Relief for Alberta hydronics industry

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Alberta hydronic heating contractors will soon see relief from onerous slab insulation requirements that have virtually put the industry out of business.

Going from the one-inch insulation required by the CSA B214 hydronic installation code to about four inches under National Building Code Regulation 9.36 has resulted in substantially increased costs for both materials and changes in building design needed to preserve structural integrity. Tests have shown additional energy savings at about four percent.

Earlier this month Canadian Hydronics Council chairman David Hughes (NAIT) received assurances from Dr. Bob Turner, MLA Edmonton-Whitemud, that:

“The provincial building administrator and provincial plumbing/gas administrator for these codes will develop an urgent STANDATA Interpretation that will allow radiant heating to be installed without this insulation requirement throughout the Province of Alberta.”

And…

“A proposed code change will also be made by PSD (Permits Safety Codes Division) to NRC (the National Research Council or NRCan) for changes to the national building code, which the manager of the Codes Centre at NRC supports.  As chair of the Provincial Territorial Policy Advisory Committee on Codes, Alberta will also present the issue to the other provinces and territories, and the proposed code solution.”

Hydronic heating contractors saw their market share plummet after provincial inspectors began enforcing the new insulation requirements in November 2016. One Calgary contractor reported seeing local market share drop from seven percent to one percent. And yet, hydronic heating has been proven to be highly energy efficient way of space heating, something the federal government is trying to encourage.

“Since the introduction of this regulation, the Council has repeatedly attempted to influence regulators with data on both cost, and performance, and with a recent statement we believe we are finally arriving at a solution that will make it possible for hydronic heating to compete on equal footing,” said Hughes.

The Mechanical Contractors Association of Alberta and NRCAN have supported the CHC initiative.

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