BC Energy Step Code for new buildings


We are currently developing an implementation strategy for the BC Energy Step Code.  This is a new provincial policy that aims to create healthier, more efficient, and more comfortable buildings. 

At its core, 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 testing.  This testing validates how the design and constructed building meet the 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 that aim to support the market transformation from the current energy-efficiency requirements in the BC Building Code to the Provincial requirement for net zero energy ready buildings by 2032.

  • 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.
Why is it important?
  • The BC Energy Step Code establishes a single set of energy performance standards that set the direction for future iterations of the BC Building Code, and improves the consistency of building regulations across the Province.
  • The performance approach taken by the BC Energy Step Code is inherently flexible, as it simply establishes a performance target and leaves it to the building team to decide how to meet the target in the most efficient and cost effective manner.
What does it mean for home builders in Kelowna?

The BC Energy Step Code came into force in April 2017 and builders have the option of building to the requirements at any time. Local governments have been granted 3 years (2017-2020) to evaluate their local context and to develop a strategy suitable for their particular locale. This transition period is an opportunity for local governments to be proactive by adopting one or more Steps to enable the local market to mature and to spur increased industry capacity for services and products that support higher performing buildings.

At the moment, the BC Energy Step Code only applies to Part 9 residential buildings (under 4 storeys and less than 600m2 building area) for regions outside the Lower Mainland and Southern Vancouver Island. For Part 9 buildings, there are five performance target steps, each representing a higher level of performance. Steps 1 through 3 represent the Lower Steps, while Steps 4 and 5 form the Upper Steps (Figure 1).

figure showing the Energy Step Code steps

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.  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. The Step Code forms a framework by which the construction industry can, over time, “step up” the performance of their buildings to the net-zero energy ready level that must be achieved by 2032.

What are the City's requirements and when do they come into effect?

Kelowna builders can voluntarily build to Energy Step Code, making them eligible for FortisBC's New Home Construction Rebates.  Complying with the Energy  Step Code in Kelowna is straightforward, and the process and required compliance forms are detailed on our  BC Building Code Energy Efficiency Requirements webpage. 

Based on stakeholder engagement, a proposed implementation timeline for mandatory compliance is being proposed, with a requirement for Step 1 compliance starting April 1, 2019 for all Part 9 residential buildings.  This will be presented back to Council later this fall.   

Part 9 Building TypeApril 1, 2019Oct. 1, 2020
Proposed City of Kelowna Energy Step Code Implementation
Single family / 2/3/4-plex / Carriage house / townhouse / low-rise apartmentStep 1Step 3
Are there rebates for new home construction?

If you build a home with natural gas space and water heating (or electric space and/or water heating in FortisBC's electricity service area) you can qualify for:

  • whole-home performance rebates ranging from $1,000 to $8,000
  • $400 energy advisor support rebate
  • water heater rebates of up to $1,000 when building a code minimum home or a BC Energy Step Code 1 home
  • ENERGY STAR and high-efficiency appliance rebates from $100 to $300

For more information visit FortisBC's New Home Construction Rebates


Council Reports related to Energy Step Code


Upcoming events
BC Energy Step Code Airtightness TrainingNovember 3, 2018This 1 day class will build your skills with a hands on air barrier workshop designed for the BC Energy Step Code.  Register for a seat at smallplanetsupply.ca/bc-airtightness-training/.  CLASS FULL.  Waitlist only.
BC Energy Step Code Airtightness TrainingDecember 1, 2018This 1 day class will build your skills with a hands on air barrier workshop designed for the BC Energy Step Code.  Register for a seat at smallplentsupply.ca/bc-airtightness-training/