The landscape of home building is constantly evolving, with an emphasis on health, sustainability, and innovation. In Ontario, the building industry is gearing up for significant changes in the building code – at Frontiers Design Build, we are aiming to stay ahead of the curve. These looming building code updates are designed to address new industry challenges, promote energy efficiency, and enhance the overall quality of structures. Let’s talk about some key changes that you can expect to see in the VERY near future:
1. Energy Efficiency Standards: One of the primary focuses of the upcoming building code changes in Ontario revolves around energy efficiency. Specifically, reducing carbon emissions and promoting sustainable practices in the construction industry. The term ‘operational carbon’ is used to describe the amount of energy that is used in the daily operation of a home. Builders can expect updates to insulation requirements, window performance standards, and HVAC system efficiency. Keep in mind that the most efficient way to use energy is to not use it in the first place – Passive House principles say to first reduce, then look to efficient use. By building highly insulated and airtight structures, we are doing just that!
2. Climate Resilience Measures: With the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, the building code changes in Ontario may incorporate measures to enhance climate resilience. This could involve stricter guidelines for wind and snow loads, as well as requirements for flood-resistant construction in vulnerable areas. Beyond that, our current building code practices, as an industry, don’t create very durable/resilient buildings to begin with. In a push to build better, designing with lots of insulation and airtightness in mind contributes substantially to the resilience, durability, and longevity of a building by protecting it from the harsh Canadian climate. Freeze/thaw, rain, wind, humidity, condensation, bugs/pests, and the sun all wreak havoc on a building envelope – the more we can protect it, the more durable and resilient a building will be.
3. Green Building Practices: As sustainability becomes a central theme in construction, the building code changes in Ontario may encourage or mandate green building practices. This could involve incentives for incorporating renewable energy sources, rainwater harvesting systems, and green roofs. Air source heat pumps, geothermal, and solar are just a few examples. Embodied carbon is the principle of looking at the carbon footprint of the materials being used in the home. After ‘operational carbon’ is improved, ‘embodied carbon’ will be the next challenge to tackle. At Frontiers, we are taking a proactive approach to thinking about these factors in the projects we are building today. The framework for a Passive House approach allows us to consider the building wholistically, and consider many factors that we normally wouldn’t have in a traditional approach.
The upcoming building code changes in Ontario signal a proactive approach to addressing the evolving needs of the construction industry. We can expect changes coming in 2024, with plans by the government to roll out additional improvements every 5 years after. By focusing on energy efficiency, climate resilience, and sustainability, these updates aim to create a framework for building practices that are healthier, more resilient, and environmentally conscious. Builders and homeowners should stay informed of these changes to ensure that we are future-proofing our in Ontario. Ultimately, a drive towards a high-performance approach benefits everyone and will result in healthier, quieter, more durable, comfortable, and mindful homes. Programs like Net Zero are just the start. Programs like Passive House push the boundaries of what the industry is capable of – at Frontiers Design Build, we have chosen to be on that leading edge and implement Passive House as our approach of choice.