Colwood council is considering adopting a new energy efficiency regulation this year called BC Step Code 3, bypassing steps 1 & 2.

The primary purpose of a building code is health and safety, and for that reason alone, council should reject leaping into BC Step Code 3.

Instead, they should support consumer protection and Colwood residents, and wait for the National Building Code’s review and changes to energy efficiency being introduced in 2022.

There are many good reasons to support the National Building Code. First, is their due diligence regarding unintended consequences. The National Code committee is reviewing issues such as rising radon levels in more energy efficient homes.

Canada has the third highest radon levels in the world, and radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is site specific, not identifiable on a map, and can only be tested after a home is constructed. Rough-ins for radon mitigation are required in some areas in BC, but not others where high levels have been detected, including coastal regions.

VRBA supports increasing energy efficiency when supported by research, proven practice and affordability. Lack of government diligence reveals a history of costly unintended consequences including leaky condo, asbestos insulation and urea formaldehyde.

A recent conference by the Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technicians noted that increasing airtightness in homes can elevate radon by 56.6%. Also, younger Canadians are being disproportionately exposed to higher radon, and projections paint an alarming picture of rising exposure, accompanied by younger ages of radon-induced lung cancer.

Colwood council needs to respect the National Building Code’s process, which the BC government circumvented, ignoring the agreement to harmonize the BC Building Code with Canada’s National Building Code.

Some municipalities such as Saanich, Oak Bay, Victoria, Central Saanich, North Saanich and soon Sooke are also bypassing National Code diligence, while adding $30,000 to the cost of a new home for Step Code 3. Other municipalities are wisely waiting.

The costs are significant during rising housing prices, however the critical issue is health and safety and consumer protection representing the very foundation of building codes.

If you agree, send Colwood council this column. They are asking for feedback by June 11.

This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist newspaper.

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