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Climate Change and Canada’s Building Code

Climate change is among the top issues that Canada and many other countries have chosen to tackle. Our efforts to reduce the negative effects of climate change vary drastically and have taken form in several different ways in Canadian society – one of which is revamping building practices.

Over the past ten years, provinces throughout Canada have begun adopting methods and technological advances that would positively impact and reduce our carbon footprint. Many of these advances have made drastic impacts to Canadian building codes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, material waste, and energy consumption. While we have seen these efforts represented more and more with new builds across the country, there is still a large amount of discussion around older properties and the renovations and updates required for adequate progress.

For example, Ontario’s Planning and Growth Management Committee submitted this article in 2017, highlighting requests for further improvements to the Ontario building code in a battle with climate change. The requests (also common amoung other provinces) were as follows:

  • “Continue to expand the list of items in the Ontario Building Code’s list of “green standards” to include incremental energy efficiency provisions for all buildings”
  • “Take measures to discourage the growth of illegal renovation and develop technical support and training for the building industry, building officials and building owners”
  • “Continue to review the Ontario Building Code for other potential amendments to mitigate against the effects of extreme weather such as flooding, ice storms and extended periods of heat and extreme winds. Specific areas which should be addressed include passive cooling measures in buildings, and a review to ensure that climatic data in the Ontario Building Code reflects current conditions.”

The third recommendation is especially interesting, as we are now beginning to view the effects of climate change as something to expect and prepare for its effects rather than just something to attempt to prevent. In fact, the issue of climate change has begun to hit so close to home, that homeowners in Toronto are being offered a Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program– a program designed to mitigate flood damage from the ever more common sever weather events.

The issues Canada is facing with the current day impact of climate change is in fact so severe that the Canadian Building Code is expected to be fully reformed with strict guidelines and rules set to take effect 2025. With more frequent wildfires, heat waves, and flooding, our buildings will need to be designed and renovated to meet these new challenges. If these building code changes are ignored, the infrastructure failures associated with climate change could cost Canada $300 billion over the next decade as outlined in this CBC article. There is no doubt that our buildings, roadways, and city systems will take on great changes over the next 10 years in response to the effects of climate change – the question is whether your property is able to begin that process.

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