When it comes to building a new RCMP detachment in Fort St. John, costly energy efficient design standards could end up pushing up the city's budget for its construction.
Last month, council directed staff to bring back a report on the energy efficiency of both the city's fire hall and passive house project, and what's needed to certify a new detachment to the passive house standard.
Passive house building principles incorporate everything from sun exposure to super insulation to airtightness to improve a building's energy performance. Passive House Canada estimates it costs 10 per cent more to build to these standards, assuming contractors have the experience and training, and access to the high quality materials that are needed.
In the long run, energy savings of up to 90 per cent a year eventually cancel out those up front costs, according to the organization.
The city has estimated a new detachment will cost as much as $43 million to build, and that was well before passive house standards were even discussed.
In 2012, the city began building its first passive house project as a building showcase at 9904 94th Street. The house cost $580,000, about $240,000 more than its original budget.
The new 50-unit BC Housing and BC Hydro apartment block next to the fire hall is also being built to passive house standards. That building has a price tag around $21 million. During a tour of the building, contractors estimated the cost at around 15 per cent more than conventional construction.
Here's what Fort St. John city council candidates had to say about whether the city should build the new RCMP detachment to these standards at the all candidates forum held on Oct. 2:
Gord Klassen, incumbent: Yes.
Lilia Hansen, incumbent: Yes, so it meets the level, or as close to it as possible.
Byron Stewart, incumbent: Yes, this detachment will be with us for 50 to 60 years, we will make the money back.
Bruce Christensen, incumbent: Yes.
Trevor Bolin, incumbent: Yes.
Chuck Fowler: Yes, long-term investment, long-term gains.
Jim Harris: Yes.
Larry Evans, incumbent: Yes.
Justin Jones: Yes.
Gabor Haris: Yes.
Becky Grimsrud: It depends on the different specifics of the passive house standards, and look at them individually instead of as a whole.
Tony Zabinsky: As Becky, yes, we should look at that.
Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at firstname.lastname@example.org.