BC Energy Step Code

The Climate Leadership Plan released in August 2016 states that the Province is implementing a number of policies to encourage the development of net-zero buildings. One of those policies is to develop energy-efficiency requirements for new buildings that go beyond those in the BC Building Code.

The Building and Safety Standards Branch convened a Working Group to examine how such a ‘Step Code’ could be implemented. The proposed Step Code supports the Building Act, by providing a consistent provincial standard for energy efficiency to replace the wide range of existing policies and programs developed by local governments.

The proposed Step Code also supports consumer choice, by allowing designers and builders to use natural gas, electricity, or other energy sources for their project without imposing a penalty on this decision. This ‘fuel neutral’ approach provides builders with the flexibility to make energy-efficient buildings using all available technologies.

The Building and Safety Standards Branch is pleased to share the results of this policy work.

While the Building and Safety Standards Branch is directly involved, the report also recommends actions by other parties with a stake in this policy. This highlights the need for collaboration and the report can form the basis for ongoing consultation with those stakeholders. In the meantime, the Branch is  reviewing the multi-stakeholder consensus recommendations found in the report.

BC Energy Step Code Update April 2017

The Province brought the BC Energy Step Code into force in April 2017.

The BC Energy Step Code is a voluntary roadmap that establishes progressive performance targets (i.e., steps) that support market transformation from the current energy-efficiency requirements in the BC Building Code to net zero energy ready buildings. It establishes a set of incremental performance steps for new buildings that aims to communicate the future intent of the Building Code and improve consistency in building requirements across B.C. to transition to net zero energy ready buildings by 2032. It is a voluntary tool local governments across B.C. can use to encourage—or require—the construction of more energy-efficient buildings in their communities, and do so in a consistent, predictable way.

The BC Energy Step Code takes a new, performance-based approach rather than the traditional prescriptive approach. This means the BC Energy Step Code does not specify how to construct a building, but identifies an energy-efficiency target that must be met and lets the designer/builder decide how to meet it.

In addition to being a voluntary standard for builders, the BC Energy Step Code may also be referenced in local government bylaws and policies as an ‘unrestricted matter’ under the Building Act.

Two matters have been added to the unrestricted matters list in the Building Act General Regulation to enable local governments to require that new buildings constructed in their jurisdictions be constructed to one of the steps in the BC Energy Step Code. The two matters are:

  • the conservation of energy, and
  • the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

These two matters are unrestricted with two conditions:

  • Local governments may not require buildings to be constructed except in conformance with a step described in Article or of Division B of the BC Building Code; and
  • Local governments may not modify a requirement of, or impose requirements in addition to those set out in, Subsection 9.36.6. or 10.2.3. of Division B of the BC Building Code.

Energy Step Code Council

The Province has established the multi-stakeholder Energy Step Code Council to support local governments and industry towards smooth implementation of the BC Energy Step Code. The Energy Step Code Council will actively support the implementation of the BC Energy Step Code with research, training, communications, and policy guidance for stakeholders.

For More Information

The content on this page is periodically updated by the Province of British Columbia per the date noted on the page: May 29, 2017.

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