The Alberta government has updated or adopted seven new building-code changes it says will improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The updated codes improve energy efficiency standards for windows, lighting, building envelope, insulation, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning. 

The changes come into effect Nov. 1.

"A more energy-efficient home is a comfortable home, one that keeps the heat in, the cold out, and money in your pocket," Minister of Municipal Affairs Danielle Larivee said Tuesday.

Emissions from homes and buildings were responsible for 19 megatonnes, or about seven per cent, of Alberta's greenhouse gas emissions in 2014, Larivee said.

"It may seem small but that number has a big impact on the planet," she said.

The changes align Alberta with energy-efficiency standards put forward by the National Building Code in 2011, and updated in 2012.

UrbanAge Homes

A 'skinny house' like this one, built with the new energy efficiency standards, can save the homeowner $500 a year in energy costs, said UrbanAge Homes. (Lydia Neufeld/CBC)

"There are national building codes that are set, but Alberta has to actually adopt them on behalf of our builders and to enforce our builders," Larivee said.

Alberta was behind and these changes are an opportunity to catch up with the rest of Canada, she said.

Many builders were already meeting or exceeding the new standards, said Donna Moore, CEO of the Canadian Home Builders.

One of those builders is Richard Nault with UrbanAge Homes in Edmonton.

"We're now kind of killing two birds with one stone," he said. "We believe we're giving homeowners what they want, but we're also providing a more efficient home in terms of energy."

For example, a new 1,730-square-foot "skinny house" with triple-paned windows, high-efficiency furnaces and other insulating factors will save the homeowner $500 a year in energy costs, he said.