December 18, 2017

The B.C. Energy Step Code: How it works

Enacted in April 2017, the BC Energy Step Code is a voluntary provincial standard for new construction. It provides an incremental and consistent approach to achieving more energy-efficient buildings. How? By establishing a series of measurable, performance-based energy efficiency requirements — or steps — that exceed the requirements in the base BC Building Code. The highest steps represent net-zero energy ready buildings.

The Step Code is not a new code. Rather, it’s an alternative compliance path within the existing BC Building Code. Builders can choose to either build to the Step Code or follow the BC Building Code’s requirements. While the Building Code takes a prescriptive approach to energy efficiency, the Step Code takes a performance-based approach. It identifies a requirement and lets the designer/builder decide how to meet it.

To comply with the Step Code, builders must demonstrate that their design and the constructed building meet the Code’s requirements. They do this using energy modelling software and on-site testing. The Step Code empowers builders to pursue innovative, cost-effective solutions, and to incorporate leading-edge technologies as they become available.

Similarly, local governments can choose to require or encourage builders to meet one or more of the Code’s steps. The Step Code could, therefore, serve as a single provincial standard. In this way, it would replace the patchwork of green building standards enforced or encouraged by local governments in the past.

The intent is that the highest steps of the Step Code become the base BC Building Code by 2032. In the Pan-Canadian Framework, the federal government committed to having the National Building Code of Canada net-zero energy ready by 2030. Matching the BC Building Code with the highest steps of the Step Code by 2032 will help meet this commitment.

To support local governments and industry through the transition, the Province established the multi-stakeholder Energy Step Code Council. The Council will provide advice on Step Code implementation, research, training, communications, and policy.

Learn more about the BC Energy Step Code

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