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New green building standard may be too broad for the Canadian market

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by Jessica Krippendorf

A new standard from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) may be too much for the Canadian market — at least for now.


A new standard from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) may be too much for the Canadian market — at least for now.

The new standard goes beyond energy efficiency to include provisions that affect construction, post-occupancy monitoring and site control, said Kent Petersen, chair of the Standard 189.1 committee and past ASHRAE president.

He was recently in Vancouver and discussed the standard, High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-rise Residential, which was co-released with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES).

It is the first code-intended green building standard in North America.

It contains provisions for energy efficiency, water efficiency, sustainable sites, indoor environmental air quality, materials and resources, and construction and operations.

Petersen’s presentation was focused on how the provisions in the standard could be used in Canadian green building, if B.C. wanted to implement it in the future.

“Some items in the standard, maybe three or four, actually have references to U.S. agencies,” he said.

“They really just need to reference local jurisdictions for outdoor air quality (IAQ), for instance. I would expect any jurisdiction could adopt certain provisions and see what makes sense.”

Standard 189.1 would have a significant impact on construction in British Columbia.

All provisions in Section 10: Construction and Building Operation are mandatory, and include requirements for acceptance testing, building commissioning, erosion and sediment control, and indoor air quality management during construction.

Under the standard, HVAC and IAQ systems, building envelope, lighting and shading, irrigation, plumbing, domestic water and energy systems would all require commissioning.

Plans for building flush, erosion control and IAQ, exceeding current regulations would also be mandatory.

The standard also regulates the selection of eco-friendly materials.

Many of these, like erosion control and IAQ, are the responsibility of municipalities in B.C.

“The requirements under 189.1 encompass a broad range of development issues, some of which are outside the scope of the provincial building code,” said Minister of State for Building Code Renewal, Naomi Yamamoto.

The site section limits development to areas with infrastructure already in place, calls for the mitigation of the heat island effect and the reduction of light pollution.

Several sections also include provisions for post-occupancy monitoring, which isn’t covered by B.C.’s current regulations.

“ASHRAE standards have value and they do inform our work in British Columbia, especially the standards related to energy and water efficiency,” said Yamamoto. “However, we are not currently considering adopting the entire scope of 189.1 in B.C.”

Petersen said that although the scope of the standard is broad, jurisdictions can implement it in whole or in part.

When the California Green Building Code was developed and implemented earlier this year, state officials had access to 189.1, he said.

“Not everything was implemented from the standard,” he explained.

“They decided they needed to walk before they could run, and implemented about a third of the requirements, as stated in 189.1.”

Guy Gosselin, manager of the Canadian Codes Centre, said that while the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC) considers all developments in codes and standards, 189.1 may extend beyond the normal capacity of federal codes.

“Normally we develop model codes and they are considered by the provinces and territories, as they look at minimum regulations that would provide for safety, health and energy performance,” he said.

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