Public Review of Green Code Change Proposals

Water Efficiency Requirements for the BC Building Code

This is a proposal for new water efficiency requirements in the BC Building Code.  All interested parties are invited to review and comment on the proposal.

Why We Need Water Efficiency Requirements

Communities throughout British Columbia are recognizing the importance of water conservation.  While these concerns were heightened during the drought period earlier in the decade, British Columbians generally are recognizing that conservation saves money by extending the life of our water supply infrastructure, and helps to protect the natural environment and wildlife habitat.

Toilets account for 30 to 40 per cent of residential water use, and have been the focus of regulatory measures by local governments over the past decade.

In 1998, at the request of local governments, the Province created the Water Conservation Plumbing Regulation under the Local Government Act.  The regulation sets maximum flow rates for kitchen and lavatory faucets and shower heads, and maximum flush cycles for toilets and urinals.  The regulation provides two different requirements for toilet flush cycles:

  • A maximum flush cycle of 13.25 litres for toilets in residential and commercial buildings
  • For specific local governments that have asked for a higher standard, a maximum flush cycle of six litres for toilets in all types of buildings (these toilets are known as ultra low-flush, or ULF toilets)

The regulation has been amended twice to add more local governments that wish to require ULF toilets.  Today, most of B.C.’s population lives in cities and towns in which ULF toilets are mandatory.


Scope of the Proposed Water Efficiency Requirements

It is proposed that the flow rate and flush cycle requirements that are currently in the Water Conservation Plumbing Regulation be incorporated into the B.C. Building Code to apply province-wide.  This includes the requirement for ULF toilets and urinals as well as supply fittings for kitchen faucets, lavatory faucets and shower heads.

The new water efficiency requirements will apply to all buildings to which the B.C. Building Code applies. The proposed changes would apply to new houses and additions to existing houses - basically, to all new construction. It is not, however, intended to apply retroactively to all existing houses that do not meet requirements.


How Will the Requirements Be Implemented and Enforced?

The new water efficiency requirements will come into effect April 2008.

Compliance with the requirements will be monitored by local government building officials in the same way that compliance with other Code requirements is monitored.


Will the Cost of Building Increase?

Building costs are not likely to increase.  The cost of low-flow and low-flush fixtures is comparable to fixtures with higher flow rates and flush cycles. 


Details of the Proposed Requirements: How Will the Code Change?

A water efficiency subsection will be added to a new Part 10 (Building Efficiency and Resource Conservation).

Fixture Fitting Maximum Flow Rates will establish the current flow rate provisions of the Water Conservation Plumbing Regulation as requirements for all occupancies.

Fixture Water Efficiency will incorporate the higher of the two conservation requirements in the Water Conservation Plumbing Regulation.  New maximum flush cycle requirements will be six litres for toilets, and 5.7 litres for urinals, for all occupancies.  In addition, timing devices will be required for urinal flush tanks that are equipped for automatic flushing..

Draft Code wording is as follows:

10.X.X.X Fixture Fitting Maximum Flow Rates
  1. The flow rates of fittings that supply water to plumbing fixtures must not exceed the maximum flow rate at the test pressures listed for that fitting in Table 10.X.X.X.

    Table 10.X.X.X.
    Maximum Flow Rates for Supply Fittings
    Forming Part of Sentence 10.X.X.X.(1)
    Fittings Maximum Flow (L/min) Test Pressure (kPa)
    Lavatory Faucet
    Kitchen Faucet
    Shower Head
10.X.X.X. Fixture Water Efficiency
  1. The flush cycle for the installation of a water closet or urinal must not exceed the flush cycle listed for that fixture in Table 10.X.X.X.

    Table 10.X.X.X.
    Maximum Flush Cycle
    Forming Part of Sentence 10.X.X.X..(1)
    Fixture Litres
    Water Closet (Tank Type)
    Water Closet (Direct Flush)
    Urinal (Tank Type)
    Urinal (Direct Flush)

  2. The water supply to urinal flush tanks equipped for automatic flushing must be controlled with a timing device in order to limit operation to the period during which the building is normally occupied.


How to Comment on the Proposal

Your views are important to us.  Please provide your comments by using the Comment Form for Water Efficiency Requirements

The deadline for submitting your comments is December 21, 2007.