BLOG: Stretching today’s building codes to reconcile with Passive House

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by JOC Digital Media

Dave Ramslie, the head of planning and research for Integral Group, was the speaker for the Stretching to Passive House: Reconciling with Today's Codes session at the North American Passive House Network conference, held Oct. 1 in downtown Vancouver.
BLOG: Stretching today’s building codes to reconcile with Passive House

Ramslie was involved in a study to push forward building codes to mesh with Passive House that included the municipalities of Vancouver, Burnaby, North Vancouver and Surrey, The Urban Development Institute, the Pembina Institute and FortisBC along with BC Hydro, the BC ministry of energy and the ministry of housing (building safety standards branch).

Changes in the B.C. Building Code has led to many local governments rethinking their green building policies, Ramslie said, but the "patchwork quilt" of different standards caused friction in the industry.

There is an opportunity though to develop a simple program that focuses on carbon and greenhouse gases, and to align utilities, local government and provincial government plans. This will provide a pathway for industry to move towards Net Zero buildings, he said.

"Do we need a new model?" Ramslie asked. He said there is a growing amount of data that suggests the current model is not working, and that energy use is increasing.

There is no transparency into how the programs that are being developed are working, he added. Incentives are needed to involve industry, as is engagement and training. However, regulations, data and reporting are also important, as are defined targets.

Objectives are to achieve real world energy and GHG reductions, prioritizing passive design and building envelope design over equipment design, and setting up a framework that functions for the next 10 years. Being able to capture and track data is also important, he said.

To create a more unified policy, Ramslie said that he and his team looked for the best practices of many global leaders.

"There is a movement to recognize we need to put a cap on energy usage and to design under that," he said.

Thermal demand is increasingly important, Ramslie said. Thermal demand is defined as a building's demand for heating and lighting, and driving that amount down can increase efficiency.

He said the framework should use thermal demand calculations and should also measure carbon intensity. A single energy modeling platform is necessary for compliance, and selection will have to be aligned with utility programs.

"We need an energy model for every building," Ramslie said.

Mandatory requirements should include lighting power density, sub metering (panel segregation) and minimum ventilation requirements (residential).

The 2015 North American Passive House Network Conference (NAPHN15) is taking place Oct. 1-2 at Hyatt Regency Hotel in Vancouver, B.C. Check back for more blogs, stories and videos from the conference.

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