Harmonized Standards Sought
Jurisdictional Differences Disrupt Equipment Supply Chain
By Gavin Day
The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) is part of a larger group of North American manufacturers and distributors pushing for harmonized energy efficiency standards. HRAI makes its case jointly with the U.S.-based Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), arguing that some jurisdictions are creating barriers by setting standards higher than national or international standards.
“Canada has a population less than California, yet we’ve got this myriad of codes and standards flying around,” asserts David Terlizzi, a Technical Advisor with HRAI. “If I’m selling furnaces and importing them into Canada, Manitoba has a population of about a million and you have two levels [of standards] just in that province alone. That’s the problem our members are approaching. There seems to be no rhyme or reason.”
Manufacturers generally recognize that requirements for improved energy performance are inevitable, but HRAI wants to see an even application of those requirements. Provincial initiatives are currently creating a patchwork of standards.
In Manitoba, for example, furnaces in existing homes must be replaced with models that achieve at least 92% operating efficiency, but furnaces in newly constructed homes must achieve at least 94% efficiency. Meanwhile, Canada’s national standard calls for 90% operating efficiency.
“The problem is, of course, is it’s de-harmonizing,” Terlizzi observes.
Ken Elsey, President and CEO of the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance, agrees with Terlizzi, at least on that part of the issue. He sees minimal benefits from an individual province’s efforts to impose stricter standards.
“It helps marginally, but it generally hurts more than it helps. Standards for equipment should really be looking at national standards,” Elsey says. “If all of a sudden, you have one province or jurisdiction making a standard higher than the other then you’ve got an imbalance in the supply chain going to that province. It sometimes makes it more difficult for the contractor to compete in that market.”
Rather, he urges provinces to set higher energy efficiency standards in their building codes. This would ensure that better performing equipment and systems are installed upfront even if the builder isn’t going to hold the building long enough to get the payback on the investment.
“If they put in high-efficiency lighting, if they put in high-efficiency motors in their various systems, if they put in controls and automation, it’s going to have an added expense for the first time, but over the life of the building and how it’s used, it’ll save money,” Elsey maintains.
In turn, he expects the market will naturally force manufacturers to make more energy-efficient products regardless of what the standards dictate. “As carbon taxes are added to the equation and the cost of energy goes up, you’re going to find building managers and consumers paying very close attention to the issue surrounding energy efficiency by the simple reason that it will make economic sense,” he says.
Gavin Day is a freelance journalist based in Toronto. For more information about the Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute, see www.hrai.ca/manufacturers_link.html. For more information about the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance, see www.energyefficiency.org