City of North Vancouver aims to take Step Code one step further

City council to lobby province to expand ‘green’ building guidelines

When it comes to energy efficiency, the province needs to think bigger.

That was the consensus Monday as City of North Vancouver council unanimously called for more stringent construction standards of the B.C. Energy Step Code to be applied to government buildings, hospitals and schools.

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On Oct. 2, city council voted to apply the B.C. Step Code to new house construction in an attempt to make the city more energy efficient. The code applies to various aspects of construction including window and door placement and the type of heating used.

Noting the new rules wouldn’t apply to major energy consumers such as the proposed Harry Jerome rebuild or expansions at Lions Gate Hospital, Coun. Rod Clark put forward a motion to expand the range of the building code.

Following council’s unanimous vote Monday, Mayor Darrell Mussatto is slated to write a letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson calling for the province to include institutional buildings in the Step Code or a parallel system.

The province should make the change “as quickly as possible,” according to Clark, who previously touted the building code as a worldwide imperative to counter a heating climate.

Both Clark and Coun. Linda Buchanan discussed discounting institutional buildings as a possible oversight on Oct. 2.

Buchanan noted the potentially prohibitive costs of trying to retrofit an older building to gain energy efficiency.

There is a price tag that comes with greater efficiency, as building costs are anticipated to rise by as much as 0.9 per cent on homes larger than 1,200 square feet. The hike is expected to be approximately 0.4 per cent for smaller homes.

While capital costs may jump, occupants of better-designed buildings will save money in the long term, according to municipal consultant Alex Boston, a sometime-council watcher who praised the city’s Oct. 2 decision to endorse the code.

The B.C. Energy Step Code is set to come into effect as of Dec. 15 in the city.

The change may allow the city to process building applications slightly more efficiently, according to city staff, as energy efficiency standards will no longer be included in negotiations with developers.

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