BC Energy Step Code for new buildings

SUBSCRIBE FOR UPDATES ON ENERGY STEP CODE IN THE OKANAGAN

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.

In addition, an implementation timeline for Part 3 buildings is currently under development.

The Energy Step Code is a provincial policy that aims to create healthier, more efficient, and more comfortable buildings. It 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 will require that builders familiarize themselves with the performance pathway in order to achieve compliance with the BC Building Code.

 

What is the BC Energy Step Code?

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 towards 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 such that with the inclusion of on-site renewable energy systems, 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 their 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)
City requirements and when they come into effect

Effective Dec. 1, 2019, all Part 9 residential buildings will be required to at minimum meet the performance requirements of Step 1 of the Energy Step Code. Starting June 1, 2021, Step 3 will be required as the minimum.

 Building permit application date
Building typeEffective Dec. 1, 2019Effective June 1, 2021
Part 9 residential buildingsStep 1Step 3
Part 3 buildingsAn implementation timeline for Part 3 buildings is currently under development.

Compliance with the Energy Step Code in Kelowna is outlined on our BC Building Code Energy Efficiency Requirements webpage. 

Kelowna builders can voluntarily build beyond Step 1 of the Energy Step Code, making them eligible for New Home Construction Rebates and/or City of Kelowna building permit rebates.

What it means for home builders

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).  However, the construction of the building remains the same as conventional construction, and it only needs to meet the performance of the base BC Building Code.

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 is outlined on our  BC Building Code Energy Efficiency Requirements webpage

To illustrate, Figure 1 outlines the various steps associated with Part 9 buildings.

figure showing the Energy Step Code steps

 

Rebates for new construction

The City of Kelowna offers Building Permit rebates for Part 9 residential buildings to those builders achieving Steps 4 or 5.

 City of Kelowna Building Permit Rebate
Step 4$500**
Step 5$1,000**
**Available until May 31, 2021.

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 the New Home Construction Rebates website 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.

Learn about other rebates and incentives that may be available to you by visiting the provincial Better Homes BC website.

Finding an energy advisor

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 provincial website.

Council Reports related to Energy Step Code

 

Resources for Builders

There are a variety of resources available to help the Kelowna Building industry build to the different steps of the Energy Step Code.  These include:

  • StepWin 
    Kelowna building industry can now get free access to the energy efficiency software StepWin for the next year. 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. Curious about how it works? Check out this overview FREE webinar recording by Arman Mottaghi, CEO of Lambda Science Inc. and Creator of StepWin, that walks through a single-family home design and feeds it into StepWin to show the results. In the process, fundamentals of accessing and using the software are covered.
     
  • Provincial Energy Step Code Resources
    The Province's energystepcode.ca website provides a variety of resources including training videos, builder guides and links upcoming training that is 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 Step Code. 

Check the Upcoming Events section for local and online training opportunities.

Upcoming events

The following training sessions related to the Energy Step Code are being offered in our area:

  • StepWin Recorded Webinar
    The Kelowna building industry can now get FREE access to the energy efficiency software StepWin for the next year.  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.  Curious about how it works?  Join the creators of StepWin for this pre-recorded webinar where the software creators will pick a home design and feed it into StepWin to show the results and how to use the software.
     
  • Building Officials Association of British Columbia (BOABC) Energy Foundations Program Training  
    BOABC is offering 3 webinars that are based on the Energy Foundations Program and the Competency Framework that they developed.  The Competency Framework document identified 6 core comptencies with specific learning objectives and the webinars will focus on the following three.  Cost for each webinar is $95 + tax for members ($105 + tax for non-members) and are worth 1.5 CPD credits
    • High Performance Mechanical Systems (July 14 @ 9 am) 
      This webinar provides an overview of the building official’s role in evaluating or enforcing mechanical equipment or systems selection issues.  Part 3 and Part 9 applications will be discussed, in respect to BC Energy Step Code metrics and requirements
    • High Performance Building Enclosures (July 15 @ 9 am)
      An overview of the BC Energy Step Code​, with respect to the design and construction of high-performance building enclosures will be discussed during this session.
    • Energy Modelling (July 16 @ 9 am)
      An overview of the energy efficiency and energy use metrics and targets within the BC Energy Step Code will be provided including metrics for different climate zones, evaluating overall energy consumption, overall energy consumption and air tightness metrics, and general administrative Q&A.
       
  • Energy Step Code Part 9 Compliance Report Training for Energy Advisors (July 29 or August 11 @ 8 am)
    Energy advisors have the opportunity to attend one of two FREE small group,online training sessions designed on the use of the Part 9 BC Energy Step Code Compliance Reports, the Compliance Report Calculator, and the User Instruction Manual.  
     
  • Part 3 Energy Design Report Training
    The Part 3 Energy Design Report is a new Excel based tool that can be used by energy modellers and design professionals as a checklist and submitted to local government authorities to verify compliance with the BC Energy Step Code.  The tool gives industry and local authorities a consistent way to gather and review modelled energy performance characteristics of Part 3 Step Code buildings at both the pre-construction and as-built stages.  Learn about the new Part 3 Energy Design Report in one of three FREE webinars:
    • User Webinar #1 (July 30 @ 1 pm)
    • User Webinar #2 - date and registration pending
    • Local government webinar - date and registration pending
       
  • CHBA-CO Building Step 3 Homes with AeroBarrier (August 24 @ 10 am) (1 CPD credit)
    Join CHBA-CO and Okanagan AeroBarrier on the job site (418 Sarsons Road) or via livestream as they use a live demonstration showing how AeroBarrier works to meet Step 3 of the Energy Step Code.  Additionally, Brendon Gray from Egnite Sustainability will speak about the importance of a mid-stage blower door test in meeting Step Code and how it works. Cost is $30 for the job site demo or $10 for the webinar.