adopt a new building code, a move likely to prompt fierce critic from portions of the local building industry.

RELATED: Head of Greater Victoria builders critical of stricter climate policy

Saanich council Monday will consider a report recommending the formal adoption of the Step code, a voluntary building code for new homes. The code consists out of five steps designed to improve the energy efficiency of new buildings with the stated goal of making all new buildings by 2032 net-zero energy ready. Net zero energy ready buildings are buildings that could (with additional measures) generate enough energy onsite to meet their own energy needs.

The staff report recommends that Saanich require all new Part 9 building (most buildings three storeys and under in height and with a footprint of 600 sq. m. or less) to achieve Step 1 by June 1, 2019 and Step 3 by Jan. 1, 2020 with all small single family dwellings excluded. Single-family dwellings must instead meet the less onerous Step 2 by Jan. 1, 2020.

All new Part 3 buildings (buildings exceeding 600 sq.m. in area or exceeding three storeys in building height) must achieve Step 1 by June 1, 2019. Wood-framed buildings six storeys and under much achieve Step 3 by Jan.1, 2020. Concrete high-rise over six storeys must achieve less onerous Step 3 by Jan. 1, 2020.

If Saanich were to adopt the Step Code, it follow the City of Victoria, as well as the Districts of Saanich and Oak Bay locally. Sixteen communities accounting for about 52 per cent of total building permit values in British Columbia have adopted the code.

RELATED: Building code changes could raise housing costs in Saanich

The code enjoys support from parts of the local building community, as the Vancouver Island chapter of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association has broadly endorsed the measure. But the Victoria Residential Builders’ Association (VRBA) has emerged as a vocal critic of the measure, after initially supporting it.

In an earlier submission to Saanich, the association predicts that the additional cost of a genuine passive home meeting the highest standard of the Step Code would range between $55,410 and $110,820 — far above the government’s estimate of $17,450. Overall, VRBA believes the higher steps of the code would “marginally” reduce GHGs, while “significantly” increase the costs of new homes.

Casey Edge, VRBA’s executive director, has emerged a vociferous critic of the code.


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