In partnership with the provincial government, thirty-six BC municipalities have opted into a new regulation that requires all new homes to be built “solar hot water ready.” While not requiring the installation of solar hot water systems in new housing, the regulation will require new construction to be built to allow easy installation of these systems and this will include making provision for an area for a solar collector.

Because solar power is not a viable renewable option in many communities in BC, the provincial government decided to make the new regulation optional. The regulation came into effect on June 21, 2011 and the province estimates that it will add between $200 and $500 to the cost of constructing a new home where the regulation applies.  The province also estimates that the installation of a solar hot water system in a single-family home could reduce the GHG emissions of that household by as much as two tonnes per year.

The regulation is a good example of how governments can use forward-looking laws to make future reductions in GHG emissions much easier and cheaper. By adding a relatively small amount to the cost of building a house, the regulation ensures that new homes are equipped for an easy transition to a green energy option. With solar technology expected to improve significantly over the next few years, this regulation will ensure that the opt in communities will be ready for an easier transition.

For more on the regulation and for a list of the communities that have opted into the regulation, click here.