Submission to Highest Efficiency Equipment Standards Consultation in B.C.

HEES is an important tool for decarbonization and climate readiness of existing buildings

The Pembina Institute has provided input on the development of the point-of-sale standards for space and water heating under the new Highest Efficiency Equipment Standards (HEES) in British Columbia. The creation of standards for the purchase and replacement of water and heating equipment is an important tool in ensuring that homes in B.C. are meeting emissions reductions and climate resiliency goals.

We believe the proposed timeframe, of an effective date of January 1, 2030, is an appropriate amount of lead time for industry members and building owners to understand and prepare for future requirements. The effective date of 2030 combined with the expected annual turnover of 4-5% and the current policies for new construction should allow B.C. to meet net-zero by 2050 targets, if financial incentives and subsidies continue to drive demand until regulations and market forces take over.

The proposal recognizes the skills training and industry capacity building that will be required, and we are pleased to see the connection to the Future Ready Skills Plan. We encourage continued direct connection with a wide range of industry members, from all regions of the province, to ensure workforce support is developed based on local needs.

Summary of Recommendations

  • The HEES is an important tool for decarbonization and climate readiness of existing buildings and the proposed effective date provides sufficient time for industry and building owners to prepare.
  •  The complementary CleanBC policies and actions under the current political mandate must be aligned in supporting the industry capacity to meet changing standards while prioritizing the most vulnerable homeowners and tenants.
  • Regional differences must be given careful consideration with localized support and engagement plans, especially in remote, rural and Indigenous communities.
  • Dual-fuel systems may be necessary in some regions of the province, but careful consideration should be given to where they are implemented and how controls will balance decarbonization with affordability objectives.
  • The success of the HEES and complementary CleanBC and buildings policies relies on robust communications plans that provide support and clarity to industry members and homeowners while addressing any anticipated potential unintended consequences.
  • Industry members and homeowners need reassurance that fuel switching will be supported by reliable electricity and fair utility rates.