28 January 2011

Alberta submits to home builders association on energy

In  2008, the Government of Alberta stated its intention to “implement energy efficiency standards in building codes for homes and commercial buildings” as part of its climate change strategy. Technical reports showed that  higher energy efficiency standards would result in net savings for homeowners in every year of ownership. A 2010 poll showed strong support from Albertans for stronger standards. Nonetheless, the Government has abandoned its plans to increase energy efficiency requirements in its Building Code and instead wait for the next version of the National building Code.

Why, one might wonder, would a government abandon an energy-conserving initiative that was supported by both technical experts and the general public? Well, not everyone is in support—the home builders association, for example. And According to the Minister of the Environment, government won't proceed with an interim building code as long as the home builders association is opposed.

To understand the clout home builders have with the Alberta government, you have to understand the province's political funding. In 2009, corporations contributed almost as much to the Progressive Conservatives as all the other parties combined raised from all contributions. And which industry is the major contributor, you ask? If you guessed the oil industry you would be wrong—it's the development industry. So if the home builders say no, it's no.

But then rolling over for industry is par for the Alberta government. He who pays the piper ...

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