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Frequently Asked Questions

BC Energy Step Code

What is the BC Energy Step Code?

The BC Energy Step Code is an optional compliance path in the BC Building Code that local governments can voluntarily adopt and use to incentivize or require higher levels of energy efficiency in new construction development. The BC Energy Step Code was introduced as a step-by-step building efficiency strategy designed to help meet the Provincial Government’s target of all new homes being net-zero energy ready by 2032.

For Part 9 homes and buildings, the BC Energy Step code sets five performance levels or “steps” that exceed the base BC Building Code, with the higher steps being more energy efficient. Step 1 indicates a home performs as well as, or better, than a building constructed to meet the minimum prescriptive energy efficiency requirements of the BC Building Code. Step 5 indicates the home has been constructed as net-zero energy ready (NZER), meaning it produces as much energy as it consumes. Local governments can choose to require or incentivize a given step for new home construction in their community. Builders and developers have an opportunity to set themselves apart by building to higher steps than required.

While the BC Energy Step Code is currently adopted by municipalities on a voluntary basis, in future years the Province of BC may require that certain steps must be met in order to meet Provincial targets. By adopting the BC Energy Step code, local governments and their communities will be able to take advantage of the multiple benefits associated with more energy efficient new homes, including:

  • Greenhouse Gas Reductions – High-efficiency homes require less energy to heat, resulting in reduced carbon emissions even if homes heat with fossil fuels. Homes heated with a heat pump will have the lowest carbon emissions.
  • Better Affordability – Reduced energy consumption results in lower energy costs.
  • Increased Comfort – Increased insulation and airtightness within a home means that it is better equipped to maintain a more even temperature throughout, for a more comfortable home.
  • Better Health – Energy efficient homes do a better job of refreshing the indoor air by filtering out unwanted mould, moisture, pollen and other allergens.
  • Improved Durability – A high-efficiency home is less likely to have moisture and condensation issues that can lead to the deterioration of the building envelope.

If you are interested in learning about the Step Code or planning to build to Step Code level 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5, you can find more information at the official website, BC Energy Step Code, or speak with an Energy Coach to find out where to get started or contact an Energy Advisor to start planning your BC Energy Step Code compliant new construction.

How does the BC Energy Step Code compare to other green building labeling and certification programs: PassiveHouse, BUILTGREEN®, ENERGY STAR®, R2000, LEED

Throughout British Columbia there are various green building labeling and certification programs available. In the past, many municipalities had adopted a particular building certification as a mandatory requirement for builders to obtain a building permit, such as:
BUILTGREEN®
 ENERGYSTAR®
R2000
LEED
PassiveHouse

The building and administrative requirements for each green building program vary and not all builders have knowledge about every certification program. This can become complicated and costly to builders when bordering municipalities adopt different green building certification programs. The BC Energy Step Code is a uniform building energy performance standard which allows builders to build in multiple jurisdictions without worrying about different labeling or certification standards.

The BC Energy Step Code is not designed to replace green building program certifications, but rather to provide a consistent energy metric baseline for performance modelling across all municipalities.

The BC Energy Step Code also reduces the need for builders to complete added administrative requirements that are mandatory for many programs listed above. While there is still a cost to work with an energy advisor to obtain an EnerGuide evaluation, the BC Energy Step Code will reduce the administrative workload that many builders need to meet in order to achieve green building certifications.

For more information about the BC Energy Step Code visit: https://energystepcode.ca.