Energy Step Code
The Energy Step Code is a provincial policy that aims to create healthier, more efficient and more comfortable buildings. The Energy Step Code is now in effect for Part 9 residential buildings, with the following key dates:
- Dec. 1, 2019 - Step 1 implementation: Part 9 residential buildings, as set out in the BC Building Code, must be designed and constructed to meet or exceed Step 1 performance requirements of the BC Energy Step Code
- June 1, 2021 - Step 3 implementation: Part 9 residential buildings, as set out in the BC Building Code, must be designed and constructed to meet or exceed Step 3 performance requirements of the BC Energy Step Code
- Part 3 buildings: An implementation timeline is currently under development
The Energy Step Code marks an end to the prescriptive approach to achieving energy efficiency in newly constructed buildings. Instead, a building's performance must be proven through whole building energy modelling and on-site airtightness testing. This modelling and testing validates how the design and constructed building meet performance targets associated with each "step." The Energy Step Code requires that builders familiarize themselves with the performance pathway in order to achieve compliance with the BC Building Code.
Compliance with the Energy Step Code in Kelowna is outlined below in our Impacts to home builders section.
Kelowna builders can voluntarily build beyond Step 1 of the Energy Step Code, making them eligible for New Home Construction Rebates and/or City building permit rebates.
The BC Energy Step Code establishes a set of incremental performance steps for new buildings (e.g., airtightness, building envelope, equipment and systems) that support the national and provincial direction toward
s net-zero energy buildings as outlined in the Pan-Canadian Framework and the provincial CleanBC plan. A net-zero energy ready building is designed and built to reduce energy needs to a minimum; if on-site renewable energy systems are included, the building has the ability to produce as much energy as it consumes on a yearly basis.
The Step Code forms a framework by which the construction industry, over time, “steps up” the performance of its buildings to the net-zero energy ready level that must be achieved by 2032. The CleanBC plan sets the direction for updates to the BC Building Code, so that all new buildings across the province will be:
- 20 per cent more efficient by 2022 (approximately equivalent to Step 3 for Part 9 buildings)
- 40 per cent more energy efficient by 2027 (approximately equivalent to Step 4 for Part 9 buildings)
- 80 per cent more energy efficient by 2032 (net-zero energy ready, approximately equivalent to Step 5 for Part 9 buildings)
Step 1 is designed to familiarize builders with measuring energy efficiency. Builders will need to use a whole-building energy model to calculate the energy consumption of their buildings, as well as have a building airtightness test done (i.e. a blower door test). While the building needs to meet the performance of the base BC Building Code, it can still be constructed in a conventional way.
Performance targets increase for Steps 2 to 5 for airtightness, maximum energy used by the buildings equipment and systems and maximum thermal energy demand.
Compliance with the Energy Step Code in Kelowna
A bulletin describing the Energy Step Code, which is the mandatory energy efficiency pathway for Part 9 residential buildings in Kelowna as of Dec. 1, 2019.
Pre-Build Compliance Report for 9.36.5 or 9.36.6 (Energy Step Code) – to be submitted prior to issuance of Building Permit
As-Built Compliance Report for 9.36.5 or 9.36.6 (Energy Step Code) – to be submitted prior to issuance of Occupancy Permit
Compliance Form for Energy Modelers using ASHRAE 140- compliant software (Part 9 Buildings)
Illustration: Steps associated with Part 9 buildings
We offer building permit rebates for Part 9 residential buildings to those builders achieving Steps 4 or 5.
FortisBC also offers rebates at each step for Part 9 residential buildings. These rebates range from $500 to $8,000. Additional rebates are available for appliances and high-efficiency water heaters. Visit Better Homes BC’s webpage for more information and eligibility requirements.
For Part 3 construction, FortisBC offers rebates up to $500,000. Visit the Commercial New Construction Performance Incentives website for details.
Energy Advisors are third-party consultants who have been registered by service organizations licensed by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) to deliver NRCan’s EnerGuide Rating System (ERS), ENERGY STAR® for New Homes and R-2000 programs. An Energy Advisor can provide both energy modelling and airtightness testing: the two compliance services needed to demonstrate compliance under the BC Energy Step Code for Part 9 buildings.
For a list of licensed Energy Advisors that service the Kelowna area, visit the Better Homes BC webpage.
There are a variety of resources available to help the Kelowna building industry build to the different steps of the Energy Step Code
Kelowna’s building industry has free access to the energy efficiency software StepWin until Feb/21. StepWin has been made available to Part 9 homebuilders with projects in Kelowna as a tool to make better Step Code homes. StepWin makes it possible to find the best design for each Step Code level, compared to the common trial-and-error approach. The software uses unique simulation technology to test millions of possible scenarios for each design and prioritizes passive elements for energy-efficient and cost-effective designs. If you’re curious about how it works, check out this FREE webinar recording that walks through a single-family home design and feeds it into StepWin to show the results. Fundamentals of accessing and using the software are covered during this process.
- Provincial Energy Step Code resources
Energystepcode.ca provides a variety of resources, including training videos, builder guides and links to upcoming training sessions that are being hosted throughout the province
- BC housing builder and design guides
BC Housing has authored a number of builder and design guides to help the building industry to build to the Step Code
The following training sessions related to the Energy Step Code are being offered in our area:
- StepWin recorded webinar
The Kelowna building industry has free access to the energy efficiency software StepWin for the next year. For more information, visit the Resources for builders section above.
- BuildCO: A Day of Education for Builders (January 29)
BuildCO is the first event of its kind in the Central Okanagan. Bringing experts in building, renovation and business development, BuildCO is a chance for members of the residential construction industry to get up to date on the education needed to keep them ahead of their competition. Of particular interest from an energy lens is a session on "The Three Keys for Airtight Buildings" with RDH Building Science Inc. and BC Housing. Visit CHBA-CO for more information and to register. The event is pending approval for 8 CPD points from BC Housing.
- Reducing Costs for Step Code Through Design and Planning (March 12)
Register for this webinar to take a deeper dive into some of the BC Energy Step Code metrics and how to achieve them through design and building techniques to minimize extra cost. Using real world examples from local climates, Mark Bernhardt (Bernardt Contracting) and Joe Hart (CHBA BC President and Co-Owner of Icon Homes Ltd.) will examine why some designs fail where others pass easily. This session is geared towards building and design professionals. Instruction will assume a basic understanding of the BC Energy Step Code. The session is approved for 4 CPD points from BC Housing.