Scenes from a energy efficiency course for builders at BCIT. One of the instructors will be in Nelson for a one-day session for builders on March 8. Photo submitted

Nelson workshop will update builders on energy efficiency techniques

BCIT instructor will teach in Nelson March 8

Local builders will have an opportunity to learn about advanced home energy saving techniques at a hands-on workshop in Nelson on March 8.

It’s part of the Step Code, a provincial initiative that aims to have all new buildings at net-zero energy by 2032, meaning the building must produce as much energy as it uses.

The course will be an introduction to building science, air-tightness, and assembly details, according to instructor Josh Vanwyck of BCIT.

He will first introduce participants to the theory of heat transfer, vapour diffusion, air flow, and moisture management.

“Then we’ll spend three hours doing hands-on work with mock-ups.” he says. “We have a wall frame assembly we are going to set up, will will have insulation, vapour diffuser tape, regular tape, and a series of ways to put together that wall assembly to make it airtight, vapour tight and well insulated.”

Vanwyk says conventional construction methods are not wrong, but there are new and better ways of constructing a building envelope. This can involve a shift in thinking for builders.

For example: “I was in a workshop in December and somebody said we need to put the poly in. When you can show that we do not need the poly, it is a shift from building the way we always have, to thinking about the building envelope as science, and understanding why we are putting these different layers in.”

The workshop, organized by the Community Energy Association, takes place at the Prestige Lakeside Resort on March 8. The registration fee is $300 and registration takes place online at https://labinaboxnelson.eventbrite.ca.

The BC Energy Step Code

The BC Energy Step Code is a series of five steps, each with increasingly advanced energy saving standards. Step 1 is the status quo, Step 2 means increasing efficiency by ten per cent, Step 2 by 20 per cent, and Step 4 by 40 per cent. The fifth step is a net zero building.

The Step Code is voluntary for the time being, but municipalities can incorporate the steps into municipal building code requirements, and many are doing so.

“It is likely that the province will move to Step 2 or 3 by 2022,” says Nelson municipal building inspector Sam Ellison, “so what I am pushing now is for Nelson to catch up and adopt Step 1 by this summer.”

Step 1 represents the status quo except that the builder must engage an energy advisor to certify the building will meet requirements in the current building code. This certification must be in place before a building permit will be issued.

Nelson expected to start this year

Ellison expects to ask council to adopt Step 1 in August, and his preparations have included a survey of builders.

“I have been doing a phone survey of more than two dozen builders, designers, and building suppliers, and not a single negative response, so the support at least within town is fantastic. We hope to move to Step 2 next year so that by the time 2022 comes along we are right in line with the minimum for the province.”

The Community Energy Association will also be approaching the Regional District of Central Kootenay this month about adopting Step 1 for rural areas.

The Step Code gives builders a lot of freedom. They must meet certain energy requirements as certified by software modelling and onsite testing, but they may use any materials or construction methods to do so.

Ellison said most builders in Nelson are already building to Step 2 or 3, voluntarily.

Trish Dehnel of the Community Energy Association says FortisBC has rebates in place to help homeowners.

Builders taking the workshop can gain 20 credits toward their professional builder status if they do online pre-reading and take an exam afterwards, or six credits just for attending the session without the pre-reading or exam.

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