By Robin MacLennan
Ottawa Construction News staff writer
Ottawa City Council has voted to delay implementation of municipal green-building standards that were to take effect on July 1.
Council passed a motion by a vote of 14 to 10 at a late May meeting to push back the implementation date until the city receives further guidance from the province expected this summer.
Coun. David Hill put forward the motion that was seconded by Coun. George Darouze.
The new rules, called High Performance Development Standards and to be phased in over seven years, were to be in place last summer but were delayed allowing time for the provincial PC government to respond to Ottawa’s new Official Plan.
Once implemented the rules would require that new buildings use sustainable building materials and practices to meet heightened energy efficiency standards while enforcing zoning requirements for electrical vehicle parking. Since buildings are among the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions from heating, cooling, and lighting, more energy-efficient buildings could significantly reduce Ottawa’s carbon footprint and help it meet ambitious emission reduction targets.
But Hill said costs of implementing the standards could be as much as $10,000 per new house, arguing that the delay gives the provincial government more time to clarify guidelines in its new housing legislation including the More Homes Built Faster Act.
Capital Ward Coun. Shawn Menard, however, said the HPDS should be implemented now to avoid costly building retrofits down the road, suggesting as well that the standards have strong support from the public.
Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Sean Devine opposed the motion to defer noting that other municipalities have adopted green building standards such as Toronto which has had similar standards in place since 2008. He also said Ottawa would realize the environmental and economic benefits from more energy-efficient buildings.
Mayor Mark Sutcliffe supported deferring a decision until Queen’s Park provides more input.
Coun. Tim Tierney said Ottawa is in a “battle of the emergencies.
“Is it the environmental emergency or is it the housing emergency?” said Tierney, who voted in support of the motion to defer.