Prescriptive vs Performance Energy Code Compliance

Prescriptive vs Performance Energy Code Compliance

In the realm of Canadian home construction and changes to provincial building codes, the pursuit of energy efficiency has become a paramount concern for most home builders and homeowners. 

In this video, the intricacies of navigating energy efficiency requirements within building codes are explored by Building Knowledge Canada leaders Gord Cooke and Andrew Oding. 

Their focus is on the performance path, a method that emerges not only as the most cost-effective but also as a simpler way for builders to meet these rigorous standards. 

Drawing on Andy's experience as a former home builder and Gord’s as an engineer, as well as insights from their work at Building Knowledge, the discussion sheds light on the effectiveness and practicality of the performance path in the ever-evolving landscape of energy-efficient construction.

Gord: Andy, let's talk for a little bit about energy efficiency requirements in code.

Andy: At Building Knowledge Canada, we do a lot of work helping builders apply to the building codes, meeting it through performance path. And I'll be quite frank. Even with a history as a homebuilder myself, performance path is without question the most cost-effective way to meet these codes.

Gord: And that's really no surprise because as an engineer, the prescriptive paths were done by energy modeling. They had to be by definition "conservative." They didn't know exactly the size of the house. They didn't know that it was between, say, townhouses or multi-family and single-family. So by definition, they're very conservative. 

We now get to use the same modeling tool to optimize, and that's why performance path absolutely ends up being, as you said, cost-effective. But would you agree it can also be simpler?

Andy: Yes! What we have found over the last few years is, with our Builder 360° program at Building Knowledge Canada, we make the process simpler for doing the performance modeling by developing a single package for all the homes that's far less expensive than code prescriptive.

To get started, we sit down with you. We do a discovery, again, as part of our Builder 360° process, get a sense of what you're building today, the materials you're using, the products you're using. We look at some of your plans—the earlier in the design stage, the better—but even if it's last minute. And we do some energy modeling. We start to look at different packages that you can apply to the home to meet the code. 

And what's interesting to us is that we often find when we look at homes with performance path, the homes are actually performing substantially better than the prescriptive code, percentage-wise.

Gord: It is interesting, right? Depending on the choices that builders have made with respect to suppliers and trades, often we get to use the creativity of their suppliers and their trades to say, "Hey. You get to take credit for some of the innovations you've already applied in your houses in order to meet those code requirements."

Andy: Yes, and another interesting thing we often come across is that builders often see how they're already exceeding the building code. And we can help recognize that with what we call our Home 360° program. We recognize anything that's over the minimum code. What they often see is, "Well, I'm already doing better than the minimum." And then they realize, "I'm actually already doing almost ENERGY STAR® levels."

Gord: So it really helps them move forward into either future codes or these voluntary programs that we love working with.

Andy: Absolutely.

Gord and Andy make it clear: performance path is the savvy builder's shortcut to meeting energy efficiency rules affordably. With our Builder 360° program, we guide builders through a simpler, easier approach to achieving a home that performs better than code, while saving money and time.

Connect with us anytime, and let us know what outstanding questions you might have on this subject. 


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