Energy Codes Will Be Rising Along with Net-Zero CO2 Commitments

Depiction of building smart lighting
June 24, 2020 | | Blog, Smart buildings |

This post is also available in: French

In construction and renovation, building energy codes outline the requirements for energy efficiency. The specifics of these codes can vary by country, and even by state or province. For example, in Ontario our energy code ensures proper insulation, ventilation, and appliances. Each of the individual requirements work together to save energy and keep occupants comfortable.

Aside from reducing our terrifying CO2 emissions, energy codes provide some serious benefits. First, they have the potential to lower your operating costs. Increasing your energy efficiency could mean spending less on lighting, heating, and general energy use. In fact, an overview by the U.S. Department of Energy determined that homes and offices might save as much as $125 billion in a 28 year period. To put that into perspective, residential occupants could save over $500 per year. This is assuming that more strict energy codes were implemented, of course.

But money isn’t everything. Another crucial justification for energy codes is their assurance of occupancy comfort. Without the proper heating and ventilation, a Canadian home in the winter can be quite frigid. Without appropriate insulation, heat can escape instead of remaining in your home.  This means coming home from work to a house as cold as your freezer, or heating it through the day at a high cost. A building that meets the standards set by an energy code doesn’t have these problems. Your house or office will use less heating and conserve that heat for longer.

Then there’s the big reason…

So let’s tackle the immediate existential threat we’re facing; climate change. We have a worldwide problem that is only getting worse as time goes by, and we need to start taking it seriously. CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are collecting in our atmosphere and cooking our planet.

Each of us needs to make changes so that we can reverse this process and save our environment. There are quite a few ways we can do this, but one of the largest steps would be the implementation and enforcement of strict energy codes. Combined, buildings and their construction make up 39% of carbon emissions (p.8).  Our need for energy won’t diminish, in fact it’s only going to continue rising.

The largest emitters of CO2, China, India, and the U.S. still won’t commit to carbon neutrality. It’s fortunate that other nations have decided to lead by example. 60 countries, including Britain, France, and Germany have decided to reduce their emissions to net-zero. While they aren’t the largest chunk of emissions by a long shot, this could inspire other world leaders to do the same.

Even here in Canada, we’re taking steps to start doing our part. By 2022 (p.33), we will have new building energy codes. Not only that, but the federal government plans to ensure that these codes will affect existing buildings as well. Until the new codes are released and enacted, we can’t know for sure how much of an effect this will have. With some luck, this will only be the beginning, and perhaps Canada will be the next nation to commit to net-zero carbon emissions.

Using smart technology and IoT, we can now do things that were impossible 10 years ago. We can control millions of smart devices and integrate their data to find insights that can not only increase efficiency and save significant money in operating costs, but also help to significantly reduce Greenhouse gases. The more data we have, the more improvements we can make to our building operations and environments.

We can ensure that buildings are only lit where and when needed, saving up to 90% in electricity costs – that could be $1M per year for a million square foot building!

Additionally, using smart technology, you can reduce your CO2 emissions by around 1,400 metric Tonnes per year!

Energy codes can drive innovation. Smart technology provides that innovation.

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