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BC Energy Step Code

BC Energy Step Code

In August 2016, the Province of British Columbia announced plans to encourage the development of net-zero buildings, and develop consistent energy-efficiency requirements for new buildings that go beyond the minimum standard in the BC Building Code.

A Working Group was formed by the Building Safety and Standards Branch in 2016 to discuss this this topic. Representatives for CHBA BC participated in the working group, in addition to stakeholders from local governments, utility groups, and other industry associations. Read the final working group report using this link.

The result of these efforts is the BC Energy Step Code – a voluntary roadmap that establishes performance targets, or steps, that will support transformation from the current requirements to net zero energy ready buildings.

When will the BC Energy Step Code be in effect? 

A: In the provincial transition to the new Building Act, any municipalities with existing energy-efficiency bylaws must have transitioned to the Step Code requirements by December 15, 2017. After this date, the previous bylaws will no longer apply. For any municipalities that choose to not enforce the Step Code, the BC Building Code will be the minimum standard required. 

What about protecting affordability? 

In response to industry requests, a significant costing study was conducted to review the impacts on affordability. This costing study was released in Fall 2017 (see Resources). Cost increases are prevalent in smaller buildings, colder climates and at higher steps. It is also important to note the study indicates the lowest possible cost. As part of municipal discussions on applying the Step Code, CHBA BC is encouraging incentives, a gradual, predictable, transition to higher steps, and support for builders to protect affordability with these new changes.

What are some of the benefits of this new code?

Previously, B.C.'s builders were required to follow the unique energy-efficiency bylaws of the municipality they were operating in. This meant municipalities were relying on different third-party programs, approaches (prescriptive vs. performance), and standards to meet their efficiency objectives. One of the biggest improvements with this new code is predictability and consistency. Rather than a piecemeal approach, there is only one standard that builders must adapt to and follow. It also details how the code will evolve over the next 10 years, demonstrating what builders must adapt to rather than anticipate the results of future code cycles. Lastly, the Province is a centralized resource for this new code, and industry has seats at the table with the B.C. Energy Step Code Council to communicate the needs of builders. 

Resources

Local Government Best Practices Guide

Provincial Policy: Local Government Implementation of the BC Energy Step Code

How the Energy Step Code Works (and FAQs)

Energy Step Code Metrics Research Report (Costing Study)  Full Version  |  Summary Version